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Monday, 30 November 2009

The Day Before Autodesk University

Not had chance to blog until now, I think I'm getting withdrawal symptoms!

The flight over to Las Vegas for Autodesk University was reasonably event free, it was a long journey but it's going to be worth it. For the second flight in a row though my in-flight entertainment system was on the blink! It was stuck on one channel and I couldn't change it, so after watching the latest Harry Potter movie three times one of the on-board staff managed to change the channel, and I watched Ice Age 3 four times!

Although we were very tire by the time we got to the hotel we all arrived safely though which is the main thing.

So right now, I'm sat in a meeting room in THEhotel with all my colleagues from the Northern Europe Technical Team. We've got representation from UK, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Holland etc and from all industries - it's rare that we get the opportunity to all get together.

In preparation for today’s team meeting we spent yesterday at a place called Red Rock Canyon which is about 45 minutes drive outside of Las Vegas:

It's a gorgeous location to walk around, take pictures and marvel at some of the amazing rock formations and colours. Here’s a picture of some of the Northern European team from yesterday:

We'll be over at The Mandalay to register for Autodesk University 2009 during today so if you see any of us, don't hesitate to come over and say Hi.

Have a great Autodesk University!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Travelling to Autodesk University from Northern Europe?

Not long to go now, just a couple more days and I’ll be on my way to Autodesk University along with the thousands of other users of Autodesk software who are making the trip to Las Vegas.

I’ll be travelling over from the UK with a number of my Autodesk colleagues who are based around Northern Europe – UK, Sweden, Belgium, Holland etc and who all specialise in various industry solutions such as Inventor, Revit, Civil3D, 3DSMAX etc. Most of us are meeting up at London Heathrow to catch the same flight over and after 12 hours on a flight I’m pretty sure that all passengers will know the benefits of Autodesk software and solutions by the time we land! I wonder if it’s possible to hook a laptop up to the in-flight entertainment system to do some product demos, hmmm......?!??!

If you’re travelling over to Autodesk University from the UK or Northern Europe (or anywhere else for that matter) and you want to say ‘Hi’ or meet up with any of the Autodesk Northern Europe team then please feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment below. Hopefully we’ll get chance to meet up and have chat about the finer points of travelling from Northern Europe to Nevada as well as our software of choice.

Have a great trip if you’re going over, if not – don’t forget you can register for Autodesk University Virtual.....

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

3D block recognition on a Microsoft Surface

WOW! How cool is this - using 3D solid blocks to control a Microsoft Surface:

As a keen photogrpaher I was particularly impressed with the ability to edit photos using the blocks and then stamp the edits onto other digital photos.

As an engineer, I'm looking forward to the day when we can develop a 3D model in Inventor and using surface technology & real world parts we can combine the two in a digital world. Imagine the possibilities for retrofitting and checking parts fit and function as you want them to.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Autodesk University: 7 days to go

Just one week now until Autodesk University 2009 opens its doors to the thousands of designers, engineers and architects to spend three long days attending classes and networking with peers to discuss the intricacies of their chosen Autodesk technology.

As regular readers of this blog will know, this is my first visit to Autodesk University (second time to Las Vegas though, but that’s a different story!) and I’m really looking forward to experiencing what my colleagues have been telling me about for the past few months. I’ve registered for all my classes making sure that I take in ones that are little outside my usual comfort zone so that when I get back I can put into practice what the classes teach rather than getting back and saying I didn’t learn anything new!

There are two classes in particular that I’m looking forward to (I’m looking forward to all of them, but these two especially):

PD118-1: Introduction to Plant 3D Process Piping, Structural and Equipment
MA222-4: Content in King: Working with Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Revit

I’m particular interested in seeing how products like AutoCAD Plant 3D and Autodesk Revit integrate with Autodesk Inventor and the workflows that design engineers using Inventor will use within the a process plant and architectural industry. The lines between industries are becoming more and more blurred especially for those manufacturers working in the architectural industry supplying hardware like staircases, furniture etc.

