Autodesk Mechanical Desktop: Your Table Is Ready By Bill Fane
At first, the thought of connecting an Excel spreadsheet to a Mechanical Desktop? model sounds a little scary, but as you will see in this tutorial it is actually a very simple task to accomplish. As you know, Mechanical Desktop? software is a parametric modeler. If you change the numeric value of a dimension, everything resizes itself to match. This gives us two major benefits:
You can easily tweak and fine-tune a design, and play "what-if" scenarios, until the design is optimized. You can easily develop a family of similar parts. Making Connections Developing a family of similar parts becomes particularly powerful when you learn how to use an Excel spreadsheet to drive the configuration of a Mechanical Desktop part model.
Figure 1: A simple bracket.
Connecting an Excel spreadsheet to a Mechanical Desktop part is a simple four-step operation. We'll use the simple bracket in Figure 1 below as our working model. I hope it looks remarkably like the one that appears in last month's Suppress Your Best Features article. That's because we'll be talking about feature suppression a little bit later.
First, create named variables.
1. Start the AMVARS by:
a. Entering it at the Command: prompt, or b. Click Part > Design Variables, or c. Click Design Variables on the 2D Constraints toolbar, or d. Right-click on the part name at the top of the browser, then click Design Variables in the shortcut menu.
Figure 4: Edit the dimensions to use the named variables instead of numbers.
View Larger Image Figure 2: The Design Variables dialog box.
2. This brings up the Design Variables dialog box (see Figure 2).
a. In the Design Variables dialog box, click New to bring up the New Part Variable dialog box, and fill in the boxes as shown in Figure 3. The comment is optional.