Inventor 2014 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Understanding constraints


Inventor 2014 Essential Training

with John Helfen

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Video: Understanding constraints

Constraints are a way to add intelligence to sketches, and in turn, parts in Autodesk Inventor. I want to talk a little bit about constraints before we get into creating geometry, because if you don't understand what a constraint is, you may become confused when you first start creating geometry. Because Auto Disk Inventor will automatically try to apply certain constraints to certain geometry as you're creating it. A constraint, by definition, is something that limits or restricts something. In this case, we're limiting or restricting the motion of sketch geometry.
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  1. 1m 24s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 6m 20s
    1. Exploring major workflow steps
      2m 19s
    2. Reviewing different file types
      4m 1s
  3. 22m 3s
    1. Navigating using the ViewCube
      4m 56s
    2. Navigating using the navigation tools
      5m 31s
    3. Using the browser
      3m 34s
    4. Using the ribbon bar
      2m 47s
    5. Using the Quick Access Toolbar
    6. Using the Marking menu
      4m 33s
  4. 22m 6s
    1. Basic menu customization
      6m 40s
    2. Custom ribbon bar panels
      6m 22s
    3. Keyboard
      5m 9s
    4. Marking menu customization
      3m 55s
  5. 20m 24s
    1. Project file introduction
      3m 54s
    2. The project file: .ipj
      4m 4s
    3. Setting up the project file for this course
      7m 11s
    4. Frequently used subfolders
      5m 15s
  6. 22m 31s
    1. Introducing sketching
      4m 55s
    2. Working with origin geometry
      4m 46s
    3. Understanding constraints
      7m 39s
    4. Application options
      5m 11s
  7. 50m 43s
    1. Drawing lines
      6m 29s
    2. Creating rectangles and arcs
      9m 26s
    3. Creating splines
      6m 35s
    4. Creating slots
      5m 43s
    5. Construction geometry
      6m 18s
    6. Dimensioning
      9m 34s
    7. Parameters
      6m 38s
  8. 30m 33s
    1. Move, copy, and rotate sketch geometry
      7m 43s
    2. Trim, extend, and split sketch geometry
      6m 20s
    3. Scale, stretch, and offset geometry
      7m 47s
    4. Creating rectangular, circular, and mirrored sketch patterns
      8m 43s
  9. 19m 27s
    1. Understanding work features
      3m 58s
    2. Creating offset work planes
      4m 17s
    3. Creating work planes
      6m 59s
    4. Creating work axes and points
      4m 13s
  10. 16m 50s
    1. Projecting geometry
      7m 7s
    2. Importing AutoCAD data
      9m 43s
  11. 54m 31s
    1. Part feature introduction
      5m 14s
    2. Creating a base extrusion feature
      8m 46s
    3. Keeping extrusions connected with the To next face/body option
      4m 29s
    4. Creating revolves
      7m 42s
    5. Creating complex shapes with the Loft tool
      8m 50s
    6. Adding control to a loft by creating rails
      8m 40s
    7. Creating a sweep feature
      6m 16s
    8. Creating a sweep feature with model edges
      4m 34s
  12. 24m 44s
    1. Adding holes to a part model
      10m 10s
    2. Modifying edges with fillets and chamfers
      4m 18s
    3. Hollowing parts with the shell feature
      10m 16s
  13. 25m 37s
    1. Creating rectangular feature patterns
      9m 23s
    2. Adding intelligence to a rectangular pattern
      5m 45s
    3. Creating rectangular feature patterns along a path
      2m 22s
    4. Creating circular feature patterns
      3m 11s
    5. Mirroring part features
      4m 56s
  14. 31m 30s
    1. Understanding iParts and iFeatures
      3m 19s
    2. Creating an iPart from an existing part
      11m 0s
    3. Changing between versions inside an iPart
      5m 50s
    4. Extracting iFeatures for use in other parts
      5m 11s
    5. Inserting iFeatures into a part
      6m 10s
  15. 26m 23s
    1. Introduction to assemblies
      1m 59s
    2. Placing components
      7m 40s
    3. Creating components in the context of an assembly
      8m 9s
    4. Placing fasteners from the Content Center
      8m 35s
  16. 46m 14s
    1. The Mate/Flush constraint
      9m 42s
    2. The Angle constraint
      5m 34s
    3. The Insert constraint
      3m 55s
    4. Driving constraints
      10m 0s
    5. The Transitional tab
      3m 50s
    6. The Motion tab
      9m 18s
    7. Contact sets
      3m 55s
  17. 18m 38s
    1. Adding materials to parts in an assembly
      4m 3s
    2. Visual styles
      4m 52s
    3. Enhancing the design experience with shadows
      2m 9s
    4. Adding a ground plane, reflections, and perspective to a design
      3m 34s
    5. Changing the lighting style to match a design
      4m 0s
  18. 39m 11s
    1. Exploring initial drawing creation
      5m 6s
    2. Placing base and projected views
      9m 31s
    3. Creating section views
      8m 0s
    4. Creating detail views
      3m 56s
    5. Creating a breakout view
      5m 41s
    6. Creating auxiliary and cropped views
      6m 57s
  19. 25m 57s
    1. Creating general dimensions
      9m 20s
    2. Changing dimension precision
      4m 21s
    3. Creating baseline, ordinate, and chain dimensions
      5m 51s
    4. Creating baseline, ordinate, and chain dimension sets
      6m 25s
  20. 10m 43s
    1. Creating individual balloons
      4m 34s
    2. Creating a group of balloons with automatic ballooning
      3m 40s
    3. Adding a parts list to the drawing
      2m 29s
  21. 30s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Inventor 2014 Essential Training
8h 36m Beginner Apr 17, 2014 Updated May 19, 2014

