Paul Munford

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AutoCAD Inventor LT Suite - AnyCAD 2D DWG Underlay

2D 3D with the AutoCAD Inventor LT SuiteWe all love drafting in AutoCAD, and we don’t want to give it up – even when the items we are drawing become more challenging.

What if I told you that you could keep your 2D AutoCAD DWG files, and reference them into Autodesk Inventor as the start of a 3D model?

What if I told you that the link inside Inventor to the AutoCAD DWG file is LIVE!

That’s right – any update you make to the AutoCAD file, will also take effect inside the Autodesk Inventor model!

And finally, what if I told you that you can add Autodesk Inventor LT as an upgrade to your existing seat of AutoCAD LT (for a modest fee)?

How to turn a 2D AutoCAD DWG into a 3D Inventor model.

But how is this done Paul, I (Imagine) hearing you cry?

Let’s take a look.

This screen shot is a drawing that I have completed inside AutoCAD LT.

AutoCAD LT Model Example Third

I’d like to re-purpose this 2D DWG line work to create a 3D model in Inventor LT.

I know that I can add material and appearance properties in Inventor LT, and that adding material information will allow me to easily calculate the weight and total surface area of my part.

I’ll also be able to use the 3D model to create a rendered image of my part, which the sales and marketing team will be overjoyed to use in their promotional material.

Inserting a 2D AutoCAD file into a 3D Inventor model.

First, I’ll open a new part file in Autodesk Inventor LT. Next I’ll use the import tool to pick my AutoCAD LT DWG file.

Importing an AutoCAD LT DWG File as an AnyCAD Underlay into Inventor LT

Tip: Notice that we don’t have to close the 2D DWG file in AutoCAD LT in order to import it into Inventor LT.

Inventor will prompt us for a coordinate system to match our DWG underlay with. I’ll pick on the a work plane to host the underlay, and Inventor’s Center point (0,0) as a location point.

Inventor will insert the DWG file into the part file as a reference, and we will see the reference in the feature tree.

Note that the 0,0,0 origin point of the AutoCAD File is matched up with the 0,0 point of the work plane in the Inventor file.

An AutoCAD LT DWG File Inserted into Inventor LT as an AnyCAD Underlay

Preparing the 2D DWG reference for modelling.

I’d like to match the bottom of the ‘FRONT’ view from the AutoCAD file to the Center point, so I’ll right click on the reference and choose ‘Translate’.

Translating a 2D DWG underlay in Autodesk Inventor

This allows us to pick a new point on the referenced DWG file to snap to the Center point of the Inventor part file.

Finally, we can right click on the reference and pick ‘Crop’ to crop out just the ‘FRONT’.

Cropping a 2D DWG Underlay in Autodesk Inventor

In the image below I have Used the ‘Layer Visibility’ option from the right click menu to turn off the AutoCAD Layers I don’t need, and inserted the 2D DWG file the twice more to bring the other two views in.

An AutoCAD LT DWG File Used to Create a 3D Model in Inventor LT

Now we are ready to start modelling.

Or are we?

Projecting referenced DWG geometry into an Inventor sketch.

In fact – we can’t use a referenced AutoCAD file directly, we need to create an Autodesk Inventor sketch first, and projected the AutoCAD geometry we want to use into the Inventor sketch.

We will create a new 2D Sketch on the XY plane, and use the ‘Project DWG Geometry’ tool to tell Inventor which DWG lines to reference into the sketch.

Notice in the following images that I have also created some reference dimensions from the projected DWG geometry. We can use these when we are modelling to make sure that the size of the extrusions are driven by the referenced AutoCAD file.

Projecting a 2D DWG Underlay in Autodesk Inventor

NOW we are ready to start modelling!

Creating a 3D Model from a referenced AutoCAD DWG file.Create a 3D Model in Inventor from a 2D AutoCAD AnyCAD Underlay

We can now use Autodesk Inventor LT’s standard modelling commands to create our 3D version of out 2D AutoCAD file.

Finally, we can add a material to our part, which gives at a nice shiny appearance and also calculates the weight of the part and its surface area.

The link back to the AutoCAD DG file is still live. If we make any changes in AutoCAD LT, we just need to hit save and Inventor LT will recognise that a change has happened and prompt us for an update.

AutoCAD to Inventor 2D-3D bonus tip.

When I first began learning Autodesk Inventor, I simply wasn’t able to work fast enough to complete all of my work in the new CAD package.

Instead, I would do a portion of my work in AutoCAD, and then pick a more complex item to model up in Inventor.

The great thing about AutoCAD LT and Inventor LT is that they both use DWG as a drawing file type. This means that we can dress up our 2D AutoCAD drawings by inserting a view of our 3D Inventor model.

In the image below, I’ve opened up my AutoCAD DWG in Inventor and I’ve inserted a view of my Inventor model into the AutoCAD DWG file.

An AutoCAD LT Drawing Agmented with a 3D View from Inventor

How do I find out more about 2D – 3D with the AutoCAD Inventor LT suite?

We are hosting a webinars for 2D to 3D with the Autodesk AutoCAD LT suite, please have a look at our events page for available dates.

Please click on the link to watch the recorded webinar and you’ll get to see exactly how this workflow can help you in your design process.

If you are interested in taking an Autodesk Inventor LT Essentials Training Course, just contact Graitec today by clicking the button below and filling out the form.

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