By Jennifer MacMillan
I recently had the need to create a copy of a large assembly. I wanted to create the copy so that a number of components were renamed while others were not, and all of the components were to reference the new copied instance of the top-level assembly. Initially, my first thought was to use the Autodesk Vault software (my data management system), and then I started to think about the other tools that I could use. I actually didn’t want to have the new design in my vault and was likely to scrap the entire assembly once I tested a few design senarios.
I thought that this summary might be nice to share.
Copy Design (Vault)
This option is great if you have the Autodesk Vault software installed and work with this data management system to manage your files. The Copy Design option copies the entire assembly structure, preserving all of the relationships. Conveniently, it can also include all related drawings or presentation files. Using this option you can choose which components to copy, reuse, exclude, or replace. You can also define a naming scheme (prefix/suffix) for the files you copy to the new design.
iLogic Design Copy
Initially, I didn’t think that this option would work for me. Honestly I think that this was simply because it had “iLogic” in the command name and the option was located on a panel named iLogic on the Tools tab. But this is not the case! In fact, my files didn’t have to have a single iLogic rule in them and I didn't even have to know how to spell "iLogic". My guess is that a lot of people assume the same thing and haven’t even tried it. A benefit of the iLogic Design Copy option over Vault’s Copy Design option is that it takes into account any rules that exist in the models that are being copied and enables you to determine whether those rules are copied or not. This is a great way to create a fully configured version of a design where all rules are removed. If no rule exists, the models are simply copied.
To use the iLogic Design Copy option, all files, including the models being copied, must be closed. Once executed, you select a project file to reference and select Assemblies, Parts, Drawings, and Non-Inventor Files in the project to be copied. If a parent file is selected, any referenced child file is automatically selected. Additionally, you can select the destination folder for the models, create a new or use the existing project file, and apply a prefix or suffix to rename the files. The entire set of copied files can be duplicated in a new folder without any references to the source files.
Copy (Assembly environment)
In the Assemble tab > Pattern panel, the Copy option enables you to create a copy of the active assembly and its components. Once active you must select the top-level assembly in the Model browser and then selectively change the status buttons adjacent to all of the component names.
The status options include copying, reusing, or excluding the files. Additionally, you have the option to reuse standard content and factory parts, or not. The key to using this option for duplicating an entire assembly design is to ensure that the Open in New Window option is selected in the Component Destination area. If not, the components are simply copied within the existing assembly design. You can assign the file location directory for the assembly and its components, as well as assign the naming scheme or even enter completely unique file names. All of the copied files are opened in a new window and must be explicitly saved to create the files in the specified directory.
The Design Assistant is a tool that is available both within and outside the Autodesk Inventor software. To copy files you must access the tool outside of the software. To access it, expand the Start Menu > All Programs > Autodesk > Autodesk Inventor 2014 and click Design Assistant 2014. Once running, open the assembly that is to be copied and select the Manage option. In the Action column for each component, right-click and assign an action of either Rename, Copy, or Replace. The action can be applied to multiple components at once by selecting them all. Additonally, you can change the File Location and Subfolders column to change the path or modify the Name column for the copied files. Unlike the other copy options discussed, you have to manually rename the components instead of assigning a prefix or suffix. Click Save to initiate the copy operation.
I decided on the iLogic Design Copy option but the Design Assistant would have worked for me as well. Hope that this summary helped.