March 27, 2012

Inventor Styles and Standards

A consistent configuration of the Styles and Standards of Inventor in the 2D environment will make you a happy designer and detailer. We all want to be happy designers and detailers, right?

Let's take a look at a simple task you can do to ensure you are making the best use of the Styles Editor. There are many ways to do what I am about to do, but I have found over multiple implementations that this tends be free of headaches in the long haul.

In the Styles Editor, I begin by making a new Style for EVERY existing Standard Style. Yes, every one of them, whether I am customizing it or not. So starting with the top left column, I will expand STANDARD and make a "new" DEFAULT STANDARD but I will prefix the name with, for example, the company name. So in my case, I will make an ASTI_DEFAULT STANDARD. I will continue all the way down thru Balloons, Center Marks, all the way down to Weld Beads. My last "new" style I will create will be named ASTI_WELD BEAD RECOVERY (ANSI).

The new styles I created will then be modified to make the "company standards" for 2D Drawings in Inventor. But we are not done yet...

The OBJECT DEFAULTS Style should have an ASTI_OBJECT DEFAULTS now and if you open it to modify it, you should make the appropriate changes in the OBJECT STYLE column to list all "ASTI_..." styles. None of them should say Default, or Table, etc. They should all start with the company name.

Why go to all this trouble? This ensure that all modifications are not made to the "out-of-the-box" standards but rather the COMPANY standards! Then when you have to make changes to any of the drawing defaults, always go to the MYCOMPANY_STYLE NAME and make your changes.

It is a good bit of up-front work, but in the long run, you will be a much happier designer and detailer, which is what we all want to be. :)

A side note... if you don't want to go thru the process I have explained above, which can be long and tiresome, Applied Software can do this for you as a service! Contact your Applied Software Sales Rep for a quote!


March 23, 2012

Revit to PDF

First thing, if possible, use DWF.  I could end the post there, but for those that find themselves having to produce PDFs, read on.  For years I have used CutePDF and thought it was the best driver out there.  However, the weakness in CutePDF shows up when you try to use the Print Range feature in Revit to create a batch job of multiple prints.  CutePDF just fails miserably when it is fed multiple views to process.  So, I took to Google looking for free PDF print drivers.  I limited myself to FREE rather than trials.  Why you may ask?  Well, the FREE is the right price for everyone, right!?!

Drivers Evaluated: 1) BullzipPDF, 2) CutePDF, 3) PrimoPDF, 4) GIRDAC, 5) NitroPDF, 6) PDF995

My official findings:
  1. All PDF creators are your standard Print Driver type of process. 
  2. They each have their own printer icon in the Devices and Printer dialog. 
  3. Each supports the Print Range batch process with the exception of CutePDF.  (I did get a message from the CutePDF folks that they are working on an update that will fix this issue.)
  4. Most all do require the support of Ghostwriter, which will need to be installed prior to the PDF driver.
  5. All but one, you will need to babysit the process because they force the user to respond to their SAVE dialog box for each view selected. 
    1. BullzipPDF is the only driver configurable to turn off the SAVE dialog.  It will use the default naming conventions.
  6. Naming of the PDF: 
    1. CutePDF and BullzipPDF will append the name of the PDF as: PATH_PROJECTNAME_VIEWNAME.  So you will have an ugly, long name like: C_MyPDFsFolder_Project Name_View Name.pdf. 
    2. PrimoPDF and PDF995 will append the name a bit better: PROJECTNAME_VIEWNAME.  Nicer in that you don't have all PATH data included. 
    3. GIRDAC's PDF Creator actually forces you to name each PDF processed as you go.
    4. NitroPDF is the nicest for naming in that it just grabs the VIEWNAME.
  7. Aggravations:
    1. GIRDAC's PDF Creator and PrimoPDF want to install other apps, so watch your prompting interface as you go through.
    2. PDF995 will throw-up (yeah, I meant to use that word cuz that is what it looks like on my screen) "Sponsor Commercials" with each PDF SAVE that you do. Ever hit somewhere on the web and all-of-the-sudden all these pop-ups take over your screen?  Yeah, it looks like that.  Complete 'show-stopper' for me.
Overall, I would find myself leaning toward NitroPDF with its simplest naming convention and clean install -or- BullzipPDF with it's Ok naming convention, clean install and because you can turn off the SAVE dialog, which is nice for that workflow that entails "set in motion" then go to lunch while your workstation creates PDFs.


