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Copying iParts and iAssemblies - What's the Story?

By     OCTOBER 1, 2015

After "How are you today?" this is the question I get most often, "Do we support copying iParts and iAssemblies?".  The answer is we don't stop you – but that's not really support is it…

The upshot is that there is an art to this, as you are no doubt aware, iParts and iAssembly members are generated from factories, the original file that stores all the part or assembly permutations.  If you want to change a factory member or add a factory member we need to open the iPart or iAssembly factory and modify its table by editing or adding rows.

If you want to make a whole new factory with new members you need again to copy or save a new version of the factory in Inventor, open it and change the family table (Give the members new names, properties and characteristics) and start using it again.

What we can't do is just create a new file and link it to a Factory or vice versa.

The same is true for copy design, you can copy the assembly containing a member, you can copy the member and you can copy the factory but you can't patch them all together afterwards…  Heres some examples and what we believe to be the right approach:

  1. Copy All components creates 3 New files: A new assembly, a new version of the factory and a new standalone part (not connected to the factory).  Your new assembly references this new standalone part and we have a new factory in the Vault just hanging around.
  2. Copy Assembly and Member creates 2 new files: A new assembly and new standalone part.  Your new assembly references this new standalone part
  3. Copy Assembly and Factory excluding/reusing Member creates 2 new files: A new assembly and a new factory.  Your assembly references original member and factory

Most of these are not great results and result in unused files laying about in Vault – so what do we recommend?


Well, if your intent is to create a new member in existing factory you need to:

  1. Copy assembly and reuse factory and factory member
  2. Edit Factory to add new member
  3. Open new assembly and change member

 If your intent is to create a new factory and insert a member you need to:

  1. Use method 3 above
  2. Open new factory and change members
  3. Open assembly and replace existing member with a new member from new factory.

Easy right?  Well no, but without opening the files, there is not a lot we can do and hopefully this will at least save a few sleepless nights and some confusion about what the new copy design will give you.

– Allan