The Ultimate Guide to
Autodesk Inventor

The Complete Guide

Autodesk Inventor is professional level CAD software used for product design and engineering, including 3D mechanical design, simulation, tool creation, and design communication. With Inventor, you can save time and expense when making products. The parametric Inventor 3D digital model enables the design to be validated on-the-fly under real-world conditions for form, fit and function without needing to build a prototype. Simulation of motion, deflection and stress allows you to optimize the product design. Direct editing and advanced surface modeling features enable the creation of intelligent product components.

Whether you use Inventor to animate, invent or visualize your world, you’ll find that connections between products is a foundation of Inventor use. For more fabulous features, see the blog post “3 Reasons Why You May Catch the Inventor Bug.”

Top two dozen features and benefits:

  • Better innovation.
  • Less time bringing the product to market.
  • Associative link enables the use of existing DWGs.
  • Repurpose non-CAD models.
  • Parametric and free-form modeling.
  • Shape generator.
  • Motion simulation.
  • Stress analysis.
  • Illustration and animation tools.
  • Optimize designs without the need for prototypes.
  • Cloud-based design reviews.
  • Tools for routing rigid pipes, flexible hoses and bent tubes.
  • Advanced tools for visualizing, animating and illustrating.
  • All necessary fabrication instructions sent directly to the 3D model.
  • Automated and associative bills of materials.
  • Generate production-ready drawings without the need for a separate CAD system.
  • Automate mass customization.
  • Rules-based design and automation.
  • Large assembly and drawing performance.
  • Specialized tools for sheet metal and frame design.
  • Remove unnecessary geometry from a design.
  • Optimize loading conditions and target weight.
  • Open, connected workflow for non-native Inventor data.
  • “AnyCAD” connection with nine CAD/CAM software programs – no translation required.

The Basics

Inventor includes a complete set of professional-grade design and engineering tools. We think there are 5 common problems that new inventor users can avoid – if they’re aware.

System Requirements

Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 10 64-bit
CPU4 or more cores. 3.0 GHz or greater recommended. Minimum 2.5 GHz or greater.
Memory20 GB RAM or more recommended. Minimum 8 GB RAM for assemblies with 500 or fewer parts.
Video display3840 x 2160 (4K) recommended. Preferred scaling: 100%. 125%. 150%. or 200%. Minimum 1280 x 1024.
Video adapterRecommended 4GB GPU with 106 GB/S bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant.Minimum 1 GB GPU with 29 GB/S bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant.
Disk space40 GB required for installer and full installation.
SpreadsheetFull local installation of Microsoft Excel 2016 or later for workflows that create and edit spreadsheets. Inventor workflows that read or export spreadsheet data do not require Excel.
StarterOpen Office or browser-based Office 365 applications are not supported.
Pointing deviceMS-Mouse compliant. Productivity: 3DConnexion SpaceMouse driver version 10.5.12 or later.
BrowserGoogle Chrome or equivalent.
.NET Framework.NET Framework version 4.8 or later. Windows Updates enabled for installation.
ConnectivityInternet connection for web install with Autodesk Desktop App. Autodesk collaboration functionality web downloads and licensing. Network license manager supports Windows Server 2019. 2016. 2012. 2012 R2. 2008 R2. and the operating systems listed above.

See the Autodesk Knowledge Network for system requirements when developing complex models, complex mold assemblies and large assemblies of more than 1,000 parts. Autodesk also provides a list where you can search for tested and certified graphics hardware.

Go beyond 3D with a single digital model created in Inventor. Integrate design data from all phases of your product’s development. In the short video “Digital Prototyping – Autodesk Inventor,” see how an accurate 3D digital prototype can be created to design, visualize and simulate products without the expense of producing an actual physical prototype.

Using Inventor, you get professional-grade mechanical design solutions. But if you’ve never seen what Inventor can do, you may have some misconceptions. Did you know Inventor can be used to design jewelry displays? See what else Inventor can design, render and simulate in the blog post, “5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Inventor.” 

One of the more popular uses of Inventor is scaling models. For the rundown on saving time when scaling, check out the Applied Software blog article, “Scaling Models in Inventor 2016.”

