Inventor Fusion Technology Preview 2 – Part 10

In this concluding part of the Inventor Fusion Technology Preview 2 series I will make an attempt to compare this technology with the direct editing features offered by SolidWorks through their Instant3D technology. I am doing this because just about every other MCAD vendor has done or is doing something or the other related to direct modeling whereas SolidWorks has publicly stated that it will not go down that path. Instead it will continue to “improve” Instant3D. Moreover, whenever a MCAD vendor comes up with a new direct modeling technology, I often hear SolidWorks users call the technology “nothing new” and say things like “SolidWorks already does that“. So maybe it is a good idea to actually compare the two technologies and see what they are capable of doing.

So as usual let me explain my point of view using a simple example. Lets start with the simple 3″ x 2″ x 1” box I used in Part 6.

I brought the the part into Inventor Fusion and subjected it to a series of direct modeling operations. Throughout this series I have used the word “thrash” when referring to performing direct modeling operations in Inventor Fusion. The following image shows you exactly how much I thrashed the original 3″ x 2″ x 1″ box.

As you can see I used a combination of extrudes, fillets and chamfers and punched holes wherever it pleased me. I created features that depended on other features which in turn depended on other features. Obviously this model is nowhere close to a real life part, but my point was to find out how far I could push Inventor Fusion. In order to understand a technology, I normally play around with simple parts. I guess this is the other extreme.

So lets see what happened when I open this “thrashed” model in Inventor 2010. Remember this was a simple 3″ x 2″ x 1″ box when it started out from Inventor 2010 and now it is basically one big mess. The Change Manager kicked in and showed me a list of 18 changes and recommended treatments for each change.

I was quite surprised to see that Extract Faces was not the default treatment for any of the 18 changes. This meant that the Change Manager actually thought that it could come up with a clean feature tree without any sculpt features. If it actually did, I would consider this to be a miracle. The graphics window showed me all the changes that the Change Manager managed to deduce.

As you can see, a complete train wreck. I clicked the Apply All button to apply all the changes and braced myself for a crash. Imagine my surprise when the Change Manager told me that all treatments had been applied. So did I just witness a miracle? I closed the Change Manager and proceeded to inspect the model in Inventor 2010. This is what it looked like.

Exactly how I left it after thrashing it in Inventor Fusion. But wait. What about the feature tree? This is what the feature tree looked like.

Hallelujah! This was a miracle. Not a single sculpt feature. The feature titled Extrusion1 refers to the original box which was the only item in the feature tree before I took the model to Inventor Fusion. The Change Manager added the 18 features below it.

I started this post by saying that I would compare Inventor Fusion with SolidWorks’ Instant3D. How can I? Instant3D does not add any new features to the feature tree. This is precisely the misconception that people have when they say that SolidWorks already has direct modeling capabilities.

As Matt Lombard so eloquently put it in this blog post:

Instant3D is NOT direct editing. Instant3D is an interface gimmick, using parametric methods on a purely history based model. The fact that it looks like direct editing is entirely coincidental. When you use Instant3D to change a part, you are NOT making direct edit type of edit, you are making a parametric, history based edit.

In Part 4 of this series, I asked Kevin Schneider whether Autodesk and SolidWorks were converging to the same solution but using different directions? I was referring to Instant3D. I had a reason for asking that question. Imagine this. Suppose SolidWorks ties in a technology similar to Fusion’s Change Manager to Instant3D. Then just like how the Change Manager computes changes in underlying parameters and sketches, Instant3D could also carry out similar modifications to the feature tree by either editing existing features and sketches or creating new features, similar to how 18 new features were added to the tree in the experiment above.

So when SolidWorks says that they will continue to “improve” Instant3D, do they mean that they will give it the ability to add new features? And by new features I mean real features, not messy Move Face features appended to the bottom of the feature tree. Or will they simply improve Instant3D’s ability to edit existing features? I don’t know. I guess time will tell.

I hope you enjoyed reading this series as much I did in writing it. New technology is something that interests me a lot. Maybe because I am a programmer first and a user second. I wish the Fusion team at Autodesk all the best and commend them for their efforts. I sincerely hope that they integrate the direct modeling part into Inventor instead of making users do it in another application. If and when they do so, they will then be in a position to let the Change Manager do its magic automatically after every direct modeling operation, something which I believe will greatly reduce its chance of failure.

