Technical Documentation

Autodesk Inventor OEM

This section describes how Autodesk Inventor OEM can be used to create custom applications incorporating the high-level functionality available in Autodesk Inventor.

It does not aim to offer a description of the Inventor functionality, which can be found elsewhere, rather to provide an insight into how easy it is to create your own custom applications.

What is Autodesk Inventor OEM?

What is Autodesk Inventor OEM?

Autodesk Inventor OEM is a development platform that allows you to create a stand-alone application built on Autodesk Inventor technology. To your customers it will appear as your custom application since it is installed using your installer, licensed with your licensing, and is branded as your product (application name, splash screen, and various other icons).

You can choose to include Inventor commands as-is or create your own commands. The interface into the platform functionality is the Inventor API. Your functionality is supplied through an add-in.

Autodesk Inventor OEM is essentially Inventor with a few changes, listed below:
  1. It is modular. You can choose to have an application that only needs part functionality, part and assembly functionality, or part, assembly, and drawing functionality.
  2. The branding is configurable so you can define your own application name, splash screen, application icons, executable name, etc.
  3. It is fully independent of Inventor with regards to shared files and registry entries. This means it can be installed on a machine that has Inventor or another OEM application and run side-by-side.
  4. It is independent of Autodesk licensing, allowing you to incorporate your own licensing.

Inventor OEM Key Features

3D Layout and System Design

Getting the initial design concept right is the key to a successful project. Move your initial design studies from paper by using the parametric design environment in Inventor OEM to develop initial concept sketches and kinematic models. Perform detailed motion studies using sketches, and find kinematic solutions in the concept phase. Quickly evaluate different mechanisms by combining sketch blocks representing individual rigid and moving bodies to create 2D kinematic models. With a working design, you use the same sketch blocks to populate the assembly with correctly constrained part models.

Plastic Part Design

Inventor OEM offers plastic parts designers maximum flexibility by combining native Inventor geometry with exterior surface models designed with industrial design applications such as the Autodesk® Alias family of products. Functional plastic features, rule-based fillets and powerful multi-body workflows simplify the design of high-quality molded part models.

Quickly and easily modify shape details using surfaces from Inventor OEM software or by incorporating imported surfaces. Construct 3D part geometry from a closed set of surfaces, and incorporate imported surface data into the model using the Sculpt tool to modify existing parts by adding or removing material.

Create models with high-quality surface characteristics, and check design data for manufacturability to avoid costly changes during manufacturing setup. Zebra and Gaussian analysis tools simplify the process of checking for tangency, continuity and curvature.

Make sure molded parts meet aesthetic guidelines for the position of parting lines while supporting cost-effective manufacturing requirements. Divide the 3D component to define the molded parts, using tools to identify silhouette curves for optimum parting plane geometry and multibody operations that make it easy to split the part into separate bodies.

Quickly add the technical plastic features that define manufacturing-ready parts. With built-in support for pull direction and draft angle, Inventor plastic features generate multiple-element features for molded plastic parts in a single step. Add grills, bosses, lips, rests, and snap-fit fittings to plastic parts with less modeling than traditional approaches.

Speed up the creation of fillets on machined and molded parts, and make changes to parts without having to recreate the fillets. Rule fillets generate fillet geometry based on functional rules you establish. Support for multiple rules per feature lets you define complex fillet operations with a single feature, greatly reducing the need to select individual edges.

Cross-section analysis displays wall thickness, color-coded feedback of minimum and maximum thickness violations, and moment of inertia at the end of the cross section. Draft angle analysis displays color-coded draft angle based on a pull direction, which can be defined by an axis, plane, or planar face.


Sheet Metal Design

Use the Inventor OEM Digital Prototype to simplify the design of complex sheet metal parts. Generate flat patterns that accurately reflect your manufacturing capabilities. Control sheet metal unfolding with styles that define the material thickness, bend rules, and corner reliefs. To control the unfolding geometry, Inventor software supports linear unfolding, custom unfold equations, and custom bend tables.

