At first glance, the Inventor Model Browser tells you the overall story of a model’s design history, or better said, the features that were used to create the model and the order in which they were created. This certainly is good information to know; however, the Model Browser has a number of additional commands that you can use to delve deeper into learning more about your model. Over the last number of years, enhancements have been made to the Model Browser, and because they don’t have major impacts on the design workflow, these excellent changes often get missed. I put together the following list to highlight some of the things that I really like and use:
This one is obvious for experienced users, but it’s a good one for new users just getting started. Often designers like to rename features to easily identify their purpose in the model. However, for a downstream user of the model, the naming scheme may not be clear. In this case, the icons associated with each feature can give you quick information on the type of feature. These icons do not change once created so it is a good idea to learn what the icons represent. For example, (Extrude), (Revolution), (Fillet), (Chamfer), and (Hole).
In the Model Browser, you can right-click on any feature name and select Relationships to open the Relationships dialog box (shown below). This convenient dialog box can quickly reveal the relationships between features and enable you to make changes (edit), if required. Reviewing the list of features in the Parents and Children lists can help you get a better idea of the relationships. The selected feature displays in blue in the graphics window and any selected feature in the Parents or Children areas displays in green.
The Advanced Settings menu () provides more convenient options for the Model Brower.
My favorite is Display Preferences > Show Extended Names. This can be really helpful, especially for extrudes and revolves, as it tells you which Boolean operation was used for the feature and its distance or angular value. For example, it will tell you if material was added ( - Join), removed ( - Cut), intersected ( - Intersect), or created as a new solid ( - New Solid). The extended names can also provide patterning information.
The Expand All option is a quick way to expand and look at all features and embedded features (e.g., sketches), which is useful if you have found a feature/sketch in the model and want to know which feature it is associated with. Once selected in the model, you can expand all features and scan for the selected item.
The Find option is also a great tool to locate items using Advanced Search constraints, as compared to simply using the search option in the Model Brower header to search by name. I find this most beneficial if I have received a model with relationships/equations that I need to understand. Once open, the Find Part Sketches dialog box can be customized to search for items by defining specific criteria. I will use this dialog box to enter a parameter name (from the equation) to see what sketch/feature it belongs to. Once found, it highlights the sketch in the graphics window and, with the Model Browser expanded, you can also see it highlighted in the list to help identify the sketch and feature it belongs to.
I hope that these small tips can help you leverage the Model Browser more when you need to investigate your model.
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