Many architects are seeing the benefits that Building Information Modelling (BIM) can offer and are making the move to tools like Autodesk Revit from 2D tools like AutoCAD. What does the supplier do who is a manufacturer to the architectural industry and has been supplying 2D drawings which has satisfied the architect until said architect made the move to 3D with their new Autodesk Revit software? They still need to be compatible with the architect as they want to continue doing business with them, but 2D won’t suffice anymore and Autodesk Revit is for architects, not manufacturers!

The integration between the manufacturing and architectural software from Autodesk allows those who collaborate across industries and technologies to do so in a way that saves them time, money and effort and I’m looking forward to learning more about that next week whilst at AU.

I’ll be flying out on Saturday with colleagues from Northern Europe and during the trip I’ll be blogging and posting pictures (and possibly some video) so make sure you visit back regularly.

Now, where did I put my passport........

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Multiple Monitor Troubles

I'm sure many of you have suffered the same issue that I have when using multiple monitors on your desktop workstation or an extra monitor with your laptop. You plug in at the office, make use of having the extra screen area, then off out to see a customer or off home only to find that when you're working on your laptop the dialogue boxes that you moved to the other screen in the office are now sat off the screen on your laptop! How on earth can you move or access a dialogue box that you can't see?

Well, my colleague Justin Hoey based in the US posted this great tip on his YouTube Channel recently that shows you exactly how to retrieve those missing dialogue boxes:

We've just used it here in Ireland with Autodesk Vault Manufacturing to retrieve a settings dialogue that was somewhere off screen and it worked perfectly!

Thanks Justin.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Open 3D AutoCAD DWG Data into Autodesk Inventor Part 3

The third and final part in this series shows how to take an AutoCAD DWG file that contains multiple 3D solids that you would like to re-use within Autodesk Inventor.

The following video shows two methods of opening and working with the 3D data, the first creates all of the relevant Inventor part and assembly files so that each of the 3D solids in the DWG file is in it's own part file and all parts are referenced into an assembly file.

The second workflow shows how to open the 3D DWG into an Inventor part file, convert the compostie feature to multiple solid bodies within the part file, make modifications and then use the Make Components tool within Inventor to convert the multi-body part file into an assembly with referenced part files.

Hope you enjoyed this three part series! Next on the agenda is working with Inventor part and assembly data inside AutoCAD so make sure you visit back regularly or use the subscribe button on the right to have new blog articles delivered automatically to you.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Open 3D AutoCAD DWG data into Autodesk Inventor Part 2

Building on from last weeks’ blog article about opening 3D AutoCAD DWG data into Autodesk Inventor, I thought I would add some more ‘meat onto the bones’ so to speak.

Part 2 goes through the different open and import options when bringing in 3D solids that were created using AutoCAD and how selecting different options give different results. Most notably the difference in getting solid or composite features when opening the 3D DWG data and how to turn the composite features into solids quickly and easily.

Open 3D AutoCAD DWG Data Part 2 goes through opening a single 3D DWG solid into Autodesk Inventor:

Keep an eye out for Part 3 of this series that will show the different options to bring in a 3D AutoCAD DWG that contains multiple solids that you want to re-use as an assembly in Autodesk Inventor.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Open 3D AutoCAD DWG data into Autodesk Inventor

A fellow blogger recently posted a question on his blog about the best way to open 3D AutoCAD DWG data into Autodesk Inventor. Deelip Menezes of deelip.com asked:

"Does anyone know how to import 3D solids from a DWG or DXF file into Inventor as solid bodies? I know that you can import 3D solid entities from DWG and DXF files into Inventor, but they come in as surface bodies without volume."

With this question in mind, I decided to give it a go with a simple AutoCAD 3D DWG as although it's not something I have done for a while, I was convinced Autodesk Inventor could open 3D AutoCAD DWG data just fine.

The key to getting the data in as solids that can be edited and worked on in Inventor is to select to Import the DWG by clicking on the Options button in the Open dialogue and selecting Import rather than Open...

Once you have select Import, hit the OK button and then Open and you will be taken through the DWG Import wizard. The first step identifies the type of file you are opening, you can usually just click next. The second step allows you to view and select the data you with to open.