Speed up the design of sheet metal parts with complex flanges using intelligent 3D models that take your manufacturing processes into account. Intelligent features enable the creation of multiple flanges in a single operation with rich unfold options, automatic mitering, and seam level overrides for precise control of overlap and relief conditions. Supported features include flanges, contour flanges, and lofted flanges.

Create accurate digital prototypes that include roll-formed parts. The contour roll command simplifies the creation of rolled features with full support for supplemental sheet metal features and flat-pattern operations.

Simplify the inclusion of punches, cuts, fillets, chamfers, and extrusions that span sheet metal bend plates. Use the unfold and refold commands to create features using an unfolded representation of the part. Automatically propagate the resulting features to both the folded model and the flat pattern.

Optimize flat patterns to eliminate unnecessary manufacturing costs. Generate flat-pattern models automatically from the folded 3D model. Then modify the model to define the optimum bend sequence, add cosmetic centerlines, define postform operations, and modify corner reliefs to match your shop-floor capabilities. Information defined in the flat pattern also simplifies the creation of accurate manufacturing drawings.

Quickly create accurate manufacturing drawings to support sheet metal manufacturing operations. Document flat-pattern drawings by inserting punch notes, punch tables, and bend tables that display punch and bend data from your 3D model, and select the display of bend directions using drawing styles.

Assembly Design

Inventor® OEM combines design accelerators with assembly tools so you can be sure that every part and component in an assembly design fits correctly. Quickly assemble individual parts and subassemblies to define the complete product structure. Verify that your product can be assembled. Insert and position new components in the assembly, using constraints to capture the positional relationships that define fixed and moving components.

Realize the benefits of 3D design when developing very large assemblies. Native shrinkwrap gives you the ability to manage large assemblies by converting sub-assemblies into simplified part models or lightweight surface models. With level of detail (LOD) representations, you can switch between full and lightweight representations to control memory consumption and increase performance. A large assembly “capacity meter” shows you how much memory is available.

Easily design and document product families using assembly configurations to define variations from a master assembly. Exclude or substitute individual components and make changes to dimension and constraint values. Document the whole part or assembly configuration using the Table tool, which automatically creates the parameter table in a 2D drawing.

Installing the Autodesk Inventor OEM Development Platform

Installing the Autodesk Inventor OEM Development Platform

As an Inventor OEM customer you’ll be provided with an installer for the Autodesk Inventor OEM Development Platform.

When installing the OEM Development Platform you should select the options that best represent the configuration you plan to deliver to your customers. For example, if you don’t need drawings in your application but will use part and assembly you should choose to only install the part and assembly modules. The same is true for translators and add-ins; only choose to install those that you’ll need for your application.

The installation process is simple with only a few options.

The install directory can be at any location.

The bulk of the options are shown below.

The result after installation is that you’ll have an application called “Inventor OEM 2015” installed on your computer that can be run and will look very similar to a standard Inventor installation. You’ll now reconfigure that installation to be your OEM application and then use this modified version to create your OEM installer.

Inventor OEM can be installed on the same machine as Inventor. In fact a typical Inventor OEM development machine will have both Inventor and Inventor OEM installed.

The Inventor installation delivers the Inventor API SDK, which contains the full API documentation and samples for Inventor. It also includes VBA which can be very useful for quickly prototyping concepts.

The OEM SDK contains samples and tools specific to configuring your OEM application and doesn’t duplicate the information in the Inventor API SDK.

Creating Your Primary Add-In

Creating Your Primary Add-In

Inventor OEM has the concept of a primary add-in. Every OEM application has to have at least one add-in. The primary add-in is the first add-in Inventor OEM loads and is expected to perform the license check to verify that this is a valid installation of your OEM application.  In addition to license checking, the primary add-in can also implement any other functionality the OEM application will have.

