How To Open And Save Inventor Files In AutoCAD?

In my last two posts (“How To Get DWG Solids Into Inventor” and “How To Get DWG Solids From Inventor“) I explained the issues in getting DWG solids in and out of Inventor. While it is possible, the procedure is not as simple and straightforward as it should be. In this post, I would like talk about getting Inventor solids in an out of AutoCAD. Well, to put is simply, you cannot. At least I could not find a way whereby AutoCAD could read or write Inventor part and assembly files.

I understand that writing Inventor assembly files from AutoCAD does not make sense. But at least Autodesk should have allowed AutoCAD to save Inventor part files. And there is definitely no excuse for AutoCAD not to be able to read Inventor parts and assemblies. Autodesk has even given 3ds Max to ability to read Inventor parts and assemblies, but not AutoCAD. Obviously they want 3D data to move from AutoCAD to Inventor to 3ds Max and not the other way around.

If an AutoCAD user is given an Inventor part or assembly file, there is no way he can access the 3D data in it, which is frustrating because AutoCAD has some neat tools to edit 3D solid objects. He would need to go back to the person who gave him the Inventor file and ask him to export to an ACIS SAT file which he could then import into AutoCAD. If that is not possible then the AutoCAD user is stuck up.

In my opinion, the ACIS SAT route is not a very good one. Autodesk is stuck at ACIS SAT version 7.0 which is years old. That is the version when they purchased the ACIS source code from Spatial and went their own way to develop their own modeling kernel. As far as I know, none of Autodesk’s products write SAT files later than version 7.0. At least Inventor does not. So apart from spitting geometry and properties that were available in ACIS 7.0, Autodesk has no way of transferring any new type of data (geometry and/or properties) by using SAT as the intermediate file format between Inventor and AutoCAD.

Shockingly, AutoCAD cannot even read 3ds Max files. AutoCAD and 3ds Max users need to use the ancient and hoplessly outdated 3DS format (remember the old 3D Studio?) to get data from 3ds Max into AutoCAD. AutoCAD’s Import command paints the sad picture quite clearly. You can import SAT, 3DS, DGN (Microstation) and WMF (Windows Metafile), that’s all.

That’s why I laugh when I hear Autodesk people talk about 100% compatibility between their products. Because it is a joke and for paying Autodesk customers its not funny.

Update (13-Nov-2009)

There is a way to open Inventor part and assembly files in AutoCAD without requiring a license of Inventor. Click here to find out how.

  • Even for 2D data its very sad, I can bring in views as blocks on my acad drawing using the design center. I can bring over my custom props to the inventor DWG as text , but can’t bring this over a in to the ACAD dwg. Autodesk has to realise that data is not only lines.

  • Even for 2D data its very sad, I can bring in views as blocks on my acad drawing using the design center. I can bring over my custom props to the inventor DWG as text , but can’t bring this over a in to the ACAD dwg. Autodesk has to realise that data is not only lines.

  • When I wrote the “Inventor for AutoCAD Users” book, I spent most of my time puzzling over the many AutoCAD-Inventor import-export options — and their effects on the model. It was a confusing experience that I eventually worked out, but I feel sorry for users trying to work it out.

    Your series is interesting.

  • When I wrote the “Inventor for AutoCAD Users” book, I spent most of my time puzzling over the many AutoCAD-Inventor import-export options — and their effects on the model. It was a confusing experience that I eventually worked out, but I feel sorry for users trying to work it out.

    Your series is interesting.

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Again Deelip, you have highlighted shortcomings in Autodesk’s management’s ability to understand what role their products play in the life of designers and drafties.

    No, it is not funny for we users and, it has a signifcant cost, but Autodesk’s stupidity has been going on for so long now that some of the responsibility, for its continuance, has moved to users who, as I have said before – are just simply too lazy. They are willing to complain to dealers and other users but will never pitch their complaints to where they belong – straight at Autodesk’s CEO, Bass.

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Again Deelip, you have highlighted shortcomings in Autodesk’s management’s ability to understand what role their products play in the life of designers and drafties.

    No, it is not funny for we users and, it has a signifcant cost, but Autodesk’s stupidity has been going on for so long now that some of the responsibility, for its continuance, has moved to users who, as I have said before – are just simply too lazy. They are willing to complain to dealers and other users but will never pitch their complaints to where they belong – straight at Autodesk’s CEO, Bass.

  • John

    Boy am I glad I stopped working with Autodesk products back in 1998. Nothing has really changed.

    Back then it was the promises that MDT 2 would compete with everyone else. NOT!!

    Now they have hoodwinked AutoCAD and Inventor users into believing their DWG interoperability hype. Mostly smoke and mirrors.

    When will naive CAD users wake up?

  • John

    Boy am I glad I stopped working with Autodesk products back in 1998. Nothing has really changed.

    Back then it was the promises that MDT 2 would compete with everyone else. NOT!!

    Now they have hoodwinked AutoCAD and Inventor users into believing their DWG interoperability hype. Mostly smoke and mirrors.

    When will naive CAD users wake up?

  • Ralph,

    True. There are just too many import-export options which are arranged in a way that add more confusion that clarity.

  • Ralph,

    True. There are just too many import-export options which are arranged in a way that add more confusion that clarity.

  • Is this site an indepedent CAD blog or a software vendor’s marketing tool? I see Deelip claiming to be part of the press contigent at COFES while also pushing, and not so subtly at that, his company’s software products.

    So what are you, Deelip? One can easily conclude that your rants about CAD product’s shortcomings arent based on altruistic motives to help the customer at large, but to really position your products in the best light possible and trumpeting the “here comes Deelip to the rescue of the poor user screwed by the CAD companies” tone. You go on to complain about the CAD companies spinning their stories.

