In my ongoing series of Inventor Customizations we will take a look at some options for iFeatures placement and browser recognition.
Inventor's iFeatures allow users reuse and repetitive geometry without having to remodel it from scratch each time. Typically these types of features are industry, company, or design specific. Commonly these types of features help the standardization of designs for both standard products and new design concepts.
The creation of an iFeature (.ide file extension) usually evolves from a couple of factors in design.
- Does this geometry need to be standardized due to varying user design methods?
- Does your company create geometry that is used as a standard in industry?
- Does your design commonly go through iterations or design improvements that require remodeling?
- Will the geometry be used to retrofit older designs and models?
After you have a case for an iFeature, to aid in adoption of the iFeature it usually needs two things. First is the ability for anyone to place it correctly. Second is the ability to recognize it in the design for modification.
In order to facilitate correct placement of an iFeature a Placement Help option is preferred. This is a file that is embedded to the actual iFeature when created and hence becomes available during placement. First up, draft a Word document or Adobe PDF or even a simple image of what needs to be done with your authored iFeature to correctly place it. Use the Insert Object command in the iFeature file and choose the Create From File option without linking the file.
Next, expand the 3rd party dialog box and right click on the new object and choose Placement Help.
Now when you are placing an iFeature the little blue i icon will be available to show the user how to place your repetitive geometry.
More customization can also be had inside the iFeature dialog to create your own custom imagery for the browser tree icons. This will help users tell the geometry apart from other Inventor iFeatures. For instance, if you are using more than one iFeature in a file it would be best to tell a visual difference in the browser, and it can be good for a change of pace of the normal icon. Simply start the Change Icon command inside the iFeature file. Here you will be able to change the color and design of the browser image. NOTE: If you want a clear background you have to choose the Magenta color as a back fill (see below).
Now when the iFeature is used it will have a distinguishable icon in the browser to determine the geometry it represents or maybe just a company logo to show that it is your standardization. NOTE: Inventor needs to be restarted in order for the icon changes to take effect in the iFeature placement flyout (Manage Tab, Insert Panel). Notice some of these do not have icons and others do.
The browser can be further enhanced with the Application option of Key 1 as Browser Name. Which will put the first filter key from a table driven iFeature behind the name of the iFeature in your model history.
I hope you enjoyed this deeper look into Inventor customization of iFeatures.