To handle the license checking when your add-in is activated you need to verify that the license is valid using whatever licensing technology you’ve chosen. If the license is valid your add-in should continue running as it normally would. If the license if not valid you need to call the Application. Quit method to shut down Inventor OEM. Inventor OEM will continue to load, but once it’s loaded it will immediately terminate.

The primary add-in and any other add-ins used with Inventor OEM are standard Inventor add-ins. There are however a couple of differences between most standard Inventor add-ins and those used with Inventor OEM. The first is that Inventor OEM add-ins are never registered within the registry but instead use a different technology known as registry-free COM. Inventor also supports registry-free add-ins but doesn’t currently require that all add-ins be registry free, like Inventor OEM does.

The Inventor Add-In wizard delivered as part of the Inventor 2015 SDK creates registry free add-ins. However, if you have an existing add-in that isn’t registry-free you can convert it to be registry free using the step-by-step directions in the appendix of this document.

Using the Inventor OEM Configurator

Using the Inventor OEM Configurator to configure your Application

You use the Autodesk Inventor OEM Configurator tool to configure OEM to be your application. The configurator is accessed through the Start menu, as shown below.

The OEM Configurator allows you to define various elements of your application. The changes that the OEM Configurator allows you to make can be grouped into two categories; branding and behavior.  Branding is the ability to set the various elements of the user-interface that identifies one product from another. For example, the splash screen, background image, application icon, and application name.

The behavior changes the configurator supports let you define what standard capabilities of Inventor will be available in your application. For example, you can define which types of documents are supported, define the primary add-in, and define the contents of the ribbon.

To run the OEM Configurator you must have administrator privileges. When executed, the configurator dialog is displayed. You’ll use this dialog to define certain behaviors and assign resources to your OEM application.

Inventor OEM Configurator Options

Inventor OEM Configurator Options


Settings Tab

The Settings tab lets you define some settings and the behavior when creating new documents.

Application Name
This field is where you specify the name of your application. This name will appear at the top of the main frame window and will also appear in the caption of some dialogs and the Exit button in the application menu.

Executable Name
This is the name of the file that the user executes to start your application. Changing the name in this field will result in the name of the executable in the “Inventor
OEM 2015/bin” being changed to match this name.

File Types in New
This area of the dialog is where you specify which file types will be available in the New file drop-down and the New file dialog, as shown below.

In the “Custom Display Name” column you can enter a custom name that will be shown
in the New file drop-down in place of the standard name.

In the “Custom Template” column you can specify the file name of the default template you want to use when creating a file of this type.  You only need to specify the filename, not the full path.

Selecting the Blocked check box will result in blocking that file type completely so that it will not appear in the New file drop-down or dialog.

Allow Inventor CER’s – When Inventor crashes a Customer Error Report (CER) is generated and sent to Autodesk for analysis. By default, the creation and sending of a CER is disabled for Inventor OEM.

Checking this box will enable it. You should only use this when you’ve encountered a problem that you are having a difficult time to debug. The CER will still be sent to Autodesk.  When the CER dialog appears make sure you enter your email and something unique in the description. You can then work with the Autodesk support team to find your CER and analyze it.


Splash and Zero Doc Images Tab

The Splash and Zero Doc Images tab lets you specify which images to use for your splash screen and the background image (zero doc image).

To change an image, double-click on it and an Open dialog is displayed allowing you to browse and select the image you want to use.

All images need to be bmp files. No other image types are currently supported.  You can use any size for these images but for an idea of good sizes, Inventor’s splash screen is 600 x 400 pixels and the background image is 320 x 200 pixels.

The image used for the background can be any image, but images with pictures should be avoided because the image is scaled to fit the current size of the application window and the aspect ratio will not be constant. This will result in a picture being stretched and not displaying as expected. Inventor uses a gradient image.

The horizontal “Autodesk Inventor” and vertical “Autodesk” seen in the background preview are separate images that are overlaid onto the background image. You can specify these by double- clicking within the areas designated by the dashed red lines.