Autodesk Inventor has three particular enticements that may tempt you to take a closer look. Learn about useful features and get a first-hand look at the way Inventor works in the on-demand webinar “Catching the Inventor Bug.” Inventor expert Jason Miles explains using Inventor to invent, animate and visualize parts and products that make our world go around. As you will learn, Autodesk went “big” with Inventor. If you’ve been considering switching over to Inventor, now’s the time to let it transform your manufacturing process. 

Generative design is powered by artificial intelligence, which explores thousands of possibilities for innovative designs. The designs are not invented by artificial intelligence, rather they are human designs refined using artificial intelligence. Learn about the workflows in the post: “How generative design fits today’s manufacturing processes.”  

Upgrade Notes

A vast majority of software installs go without a hitch. Inventor is no exception. Occasionally though, installs can appear to go smoothly and it’s not until you try to use certain functionality, that you realize that there are some problems. At times like that, it’s nice to have an Inventor 2017 workaround.

During an Applied Software Inventor Fundamentals class, the instructor was demonstrating the new DWG Underlay functionality in Inventor when he made a discovery. Learn what happened when illustrating the hole and thread note tools in Inventor: ”Inventor Hole Note Errors.”

Major Updates


To see what changed between Inventor 2017 and 2018, see the Jason Miles articles, “What’s New in Autodesk Inventor 2018 – General” for productivity and performance enhancements, and “What’s New in Autodesk Inventor 2018 –  Collaboration” to learn about improvements that allow you to work with others using Inventor versions different from the one you’re using (aka. AnyCAD).

If you’re working in Inventor 2018, you’ll discover what to expect from Inventor drawings in the blog post, ”What’s new in Autodesk Inventor 2018 Drawings.” In addition, “What’s new in Autodesk Inventor 2018 parts” describes model-based definition (MBD), which includes a powerful new set of tools for adding annotations, GD&T (geometric dimensioning and tolerancing) and other manufacturing information directly to a 3D part.

Part of Inventor assemblies, the shrink wrap tools have been enhanced for more control, improved user interface and an improved workflow. The highlights of those improvements are described in the blog post, “What’s new in Autodesk Inventor 2018 assemblies.” 

In Autodesk Inventor, we’ve all enjoyed the ability to project objects (edges) while in the sketch environment.  In addition, our understanding of how Inventor interprets acceptable geometry for 3D operations such as Extrude, Revolve, and Sweep, has helped us understand when to use the Construction Geometry toggle to make project objects as “Construction” instead of “Solid.” See “Inventor 2018.1 update focus – project geometry as construction” for details on how this can improve your project workflows.  


Have you downloaded the Inventor 2019.1 release yet? While some software users update to the latest version without a second thought, some drag their feet, and still others won’t even consider updating. During the on demand webinar, “What the Inventor 2019.1 Release Means for You,” you’ll learn about the updates available in Inventor 2019.1. Whether you updated readily or need some convincing, you’ll see the tempting improvements to the Frame Generator, Assemblies, Collaboration, Translators, and more.


3 Dozen Features We Are Excited about in the New Releases

The newly-released Autodesk 2020 products – including Inventor – have features that will streamline your design process, saving you and your firm precious time. We asked the Applied Software industry-trained technical experts what new features they appreciate most, and you can learn about the short list at: “Over three dozen features we are excited about in Autodesk 2020 releases.” 

The Inventor 2020 release, which began shipping in February 2019, included improvements to automation, cloud connection, core modeling, and overall performance. Read more about them in “New in Inventor 2020.” 

Take a deep dive with Jason Miles in the on-demand webinar, “What’s New with Inventor 2020.1 Update.” Jason takes a look at the latest and greatest updates, including a new addition hole command, improved frame generator functionality and additions in the iProperties catalog. You’ll be glad you took the time to learn about this rundown of improvements. Save yourself hours down the road with this webinar that explores what the new enhancements are. 

Most people involved in the software migration process don’t enjoy it, and many truly avoid it until it can’t be put off any longer. Even management doesn’t enjoy the process, though rewards are often reaped by greater efficiencies eventually from software updates. That’s part of the “why” of migrations. For more about that, plus the other details, see: “Vault Pro and Inventor Pro Migrations – Why, What and How.”

