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by Matt Bussey, May 20, 2021

Inventor BOM Virtual Components

Level 3 Part 1
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This blog is the first part of our advanced blog series of Bill of Materials, where we explained all the terminologies and capabilities of Autodesk Inventor BOM. As a result, you will be able to effectively utilize the tool in your projects. In this series, we will look at level 300 topics like Virtual Component use and how to make the most out of Part List capabilities.

The Level 300 topics include:

In case you miss it, our Level 100 blogs starting with Intro to Bill of Materials are focused on foundational concepts related to the Inventor BOM capability and its intended use. Our Level 200 blogs covered topics related to merged parts, part numbers, and BOM Error troubleshooting.

What are Virtual Components?

There are usually parts that must be accounted for in a design that do not require a physical model in the assembly.  Examples are:

  1. Software that is installed on a system
  2. Bulk items such as water, fuel, oil, or air
  3. Fasteners (to save capacity and time)

Inventor provides a means to account for these non-modeled components: Virtual Components.

The advantages of Virtual Components

They are non-graphical components that you can add to an assembly to represent un-modeled components.  To create it:

  1. In an assembly, start the Create Component command.
  2. Select Virtual Component in the dialog and select OK

They have several advantages:

  • No file –they do not have a file, they are simply a collection of properties that are saved with the assembly file they are created in.
  • They are automatically added to the assembly Bill of Materials. They are seen in all drawings of the assembly and can be seen in Data Management applications such as Vault Professional. Virtual Components can have a BOM Structure property like real components.
  • Virtual Components can have a quantity like standard components. Right click on the Virtual Component in the assembly browser, choose Component Settings… and change the Base Quantity and Base Unit as described in BOM 103.  Virtual Components use parameters from the assembly.
  • They can be copied and pasted in an assembly and between assemblies. They can also be patterned to keep quantities up to date.
  • Virtual components can have a Mass that is used in the mass calculations. However, all of them have a position of (0,0,0) in an assembly, so use caution when using them.

bill-of-materials-virtual-components--201-1

To create a Virtual Component, while in an Assembly file, select the Create command.  In the Create dialog, give the component a name, then select the Virtual Component checkbox. This will create the virtual component and add it to the assembly model browser.  Once there, you can right click on it to access it’s iProperties or Component Properties.

Custom Parts

Note: Custom Parts are legacy capability from before Inventor had a formal Bill of Materials inside of Assemblies.  Custom Parts, the predecessors, are a way of adding a line item to a drawing Parts List.

Custom Parts have a major drawback which are a local override in the drawing.  They are not in the assembly Bill of Materials, so they cannot be seen in any other drawings or in any Data Management application such as Vault Professional.  Therefore, it is NOT recommended using them.

Summary

Virtual Components can be used to represent items that are not actually modeled in an Assembly.  They live in the assembly, so they are seen by drawings and data management applications such as Vault Professional.

Check out Parts List Grouping blog for the next part of the  Level 300 series of Bill of Materials.

 

 

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