Solid Edge University 2013, Part 1: Solid Edge ST6 Adds 1,300 User-Requested Features27 Jun, 2013 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson
Announced this week at the annual user conference, the "greatest version ever" is said to increase performance sixfold on some tasks.
The team behind Solid Edge software is committed to giving users options, and Solid Edge ST6, announced this week, comes with lots of them — including options for how to use the software, how to learn it, and soon, how to pay for it.
Solid Edge is the midrange 3D mechanical design solution from Siemens PLM Software, the company that also develops products including the high-end NX mechanical design software and Teamcenter for product lifecycle management (PLM). The software is notable for its synchronous technology, which offers fully integrated constraint-driven modeling and history-free (or “direct”) modeling within the same interface.
Solid Edge ST6 was introduced to the 500 attendees at Solid Edge University 2013, the user conference that runs through today at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. It incorporates 1,300 user requests, the company stated, enhancing design, simulation, learning, and collaboration.
Also announced this week were Android and iPad mini support for the free Solid Edge Mobile Viewer app; a rental program for those who wish to use a cloud-based version of Solid Edge for a monthly fee (coming in August); and Solid Edge SP for design management and collaboration in Microsoft SharePoint environments.
Chuck Grindstaff, CEO and president of Siemens PLM Software, kicked off his keynote presentation at SEU 2013 by assuring users of the company’s commitment to the Solid Edge product. “Solid Edge continues to be a strong member of the Siemens community,” he said. “We are firmly invested in this product.” Most likely alluding to changes afoot for Dassault Systemes’ SolidWorks software, a direct competitor of Solid Edge, Grindstaff said, “We will stay committed to our modeling kernel; you won’t have technology disruptions or data issues related to kernel changes.”
Solid Edge adoption is on the upswing, Grindstaff said, citing 25% year-over-year growth in Q2 U.S. license business.
Later in the day, Dan Staples, Solid Edge director, described for attendees the values that drive Solid Edge development: accelerated design for faster time to market, faster revisions for higher repeat business, and better reuse for lower development costs. “We want Solid Edge to be, hands-down, the best mechanical assembly design system, period. With ST6, we are continuing to pursue this vision.”
Senior Vice-President Karsten Newbury, who leads the Solid Edge team, has an infectious enthusiasm for his flagship product. He spoke of growing efforts to build community around Solid Edge and how his team has increased the software’s ease of use to the point that his nine-year-old son can use it. As he turned over the stage to Staples to present the latest updates, he announced “the greatest version of Solid Edge ever: ST6!”
Later, I asked Newbury if he described every new release this way. “Well, of course, if the next release wasn’t better [than the last], why would we have done it?” he responded with a laugh. “But, actually, this is the first release I’ve said this about, and I’ve been with the business through a few releases. Although we keep improving, in this release we’ve brought a lot of things together.” In addition to all the technical improvements and connecting the Solid Edge with other tools to improve collaboration and mobile use, he explained, “We’ve done a lot of work with ST6 listening to users and connecting the product with the [user] community. That’s why I honestly say it is the best version.”
What’s New in Solid Edge ST6
Staples led SEU 2013 attendees through the major updates in Solid Edge ST6. Scheduled to ship in July, it offers the following features and benefits, according to the company’s internal testing:
- new surfacing functions that help create stylized designs as much as four times faster;
- new sheet metal capabilities that help create stamped parts as much as five times faster;
- new simulation tools that automatically optimize designs up to six times faster, which helps lower product costs without sacrificing product quality;
- synchronous technology enhancements that help designers import and reuse files up to six times faster, which enables improved collaboration with partners; and
- support for easier importing of SolidWorks files.
Surfacing. One of the most significant of those is what Newbury earlier termed “world-class surfacing,” which supports the developers new focus on the industrial design market. Surfacing is said to be 40% faster in ST6.
New built-in quality-analysis and visualization tools help users find and fix surfacing problems early and ensure that the design is right. Users can add shape to designs after creation or on imported models, and guide curves can be used with bounded surfaces to add shape when filling missing patches. New surface inspection tools show surface quality and continuity between adjacent surfaces, helping create ultrasmooth surfaces.
A new ruled surface in Solid Edge ST6 simplifies creating features that are easy to mold. Click image to enlarge.
This image shows how edits to the tangency control handles affect the surface as reported by the curvature combs. Users can adjust control handles or guide curves while monitoring the curvature combos to get the desired surface shape. Click image to enlarge.
Olivier Pellerin, IT Innovation Manager for Groupe SEB, the maker of Krups coffee machines, T-Fal, and Wearever cookware performed early beta testing of Solid Edge ST6. He stated in a press release, “Surfacing command enhancements in Solid Edge ST6 have enabled us to create some models 40% faster compared to other CAD systems. Faster is better, but the quality of models is essential for the manufacturing process, and the new inspection tools available in Solid Edge ST6 help us guarantee the inherent quality of the surfaces modeled.”
