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5 ways to get more out of MachineBuilder

September 27, 2023 | Jeremy Andrews

As a foundational product within our Manufacturing Automation Platform (MAP), MachineBuilder has revolutionized how automated equipment is created and designed. As the only CAD software built exclusively for the factory floor, it’s equipped with a user-friendly interface, smart design tools, and a vast library of modular automation components to enable the rapid design of automated equipment.

Within MachineBuilder, there are some tools that we built to simplify the design experience. Below, we’ve detailed five key features that are specifically intended to provide better assistance throughout the entire design process. Learn these, and you can bring your ideas to reality even faster.

1. Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to speed up simple tasks on your computer. Did you know that the keyboard shortcuts you know and love are also available within MachineBuilder? With shortcuts, design even faster and more efficiently with Vention.

To access the keyboard shortcut tab, click on the question mark icon in the top banner. The most commonly used shortcuts are:

  • “I” key: Re-insert the last clicked part
  • “Left” and “right” arrows: Rapidly switch between part connection options, especially useful when building the frame and structure of your machine.
  • “Delete” key: Delete the selected part
  • “Enter” key: Confirm the connection

Other useful shortcuts and favorites of our application engineers include:

  • “R” and “F” keys: Often used in combination to recenter and reframe your design
  • “CTL Z” and “CTL Y”: To undo and redo an action, respectively.

Working with shortcuts and commands tutorial video

2. Point-to-point connection

The point-to-point connection tool allows you to pre-select two compatible snapping points on two non-connected entities and snap them together. This tool gives users the ability to accomplish more fine-tune designing where dragging and dropping is not the ideal method.

Point-to-point connection is most useful in the following scenarios:

  • Connecting parts to gantry plates because these often offer a larger number of permutations when compared to other components.
  • Attaching components to more intricate and crowded assemblies
  • When attaching two or more larger sub-assemblies.

Additionally, point-to-point connection is a great way to discover part compatibility because the first connector selected automatically filters out incompatible connectors on the secondary part.

Point-to-point connection tutorial video (begins at 6:05)

3. Manipulation of parts - Degrees of freedom

When you are designing in MachineBuilder, once you have attached a part to a structure, it can still be manipulated along its available degrees of freedom. This gives you the ability to easily reallocate parts as your design progresses without having to delete or detach the part.

A. Translating parts

When translating a part (moving it along a single axis), the compass will show you the different number of translation options available. Use the left and right arrows to navigate through the translation options and grab the slider to move the part or group of parts.

This also applies to the manipulation of linear gantry systems, allowing you to visualize and interact with their full range of motion.

Inserting and connecting parts tech doc

B. Rotating parts

When rotating the part (moving it along its rotational axis), the compass will show you the different number of rotation and translation options available. Use the left and right arrows to navigate through the options and grab the slider to move the part or group of parts. The highlighted icon in the core of the compass will indicate which type of option you are viewing. If you would like to jump to only rotational or translational options, simply click the relevant icon.

This also allows you to manipulate hinged systems such as doors and rotate the rotary actuator and turntable through their full ranges of motion.

Inserting and connecting parts tech doc

4. Automated design checker

When designing automated equipment on a CAD software, it can be easy to overlook leap-of-faith design choices and compatibility issues. With MachineBuilder, we’ve put an automated design checker in place so you can have peace-of-mind that your creation has been designed correctly with all the necessary parts and connections.

When you’re ready, select “Automated design check” in the top banner to have the checker scan through your design. It will look for the most common errors found when designing and propose solutions to ensure your design is up to spec.

5. Design Review

At Vention, we have a team of experienced application engineers who are at your disposal for complimentary design reviews. Our application engineers have designed thousands of machines for various applications and have extensive experience assembling Vention machines. They are an indispensable resource that we recommend all our clients leverage.

Once you request a review, our application engineers will not only help determine if your machine is structurally sound, but they may also propose different design options to make your machine less expensive, simpler to operate, or faster to assemble.

To submit a design review request, select “Request design review” in the top banner, and someone from our team will be in touch.


These are five tips that will be useful to both experienced MachineBuilder designers and those who are new to the Vention platform. If you want to dive deeper into the world of MachineBuilder (or any of our products), we have an extensive Resource Center with documentation in the form of video tutorials, tech docs, how-to-guides, user manuals, maintenance guides, datasheets, and more.

When you’re ready, jump into MachineBuilder and create your next design using these tips. Happy designing!

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