After you have then selected the 3D geometery you want to import (I just left it set to All, but you could individually select 2D or 3D geometry to import or turn layers on\off) you will then be presented with the Import options dialogue where you just need to make sure you have the following settings set:

If these aren't set by default, just set them as shown above. You can even save the settings to share with other using the Save Configuration... option.

Once you hit the Finish button the solids will be opened into Inventor and in my example, I had three very simple solid bodies in the AutoCAD DWG which were opened as an Inventor assembly that contained the three solid parts that can be edited as required using any of Inventors tools.

As they were recognised as 'Base Features' Inventors Feature Recognition tool was automatically invoked asking me if I wanted to create the intelligent features such as the extrude and fillets.

Have a watch of the following video to see how you can open AutoCAD 3D DWG data into Autodesk Inventor....

Conditional Feature Suppression

I’ve just been working on a presentation that I am giving tomorrow at a user conference in Yorkshire, I’ve got 75 minutes to fill of tips and trick for Autodesk Inventor.

Now there are plenty of tips & tricks that I have been adding into the presentation, sketching, work features, part design, assembly design etc and I’m sure I’ll be able to fill the 75 minutes. Hopefully those attending will get some good tips that will help them.

One tip that I get asked quite a lot about and one which I think is a great ‘hidden gem’ is Conditional Feature Suppression within the part environment. What’s this I hear you cry?

Conditional Feature Suppression allows you to link features to parameters so that the feature is automatically suppressed or un-suppressed based on the parameter conditions you set. For example:

You have a bracket with a couple of pockets in it to reduce the weight. However, if the height of the bracket is less that 360mm, you don’t need the pockets on the bracket, you want them suppressed. Rather than the user having to remember to do this, you can use the Feature Properties to set the condition ‘If Height LessThan 360' – when the parameter called Height is less than 360, the pockets will automatically suppress, when the parameter Height is more than 360 the pockets will be unsuppressed.

Have a watch of this video to see how Conditional Feature Suppression works:

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Unable to make it to Las Vegas for AU2009? Don't worry....

So this time in three weeks I'll have completed the 17 hour journey to my hotel in Las Vegas to join up with colleagues and thousands of other users of Autodesk technology to spend three days attending classes at Autodesk University 2009.

If you read my previous blog article about AU2009, you'll know that this is the first time I have attended this huge annual event and it's something I'm really looking forward to.

However, in these challenging economic times it's not easy to make available the time and funds required to get over to Las Vegas to spend 3 days learning and improving your knowledge and skills.

With this in mind, for the second year running Autodesk University will not only be a 'physical' event in Las Vegas, but there is also a virtual event that will see a whole host of classes and content delivered on-line for those people that want to take advantage of the learning experience but are unable to make it the actual event.

You can register for an Autodesk University Premier Pass for just $99 which gives you everything included in the Free Pass plus access to 50+ select classes with Q&A streamed live
from Las Vegas. And, after the event, learn at your own pace with 350+ on-demand classes from
AU 2009—practical sessions with tips & tricks and useful downloads to help you upgrade your job skills and boost productivity.

The Free Pass is available to any AU Online members and offers a wealth of content including live AU keynotes, product clinics and much more, plus access to the AU Online community. If you are an AU Online member, log in to your account to register for AU Virtual. If you do not have a free account, it’s easy to sign up and enjoy all the benefits of membership via http://au.autodesk.com

So if you are not able to make it to The Mandalay Bay Resort for the event, you can still get access to a whole host of classes and learning content so you don't miss out.

But it gets better...

If you are a user of Autodesk software like AutoCAD, Inventor, Showcase, AutoCAD Mechanical, Revit etc and you have an active subscription contract, you can get a Premier Pass for free.....yes you read it correctly, for free!

To learn more about Autodesk University Virtual and how to resister, use the link below:


Don't leave it too long though as we're only three weeks away from the event and some of the virtual classes are first come first serve.

Keep reading the blog as I'll be keeping you updated on the weeks leading up to the event as well as during the event.