AutoDesk - VEX parts

I am about to start trying to learn how to work with Autodesk a little better in order to teach the kids how to use it for VEX. I have downloaded a few parts in STEP format, but what is the correct file format to convert it to or save as? I eventually want to do Imates on the new parts. Suggestions? Lessons? Sites?
Thanks in advance
Bill R.

.step files are the general cad files and will open in most software inventor will save parts as .ipt I think. But inventor can open .step files

Parts in Inventor or .ipt, assemblies are .iam. The .stp of each item should be listed on the product page on the VEX website. I would recommend, instead of going through and getting everything individually, downloading one of the CAD packs available. There are a few older ones (eg. Dakotas) but Jordan ( @LegoMindstormsmaniac ) from BNS has a pack which is pretty much up to date. It will have all the parts already in itp or iam format with colors and a few extras. Unfortunately I’m not sure where the most up to date link for this is. Hopefully Jordan will show his head and post a link.

Here is Jordan’s CAD library, which I would recommend over the standard STEP files from the product pages.

There are some parts that came out after this was made, for those you will have to use the STEP from the product page, or for many you can find community made versions on the forum if you just search for them.

Thank you Kevin

Kevin can you email me? I have an idea for some items you might want to carry. my email is

I do this a lot. I use the step files and then save them as .IPT files, and create a VEX EDR library to be used with projects. I have found the imates to be really glitchy, instead I use the pattern tool to create a series of circles anywhere I will be assembling parts. I then extrude these as a surface instead of a solid. This creates features that are easily assembled using a single insert constraint. See the pics.

This link has the original files which I like better than the current ones offered on the retail pages.

They are in customary or metric

Yes, after finding that none of the aluminum parts come with iMates, I figured this out for a solution and it much faster than fiddling with iMates - they’re so finicky. We’ve developed our own parts library using the one found on the curriculum page. The library and all our CAD models sync through Google Drive, but I had to use a custom project file that I saved in the top folder of our CAD folder (holds models + parts library). You can make the parts library easily accessible by adding it as a “Frequently Used Subfolder” in the project properties.

Thanks… That sounds like a plan!

Can you please explain how you are using Google Drive with the files? I teach IED for PLTW and would like to use Google rather than our network but can’t figure out how to use projects in this manner, and how to avoid having to “download” or “upload” the parts every time.

I would love to know how you use Google Drive as well, it would save so much effort when teaching autodesk and working with my students teams as they build their robots in Inventor.

@pietrofesar @Powerbelly Sure! This takes a few steps to get setup, but once you have it working it works pretty well (more on potential issues later).

Before you start, make sure you have:

  1. The Google Drive application installed on your computer
  2. The same or an older version of Inventor than what your students will use installed on your computer

Before we work with Inventor, we will need to create some folders in Drive.

First, make a shared Google Drive folder just for anything CAD-related. We call ours “CAD Models.” Within this folder, add another folder called “Parts Library.” And within that folder, add a folder called “Custom Parts.”

So the structure should be something like this:

–CAD Models
----Parts Library
------Custom Parts
------[VEX parts library]

The second folder within Parts Library should be your VEX parts. I just used the one provided in the VEX curriculum at Since we are in the US, we used the Imperial library because it’s easier to relate to the measurements, but it doesn’t matter which version of the library you choose. After you download the folder, extract it to the Parts Library folder.

Now, we’ll create a project file that will be used with every model we create. So open Inventor, and in the Get Started tab of the ribbon, click Projects. Click the New button at the bottom. The Project Type will be Vault Project. (Small note: I believe you could make it single user if you have the Google Drive directory as something that does not include the current user account’s name. If you don’t want to do that, the Vault project type will prevent the different file paths from causing issues.) Even though we’ve chosen Vault, we don’t need to do anything with the Autodesk Vault service; I’ve never had any issues with this.

Click Next, and then give your project a name. Since we usually refer to ourselves as WA Robotics, I named ours WA Robotics CAD, because it’s generic enough to apply to any CAD model we create. For Project (Workspace) Folder, choose the CAD Models folder you created earlier. So the path you end up with should be something like C:<Username>\Google Drive\Robotics\CAD Models.

The next step after this in the wizard is just for importing libraries for the project. We don’t need to do that, so just click Finish.

Now, in the Projects window, you should see that your project is selected. Before we finish, there are still a few more things we have to change to make sure everything works right. In the bottom have of the window, you should see a tree-like structure with a bunch of project properties. Find the item called Frequently Used Subfolders, right-click it, and select Add Path. You should see two text inputs appear. The first one is like a friendly name and will appear when you are adding a part to an assembly. Choose something like Parts Library for this. The folder you select should be the folder in your Google Drive for storing VEX parts. We call this Parts Library in Drive, so our path ends up being Workspace\Parts Library once the folder is selected.

Now, if you create a new assembly in Inventor (make sure your new project is selected first, on the Home page or in the Projects window, it should have a checkmark by it; if not, double-click the name of the project you just created), click the arrow icon under the Place command to show more options. Click the Place option (by default, I believe it’s Place from Content Center). Once you’ve done this once, in the future, you can just click the Place icon. In the top left part of the Place Component dialog, you should see a few places, such as Workspace and Frequently Used Subfolders. If you click your Parts Library entry under Frequently Used Subfolders, you’ll be taken straight to your parts library.

You can make other folders in your CAD Models folder for your various projects (so if you wanted every team to have a separate folder for their models, you could).

A few other important notes:

  1. There are no aluminum parts in the VEX parts library. You would have to import these, or I have already done this for our parts library. You would also need to add iMates (or use the circular surface extrusion technique described in an earlier post in this thread - that’s what I do personally because it’s so much faster for getting parts together).
  2. Sometimes, we get duplicate part files like C-Channel 1x2x1x25 (1).ipm. You can just delete the file, but it’s important to make sure your students don’t accidentally select this duplicate file instead of the original one.
  3. You might make the Imperial (or Metric) folder on Google Drive read-only for your students to prevent unintentional edits. The Custom Parts folder should be used for any modifications to parts.

For your students, you’ll need to install Google Drive on every computer. Before they start working, they should double-click the project file and use that to open in Inventor. This will ensure that they can access the Parts Library.

I can provide screenshots if you need. If you’d like me to post our Parts Library with aluminum parts here, I can do that to.

Thanks @evans10. I will try this but the issue I’ve had in the past is using the Google app. I’m not sure how it behaves on a domained pc on within a network because there are multiple users. We use google apps for education so every student has an account. Have you tried it in this scenario?

Yeah, my school uses Google Apps for Education too. If anything, this makes things easier because you shouldn’t have to worry about storage space on Drive. It’ll work as long as Drive is enabled for the student accounts.

Awesome! Thank you so much, i can’t wait to try this.

No problem! I’m glad I could help!

Thanks a million evan10s.

Can you post your library?

Fusion EDR library on GitHub–> link text
Work in progress.

Thank you

I was looking for an Inventor Library. Do you have one?