March 21, 2017

Posted on March 21, 2017 by Synergis Product Support Specialist, Mark Lancaster
It’s that time when Autodesk releases another version of Inventor.  I’m taking Inventor 2018 out for a test drive and sharing what it has to offer.  Although there are many new enhancements, my personal top three are the new measurement tool, followed by the updated browser interface, and a close tie for third place are the 3D Annotation (or Model-Based Definition – MBD) for parts and ANYCAD for Inventor.
Will you agree with me?  Perhaps you will have your own favorites.
“Measure” (measurement) tool interface (see video for additional information):

“Inventor browser” (see video for additional information):

3D Annotations or “Model-Based Definitions” (MBD):  Was originally part of the 2017 release but it never made it.  Like I did at first, you may question why you would use 3D Annotations in your part design.  Think about this…  If you could design and dimension in a single file and eliminate the need for 2D drawings, would it be something you would consider?   Although this feature is being provided to apply GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning & Tolerance) to your part design, the use of 3D Annotations in your part file may assist you in other ways.  See videos for additional information.
Overview of 3D Annotations:

Tolerance Feature Workflow (GD&T):

“ANYCAD for Inventor”:  Yes you heard that correctly.  There’s now ANYCAD for Inventor.   Starting with Inventor 2017 R4, you can now reference newer versions of Inventor part and assembly files into legacy Inventor models.  At this time, files created in Inventor 2018 will now be able to be “linked/referenced” back into models created/saved with the R4 version of Inventor 2017.   But the key word is “REFERENCED”.  Models created in a newer version of Inventor can only be edited in the version they were created in.

  • Performance Improvements for
    • Faster view compute for hidden line removed views
    • Min frame rate is setting is now used for zooming
    • Faster move, pan, and rotating views in models and drawings
    • Opening Assembly especially in nested file structures
    • Drawing view creation, preview, editing and changing view representation
    • Faster 2D graphics (sketching, drawing view, and DWG underlay)
    • Faster component selection with drawings
    • Faster raster view rendering
    • Faster selection and highlighting in both express and full mode
  • Due to performance improvements, certain Application Options/Document Settings have become obsolete. Images below are based on Inventor 2017 Application Options & Document Settings.  They are being provided to demonstrate which options have been removed within Inventor 2018.

  • Fx Parameters: A Consumed by column and “By Feature” filter has been added to the Fx Parameters dialog. See video for additional information.

  • With Inventor 2017, you had the ability to turn on/off the mini-toolbars. In 2017, the default was set to “ON”.  In Inventor 2018, the default for displaying mini-toolbars is now set to “OFF”

Open (dialog): The Find command is now accessed through the binocular icon and last saved information (introduced in Inventor 2017 R3) has been relocated under the thumbnail image.
Sheet Metal:  Multi-body sheet metal (Face, Contour Flange, Lofted Flange, and Contour Roll) now support unique thickness/rules for each body.  See video for additional information.

Extrude Distance from Face:  New extruding option to extrude sketches residing on other planes without the need to create additional sketches/projected geometry or additional work planes.  See video for additional information.

Hole Function Enhancements: A new option is provided to adjusted the starting face of the hole when there’s overlapping surfaces above the starting face of the hole.  The other two new enhancements is the ability to create a zero (0) depth spot face and a bi-directional hole.  See video for additional information.

Chamfer Tool Enhancement:  A “Partial” tab has been added to the Chamfer function dialog to allow for the creation of partial (length) chamfers.  See video for additional information.

Open or Place (dialog): The following changes

  • Find command is accessed now through the binocular icon.
  • Last saved information (introduced in Inventor 2017 R3) has been relocated under the thumbnail image.
  • A toggle to open in Full or Express mode provided without the need to access File Open Options.
  • A toggle to open in Full or Express mode provided under the File Open Options. Previous version only had a toggle to open or not open in Express mode.


  • In Inventor 2018, Shrinkwrap and Simplify functions have been relocated. First image shows layout in Inventor 2017.  Second image shows where the functions have been relocated in the 2018 release.

