Parametric Modeling: Adjust the Dimensions Without Redrawing in Fusion 360
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Step 1: Introduction
While making designs for stone tiles and textile printing;I had faced challenges of redrawing the design a number of times just because I needed a small change in the dimensions. Wouldn’t it have been easier if I had an option to adjust the dimensions of the entire design using just a few clicks and saving a lot of time by avoiding drawings designs over and over? I am sure you probably felt the same way if you came across similar issues and I can understand how frustrating can it be.
The good news to me was that I was able to overcome this issue; Thanks to Parametric-Modeling of Fusion 360. Without any further due, let's dive into this and take a look at how this is achieved.
In parametric modeling, you would have to define parameters of any sketch followed by drawing the sketch and assigning the parameters to that sketch (Simple as that, isn’t it?). Let’s take a deeper look.
For e.g.,If you would like to draw a rectangle; then you would need to have its dimensions first (both length and width). You could be using any software tool to draw this such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, AutoCAD, MS-Paint and so on. If you used these tools and have already drawn your geometric figure (like a rectangle in this case), how would you change the dimension of already drawn figure? Most likely you would erase the current one and would redraw a new one with correct dimensions. Imagine if you needed to repeat these steps over and over in a complex design to get accurate dimensions.
In contrast to this, with parametric modeling, you would have to draw the sketch (or geometric figure) only ONCE. Just define the parameters and assign them to sketch. When you need to change the dimension of the figure, just change the values of the parameters as many times as you would like to do without worrying about redrawing the figure.
Please continue reading if you would like to follow along with a tutorial and screenshots….
Here are the images of a complex geometry where I changed parametersand achieved needed results.
These screenshots are taken from Fusion 300 that is a predecessor of Fusion 360.
Step 2: Example 1
Figure 1: Geometric Design (1) with a 5 mm gap
Step 3: Example 2
Figure 2: Geometric Design (1) with a 10 mm gap
Step 4: Example 3
Figure 3: Geometric Design (2) with a 10 mm gap
Step 5: Example 4
Figure 4: Geometric Design (2) with a 25 mm gap
Step 6: Download Fusion 360
The added advantage of using Fusion 360 for drawing is that the
workspace geometric file can be exported to DXF file format (to be used with AutoCAD) instantly.
For this tutorial, I would be using Fusion 360. If you would like to follow along and do not have the ‘Fusion 360’ software, you can download it from the following download link Download Fusion 360
(This software can be download as a Trial Version, Student Version or even Commercial Version).
Step 8: Start Designing
Figure 5: Fusion 360, Launching it for the first time
Once installed, you would need to login with Autodesk login
credential that you would sign-up with.
Click on the desktop shortcut for the application or launch from your program list.
The main screen should look like the image below, which is blank and by default, the DESIGN workspace would be selected into the top left corner of the application window
Figure 6: Modify - Change Parameter
From the toolbar menu, click on the
MODIFY, and from its sub-menu list; select the option: “Change Parameters”.
Figure 7: Change Parameters options
The change parameters configuration popup page allows adding
user parameters (that’s exactly what we wanted), along with saving them as favorite or using them for modeling purposes. For defining user parameters, you can give it a name, unit, value and use an expression too.
Figure 8: Adding User Parameters
add the user parameters, click on + symbol next to User
Parameters in the first column, second row.
Figure 9: Adding user parameters
Above fill outs shows all 3 parameters that I have chosen for this demonstration.
Figure 10: List of added user parameters
After adding user parameters, we are ready to draw a sketch or geometric
shape where we can use these predefined parameters and as needed change their specifications too.
Figure 11: Create a new Sketch
To draw the sketch, I have chosen
SOLID, however, parametric modeling (changing Adhoc dimensions) can be applied to a varied range of sketches such as different kind of surfaces or sheet metal with the accurate presentation of bending and twisting.
Figure 12: 3-dimensional plane for drawing sketch
Creating a new sketch shows
a three-dimension plane on which a sketch can be drawn, that gets highlighted as you hover the mouse over it.
Figure 13: Changing the drawing plane
You can either select the plane by clicking on the middle of the screen on a different plane or from the top right (3d box), you could rotate and choose a plane that you would like to work upon.
For my demonstration, I have chosen the x-y plane, where I would be drawing the sketch and would use parameter Length, Width and Offset that I created earlier.
