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Issue 1 of Mechanical Tips & Tricks

Welcome to this month's Graitec Mechanical ‘Tips and Tricks’ newsletter. We have produced this with you our Clients, in mind. Our aim is to regularly pass on helpful Tips and Tricks on Autodesk Mechanical Software products. We will try and keep this document full of useful and relevant information for you but if you want to make some suggestions on the content, drop us a line and we will do our best to include your requests. 

Please take the time to look at the contents of this Newsletter, you never know, the answer to something that is puzzling you today may be right here.

This Months Tips & Tricks Focus Is On :

Increasing System Performance

Following this years successful Inventor User Day at the Rose Bowl Hampshire Cricket Ground, many of our customers have asked for the Powerpoint slides of the tips and tricks and installation instructions.

So we have decided to use the Tips & Tricks as a method to share this information with you.

This month covers ‘Increasing System Performance’.

If you are interested in further details or have questions about Autodesk Inventor please contact your Sales Contact at Graitec or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What is the Styles Library and how can it make Inventor work quicker and more efficiently?

Solution:There are two ways to store styles within Inventor:

1. Template Files - embedding the styles within the template you use to create a new file.

2. Library – an external set of xml files Inventor is dependant on for style selection.

By default, styles are embedded within the template set and the option to use a Styles Library is switched off within the project setting. Using this method is preferable due to being similar to the AutoCAD workflow where e.g. text & dimension styles are kept within the .dwt file. This however is not the most efficient way within Inventor and the Styles Library should be used.


1. Scenario- Template Files (e.g. part file template)

The part file template stores colour, material and lighting styles. You wish to apply a colour style to your model from the approximate 100 colour styles available. After applying the required colour style, there remains 99 unused colour style definitions left within the part file. In this example and concentrating on colour styles alone, based on an assembly of 1000 parts, 99,000 unused colour styles are loaded which are not actually needed. Also considering that the same problem will occur when applying materials and lighting, the dataset size is much bigger than it should be and therefore runs slower.One way to remove unused styles is to use the ‘Purge Styles’ function available from the ‘Format’ menu. This however can slow you down due to having to purge each file you create and stops you from easily changing the style later on. The only way in fact to retrieve a style once purged, is to import the exported styxml style file back into the part file you were working in. This styxml file must be however exported from the template file to begin with.

2. Scenario – Styles Library (e.g. part file)

Again using a part file where colour, material and lighting styles are applicable. You wish to apply a colour style from the approximate 100 colour styles available. In this example the option to use a Styles Library has been switched on from within the project settings dialog box. All template files have been purged as to remove local styles as described in the previous scenario. When using a Styles Library, the definitions are located in a set of xml files located by default in the following directory,

C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Inventor 2008\Design Accelerator

Ideally these files should be copied to a shared server location in order to be backed up and where there is more than one user, have styles available for all. After copying the files over, it is also necessary to re-direct Inventor to look to this new location. This setting is available under,

Tools menu, Application Options, File tab, Design Data (Styles Library)

When using a Styles Library, selecting a colour style is done in exactly the same way as if you were using the template method. When the colour is selected the definition is automatically copied over from the set of xml files to the actual part file you are working in. Therefore rather than have to load the approximate 100 colour styles, it only has to load the 1 although the other 99 styles are available if required from the colour drop down list.

If you want to make adjustments to the colour style you have selected, the changes are initially saved within the file you are working in. This is ideal as it allows you to make quick changes without worrying about affecting the master definition and other users wishing to use that style. Should you wish for all users to use the modified style, you must save the changes back to the Styles Library. This is done by right clicking on the colour style from within the ‘Styles Editor’ available from the ‘Format’ menu and selecting ‘Save To Styles Library’.

In the following example shown, the bracket file is purged to remove local styles and the Styles Library is switched on. Due to the file size being reduced, based on an assembly of 1000 parts, an extra 9% of components can be placed and have the same file size of the original data set should a Styles Library not have been used.

Click to view video

What is LOD and how can it make Inventor work quicker and more efficiently?

Solution: LOD is short for ‘Level Of Detail.This was a new tool introduced within Inventor release 11 in order to allow the user to unload specific files that were not applicable to the changes being made upon the model data. Where in the past users may have switched the visibility off of certain components as to concentrate on a specific area, now you have the option to unload (suppress) this information (which also switches the visibility off). This allows the data within your physical RAM to be much less and therefore allow performance while modelling to improve.

