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How-to Guide: Inserting and Connecting Parts in Vention MachineBuilder

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How-to Guide: Inserting and Connecting Parts in Vention MachineBuilder

Vention cloud-based MachineBuilder offers an intuitive 3D environment to quickly assemble industrial equipment. Unlike a traditional CAD, Vention’s approach to “assembly constraints” does not rely on connections between faces and edges of selected parts. Instead, Vention’s assembly constraints are based on “automatic connection,” with each connector defining all degrees of freedom of a given part. In most cases, this means that each new part can be added and constrained to an assembly in a single mouse click. This means that a user who masters the guide below can design industrial equipment in literally minutes, instead of hours or days.

In this how-to guide, we will cover basic, as well as more advanced, part insertion and connection functionalities of the Vention MachineBuilder platform. The sections of this guide include:

  • Inserting and connecting parts
  • Re-inserting a previous part
  • Manipulating parts in 3D (translation and rotation)
  • Discovering compatible parts
  • Identifying connected parts
  • Connecting an explicitly pair of parts
  • Disconnecting parts and groups of parts
  • Connecting imported parts

  • Inserting and Connecting Parts

    Unlike traditional CAD software, Vention’s cloud-based MachineBuilder does not require users to insert parts into the 3D workspace before they can be constrained to other parts of an assembly. Those two operations (i.e., part insertion and part connection) are done in the same single step.

    To insert the first part into an assembly, simply select a part from the left-side part selector menu. The part selector has a “click and click” behavior. Users need to click once to select their chosen part, and then move their mouse cursor to the 3D workspace. At this point, the part will become green and follow the mouse cursor. As long as the part remains in “green state,” the part orientation can be changed by pressing the left and right arrow keyboard keys. Using those keys, the user can toggle between all available orientation options. A message at the bottom of the screen in the MachineBuilder will inform the user of the orientation options currently being displayed. Once the part is in the desired orientation, a left mouse click will confirm the part orientation in the 3D workspace. At this point, the part will change to its actual color.

    (Animated gif, with only a single part in the assembly)

    Part connection in Vention works with “automatic connections.” Automatic connection options are proposed to the user by moving a “green state” part close to a previously inserted part. To confirm a proposed connection, a left mouse click is required.

    As long as the part remains in green state, its orientation can be changed by pressing the left and right arrow keys. Note that some parts will only present two to six connection options, while others might present up to 30 different options. A message at the bottom of the screen in the MachineBuilder will inform the user of the connection options currently being displayed.

    (Animated gif with a new part being added to an assembly)

    Advanced tip: The user can change the orientation of a part prior to the automatic connection being displayed by using the left and right arrow keys (part must be in green state during this operation). When placing the pre-oriented part in its desired assembly position, the MachineBuilder will then preserve the chosen orientation.


    Re-inserting a previous part

    Vention provides an intuitive way to quickly re-insert a previously inserted part. By pressing the “i” key on the keyboard, the last inserted part, will reappear in “green state” following the mouse cursor. Similarly, by first selecting a part in the assembly and pressing the “i” key, the selected part will reappear in green state following the mouse cursor.

    (Animated gif where a part is first selected, then re-inserted by clicking “i”)

    Manipulating parts in 3D (translation and rotation)

    When creating a Vention assembly, users may choose to insert parts into the 3D workspace before connecting them to their main assembly. In this approach, Vention’s 3D manipulator can become a valuable tool for providing an initial position for a part. The 3D manipulator enables users to move or rotate a part, one degree of freedom at the time. To activate the 3D manipulator, left-click on a part to make the contextual menu appear, and then select the 3D manipulator’s icon.

    Note that the first part inserted into the 3D workspace is by default “fixed” and cannot be manipulated without removing the fixed connection. In order a float a part, the user may left-click on a part to make the contextual menu appear and then select the float icon.

    Note that at all times, a single part, or a group of connected parts, can be moved around in the 3D workspace by left-clicking and dragging them along. Parts included in a given grouping will be highlighted in green upon selecting one part of the group.

    (We need to better cropped video below)

    Discovering compatible parts

    Learning the various parts available on the Vention platform, as well as their intended compatibility, is a key step in significantly accelerating the design process. Several tools are available within the MachineBuilder environment to ease this task.

    Simply by moving two parts next to one another inside the MachineBuilder, white dots will appear, assuming the parts are compatible. Each dot represents a possible connection location. If white dots do not appear, it simply means that the selected parts are not compatible.

    In addition, a user can open the “compatible part menu” in the left-side part selector. The list of all parts that are compatible with the last selected part will be displayed there.

    (We need to better cropped video below)

    Identifying connected parts

    Connected parts can be easily manipulated as a group. To see how parts are connected to one another, users can click the “highlight connected parts” feature, available in the left-click menu. The chosen part, as well as its neighbor connected parts, will appear in white. Any non-connected part will remain its actual color.

    (We need to better cropped video below) Connecting an explicit pair of parts

    Non-connected parts that should be connected to one another can easily be connected using the “Connect Selected Parts” feature available in the right-click menu. This feature allows users to connect two or more selected parts in their current location, assuming connections are possible. This feature is particularly helpful when repairing broken or missing connections in a given assembly.

    (We need to better cropped video below)

    Disconnecting parts and groups of parts

    Any connected part can be detached from an assembly using the “detach” feature located in the left-click and right-click menus. This feature breaks all connections from the selected part. However, there are occasions where only certain connections should be broken, while others are preserved. Part disconnection in such a context can be done by selecting two or more parts and selecting “Detach Selected Parts” in the right-click menu. All connections at the junction of the selected parts will be broken, while other surrounding connections will be maintained. The detached parts can then be freely manipulated according to their remaining degrees of freedom.

    Similarly, an entire group of parts can be detached from an assembly by selecting individually connected parts and detaching them by clicking “Detach Group” in the right-click menu. This will result in breaking connections between selected parts and unselected parts, while preserving all connections between selected parts. Once a group is formed, it can be freely manipulated according to its remaining degree of freedom.

    (We need to better cropped video below)

    Advanced tip: In order for the “Detach Group” feature to be available in the right-click menu, all parts of the selection need to be connected. If this is not the case, you can click “Select Disconnected” in the right-click menu, which will select elements of the current selection that are not connected to the part over which the right-click menu was opened.


    Connecting Imported Parts

    Connecting an “Imported Part” to a Vention assembly can be achieved by adding a connector. A connector can be added by selecting the “create connector” feature in the left-click or right-click menus. The position of the new connector is defined by moving the mouse cursor to the chosen location point on the imported part surface. By setting the display parameters in “shaded and wireframe” mode, the connector creation tool will recognize round edges allowing the user to position the connector concentric to a circular feature, such as a hole or a pin.

    Once a connector has been added, the part can be connected to any other Vention part present in the assembly. The orientation of the imported part can also be changed using the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard.

    If the position of the connected part needs to be further adjusted, the “adjust connector” feature can be used. This feature is located in the left-click menu and allows the user to move the position of the connector along the six degrees of freedom.

    (We need to better cropped video below)

    In Conclusion

    The Vention MachineBuilder simplifies the 3D assembly process by leveraging automatic connection, which departs from traditional approaches used by most CAD software. The platform allows users to easily insert new parts, visualize connections, connect and disconnect explicit pairs of parts, manipulate groups of parts, or define new connectors on imported parts. This toolset, combined with the rich pre-configured connectors on Vention parts, allows for an intuitive, playful and powerful assembly experience.

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