    If you want to be an independent blogger, be that and you would be doing us all a great service. Drop this shtick about being a saviour and using your ‘press’ credentials to peddle software. There are forums for that.

  • Is this site an indepedent CAD blog or a software vendor’s marketing tool? I see Deelip claiming to be part of the press contigent at COFES while also pushing, and not so subtly at that, his company’s software products.

    So what are you, Deelip? One can easily conclude that your rants about CAD product’s shortcomings arent based on altruistic motives to help the customer at large, but to really position your products in the best light possible and trumpeting the “here comes Deelip to the rescue of the poor user screwed by the CAD companies” tone. You go on to complain about the CAD companies spinning their stories.

    If you want to be an independent blogger, be that and you would be doing us all a great service. Drop this shtick about being a saviour and using your ‘press’ credentials to peddle software. There are forums for that.

  • Nice Schtick,

    This blog is a place where I write my thoughts on the CAD software industry, my company’s partnerships with CAD vendors, my products and services and just about any damn thing that’s on my mind at that particular point in time. It is not my fault that people have started treating me as press, let alone independent press. I don’t even have a publication, an ezine, a newsletter. Nothing.

    I call things as I see them. At times it may seem as if I am marketing someone else’s or my own products and technologies. At times it may seem as if I am bringing up an issue that needs to be discussed. So be it. If that is what is on my mind on that day and if I have the time I will write about it.

    You ask if this blog is an independent CAD blog or a software vendor’s marketing tool? I am not sure I understand why it has to be either this or that?

    I don’t care if people consider me independent or not. Frankly, I am not sure I can be completely independent since I have all these partnerships going on with these CAD vendors. I just know that I am not too close to any single CAD vendor. And that’s good enough for me to speak my mind whenever and however I feel like.

    Bottom line, I will write whatever the hell pleases me on this blog. The blog is mine, after all 😉

  • Nice Schtick,

    This blog is a place where I write my thoughts on the CAD software industry, my company’s partnerships with CAD vendors, my products and services and just about any damn thing that’s on my mind at that particular point in time. It is not my fault that people have started treating me as press, let alone independent press. I don’t even have a publication, an ezine, a newsletter. Nothing.

    I call things as I see them. At times it may seem as if I am marketing someone else’s or my own products and technologies. At times it may seem as if I am bringing up an issue that needs to be discussed. So be it. If that is what is on my mind on that day and if I have the time I will write about it.

    You ask if this blog is an independent CAD blog or a software vendor’s marketing tool? I am not sure I understand why it has to be either this or that?

    I don’t care if people consider me independent or not. Frankly, I am not sure I can be completely independent since I have all these partnerships going on with these CAD vendors. I just know that I am not too close to any single CAD vendor. And that’s good enough for me to speak my mind whenever and however I feel like.

    Bottom line, I will write whatever the hell pleases me on this blog. The blog is mine, after all 😉

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Nice Schtick & Deelip,

    I’m with Deelip on this one and, could not help noticing that criticism, relating to disclosure, was being leveled from behind a ‘pen name’ at IBM’s expense to boot!

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Nice Schtick & Deelip,

    I’m with Deelip on this one and, could not help noticing that criticism, relating to disclosure, was being leveled from behind a ‘pen name’ at IBM’s expense to boot!

  • Nice Schtick and Deelip,

    Nice has a nice point. One can create new verbs and nouns out of this.

    deeliping – faking an ad as a blog.
    deeblog – blogs that acts as mouthpiece for customers, while inserting self-serving ads in the middle without attribution
    bloglip – pay lip service to helping customers even if it means trashing other’s products while positioning one’s own products as worthwhile alternatives, again without revealing their source.

    You have to say this is funny, even if its true.

  • Nice Schtick and Deelip,

    Nice has a nice point. One can create new verbs and nouns out of this.

    deeliping – faking an ad as a blog.
    deeblog – blogs that acts as mouthpiece for customers, while inserting self-serving ads in the middle without attribution
    bloglip – pay lip service to helping customers even if it means trashing other’s products while positioning one’s own products as worthwhile alternatives, again without revealing their source.

    You have to say this is funny, even if its true.

  • Charles Hooke

    Looks like Mr. Free Advice, Free Schtick or whoever this person is, is unable or unwilling to understand common sense.

    Deelip raised an issue on his blog and then provided a solution. I don’t understand what this individual means when he says that Deelip is not revealing the source. Deelip very clearly said that the solution was his. He has ads of HIS products on HIS blog. He regularly makes it a point to let his readers know of his associations with the CAD vendors. What is there more to disclose?

    Paul is right. If someone needs to disclose anything, it is this individual. I smell sour grapes.

  • Charles Hooke

    Looks like Mr. Free Advice, Free Schtick or whoever this person is, is unable or unwilling to understand common sense.

    Deelip raised an issue on his blog and then provided a solution. I don’t understand what this individual means when he says that Deelip is not revealing the source. Deelip very clearly said that the solution was his. He has ads of HIS products on HIS blog. He regularly makes it a point to let his readers know of his associations with the CAD vendors. What is there more to disclose?

    Paul is right. If someone needs to disclose anything, it is this individual. I smell sour grapes.

  • I think we all know where this person is coming from and what maybe the motives. I don’t mind discussing/arguing with a person, whatever the issue may be. But doing it with an anonymous person when there is no reason to be anonymous is simply not worth the trouble.

    Gentlemen, I suggest that we leave it at that. Unless Anonymous wants to continue to entertain us.

  • I think we all know where this person is coming from and what maybe the motives. I don’t mind discussing/arguing with a person, whatever the issue may be. But doing it with an anonymous person when there is no reason to be anonymous is simply not worth the trouble.

    Gentlemen, I suggest that we leave it at that. Unless Anonymous wants to continue to entertain us.