Today, Autodesk released the information about Autodesk Inventor 2011 and its companion products. Here are the PDFs to get you started...
Now that you have your drool guides, lets look at some of the enhancements to the Interface, Sketching, Part Modeling, Assembly, and Drawing environments of Inventor Suite. In the coming weeks I will dive into the Professional upgrades more and the companion products such as Alias Design for Inventor and Inventor Publisher.
General Interface Enhancements:
Right off the bat the new Visual Styles will grab you by the mouse and not let go. Inventor now supports multiple visual styles including Illustrative, Realistic, and even Watercolor. These are in addition and in the same location to three preexisting ones (Shaded, Hidden, and Wireframe). Also to note is the greatly enhanced material library of higher res bitmaps for textures. This visual fidelity also transfers directly to Showcase and Revit so there is less work for those users of your designs. The inclusion of image based lighting and reflections is also a nice touch to get quick renderings without spending too much time in Studio.
Perhaps the greatest thing since sliced bread to come to Inventor for some time is the Dynamic Input for Sketching geometry. This system has been inside AutoCAD for a number of years and it always befuddles new Inventor users coming from AutoCAD why it isn't there. I should also mention that AutoCAD now has Inferred Constraints that automatically create in a way similar to Inventor now too, which is great if you find yourself having to go back to AutoCAD for some tasks.
Part Modeling Enhancements:
When it comes to the Part Modeling Environment, the advent of the new Direct Manipulation mini toolbar is a true breath of fresh air. Taking styling from the Inventor Fusion interface, the Extrude, Revolve, Fillet, Chamfer, Edit and Create Sketch commands can now be accessed directly in canvas. This greatly reduces mouse travel for the bread and butter commands and creates a nice fluid way to create your designs quickly and efficiently. Oh did I mention that there is now an asymmetrical extrusion and revolve option? Watch below.
Another notable for the Part Modeling environment is the integration with Inventor Fusion (still a Technology Preview from Labs though) that will allow you to choose Fusion when you are editing solids and utilize the Change Manager that was exclusively available to subscription customers only before. Also taking hints from Inventor Fusion is the Move Face command enhancement which works in a way similar to the Fusion tools as well.
Moving right along with the Direct Manipulation idea seen in the Part Enhancements, the new Assemble command creates a very easy work flow to quickly snap together your design without having to start the constraint command or to fumble with the Alt+Drag shortcut. In fact this Assemble command is very similar to the Alt+Drag method of constraining but it is much smarter and can define discrepancies in your constraints. It is also a far better choice than Grip Snap which is really for more conceptual assembly creation. The limiting constraint is also a welcome addition to the Constraint command as well as the option of naming constraints as you place them so there is less browser clean up.
I loathe to call these enhancements simply because almost everything here was included in the 2010 Subscription Bonus Pack available to anyone on subscription. Now if you were not on subscription you will find these tools very handy. If you were already on subscription there is only about one thing extra they added and that is the ability to import custom Hatch patterns (.pat) files from AutoCAD to the Inventor styles manager.
Other Notables: Fusion, iLogic, iCopy, Alias Add in
The Alias Design for Inventor is a very nice touch for quick editing of complex solids. This is not a freebie though, you have to have Alias Design 2011 in order to actually have the add in start. Don't be the guy that calls in and says every time you try and load the Add in, it just doesn't take. Overall though the tool set is very robust and fluid for Inventor users who were afraid to take the Alias plunge. It is also supplemented by the Direct Manipulation toolbar as well.
iLogic and iCopy also now being included and slightly enhanced makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. This type of design automation is becoming a bigger and more buzzed about trend. Both tools help users quickly create, modify, and adjust know design intents without the tedious grunt work normally associated with the repetitive. Also having more access to the Drawing environment for iLogic and Parameters is a nice touch as well.
Inventor Fusion, now this may confound you a little bit. Please keep in mind that this is not a production ready software yet. In fact it still has the connotation of Technology Preview attached to it and it does have an expiration on it. You still have the option in the software to change from Fusion back to the traditional Solid Edit commands and with the Move Face enhancements, its still not a bad environment. But if you are a go-getter edge of your seat early adopter, then you will find that the Change Manager only available to subscription members in the past will now be available to you.
Whats in a name?
Autodesk Vault Manufacturing has been renamed...again. It used to be Productstream, now it is called Vault Professional. I always thought Manufacturing was perhaps a little too narrow minded, especially since Vault is now being programmed for a lot of other Autodesk products.
Also a welcome addition is the Autodesk Inventor product by itself. In the past you could only get Inventor with AutoCAD and it was called AutoCAD Inventor Suite and then the flavor of Inventor after it. Now you can get Inventor without AutoCAD for less. This is great if you are a user that has not needed AutoCAD for some time. Personally, I think everyone needs AutoCAD whether it be for collaboration efforts or tasks that Inventor just isn't the right idea for (but this list is very short nowadays).
I hope you enjoyed this look at Inventor 2011 and some of the new enhancements coming your way. I will be adding more to the blog in the coming weeks as I already mentioned. Look forward to Publisher, Inventor Factory, Alias Design for Inventor, and more of the Professional enhancements to Inventor 2011. Oh and btw, don't forget about your subscription center settings or you may be sitting by your mailbox with a frown on your face.