When opening files you have the option to decide what LOD you require, therefore only loading the files that are applicable to what you may be modifying. There are also some default LOD states e.g. ‘All Content Centre Suppressed’. This state allows you to open the full assembly but automatically suppresses all Content Centre standard parts e.g. nuts, bolts, washers etc. If you use ‘Design View Representations’ to switch the visibility of certain components off, you also have the option to now copy this state to a ‘LOD’ state and therefore unload the files at the same time.

Within the following example a ‘Design View Representation’ is turned into a ‘LOD’. Note the numbers of components having to be loaded initially and the remainder of components loaded after the ‘Level Of Detail’ state has been created.

Click to view video

How can I use the ‘Derived Component’ tool to increase system performance?

Solution: It is possible to derive an assembly file into a part file and therefore reduce the size of data. Rather than place the assembly file into the master assembly, place the part file instead. This will look exactly the same as the original assembly file and have an associative link. Should the original assembly file be changed, the derived part will update to suit.

It is also possible to use the ‘LOD’ tool to create a state that loads the original assembly file (overall master assembly becomes slower) as well as having a state that loads the simplified part representation (overall master assembly becomes quicker). This allows you when necessary to switch to the full detail state and make changes to the sub assembly. Once completed, you are then able to switch back to the simplified state and all derived parts (sub assembly) will update to suit.

Within the following example, two ‘LODs’ are created, ‘Simplified’ & ‘Full Detail’. For the ‘Simplified’ version the sub assembly is derived into a part file and this is placed instead of the full assembly file. For the ‘Full Detail’ state, the simplified part file is suppressed and the full sub assembly is loaded. Again, note how many files are being loaded for each state and remember less files means less use of RAM, which equals a faster modelling experience.

Click to view video

How can I quickly reduce the file size of a part file?

Solution: If you want to quickly reduce the file size of a component for either storage or emailing to customer/suppliers, use the ‘End Of Part’ feature. Within the following example, the part is reduced from 2.3 MB to 588 K by simply dragging the ‘End Of Part’ just below the first feature created. This is similar to zipping the file but in this case, much more effective.

Click to view video

How can I get the best out of my hardware?

Solution 1: Use the 3 GB switch & allocate more RAM

Background Microsoft Windows reserves the upper half of the 4 GB virtual address space of any process for the operating system, and leaves the remaining 2 GB for the application process, including the space for the code pages, the stack, and all dynamically allocated memory.
Thus, Microsoft Windows operating systems support no more than 2 GB of memory usage for one application. The 3 GB feature divides the memory space differently, providing 3 GB for the application and 1 GB for the operating system. This is not a network server limit, but is relevant to users working with large, memory-intensive data sets.

Note: When using the 3GB switch, it is recommended that the computer has at least 3 GB of physical RAM, but 4 GB of RAM is preferred. This will considerably reduce the amount of paging done by the operating system. It is also required that the size of the page file should be 4GB or more.

To set the page file size, right-click My Computer -> Properties -> Advanced Tab -> Performance Settings -> Advanced Tab -> click on "Change" button in the virtual memory section. Enter 4096 in Initial size box as well as in Maximum size box and click on Set button. Click OK.

To enable the feature

You must change your boot.ini file (which is typically located at C:\boot.ini) to have the 3 GB option, as shown below. It is recommended that you copy the original line, and then modify the copied line to add the option and the identifying string. This sets it up so you can choose at start time whether to use the option or not.

Note: The default is to use whichever line is first.

The copied line is show in green (last line), with the modified portions of the line shown in blue.

[boot loader]



[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional3GB" /3GB/fastdetect

To ensure that Autodesk Inventor is actually allocating memory in the 3 GB range, start Inventor. Click Help > About Autodesk Inventor. The first line of text under the splash screen image should say: "Autodesk Inventor [release number] - 

3GB" If the -3GB is shown, Autodesk Inventor is successfully using the feature.


Solution 2: Check your graphics card and driver version

Firstly ensure that you have a certified CAD specific graphics card and also ensure that you have an Autodesk certified driver version installed. In order to determine this you must check the following location below for details,

Should you need to download and install a new driver, you will also be asked to donwload a hardware library update. This is a zip file containing two xml files, which must be copied into the following location,

C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Inventor 2008\Configuration

These two files inform Inventor as to what graphics cards and drivers are certified for use with the application.

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