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October 20, 2008
iCHECK For Autodesk Inventor Identifies Design Problems
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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INCAT has identified the top 21 everyday challenges to productively using Autodesk Inventor and addresses them through effective use of iCHECK, its proprietary data quality and integrity analysis software application.

Explaining the latest INCAT internal research, Dan Miles, Manager, Technical Services for the INCAT General Manufacturing Solutions (GMS) Group said, "Working closely with our clients who are using Inventor to aid in product development, we have identified 21 areas in product design, assembly design and documentation where there is the greatest potential for problems; and found that these can be identified 35 percent sooner through the use of iCHECK."

Miles noted that the use of such applications is growing rapidly in a market that demands higher quality and faster time to market. "iCHECK is the only such application available on the market for use with Inventor," he added.

Tom Hallenbeck, iCHECK Development Manager for INCAT, added, "We are serious about delivering technology that enables our clients to realize earlier problem-solving and discernable leaps in productivity. As we continue to push the envelope, we are keen to give companies the ability to validate their best practices and methodologies with our software applications. iCHECK for Inventor is a reflection of our commitment to our clients and to that mission."

iCHECK is the ideal tool for helping designers who pick up a file where another designer has left off. Three simple, everyday examples include; navigation of existing sketches that are not fully constrained, working with assemblies with adaptive features turned ON, and manipulating drawings that contain override dimensions. In each case the designer's productivity can be compromised by unrecognized problems or deviations from standards, but with iCHECK, each of conditions can be verified with minimal user interaction and can be solved in just a few seconds.

To find out the other 18 everyday user challenges that INCAT research has identified and for information about how iCHECK helps designers working in Inventor overcome those challenges, go to

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

OK, so model checking for quality may not be the coolest thing for designers and engineers, but when it comes right down to it, it can be one of the most important aspects of the product development process. CAD data quality plays a critical role when it comes to product design and accelerating the product lifecycle. CAD model checking tools ensure dimensional accuracy, geometric integrity, and conformance to pre-defined standards so that design discrepancies might be corrected at an earlier stage before the digital mock-up (DMU) is created. Good quality CAD data and associated models not only save valuable operational time and expensive overheads, but can also ensure greater
effectiveness in downstream processes and more efficient data reuse.

So exactly what constitutes bad CAD data and what can it cost?

For a long time, CAD product data quality (PDQ) checks were primarily focused on examining piece parts or assemblies for defects within a given CAD system. Traditionally, the focus was on determining issues that would affect the ability to use CAD geometry downstream by other CAx applications, such as CAE and CAM. While this is still an important part of PDQ, interoperability problems are an increasing concern. CAD model quality checking and comparison identifies CAD data problems, such as:
  • Invalid geometry that reduces reuse of native models in CAx processes.
  • Unrealistic (unmanufacturable) features requiring geometry changes during CAE/CAM model reuse, perpetuating problems between a master CAD model and downstream CAx models.
  • Unacceptable changes introduced anytime during the product development process.
  • Incomplete changes occurring between design revisions for against an ECO.
  • Undocumented changes arising between design revisions or from ECOs.
  • Changes caused by complex parametric relationships and design methodologies unknown to design engineers.
  • It should be obvious that low quality CAD data is a costly proposition, especially the deeper you get into the product development cycle or downstream applications.

    Although there are several software applications on the market for gauging CAD data quality, iCHECK is an add-on specifically developed for Autodesk Inventor for 3D CAD model quality verification. It helps maintain 3D model quality throughout the design process. In a nutshell, iCHECK is the quality assurance system for Autodesk Inventor. During the design process iCHECK works like a spellchecker to automate compliance with an organization’s best practices and methodologies.

    Advances in CAD technology have brought significant efficiency to product development processes in the manufacturing world, and global connectivity has helped structure teams designing products. Geographically dispersed teams and continuous changes in organizational structure make it virtually impossible for an organization to manually maintain and leverage its standard best-practices and methodologies universally. On the other hand, iCHECK helps organizations minimize the risk of poorly-produced data, which will likely cause inefficiency and other problems downstream in the development process.

    Some the model checks that iCHECK can perform include:
  • File Name and iProperties – Ensures adherence to file naming conventions and population of Inventor iProperties.
  • First Sketch Constrained to Origin – Ensures that all designers lock down a sketch to a part’s origin - an easily overlooked, yet important step.
  • Fully Constrained Sketch – Remembering to fully constrain sketches is also easy to overlook. With one button click in iCHECK you can highlight and find anything you might have missed in your part file.
  • Part Feature Order, Part Feature Sizes and Suppressed Features Not Allowed – Helps make better 3D part models by using these checks to control and monitor modeling best practices.
  • Adaptivity and Visibility Setting – In the context of the assembly, use iCHECK's Autocorrect feature to find any parts that are left invisible or in adapativy mode and switch them back.
  • Drawing Dimension Override – A powerful feature in Inventor allows reuse of model dimensions in a drawing. Using this check ensures no one can override the texts for those model dimensions.
  • Allowed Dimension Styles – Setting CAD standards is one thing, enforcing them is another. Use this check to ensure users employ the correct company dimensions styles in drawings.
  • Model data integrity has always been an important issue, but today, with ever-decreasing product development cycles and dispersed design teams, it is becoming increasingly important. Although iCHECK has been developed specifically for Inventor, it seems to be a well thought out implementation for dealing with the vital data quality issue with that CAD package.