I look forward to Inventor Fusion Technology Preview 3.

  • Dave Ault

    Curious to know if you have had a chance to play with SE ST2 yet and if so what you think of it in comparison to Fusion. Do you find the Fusion GUI well thought out or is it pretty rough.

  • Dave Ault

    Curious to know if you have had a chance to play with SE ST2 yet and if so what you think of it in comparison to Fusion. Do you find the Fusion GUI well thought out or is it pretty rough.

  • Dave,

    I just installed SE ST2 the other day to test our Solid Edge plug-ins. Didn’t get the time to sleep with her yet. 😉

  • Dave,

    I just installed SE ST2 the other day to test our Solid Edge plug-ins. Didn’t get the time to sleep with her yet. 😉

  • Jason

    I don’t think you are comparing apples to apples. Why add features with Fusion once it and Inventor are combined? Wouldn’t you just add model features with Inventor’s feature tools. Typically adding features is a fairly fast process anyway since they get added to the end of the tree. And you can define/reserve design intent.

    I’m bit a confused how Fusion is really helping in these examples. The whole hoopla about all this direct editing is that its faster, no long rebuilds, right? And that’s only a problem on really large complex models with many many features. And it looks like Fusion would fail quite a bit in that case.

    You mention that the failure rate has to do with it having to update too many changes at once, that when Fuision and Inventor are married together, it will be able to handle the changes one at a time as they are made and thus reduce the chance for error. But won’t that introduce the long rebuild issue again? If I edit a feature with fusion that is buried down in the tree, the direct edit would be instant but the update to the tree through the change manager would take time to rebuild.

  • Jason

    I don’t think you are comparing apples to apples. Why add features with Fusion once it and Inventor are combined? Wouldn’t you just add model features with Inventor’s feature tools. Typically adding features is a fairly fast process anyway since they get added to the end of the tree. And you can define/reserve design intent.

    I’m bit a confused how Fusion is really helping in these examples. The whole hoopla about all this direct editing is that its faster, no long rebuilds, right? And that’s only a problem on really large complex models with many many features. And it looks like Fusion would fail quite a bit in that case.

    You mention that the failure rate has to do with it having to update too many changes at once, that when Fuision and Inventor are married together, it will be able to handle the changes one at a time as they are made and thus reduce the chance for error. But won’t that introduce the long rebuild issue again? If I edit a feature with fusion that is buried down in the tree, the direct edit would be instant but the update to the tree through the change manager would take time to rebuild.

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Thanks for the Fusion series of posts Deelip; good perspectives.

    AutoCAD’s a sitter for this functionalty to extend what it already can do. This would make a considerably more useful tool for many and bring AutoCAD and Inventor a lot closer to were we were years ago using Mechanical Desktop; many having spent much more than they needed too!

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Thanks for the Fusion series of posts Deelip; good perspectives.

    AutoCAD’s a sitter for this functionalty to extend what it already can do. This would make a considerably more useful tool for many and bring AutoCAD and Inventor a lot closer to were we were years ago using Mechanical Desktop; many having spent much more than they needed too!

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip.. 🙂

    For me Fusion is similar to Instant3D + Move Face in SolidWorks. The different : SW keep history tree by create feature tree and its already combine in single UI.

    Then Change manager is similar to FeaatureWorks + SW Utilities in SolidWorks ( Single UI ).

    But both of thode technology only in SW Pro or Premium.

    Maybe you can take a look at both of them 🙂

    Thanks !

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip.. 🙂

    For me Fusion is similar to Instant3D + Move Face in SolidWorks. The different : SW keep history tree by create feature tree and its already combine in single UI.

    Then Change manager is similar to FeaatureWorks + SW Utilities in SolidWorks ( Single UI ).

    But both of thode technology only in SW Pro or Premium.

    Maybe you can take a look at both of them 🙂

    Thanks !

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip,

    You can also check this site : http://help.solidworks.com
    Look under SolidWorks>User Interface>Instant3D.