Figure 14: Choosing 2-point rectangle sketch
As we are ready with the x-y plane we can choose what we
would like to draw, please go ahead and choose 2-point rectangle from the sketch design
Figure 15: Placing the first point for the rectangle
You would notice the change in the shape of the cursor which
turns into a rectangle, and here on the first point of the rectangle can be put in by simply clicking and dragging the mouse around.
Figure 16: Drawing the rectangle with the mouse click and drag
While you would drag the mouse for resizing the rectangle,
the dimension text box gets highlighted, which can be manually filled in by either putting numeric dimensions or use PARAMETRIC MODELING, by simply typing the name of the user-defined parameters (in this case Length, Width and Offset).
As you would start typing in, the auto-populate would show the user-defined variables. The TAB key would change the focus on a different dimension for quick editing and redrawing.
Figure 17: Using Parametric Modeling with user-defined parameters
Figure 18: Redrawing the rectangle with Length, Width parameters
Figure 19: Parametric Dimensions
Highlighting the dimensions shows dimension value as fx:10.00 that signifies that the dimension is
parametric and can be customized on the fly with properties tweak for those parameters.
Figure 20: Change parameters for customization
The whole idea of this article is to show how to adjust the dimensions
without redrawing the shape, and that’s what exactly this step is and here is how this moment was AHAAA !!! for me.
Go back to MODIFY and Change parameters.
Figure 21:Editing the parametric dimension values
With the above figure, I have changed the length of the
shape from 10mm to 20mm, and accepting the changes take effect immediately, which can be clearly seen underneath the dialog window for actual drawing.
Figure 22: a Redrawn shape with editing LENGTH
Let’s repeat the same process for Width parameter,
and see the changes.
Figure 23: aRedrawn shape with editing WIDTH
Figure 24: Offset Selection
You must be wondering what happened to the Offset
parameter? Let's see why I have incorporated that into my tutorial.
Click on Sketch-> Offset
Figure 25: Offset options
The offset option shows “Sketch Curves” option selection
with mouse pointer select, and the actual sketch shows a red highlighted circle at the starting point of the sketch chosen in the beginning.
Clicking on the red circle highlights the sketch as shown in the image below, ready for selecting curve to offset. You would notice that 1.00 mm offset is default set and is editable.
Figure 26: Offset: Selecting curve to offset
Our third user parameter was named “Offset”, so we can start
typing the parameter name as it auto-fills to populate and dynamically adjust the offset for the sketch.
Figure 27: Offset parameter use with an offset value
Remember we have offset set to 2, and therefore highlights
around sketch (Orange rectangle with dimensions), has got 2mm padding or offset. Sometime the offset might be needed inwards and not outwards.
Figure 28: Offset with FLIP
Offset settings have flip options, which flips the direction
of offset and turns it into negative value. Comparing the above two figures shows how the offset differs with the flip.
If you do need to change the offset values, repeat the steps done for Length and Width parameters through Modify - > Change Parameters.
I would recommend that if you have read this article so far here, just for few iterations repeat editing the user parameters values for all Length / Width / Offset to different values yourself and observe how the sketch changes and reshapes immediately.
Figure 29: Saving the sketch as DXF format
Fusion 360 allows exporting the workspace drawing and
sketches into DXF format (AutoCAD), which can be used outside of this software for enhancements and editing purposes.
For exporting, locate the sketch from BROWSER pane and right-click to view the options. You would find the option for exporting it has ‘Export to DXF’.
You could now save the sketch as DXF. The DXF format is
industry standard and such designs could be used for application and projects such as
- Laser cutting
- Water Jet cutting
- CNC routing etc.
Are you wondering if Parametric modeling is for you?
For small and simple sketch such as basic rectangle example discussed in this post; the parametric modeling might not seem fruitful and practical as you would know the dimensions first hand. However, while making complex geometric shape the parametric modeling would indeed save a substantial amount of your time, and instant feedback of applied changes would guide you further and better with these changes. So if you are into designing and your sketches need a lot of editing, the Parametric Modeling is definitely for you.
Avoid redrawing the complex sketches by setting up a template and let Parametric Modeling do the magical work for you as it completely removes the process of redrawing sketches over and over.
If you like to the article please comment and let me know how you find it useful.
In another post, I would put another walkthrough guide with more complex geometry using parametric modeling with Fusion 360.