Part modeling. New features that support better and easier part modeling include
- new display capabilities speed view manipulation by as much as two-fold;
- high-quality display mode;
- autoconstrain sketch elements during drag-modify;
- physical properties and flat-pattern cut sizes listed in the variable table; and
- dimple and drawn cutout features support closed profiles.
Assembly design. Improved assembly design allows users to design more quickly in context using a cleaner, more streamlined user interface that has eliminated dialog boxes. Other new features for assembly design include
- physical properties update on Save;
- improved create-in-place command;
- PathFinder shows selected part and its subassembly; and
- frame paths can be defined using part edges.
Sheet metal design. Solid Edge has long been considered a strong application for sheet metal design. ST6 delivers new features to lessen the headaches that come with creating stamped and deep-drawn parts that typically require solids-modeling techniques applied to thin metal materials. Other new tools let users place beads across bends to stiffen parts, emboss or stamp a tool into a part, and add virtually any sheet metal feature. Overall, users now can create more complex sheet metal parts and produce more accurate digital prototypes.
Design optimization. A new automatic design optimization capability calls on the advanced FEA calculation capabilities of the Siemens PLM Femap application, allowing engineers to set a maximum and minimum part size, then Solid Edge will iterate through that range until the minimum criteria is found while maintaining a specified deflection. This new capability helps users minimize material costs without sacrificing product quality.
The graph in this image shows how Solid Edge tried max and min conditions before finding a balance between deflection and a part's mass. Click image to enlarge.
Drafting. “We are shrinking time needed to go from 3D to 2D to zero,” Staples said, adding that the Solid Edge team strives to deliver the best drawing production tools available. With a single mouse click in ST6, unorganized dimensions can be neatly arranged or repositioned as a group, resulting in faster but more accurate and detailed drawings to help reduce shop floor errors.
Users can speed drawing creation by spending less time worrying about placement and let the software organize the dimensions. Click image to enlarge.
Learn and Collaborate
In addition to the new design and simulation capabilities, Solid Edge ST6 also provides new functionality to learn, share, and collaborate with other Solid Edge users. The new Solid Edge YouTube docking pane gives users the ability to record, upload and directly share a modeling session on YouTube, and search YouTube for other Solid Edge videos. Users can also access discussions, tutorials and expert advice via a new online Solid Edge Community.
Solid Edge ST6 now includes the ability to capture design steps and directly upload to the user's YouTube account. Audio can also be captured for narration. Embedded in the Solid Edge user interface is a panel that lists popular Solid Edge videos. Click image to enlarge.
Cloud and Mobile Applications
“We want you to be able to use tools on premise in a private cloud or off premise with a third-party cloud provider,” said Bill McClure, vice-president of Mainstream Engineering. The company hasn’t seen a strong pull yet of people wanting to run CAD on the cloud, he said, explaining that for collaborative applications such as PLM, the cloud can be a desirable option, but the desktop remains the preferred platform for CAD for reasons of protecting intellectual property. “I know at Siemens, we wouldn’t want to put our own product design data on the cloud.”
So, Solid Edge is and will remain a desktop product, Newbury chimed in. But, again offering its users options, the company announced it has become the first to partner with the open engineering web site GrabCAD to facilitate real-time model sharing and review on the cloud for those users who want it. Users will be able to upload files directly from Solid Edge ST6 to GrabCAD Workbench, controlling access as they see fit.
Monthly Rental Program
Beginning in August, Siemens PLM will offer monthly rental of Solid Edge in the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan. Beta testing under way now.
“We want users to have options,” Newbury said. The new rental program should appeal to a variety of them, he said, including
- users who need the software on a project basis;
- organizations that experience spikes in business that require adding short-term designers;
- engineering contractors (individuals or firms);
- those who want more time to evaluate the software than is afforded by the free 45-day trial version; and
- start-up companies.
Solid Edge SP
Solid Edge SP is the new generation of the data management and collaboration product previously known as Solid Edge with Insight XT. McClure explained the product as "a manufacturing app for [Microsoft] SharePoint." It is deployed a company’s existing IT infrastructure to simplify the management of Solid Edge CAD files and related design data. The latest version adds the option to display thumbnail images of parts and assemblies in the Relation Browser and provides the ability to access revisions and related documents directly from the preview cards.
Solid Edge SP now includes more visual tools to help engineers manage complex design data better. A graphical view of an assembly, with thumbnails for each component, makes it easy for users to navigate the product structure. A preview card shows an image of the component and its properties, such as part number and description.
For more information on Solid Edge ST6, Solid Edge SP, and the Solid Edge Mobile Viewer, see the Solid Edge ST6 portal.
About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson
Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a different AutoCAD feature in every edition of her popular "Circles and Lines" tutorial series. For even more AutoCAD how-to, check out Lynn's quick tips in the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Cadalyst's free Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!