For more reasons why you shouldn’t delay your software migrations, see: “Jump In – The Upgrade is Fine” about Vault and Inventor 2020 upgrades. If you’ve been thinking about dragging your feet on the upgrade, you may think twice. Up-to-date software not only helps your business productivity, it also helps retain and attract quality employees and win customers. Want a partner that can do the heavy lifting of upgrades for you? Call on your friend in the upgrade business, Applied Software. 

Jump in The upgrade is fine Vault and Inventor 2020 part 2


Find out about Inventor 2021 in the on-demand webinar, “What’s New with Inventor 2021,” hosted by Dave Morse. Leave behind repetitive tasks. Experience the improvements in drawing creation. Plus, benefit from these features:

  • AnyCAD for Revit
  • Drawing automation
  • Frame generator enhancements
  • Better user experience 

Add-ins and Companions


Using iLogic, a model designer can control parameter and attribute values for the design. iLogic embeds rules as objects directly into a drawing, part or assembly document. So the knowledge is stored in the document in the same way geometry is stored.

glossary of ilogic terms

With iLogic you can standardize and automate design processes when configuring your virtual products, saving time and boosting productivity. As described in “The Ultimate Glossary of iLogic Terms,” each of the iLogic rule functions is accessed by expanding the appropriate node under the System tab in the Snippets area of Inventor. 

iLogic rules can make use of custom parameter types available in Autodesk Inventor, like text, true/false and multi-value lists. These parameter types allow rules that involve more than numeric input values. The new possibilities really are compelling. Learn about iLogic and parameter files in the blog article, “6 Enhancements That Make ilogic Irresistible.”

Using iLogic Design Copy is a great way to copy an assembly that’s set up to drive parts from an assembly by using iLogic code. As you’ll see from the description, the process to perform iLogic Design Copy is fairly straightforward. 

In another on-demand webinar about iLogic, Jason Miles demonstrates what enables rules-driven design and how it provides a simple way to capture and reuse your work. Using iLogic, you can standardize and automate your design processes and configure your virtual products. Learn about the useful features of iLogic in “Inventor iLogic Customization 101.”

Inventor iLogjc Customization 101


If your team is challenged trying to find past revisions of digital prototypes for printing or viewing; if team members prematurely or accidentally use the wrong manufacturing drawings for production; if industry and company standards are not being adhered to; if batch printing of the correct set of drawings is tedious, then Autodesk Vault could help with your team-based design. 

Vault is an Inventor add-in, and you can learn about the approaches for using Vault at: “Best Vault Strategies.” 

Access the on-demand webinar Vault Pro and Inventor Migrations 101 to learn how to automate pipe support design within Inventor. Whether or not you’re experienced in creating pipe supports, you’ll learn helpful tips and tricks. 

Vault and Inventor Migrations Why What and How

Vault 2020 has options that enable design engineers to be more productive when handling and sharing documentation of designs. Some of the most notable improvements in Vault 2020 were enhancements for handling PDFs. 

As described in this summary, “7 enhancements to 2D PDFs in Vault 2020,” many companies can benefit from using the Inventor browser in Vault when using PDFs of 2D design files for internal communication among departments.

Have you run into “incorrect licensing” errors after installing the client during an upgrade? In “Vault Professional 2018 – Incorrect Licensing,” Dave Morse explains what happened while working on installing his 2018 Autodesk products when he encountered an issue with the licensing mode of Vault.

Strategic Partnerships

Take advantage of manufacturing diagnostics with the Applied Software customized Manufacturing Diagnostics Package. You can explore your company’s design automation, manufacturing environment, feasibility, and training needs. 

With the Applied Software Fusion 360 Feasibility Study, your team will learn remotely from Inventor experts how to incorporate Autodesk Fusion 360 into your workflow based on your current manufacturing environment.


Take a strategic approach to part and assembly design. Inventor advanced assembly modeling training topics include: advanced sweeps, lofts, multi-body design, surface modeling, coils, generative shape design, and freedom modeling.

Evaluate your workstation and Inventor environment. The experts at Applied will conduct a diagnostic and environmental analysis and compile a report on your team’s readiness for design and engineering in Inventor. 

How to Buy Inventor

Inventor can be purchased as a standalone subscription. It is also available as one of the entitlements in the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection of industry-specific software. Contact Applied Software to request a quick discovery call and talk to an Applied expert about your company’s specific product design requirements.