You will typically want a transparent background for these images so that the zero doc background image will be seen beneath it. The bmp image format does not support transparency. However, the color magenta is treated as a transparent color. The actual “Autodesk Inventor” image used by Inventor is shown below.

The current implementation of OEM is to add a “Powered by Inventor” image to the horizontal image that you specify. This may change in the released version of Inventor OEM.

Icon Images Tab

This tab lets you define the icons used for the Application button and the executable file.

Application Icon Images
This area of the dialog allows you to select the images you want to use for the Application button, as shown below. The Application button can be large or small, where the small one is displayed when the ribbon is undocked. You supply three images for each size. The Default image is how the button appears when the user is not interacting with it, the Hover image is used when the mouse is over the button, and the Down image is used when the button is pressed.

The application icon images are defined using bmp files, one file for each image. The large images are 41×41 pixels and the small are 41×24 pixels. To specify a bmp, double-click on the image in the dialog you want to set.

Windows System Icon
The file system icon is applied so that the correct icon is within Windows. The primary places where you see this icon is in Explorer, the task bar, and when using Alt-Tab to select a running process. The Inventor icon is illustrated below.

This icon is defined using an ico file. An ico file packages several bitmaps of various resolutions and color depths within a single file. You can start with the SystemIcon.ico file provided in the OEM SDK folder so you can see the images that are expected and then replace the images with your own using an icon editing tool. Visual Studio will let you view the contents but does not support editing 32-bit color depth images so you’ll need to use some other icon editor.
Add-Ins Tab

This tab lets you define the primary add-in and other add-ins that you want to allow to run in your application. To specify the primary add-in enter the class ID GUID of your add-in in the field provided. The class ID must be enclosed within opening and closing braces “{ }”. If the class ID is highlighted in red, then it is not a valid GUID and needs to be fixed.

For the other allowed add-ins you specify the class ID GUID for each add-in that will be allowed to run, one on each line. They must also be enclosed in braces.

Ribbon and Keyboard Tab

This tab lets you specify overrides for the contents of the ribbon and keyboard shortcuts.

By default, the contents of the ribbon in OEM will be the same as in Inventor. There are two approaches you can use to customize the contents. Which approach you choose generally depends on the extent of customization you need to do. For example, if your application will use a large portion of the Inventor commands then it’s probably best to begin with Inventor’s ribbon and make changes to it using the API. This is the same approach that Inventor add-ins use.  During activation of the add-in they add their commands to the ribbon. For a typical add-in this results in adding additional commands to a ribbon, but there is not a limit to the extent of the customization that could be done. For example it would be possible to delete or hide all of the tabs in a ribbon and create new ones to provide a completely different ribbon.

The second approach of customizing the ribbon provides a better solution for this latter case where you want to provide your own ribbon contents and not use any, or very little, Inventor ribbon layout.  It’s for this second approach that you use this tab. The ribbon interface in Inventor consists of seven different ribbons.

  1. The zero doc ribbon is displayed when there aren’t any documents open.
  2. The part ribbon is displayed when an .ipt document is active.
  3. The assembly ribbon is displayed when an .iam document is active.
  4. The drawing ribbon is displayed when an .idw document is active.
  5. The presentation ribbon is displayed when an .ipn document is active.
  6. The iFeatures ribbon is displayed when an .ide document is active.
  7. The unknown document type ribbon is displayed when the engineer’s notebook is active or the view orientation dialog when creating a drawing view is active.

For each ribbon you can create an XAML file that defines the contents of that ribbon. If you use XAML to define the content of any ribbon then all ribbons default to empty unless there is XAML to define its contents. The XAML file must already exist and you use the “Import…” button for the ribbon you want to define.  This will allow you to browse and choose the XAML file.  Once a XAML file has been imported you can use the configurator to view the contents or to delete the XAML. To replace an existing XAML import you need to delete the current one and import the updated XAML.

Installer Tab

This tab lets you specify options you want in the final installer and will create the installer. This is not implemented in the current version.

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