Inventor 2017 – Shrinkwrap and Simplify Functions


  • Shrinkwrap workflow has changed as well and additional options has been added to fine tune your results.
    • Pre-Inventor 2018: Define file information and then Shrinkwrap requirements.

  • Inventor 2018: All functions, like file creation and Shrinkwrap requirements are now present in a single dialog.
  • Components tab: Document level information/choices for removing components
  • Features tab: Choices for which features to remove

Create tab: File creation information along with Shrinkwrap style and other settings

  • Just like the Open dialog for opening Inventor part and assembly files, changes when opening drawing files are
    • Find command via the binocular icon
    • Last saved relocated under the thumbnail image
    • Toggle to defer updates or load full is now provided without the need to access these options under the file open options.
    • Drawing File Open options have also been changed for Inventor 2018.

Drawing File Open Options per Inventor 2017 – Showing what option has been removed for Inventor 2018

  • Delay added to view updates when editing view scales. Thus allowing the user to change the view scale without the view reacting instantly to the change.
  • A preview of your drawing view can now be enabled or disabled when placing views on the drawing. When disabled, only the view boundary box is displayed and thus allowing for faster placement of views related to large model.
  • An option now to create a border/box around leader text or normal text annotations

  • A Recovery Options tab has been added to the Drawing View dialog box to control whether to include surfaces and/or mesh bodies. Additional options to include work features (relocated from the Display Options tab) and model dimensions when placing the drawing view.

  • A toggle for Defer Update has been added to the right mouse content button in a drawing. This works the same as accessing the Tools/Document Settings of the drawing.

  • When exporting a drawing to PDF…
    • The From and To Values for sheets range are no longer session based
    • Option to display results in Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Views with out-of-date components now also get the out-of-date state icon within the browser tree.
  • The right mouse click drawing view context menu option of Retrieve Dimension (Pre-Inventor 2018) has been renamed as Retrieve Model Annotation allowing you to retrieve your part 3D Annotations (MBD) into your drawing views.

Inventor 2017 – Drawing View Right Mouse Context Menu

Other notable enhancements (in no specific order).

  • DWG Underlay:
    • Assembly files now support DWG Underlay (import your drawing file directly into an assembly) under the Place Component function
      1. Browser/DWG underlay right mouse context menu is also updated and provided with the options of delete, translate, redefine, measure, visibility, layer visibility and suppress/break link to support DWG Underlays in an assembly.
    • Part or Assembly files now allow for more than 1 DWG underlay to be imported in.
    • Text styles carried over from the DWG underlay will be named <dwg name>|text style
    • Layers carried over from the DWG underlay will be named <dwg name>|layer name when you are changing the layer visibility of the DWG Underlay using the right mouse context menu option
    • “Open in AutoCAD” is now present in the right mouse context menu, when you right mouse click on DWG underlay in the Inventor browser
    • When the option “Autoproject Edges During Curve Creation” is enabled under Tools/Application Options/Sketch (tab), DWG Underlay geometry of points, arcs, circles, lines and polylines from the DWG Underlay will automatically be projected.
    • Corrected Joint behavior related to DWG Underlay geometry.
  • When working with parts list and Bill of Materials, you can now sort by numerical or string.
  • In the Trim Surface dialog, an APPLY button was added so you can continue to trim without exiting the function
  • Support for surfaces has been added to presentation files such as the tweak command can move surface bodies or orient/position the tweak triad using surface geometry.
  • As always, newer version of Inventor now support additional versions of supporting CAD applications (direct translation/supporting file versions). See the help section of Translator Support for additional information.
  • When exporting to a STEP file, Application Protocol of 242 has been added to support 3D Annotation or MBD type part files.
  • And with any other Inventor releases, I assume there’s one or two “Easter Eggs” laying around waiting to be discovered by Inventor users. If you find one, let us know…
    • Here’s one that I found under Application Options/Files Tab
    • %RELEASE% variable will make it easier to export and import your applications options in the future.

Hopefully the in-depth information along with the various videos was beneficially to you in learning “What’s New in Inventor 2018”.  Have fun with this new version and if you have any questions about this release please let us know.  Until next time…