MDTools 750 with large manifolds

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. and your MDTools Material Library

This short article will explain you how to select your MDTools Material library within QuickManifolds interface. In this way you can get a manifold with a material X-section belonging to your standard production.

Quickmanifolds can read your MDTools material library, like he does with your MDTools cavity library.
Please make sure you have some data in your material library, at least most used X-sections from your warehouse.

Example of MDTools Material Library

Example of MDTools Material Library

Please verify that under HyDraw options, QuickManifolds tab, you set your correct MDTools library path (otherwise quickmanifolds will use its standard cavity library and x-section)

‘Design’ tab: please select the material library you want quickmanifolds to start with.
You should do the same with construction ports library.

Select material library and construction ports

Quickmanifolds will deliver you a manifold with a x-section from your library. In this case it’s a 100×100 mm manifold designed with Patented Autorouter Technology by

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MDTools Essential Workflow


this article comes from a simple question I asked myself:
Inside Solidworks, how can I speedily design hydraulic manifolds?

Later I wondered how I could:

  • Draw a circuit with HyDraw CAD600,
  • Export information to MDTools Essential for Solidworks
  • Quickly design hydraulic manifolds inside Solidworks
  • Create a 3D assembly
  • Create a machining drawing

That’s a real workflow, isn’t it? Something that you too could implement in your company?

So le’ts begin the show!

1. Schematics, this first video is showing how to create a circuit by selecting components inside HyDraw CAD600.
I am using Hydraforce cartridge valves because I am more familiar with them. However if you work with Rexroth, Parker, Eaton, Hydac, Sun Hydraulics or other major Fluidpower OEMs you don’t need to worry: the service will let you select between different manufacturers..You could use it to compare different products and find out which ones fit your needs better.

2. One year ago I could never think that designing a hydraulic manifold could also be funny, easy and relaxing…. Since I am using MDTools, each time I have played with it, I have experienced a series of WOW momentrs.
I know the following video is a bit long, I decided to leave all the passages that lead me to the final manifold design. You are free to fast forward the video to points of your interest: please do notice that, except for engravings, I always use MDTools Essential commands inside Solidworks. The amazing part of the story is that you can design a hydraulic manifold with Solidworks….. without knowing anything of Solidworks!

3. Assembly creation. Anytime you create an assembly you lose time due to constraints creation, MDTools Essential lets you define constraints for all the valves once and for all. During the 3d assembly creation, plug insertion is fully automatic while a user friendly interface lets you manually assign a valve to it’s cavity. This process can help you save time. A lot of time!

4. Machining drawing.This job comes easy, MDTools Essential reads the 3d model and lets you display machining callouts in the drawing. You have only to move them to where you want, then add dimensions and there you go! The manifold is ready for production. You could also export a drilling chart for any further needs.

Feel free to request an evaluation version, write comments or contact me.

MDTools, Solidworks and …. color

machining drawing are always black and white, during a recent visit to Parker Italy I had the chance to look at a huge hydraulic manifold drawing……with colors

this is possible with MDTools and Solidworks, without manually “painting” all the cavities

MDTools, Solidworks and color

MDTools, Solidworks and color

MDTools, Solidworks and color

MDTools, Solidworks and color

MDTools 750 released

MDTools 750 released, power to design:

  • Energy Efficient Design
  • Check for Velocity Hot Spots in Blocks
  • Energy Efficient Smooth Bends
  • Energy Efficient Connections
  • Energy Efficient Construction Port
  • User Interface Improved
  • Re-organized Ribbon Menu
  • Ribbon Menu Optimized for Large Sized Icons
  • Context Flyout
  • Cavity Library Integrated within the Browser
  • Cavity and Connectivity Browser Enhanced
  • New Interactive Functionality
  • Stretch Block
  • Stretch and Incline Drill
  • Move Cavity or Footprint – Dragging
  • New Checking Functionality
  • Wall thickness Check – Consolidated
  • Check Connection for Offset
  • Miscellaneous
  • Mounting Holes with Preview
  • Set Manufacturing Precision
  • HyDraw to MDTools Integration
  • Port Info Captured through Schematic Interface
  • Auto Assemble

more info…

request trial

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