    Thanks !

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip,

    You can also check this site : http://help.solidworks.com
    Look under SolidWorks>User Interface>Instant3D.

    Thanks !

  • Jason,

    The USP of direct modeling is not to only to add features easily (push this and pull that). Rather it is also to be able to modify them easily (push this and pull that). You are right. Take away push/pull, and the feature creation in SolidWorks and Inventor Fusion may feel the same. Its the feature modification that sets these worlds apart.

    As regards the rebuild issue, as long as a history based feature tree is involved, that problem is not going anywhere. The only way to solve that problem is throw the tree away and do direct modeling only like SpaceClaim.

  • Jason,

    The USP of direct modeling is not to only to add features easily (push this and pull that). Rather it is also to be able to modify them easily (push this and pull that). You are right. Take away push/pull, and the feature creation in SolidWorks and Inventor Fusion may feel the same. Its the feature modification that sets these worlds apart.

    As regards the rebuild issue, as long as a history based feature tree is involved, that problem is not going anywhere. The only way to solve that problem is throw the tree away and do direct modeling only like SpaceClaim.

  • Nurk,

    Instant3D does not add features. So you really cannot add anything to an existing model since it only edits an existing feature. Move Face does not edit a feature. It simply adds a new feature to the bottom of the tree. These two things are mutually exclusive.

    In direct modeling, a single change can have the effect of creating a new feature as well as editing an existing one. In such a case the Instant3D + Move Face combo fails miserably since it neither of them can perform the operation on their own. Moreover they are not tied together so that both can play their individual parts and effect the change in the tree without messing it up. Fusion solves (or attempts to solve) this very problem.

    As regards FeatureWorks, I believe it recognizes individual features, which is nothing new. Things get interesting then features depend upon each other. The point of FeatureWorks is to give intelligence to dumb models. I am not sure whether the technology knows what to do with models that already have intelligence, which have been modified in a direct modeling environment and now need to update their intelligence. That is what the Change Manager does.

  • Nurk,

    Instant3D does not add features. So you really cannot add anything to an existing model since it only edits an existing feature. Move Face does not edit a feature. It simply adds a new feature to the bottom of the tree. These two things are mutually exclusive.

    In direct modeling, a single change can have the effect of creating a new feature as well as editing an existing one. In such a case the Instant3D + Move Face combo fails miserably since it neither of them can perform the operation on their own. Moreover they are not tied together so that both can play their individual parts and effect the change in the tree without messing it up. Fusion solves (or attempts to solve) this very problem.

    As regards FeatureWorks, I believe it recognizes individual features, which is nothing new. Things get interesting then features depend upon each other. The point of FeatureWorks is to give intelligence to dumb models. I am not sure whether the technology knows what to do with models that already have intelligence, which have been modified in a direct modeling environment and now need to update their intelligence. That is what the Change Manager does.

  • Jason

    In Fusion, what happens when you want to add a fillet….do you not invoke a fillet command? How is that different or better than doing it natively in SWX or IV?

    Instant 3d accomplishes the push and pull of faces, just not as well as it could, something I’m sure will be improved. It needs the ability to break relations as needed. It still has the long rebuilds as well.

    To me, Fusion sounds like an extra layer of something to fix. Sure you can quickly make face changes but you could end up with a parametric tree in disarray…..with underdefined features and just messy features. Next time someone uses IV to edit it, it may well be more work to clean it up.

    Featureworks is the same, it rarely creates the model decently. It often doesn’t fully create features on complex models where its most needed. And simple models could be modeled almost as fast and better with design intent manually.

  • Jason

    In Fusion, what happens when you want to add a fillet….do you not invoke a fillet command? How is that different or better than doing it natively in SWX or IV?

    Instant 3d accomplishes the push and pull of faces, just not as well as it could, something I’m sure will be improved. It needs the ability to break relations as needed. It still has the long rebuilds as well.

    To me, Fusion sounds like an extra layer of something to fix. Sure you can quickly make face changes but you could end up with a parametric tree in disarray…..with underdefined features and just messy features. Next time someone uses IV to edit it, it may well be more work to clean it up.

