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Inventor – Consistently and Efficiently Calculate Finished Surface Areas

Inventor – Consistently and Efficiently Calculate Finished Surface Areas

 

One challenge that pops up from time to time is how to calculate a component’s finished surface area. Inventor will automatically calculate the total surface area in the Physical iProperties, but in many cases, the entire part does not require painting. Therefore, it is important to determine a consistent approach to calculate the surface area, so that we can repeat this process across an entire design. In this blog post, we’ll explore a process utilizing generated surfaces and an iLogic rule to consistently compute the surface area.

Inventor - Consistently and Efficiently Calculate Finished Surface Areas - Image 1      Inventor - Consistently and Efficiently Calculate Finished Surface Areas - Image 2

The first step in the process is to determine the surfaces of a component that receive a finish. The method that I have chosen is to utilize the “Thicken/Offset” tool to create an offset surface from each portion of the part that gets a finish. It is important that the offset distance is 0. Please note that you may need to split one of the original part faces to accurately compute the finished surfaces.

Inventor - Consistently and Efficiently Calculate Finished Surface Areas - Image 3

Utilize the Thicken/ Offset tool to create surfaces offset by a distance of 0

 

Because there could be other surfaces in a component, it is important to specifically designate these surfaces specifically as the finished surfaces. I utilize the “Stitch” command to group all these surfaces together. One advantage of this approach is the “Stitch” command can be modified later. This will probably never happen to you, but sometimes I forget a surface, so it’s great to have the ability to add or remove a surface from the collection.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to name the “Stitch” group of surfaces consistently, so this process can be implemented in all desired designs. I have chosen to name the feature “Finish_Surfaces”.

 

Inventor - Consistently and Efficiently Calculate Finished Surface Areas - Image 5

Utilize the “Stitch” tool and select all the surfaces to join together

Inventor - Consistently and Efficiently Calculate Finished Surface Areas - Image 6

Be sure to name the “Stitch” feature consistently, such as “Finish_Surfaces”

 

The final element of the solution is to calculate the area of the surfaces and report that value in a useful manner. I decided to utilize iLogic for the flexibility that it affords us to perform the calculations and create parameters and iProperties. In the code shown below, the calculated surface area is reported as a User Parameter and a Custom iProperty. Please note that this rule could be implemented as an “External Rule” for superior efficiency as the same rule could be used across all parts.

iLogic Code:

Dim oDoc = ThisDoc.Document

Dim oCompDef As PartComponentDefinition = oDoc.ComponentDefinition

 

Dim oSurfaceArea As Double

oSurfaceArea = 0

 

‘Cycle through the part and capture the “Finish_Surfaces” Knit Feature

For Each oFeature In oCompDef.Features

                   If oFeature.Type = kKnitFeatureObject And oFeature.Name = “Finish_Surfaces”

                                      For Each oFace In oFeature.Faces

                                                         oSurfaceArea = oSurfaceArea + oFace.Evaluator.Area

                                                         Logger.Info(oFace.Evaluator.Area)

                                                         Logger.Info(oSurfaceArea)

                                      Next

                   End If

Next

 

 

‘Convert the oSurfaceArea to square inches, as the value is cm^2 from Inventor

‘I’ll use the brute force method and simply divide the value by 2.54 * 2.54

oSurfaceArea_Inch = oSurfaceArea / (2.54 * 2.54)

Logger.Info(oSurfaceArea_Inch & “: is the total area, in inches”)

 

 

‘Set the SurfaceArea to a Parameter Value and set that to be an Exportable parameter / custom iProperty

‘Access the UserParameters object collection

oUserParameters = oCompDef.Parameters.UserParameters

Logger.Info(oUserParameters.Count)

 

‘If there are NO User Parameters, create the user parameter

If oUserParameters.Count = 0

                   ‘Create the parameter if it doesn’t exist

                   oParameter = oUserParameters.AddByValue(“Finished_Surface_Area”, oSurfaceArea, “in in”) ‘Use “in in” since square inches isn’t a defined unit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ‘and it will Convert From cm^2

                   ‘Set the parameter to be exposed as a custom iProperty

                   oParameter.ExposedAsProperty = True

End If

 

‘Cycle through the existing User Parameters and modify / create the “Finished_Surface_Area” parameter and set it as a custom iProperty

For Each oParameter In oUserParameters

                   If oParameter.Name = “Finished_Surface_Area”

                                      Parameter(“Finished_Surface_Area”) = oSurfaceArea_Inch

                                      ‘Set the parameter to be exposed as a custom iProperty

                                      oParameter.ExposedAsProperty = True

                                     

                   Else

                                      Logger.Info(“Parameter does NOT exist.”)

                                      ‘Create the parameter if it doesn’t exist

                                      oParameter = oUserParameters.AddByValue(“Finished_Surface_Area”, oSurfaceArea, “in in”) ‘Use “in in” since square inches isn’t a defined unit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ‘and it will Convert From cm^2

                                      ‘Set the parameter to be exposed as a custom iProperty

                                      oParameter.ExposedAsProperty = True

                                     

                   End If

Next

 

 

iLogicVb.UpdateWhenDone = True

So that’s the process. Put it all together and now one can calculate the amount of paint, or whatever finish, across an entire design. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below. Happy blogging and have a most blessed day!

 

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Do you use any of these tips and tricks in your daily workflow? Feel free to brag about your success in the comments!

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