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Already up and running? This course is the next step in building your Autodesk Inventor skillset. Author John Helfen takes you through the interface and key processes of this parametric design system, including sketching, part modeling, assemblies, and drawings. Each process works in conjunction with the rest, allowing you to create parts and assemblies and document them in a way that they can be manufactured. Learn how to set up your project file; create and modify geometry; create extrusions, sweeps, and lofts; build parts with placed features and patterns of features; and create iParts and iFeatures. John also covers assembly visualization techniques, drawing views, and balloons and parts lists.

The course was created and produced by John Helfen. We're honored to host this training in our library.

Topics include:
  • Customizing Inventor's menus
  • Drawing rectangles, arcs, splines, and slots
  • Moving, copying, and rotating geometry
  • Trimming, splitting, scaling, and stretching geometry
  • Creating work planes
  • Projecting and importing geometry
  • Creating extrusions, revolves, sweeps, and lofts
  • Adding holes to a part model
  • Creating rectangular feature patterns
  • Creating iParts and iFeatures
  • Using constraints to position parts
  • Creating drawing views
  • Setting dimensions
John Helfen

Understanding constraints

Constraints are a way to add intelligence to sketches, and in turn, parts in Autodesk Inventor. I want to talk a little bit about constraints before we get into creating geometry, because if you don't understand what a constraint is, you may become confused when you first start creating geometry. Because Auto Disk Inventor will automatically try to apply certain constraints to certain geometry as you're creating it. A constraint, by definition, is something that limits or restricts something. In this case, we're limiting or restricting the motion of sketch geometry.

We're essentially, adding intelligence to the model that instructs it how it can and can't move, as we make changes to our design. What I've done is setup a sketch practice part, which will allow you to very easily see what constraint do to geometry as it's been applied. To begin, we're going to edit this sketch that I've created. In the browser, you can see Sketch one, and you can double click on this icon, or right click and select Edit Sketch, to begin editing the geometry. For those who are new to Inventor, I want to call out one feature that can come in quite handy while you're learning what constraints are.

And that's the ability to right click in the graphics window, and select Show All Degrees of Freedom. What this does, is shows all of the available motion inside geometry in a sketch. What I mean here, is this arrow is pointing in all four directions, which means, if I click on this end point, and left click it and drag, you can see that I can move in all directions. I'm going to hol-, go ahead and use Control Z to undo that. But what you'll see here, is as we add geometric constraints, you will see some of these arrows be removed, indicating that something is being restricted.

