Overview

The Synthesis Inventor Robot Exporter prepares your robot CAD model for simulation in Synthesis.

Installing the Inventor Add-In

First, install Autodesk Inventor 2020 from the Autodesk Education website.

Next, download and run the latest Synthesis installer. If you installed Synthesis before installing Inventor, you must reinstall Synthesis.

Finally, restart Inventor. The Synthesis Inventor Robot Exporter Add-In should now be installed.

When viewing a CAD model, navigate to the "Environments" tab in your toolbar. An option to open the "Robot Exporter" should be available.

Add-In Installation Troubleshooting

The Robot Exporter is installed automatically in Synthesis 4.3.1.0 if Inventor is already installed on your device. If you are unable to find the "Robot Exporter" button under the "Environments" tab added by the Synthesis Robot Exporter ensure that the add-in has been installed correctly with the following steps:

  1. Select the "Add-Ins" button in the "Environments" tab. A window titled "Add-In Manager 2020" should pop up.
  2. Navigate to the "Applications" tab at the top of the window. You should see an add-in titled "Synthesis Robot Exporter". (Note: If you do not see an add-in named "Synthesis Robot Exporter," uninstall Synthesis and re-install the latest version of Synthesis).
  3. Click on the "Synthesis Robot Exporter" add-in, ensure the "Loaded/Unloaded" checkbox is checked, the "Load Automatically" checkbox is checked, and click "OK"
  4. Restart Inventor.

In this section, we will configure the settings necessary to simulate your robot in Synthesis.

Pre-Check

Before you get started, verify that your CAD model is ready to export:

In Inventor, add appropriate joints to all moving components (wheels, mechanisms, elevators, flywheels, etc.) You can watch this video to learn how to add Rotational joints, and this video for Slider joints.

Restructure your robot so that all moving components are at the top of the assembly tree. Ensure that all joints are located in the "joints" folder at the top of the assembly tree.

Once you have added joints to your robot and restructured your project, you will need to close and re-open the robot exporter environment if it has been opened to refresh the joint data in the Inventor Synthesis Exporter.

Configuring your drivetrain layout allows Synthesis to model an accurate simulation of your robot's movement. Using the "Drive Train Layout" button, select the appropriate layout for your robot. Select "Basic" if your robot's wheels all point forwards with any combination of normal, omni, or mecanum wheels. Select "H-Drive" if you have one or more perpendicular wheels for moving sideways. The "Other" option allows you to configure other types of drive trains such as swerve.

Setting the weight of the drivetrain allows Synthesis to calculate the center of mass of your robot. Using the "Drivetrain Weight" button, enter the weight of the drivetrain base including the wheels, but not including the weight of jointed mechanisms. The weight of jointed mechanisms will be configured in the next step. If you have the appropriate materials labeled to your robot, Inventor can calculate the weight for you with the "Calculate Robot Weight" checkbox.

Next, we will configure the virtual motors and actuators which control the motion of your robot's joints using the Synthesis joint editor. Click on the button labeled "Edit Joints" to open the joint editor.

If you see a pop-up letting you know that no joints have been detected on the robot, make sure that you have completed both steps in the "Pre-check" section of this tutorial, then exit out of the Robot Export environment by clicking the "Finish Robot Export" button, and when prompted to export your robot, click "No". Next, open the Robot Export environment again and click on the "Edit Joints" button again.

Next, we will use the Joint Editor to customize how the moving parts of the robot will function in the simulator. The Joint Editor should display a list of the configurable joints. An image of the joint you are editing appears next to each joint card, and the corresponding joint will also be highlighted in the main window when you hover a joint card. Unconfigured joints will be highlighted orange. If there are jointed mechanisms you don't intend to use in Synthesis, you may leave the corresponding joints unconfigured.

First, use the "Joint Type" dropdown to select whether the joint is a drivetrain wheel or a mechanism wheel.

If you are configuring a drivetrain wheel, you may configure the position of the wheel using the "Side" dropdown, and the type of wheel using the "Wheel Type" dropdown. For a mechanism joint, you need to customize the weight of the jointed component in pounds, as well as the type of the mechanism.

If you are an advanced user, you may also add sensors, configure gear ratios, and port number for each joint using the "Advanced..." button. These settings are optional.

The joint viewer tool may be used to see which joints have been configured to move in Synthesis. The joint viewer may be toggled with the "Toggle Joint Viewer" button. If a joint is shown as red, it has not been configured with a motor or actuator, so it won't move in Synthesis. You may return to the "Defining Robot Movement" step to configure the joint with a motor or actuator.

These options allow you to configure the features of the exporter. You are not required to change these settings to export robots.

Highlight Color - This allows you to customize the color used to highlight components in the exporter.

Show Robot Export Guide - Toggles the visibility of the Robot Export Guide.

Send Analytics - This toggles anonymous usage reporting which is used to improve the robot exporter.

Your robot is now configured and ready to export to Synthesis. Click the "Finish Robot Export" button, and select "Yes" when prompted to export the robot. You may enter a name for the robot which will appear in the list of robots in the Synthesis application. Check the "Export with Colors" box if you would like the material colors of your robot to show up in Synthesis. The "Open Synthesis" checkbox should be enabled if you would like the exporter to launch the Synthesis application with your robot.

Finally, click the "OK" button to export the robot model. Depending on the complexity of your robot geometry, this will take 5-10 minutes.

Congratulations! Your robot should now be under the list of robots in the Synthesis application. For help with using your robot in Synthesis, you can find our "Getting started in Synthesis" guide.