March 20, 2012

Conduit: With or Without Fittings

Within Revit MEP, we have two different types of Families to choose from for conduit layouts.  The first being "Conduit with Fittings" which will layout the conduit run showing separation lines between fittings and the straights.  The second is "Conduit without Fittings" which does use fittings, but does not designate them out in the layout with the division line.  In the example below you will see the greenish conduit is the "without fittings", and the cyanic conduit is "with fittings".  I used two Filters to get the "look", the first filters on the conduit and conduit fittings that contains the word "without", the second filters on the conduit and fittings that do not contain the word "without".  Notice how the junction boxes always fall into the "with" category.

Other than the "looks", there isn't much difference between the two families.  The exception is when we get to schedules.  When you right-click "Schedules/Quantities" in the Project Browser, for conduits you will find selection for Conduit, Conduit Fittings and then Conduit Run.  

In my example below I chose just the "Conduit Run" and then the "Conduit".  Notice that the "Conduit Run" schedule only accessed the "Conduit without Fittings".  The schedule also shows the length of the continuous run that is not interrupted by a junction box.  The second schedule, the "Conduit", lists out both the "with" and the "without", but only gives the actual length of the individual pieces.


March 15, 2012

2d DWF Writer

I am a big fan of DWF’s, which are Autodesk’s answer to Adobe PDF’s, but so much better. DWF stands for Drawing Web Format. They are typically created in AutoCAD or Revit to virtually print a set of documents and 3d interactive files. The DWF’s  file size is considerably smaller than a PDF. And since they are created by Autodesk they are graphic rich and easily emailed.

All this comes together with the free product Design Review to view, markup and review a project or files. But I wanted to point out a little known fact, which is DWF’s can be created for other non-Autodesk applications like Word, Excel, or basically any application you are using that has a printing option. The 2d DWF writer can be downloaded  (link below) and installed as a printer on your computer to be used with any  program. The advantage is the Markup capabilities once the DWF is brought into Design Review.

3ds Max Design - Substance

Thru the Subscription advantage Pack you can download "Substance" which is from Allegorithmic. This is a set of tools for making high end dynamic maps materials.

There was an issue with the Substance Browser not showing the material preview, which makes it difficult to create materials if you can't see them. Allegorithmic has put out a patch fix to resolve this issue. Here is the link to the download: Substance Preview Fix

March 7, 2012

Autodesk Inventor 2012 "Pack and Go"

Below is a video that I have put together that explains the Autodesk Inventor "Pack and Go" feature.

For HD, you can still get the original here:

-Jason Miles

March 6, 2012

Plan Region

What is it and how do I use a Plan Region? Here is a scenario. You are working a Revit project that is a gymnasium building. There is a basketball hoop and backboard you add to the project which is created in 3d. Example below.

But when you look at this in plan we do not see the basketball hoop, because the View Range is set to the default height of 4’-0” AFF. We could change the View Range and adjust the Top Level Associate and Offset, but this would affect the entire plan.

Here is where the beauty of the Plan Region comes in. Plan Region allows us to adjust a specific area of a plans View Range.  The Plan Region tool can be found under the View tab, Create Panel, Plans View tool dropdown, and selecting Plan Region.

After selecting the Plan Region, the items on the screen will grey out because you are now in the sketch mode. Draw a rectangle around the area needed to show. In this case where the basketball hoop is located. See below

Go to Properties and select the Edit button for View Range. Adjust the Cut plane to the height that will cut thru your object. We are choosing 10’-0” for our Basketball hoop. The Top level and offset needs to be above the Cut plane.  See below.

Pick Ok and the Green arrow to finish the sketch. You should now see the basketball hoop.
Pick Ok and the Green arrow to finish the sketch.

We are done! To go back and edit the View area size, area or height, just select the green dashed line and a contextual tab will appear on the Ribbon with options to edit the Boundary or the View Range. See below.


Revit Technology Conference

Registration is open for RTC USA.

I am excited to be teaching two sessions.
  • A Whole New System in Revit MEP
  • Lab - From Dirt to Doors the Lab
Be sure to sign up early before sessions fill up.

Mike Massey