Now as you get better with inventor and you understand this, you probably aren't going to use this feature that much. But it's nice while you're getting started. Constraints come in a couple of different forms, they come in geometric constraints and dimension constraints. We're going to start with geometric constraints. Here you can that see we need to apply a horizontal constraint to this piece of geometry. We're going to go the sketch tab, under the constrain panel and select the horizontal constraint. Once that's been enabled, we can select the piece of geometry we want to add the constraint to, and, you'll see that the line becomes horizontal.

I can right click and select cancel or okay, to get out of the command. Now that we've done that, you can see some of the arrows have changed, and now, if I left click and drag on that endpoint, my line will change length, but with, and it and it will change horizontally. But, if i move my cursor up and down, I'm locked into a horizontal position, which is exactly what we want. Now before we move on to the other constraints, let's talk a little bit real quickly about dimensional constraints. While geometric constraints control how a shape can change, the dimensional constraint or the dimension, lets you define how big that your piece of geometry can be.

For example, if I left-click on the line and then left-click to place the dimension, I can enter two, and control the exact size of this line. I can always go back and edit that by clicking on the two, and changing it to something else like 1.5. Now that I've applied a geometric and dimensional constraint, I want to show you how you can see the geometric constraints. I'm going to hit Escape to get out of the dimension command. And then I'm going to right click on the graphics window. And in the right click menu, I have an option that says, show all constraints, or F8 on my keyboard.

What that does is brings up all the constraints that have been applied to the geometry in this sketch. You'll see lots of locks, those are the locks that I use to pre-define some locked in positions, so that you could actually do this exercise. If I zoom in on our horizontal line, you might see a little blurriness here. This is essentially a couple of constraints, and if you left click and drag, you can move them around for clarity's sake. But what you'll see here is I have a lock, which, when I hover over it, highlights this center point, or this mid-point, and I have this horizontal constraint, which, when, when I hover over it, highlights the line itself.

This allows you to see what geometry is being affected by this specific constraint. Now, I have these two here, and I don't really need to see this lock anymore, so I'm going to hit this x next to it. What that does, is temporarily turns off the visibility of that constraint, just to clean up the display a bit. If I want to actually delete the constraint, like for example this horizontal, I can hover over it, left-click, and then right-click on the geometry to get the option to delete it.

With it highlighted, I could also just hit E+Del on the keyboard to delete it. But what I'm going to do is right click on this and select Delete, which now you can see I get new degrees of freedom based on the fact that I deleted that constraint. And, if I want to test that, I can left click and drag on that end point, and you can see that while I maintain my dimensional 1.5 constraint I am no longer locked into a horizontal position. I'm going to go ahead and hit Crtl+Z to undo that, and put things back to the way they were.

Now as we continue on, I'm going to clean up the display a little bit by right-clicking, and selecting Hide All Constraints, which is also F9 on your keyboard. And I'm also going to right click again and select hide all the grades of freedom, because I always just want to clean up the display if we walk through the rest of this. The next few constraints we need to add we're going to do fairly quickly. You've seen most of the instructions, but what you need to do now is walk through and apply the appropriate constraint based on the description here. So I'm going to go ahead and real quickly apply a vertical constraint by clicking on the button first, and then selecting on the line that I want to make vertical.

I can then right-click and select okay to get out of that command. Next, I want to make these two lines co-linear, which means make 'em perfectly in line with each other. And I can do that by using the co-linear constraint on the tool bar in the constrain panel. And I can select each piece of geometry to make it co-linear with each other. Now constraints are bi-directional as well, rather than selecting the button then selecting geometry, I could chose to select the geometry first if I wanted to. I'm going to go ahead and continue by adding a concentric constraint, which essentially lines the two center points of these circles up, by selecting each of the pieces of geometry.

If I don't want to get out of the command, I can simply go select a different constraint. The next one we need to apply is the tangent constraint and you can see on my, by my cursor, I'm still seeing the concentric icon. If I simply go up and select the tangent icon from the tool bar, you'll see I now have a tangent icon next to my cursor, and I have the ability to select the circle, and this line, to make sure that they only touch at that one point, making them tangent. Finally, I'm going to add a perpendicular constraint. You can do this by selecting the perpendicular icon in the constraint panel, and then selecting each piece of geometry, which will lock the two pieces of geometry 90 degrees from each other.

This should provide a basic overview, of what constraints are and how they work so that when we get into creating geometry, you understand how Inventor is automatically applying some of these constraints.

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