Large Hydraulic Manifolds design can be fast and efficient thanks to Virtual Cavity Design Mode, available with MDTools for Autodesk Inventor.


One problem of 3d cad software is that performance becomes poor when part model complexity increases.
In my past experience with CATIA (V5 R18 to 21), designing manifolds with a modern workstation was a problem even with 100 drill holes. It was becoming slow, cavity insertion took some seconds, the overall user experience was poor. One solution was, of course, bump up my workstation (video board, processor, RAM…). Computers become more powerful every month, that is a fact, but you don’t change them every year.

If you look at a hydraulic manifolds with hundreds of drill holes, anytime you add a feature you ask your CAD software to calculate surface intersections, geometries… a new feature will be added at the end of  the ‘feature tree’, it will be difficult to find it in the browser, edit it, etc…

MDTools for Autodesk Inventor is different:

  • Do you design hydraulic manifolds? MDTools bring you all the commands you need and something more (energy efficient design, automatic assembly, …)
  • Do you design large hydraulic manifolds (by large I mean hundreds of drill holes)? MDTools offer you Virtual Cavity Design Mode.

What is ‘virtual cavity design mode’ ?

Imagine to design a complex hydraulic manifold, imagine you add a cavity and you watch it in your display but that cavity is not yet a feature and you handle it like a feature (move, stretch, align, change face, etc… ).
This is Virtual Cavity Design Mode.

What does ‘virtual cavity design mode’ mean?

When you work in virtual cavity, anytime you insert a cavity you simply add one sketch corresponding to its position. MDTools will take care of displaying the 3d shape of the cavity.
The 3d Inventor Engine will not be affected by performance issues because ‘feature tree’ has only sketches, no real 3d features.
On the other side, you will be able to run all MDTools command to efficiently design your hydraulic manifold within Inventor, without the need to create real 3d features.

Is it possible to shift between ‘Virtual Cavity’ and ‘Cavity as feature’?

Absolutely yes, it is. You can work directly in Cavity as Feature, MDTools will create Inventor 3d features anytime you place a cavity. That works good for small and medium manifolds. If you want maximum speed, convert the model to Virtual Cavity and exploit the quick hydraulic manifold design within Inventor.
Do you have a large manifold with 3d features and you need to heavily modify it? Convert it to Virtual, do your job, when you are done you convert again to Feature mode.

When do I need ‘Cavity as feature’?

When you want to create a machining drawing, MDTools need real features and Inventor should represent them in a 2d view. Please remember that machining drawing is completely automatic with MDTools.
When you create a 3d assembly, Inventor wants surfaces to assemble other components. Please remember that if you start from a HyDraw circuit, Assembly is fully automatic (1 click and few seconds)

Can you show an example?

This is a large manifold (700 Drill Holes) designed by Aries di Scalmana Luigi e C. snc

Example of a 700 Drill Hole manifold designed by Aries di Scalmana Luigi Srl


This short video will show you how to add cavities, align, modify, delete, etc
My machine is a 2012 Lenovo W530 with Autodesk Inventor 2014 and MDTools 750. I am sure that any modern workstation will be faster than mine.