    Featureworks is the same, it rarely creates the model decently. It often doesn’t fully create features on complex models where its most needed. And simple models could be modeled almost as fast and better with design intent manually.

  • Jason: “In Fusion, what happens when you want to add a fillet….do you not invoke a fillet command? How is that different or better than doing it natively in SWX or IV?”

    In a direct modeling system like SpaceClaim, Fusion, etc. You can add a fillet by simply picking an edge and pushing it. Same goes with modifying existing geometry. Say if you want to move a hole, you simply pick it an move it, without being bothered by the underlying sketch that was used to create it. You model the way to think, not the way the software is internally structured.

    Your point about ending up with a messed up feature tree is perfectly valid. That will happen when the Change Manager fails to do its magic. Like I showed in Part 8 when the Change Manager added a sculpt feature for the chamfer+hole instead of a extrude and chamfer. As the technology matures, my guess is that we will see less of this.

    Overall I like the direction in which this technology is headed.

  • Jason: “In Fusion, what happens when you want to add a fillet….do you not invoke a fillet command? How is that different or better than doing it natively in SWX or IV?”

    In a direct modeling system like SpaceClaim, Fusion, etc. You can add a fillet by simply picking an edge and pushing it. Same goes with modifying existing geometry. Say if you want to move a hole, you simply pick it an move it, without being bothered by the underlying sketch that was used to create it. You model the way to think, not the way the software is internally structured.

    Your point about ending up with a messed up feature tree is perfectly valid. That will happen when the Change Manager fails to do its magic. Like I showed in Part 8 when the Change Manager added a sculpt feature for the chamfer+hole instead of a extrude and chamfer. As the technology matures, my guess is that we will see less of this.

    Overall I like the direction in which this technology is headed.

  • Jason

    Just seems like an extra layer that isn’t needed, maybe once they are combined, it will be better.

    Another situation is what happens when you move that hole, and it happens to be an instance of a linear pattern. The software would have no choice but to add a “Move face” feature (SolidWorks term).

    Also, you get the messy tree even if it doesn’t fail. It will just add, delete, and modify features in such a way to break the parametric relations. Then you end up spending a lot of time cleaning it up.

    The push/pull of edges to create fillets could easily be add to SolidWorks and Inventor, along with other push/pull type edits like Instant3d.

  • Fusion recognizes patterns. Remember that it already has all the information about the pattern when the direct modeling operation starts. It will then simply modify the pattern to suit the change just made.This is different from feature/pattern recognition. Nothing needs to be recognized. Existing features simply need to be modified, that all.

  • Fusion recognizes patterns. Remember that it already has all the information about the pattern when the direct modeling operation starts. It will then simply modify the pattern to suit the change just made.This is different from feature/pattern recognition. Nothing needs to be recognized. Existing features simply need to be modified, that all.

  • Jason

    But what happens when you try to move just one instance of a pattern such that oe instance is no longer following the pattern rules?

    What about changing end condition…..like a slot that cuts “through all” or “up to next”? What is you want to give it a “blind’ depth?

  • Jason

    But what happens when you try to move just one instance of a pattern such that oe instance is no longer following the pattern rules?

    What about changing end condition…..like a slot that cuts “through all” or “up to next”? What is you want to give it a “blind’ depth?

  • Jason: “But what happens when you try to move just one instance of a pattern such that oe instance is no longer following the pattern rules?”

    If I modify a pattern in Inventor Fusion that was created in Inventor 2010 in a way that it can still follow the pattern rules, when I get back the model back in Inventor 2010, the geometry and/or parameters of the pattern are modified. If the modification involves breaking of the pattern rules then the original pattern is left untouched and sculpt features are added to effect the changes.

    For, example in a rectangular pattern of holes, if you move just one hole, two sculpt features are added, one to fill the old hole location and the other to create the new hole location. The rest of the feature tree including the original pattern is left untouched. However, if you changed the diameters of all the holes and/or moved them in a way to maintain distances like the way you have in any rectangular pattern, then when you get back the model into Inventor 2010, no sculpt features are added. Instead, the original pattern is modified (geometry, parameters) to effect the change. In this case the feature tree is as clean as it was before the direct modeling happened.

