Inventor Fusion Technology Preview 3

Yesterday I finally got the time to install Inventor Fusion Technology Preview 3. Previously I had written a ten part series on Inventor Fusion Technology Preview 2. At that time I concluded that the problem lay in the way the software was packaged – a standalone direct modeler and an Inventor add-in. The problem is that the Change Manager add-in ends up having to solve too many problems simultaneously and as a result it often fails to arrive at the correct solution. In Technology Preview 3, the packaging has not changed. It is still a standalone direct modeler and an Inventor add-in. As a result the problem has persisted, although I get the feeling that this time around the Change Manager does a better job at figuring out changes.

Here is one of the models that I tried. This is a simple flange modeled in Inventor 2011.

As you can see, the feature tree is not very complicated.

I opened the Inventor IPT file in Fusion and trashed the model around using its direct modeling tools. I made a number of changes. I increased the size of the holes of the circular array feature. I did that by selecting the inner and outer cylindrical faces and pushed them outwards. I did the same thing to the center hole. I remove the elevated portion around the hub by selecting the required faces and deleting them. I then added a fillet in its place. Finally I selected the faces of the circular protrusion at the outer rim of the flange and deleted them. I ended up with this.

Comparing this to the first image above, you can see that a lot has changed. I saved this changed model to a DWG file in Fusion and opened it in Inventor. This kicked in the Change Manager which showed me a list of treatments that it figured out – seven in all. One of the treatments is highlighted below.

This treatment is related to the initial sketch that was revolved. Although the part looked simple, it turned out to be quite tricky for the Change Manager. I say this because the faces that I deleted and pushed around were created as a result of revolving a sketch. So the Change Manager would need to edit the underlying sketch. Further down we will see whether it actually did that.

This is the list of seven treatments. I simply went ahead and clicked “Apply All”.

The Change Manager started to do its magic and I could see the features edited, added and removed in real time. Pretty cool, actually. I ended up with this.

I checked the model and found that the Change Manager had come up with exactly the same geometry as the thrashed model in Fusion. The hole diameters were increased and the elevated portions around the hub and rim were deleted. Now for the interesting part. What happened to the feature tree? Well, this is what it looked like after the Change Manager had done its magic.

Comparing this with the original feature tree above, you can see that three new features were added to the tree – Thicken, Sculpt and Delete Face. I checked the initial sketch that was used to create the revolve feature. Surprisingly, it was intact. After snooping around a little I figured that the three new features were added to take care of the changes that I had made to the initial revolve feature. So instead of editing the initial sketch, the Change Manager created three new features instead. The sketch of the circular array was modified though.

I tried a few more tests. In some cases the Change Manager worked beautifully. In some cases it arrived at the right geometry but failed to correctly edit the feature tree, like in the case above. And sometimes it failed miserably and the geometry turned out to be wrong to begin with. All said and done, I get the impression that the technology has improved since Technology Preview 2. But as you can see from the example above, it still has a lot further to go.

I wish Kevin Schneider and his team at Autodesk the very best. They have set out to do what many (including me) thought was impossible.