    The Week’s Top Stories

    At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the news items that were the most viewed during last week.

    ANSYS POLYFLOW 3.12 Enables Improved Manufacturing Engineering Simulation and Virtual Prototyping

    ANSYS released ANSYS POLYFLOW 3.12 software for analysis of plastic and rubber processing, glass forming, and food processing. This new version of ANSYS POLYFLOW technology can handle larger problems than previous releases, since it includes several new solvers and modeling features tailored for specific applications. Newly built-in is the ability to provide data to structural analysis software from ANSYS, which improves the accuracy of virtual prototyping predictions. ANSYS POLYFLOW software is particularly well known for its capability in modeling viscoelastic materials, which include many plastics, rubber, pastes and dough. These materials exhibit behaviors in between those of
    fluids and solids and are difficult to simulate. The addition of three efficient and robust solvers — fully coupled, multifrontal, and iterative — means users can run simulations on larger meshes than previously. Faster simulation opens the door in complex rubber, plastic extrusion and coextrusion processes to optimization and automatic die balancing. The thermal stress relaxation model in ANSYS POLYFLOW enables users to detect emerging defects in the early cooling stages, providing information that can lead to improved design.

    Automotive Hall of Fame Inducts Eight

    Eight individuals representing automotive racing, design, manufacturing, the aftermarket and management have been selected for induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame. The Inductee class of 2008 includes:
  • Paul V. Galvin (1895 - 1959). Co-founder of Motorola and responsible for the first commercial application of automobile radios.
  • Robert W. Galvin (1922 - ). Former Chairman, CEO and President of Motorola. Expanded the product range of Motorola and spearheaded Motorola's Six Sigma quality management process.
  • Phil Hill (1927 - 2008). First American and the only American-born racer to win the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship in 1961. Three-time winner of the 24 Hours of LeMans.
  • Bob Irvin (1933 - 1980). Legendary automotive journalist, who reported for UPI, the Detroit News and Automotive News.
  • William E. Metzger (1868 - 1933). Automotive pioneer and promoter, America's first car dealer, and founded Detroit's E-M-F Motor Company.
  • Mort Schwartz (1934 - ). Founder of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium and the automotive aftermarket's greatest ambassador.
  • John J. "Jack" Telnack (1937 - ). Former head of design, Ford Motor Co. Oversaw the team that created the groundbreaking Taurus in 1986 and was the creator of Ford's "Aero Look" and "New Edge" design philosophies.
  • John North Willys (1873 - 1935). Automotive pioneer and businessman. Founded Willys-Overland and Willys-Knight.
  • Black & Decker Selects PTC Windchill For Strategic PLM Initiatives

    PTC announced that Black & Decker has selected Windchill for strategic PLM initiatives in its Industrial Products Group. The implementation includes Windchill PDMLink, Windchill ProjectLink, Windchill PartsLink, and Windchill Enterprise Systems Integration (ESI) to SAP. Black & Decker required a PLM solution that would enable it to accelerate time-to-market without compromising quality and innovation. Equally important was the company’s desire to maximize its technology investment by embracing a solution that would support the complex collaboration and data management requirements of its heterogeneous CAD environment and global product development initiatives. Looking to improve the
    capabilities of the company’s existing product data management (PDM) solution to successfully address these challenges, Black & Decker began searching for a replacement PLM system, and ultimately chose Windchill.

    IFS launches unique CAD integration/PDM tool

    IFS announced the North American beta launch of a CAD integration tool for its enterprise suite, IFS Applications. The first customer deliveries are scheduled for next month, with general availability planned for early 2009. While some other enterprise software products – including enterprise resources planning (ERP) software – have CAD interfaces, they typically are designed to import and export data in and out of a CAD tool. This approach creates two separate product data management (PDM) databases, and related synchronization problems. IFS leverages web services built into its service-oriented architecture (SOA) to share PDM data common to both engineering and manufacturing, resulting in “real time CAD to PDM” integration. For customers that want to keep separate the engineering and manufacturing functions, a future release will also support a more traditional “PDM to PDM” integration model. The interface can be accessed from many popular CAD applications, which addresses the problem of which CAD tool to use. Now, various CAD tools can share standardized PDM data and functionality within IFS Applications. Typically, PDM tools are proprietary to CAD platforms, which can create vendor lock-in. IFS “plug-in” adapters support multiple CAD platforms, including AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Pro/ENGINEER, and SolidWorks, allowing each CAD application to
    access the same web services within IFS Applications to access PDM and engineering data stored in IFS Applications.

    Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of
    MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
    Email Contact or 408.850.9230.

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    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.