    Same things goes for end conditions and just about every other change. If an existing feature can be modified, well and good. If not, then sculpt features are added.

    When this does get integrated into Inventor, the user can choose to use whichever method he wants. If he knows that the Change Manager does not do a good job of handling a particular feature change, then he can go ahead and pick apart the feature tree and make edit the parameters/sketch himself. Otherwise he can let the Change Manager do it for him automatically.

    To put it simply, this Fusion technology is like using the Move Face command in SolidWorks and having the feature tree magically update itself automatically without adding extra Move Face features at the bottom of the tree. Only if nothing works, then Move Face Features are added. Not always, which is what happens in SolidWorks.

    I think you will agree that having a tool that you can use if and when you wish is much better than not having it at all. I don’t think this is “an extra layer to fix”. To me this is more like an extra option that I may or may not choose to use depending upon what I am doing.

  • Jason: “But what happens when you try to move just one instance of a pattern such that oe instance is no longer following the pattern rules?”

    If I modify a pattern in Inventor Fusion that was created in Inventor 2010 in a way that it can still follow the pattern rules, when I get back the model back in Inventor 2010, the geometry and/or parameters of the pattern are modified. If the modification involves breaking of the pattern rules then the original pattern is left untouched and sculpt features are added to effect the changes.

    For, example in a rectangular pattern of holes, if you move just one hole, two sculpt features are added, one to fill the old hole location and the other to create the new hole location. The rest of the feature tree including the original pattern is left untouched. However, if you changed the diameters of all the holes and/or moved them in a way to maintain distances like the way you have in any rectangular pattern, then when you get back the model into Inventor 2010, no sculpt features are added. Instead, the original pattern is modified (geometry, parameters) to effect the change. In this case the feature tree is as clean as it was before the direct modeling happened.

    Same things goes for end conditions and just about every other change. If an existing feature can be modified, well and good. If not, then sculpt features are added.

    When this does get integrated into Inventor, the user can choose to use whichever method he wants. If he knows that the Change Manager does not do a good job of handling a particular feature change, then he can go ahead and pick apart the feature tree and make edit the parameters/sketch himself. Otherwise he can let the Change Manager do it for him automatically.

    To put it simply, this Fusion technology is like using the Move Face command in SolidWorks and having the feature tree magically update itself automatically without adding extra Move Face features at the bottom of the tree. Only if nothing works, then Move Face Features are added. Not always, which is what happens in SolidWorks.

    I think you will agree that having a tool that you can use if and when you wish is much better than not having it at all. I don’t think this is “an extra layer to fix”. To me this is more like an extra option that I may or may not choose to use depending upon what I am doing.

  • Jason

    I could see this being integrated into Instant3D. It just lacks the ability to override feature constraints and automatically add a “move face” feature.

    I’m still not sold on having a separate interface to learn for making direct edits and hoping the feature tree updates without problems. I guess it depends on how they marry the two programs.

  • Jason

    I could see this being integrated into Instant3D. It just lacks the ability to override feature constraints and automatically add a “move face” feature.

    I’m still not sold on having a separate interface to learn for making direct edits and hoping the feature tree updates without problems. I guess it depends on how they marry the two programs.

  • Jason: “I’m still not sold on having a separate interface to learn for making direct edits”

    The separate interface you mention is the reason I think the packaging of the technology is a disaster. Hopefully in the next technology preview, they will make it all happen in Inventor itself.

  • Jason: “I’m still not sold on having a separate interface to learn for making direct edits”

    The separate interface you mention is the reason I think the packaging of the technology is a disaster. Hopefully in the next technology preview, they will make it all happen in Inventor itself.

  • Jason

    Just seems like an extra layer that isn't needed, maybe once they are combined, it will be better.

    Another situation is what happens when you move that hole, and it happens to be an instance of a linear pattern. The software would have no choice but to add a “Move face” feature (SolidWorks term).

    Also, you get the messy tree even if it doesn't fail. It will just add, delete, and modify features in such a way to break the parametric relations. Then you end up spending a lot of time cleaning it up.

    The push/pull of edges to create fillets could easily be add to SolidWorks and Inventor, along with other push/pull type edits like Instant3d.