Product Design

Adopting Synchronous Technology in Solid Edge (On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial)

31 Jan, 2009 By: Russell Brook

Transition to Synchronous Technology with little disruption in your day-to-daily operations.

Editor's note: This tutorial is courtesy of Siemens PLM Software.

Synchronous Technology in Solid Edge has delivered a revolutionary new way of creating and editing 3D CAD models, even for models that were not originally designed in Solid Edge. Traditional history-based modelers have been the mainstay for 3D product design in many companies for the last couple of decades and is still the way many of you develop your products.

Synchronous Technology is the next generation in modeling and will eventually become accepted as standard practice, like the earlier history-based modelers born of the late 80s and 90s have become. The good news is that you can take full advantage of Synchronous Technology today in Solid Edge or adopt it as your project schedules dictate. To transition to Synchronous Technology, preserving existing data and modeling practices is essential so you don't lose any productivity. Solid Edge sports two ways to model your components -- synchronous or traditional. Nothing has been removed from Solid Edge. It's the same product as before, but it's got a whole new level of capability.

Traditional or Synchronous file type templates in Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology. Start up screen.

The earlier you take advantage of Synchronous Technology, the more productive you will become -- giving you an advantage over your competition. This article is designed to help you consider how you can deploy Synchronous Technology with little disruption in your day-to-daily operations.

Before looking further I'll recap why Synchronous Technology is so revolutionary. Prior to Synchronous Technology you had mainly two types of 3D CAD modelers -- history-based or explicit. Explicit modelers are best for conceptual design work by providing flexible editing capabilities. It also scales well on parts with many features and allows direct interaction with geometry, but they don't retain feature information, have weak dimension-driven editing, and little design automation. On the other hand, history-based modelers are great for production work as they are dimension driven, highly automated, and feature based. However, models designed on history-based systems require lots of preplanning, unforeseen changes can be difficult to do, and can become slow and unwieldy as your feature tree grows.

Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology delivers the best of both worlds without any real disadvantages. The main consideration for users familiar with history-based 3D systems is that this is a brand new way of working, and will take a bit of relearning. For users familiar with nonhistory-based systems, including 2D, the learning curve is very short. For either case, the productivity gains can be huge as users can edit models regardless of how they were created.

Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology is a brand new way of modeling 3D designs, merging the best attributes of explicit and traditional history based methods.

Synchronous Technology in Practice
Synchronous Technology can be used in three main scenarios: editing imported parts not native to Solid Edge, developing new designs, and editing existing projects. Synchronous Technology can be used to create and edit single parts or multiple parts across an assembly.

Synchronous Technology really shines when you want to make a change to a model that was not created in Solid Edge. Because each vendor uses proprietary file formats to track and manage the model's history, it is impossible to open foreign CAD data and retain any of the model's feature definition. Hence edits can't be made or are limited to a few basic operations. That changes with Synchronous Technology, as model intelligence is inferred from the geometry. For example a blend created in a history-based system maintains tangency during updates. However, that "rule" is lost in translation when opened in another CAD system. But Synchronous Technology detects tangent conditions and maintains there during edits. There are many other basic geometric conditions that are automatically recognized and maintained so, when you make changes to parts with no feature history in real time, a predictable model results. This is a much different concept than direct editing, which still creates history-dependent features. Features created in Synchronous Technology are not dependent on each other. You make dynamic changes without having to regenerate the whole model. New components are also ideal candidates for Synchronous Technology, especially those used in machinery and equipment. For designs that require families of parts, sheet metal or complex surface design, Solid Edge includes powerful process-specific tools tailored for those tasks. Solid Edge was designed to allow a mix and match of models created with traditional or synchronous methods, so you can easily continue existing projects but add models based on Synchronous Technology when desired. Should you want to move older designs to Synchronous Technology, the process is simple, but will be discussed in more detail in a later article.

Leveraging Synchronous Technology
New customers have the least to consider when choosing Synchronous Technology. Those designing mechanical machinery can look to deploy Synchronous Technology as the primary design strategy. If any of your suppliers submit designs done with traditional Solid Edge, you will be able to work on the designs as they were created in Solid Edge, or convert them to synchronous -- the latter being useful when handling imported data from another CAD system.

If you are an existing Solid Edge user, you have the freedom to transition at your own pace, without losing current design productivity. You can continue to finish existing projects using familiar, traditional Solid Edge design tools while learning synchronous modeling techniques and workflows.

Starting a Synchronous Design
Solid Edge includes both traditional and synchronous modeling capabilities so working in either is a seamless process. For example, when you start a new part or assembly design in Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology you can chose whether to start a synchronous or traditional model by simply choosing a different template. From the Solid Edge startup screen there is a list of templates that give fast access to new model development. Simply select appropriate template for the desired model type and the user interface will be adjusted accordingly, regardless if you want to create a part or assembly.

Tip: The template list can be customized to list just synchronous, traditional or both. This helps you control the rate of adoption for your users. If you only see synchronous, go to the Application button in the top left corner and select Options (Figure 3). On the User Profile option select Synchronous and Traditional (Figure 4). You will now see more options on the startup screen and File New menu.

Setting up template options, step 1 and 2.

You can also start a new file from the applications button. Select the button and chose New File from the menu. Here you will see all the different templates. Tip: By going to the Options from the Application button and selecting Helpers, you can add, remove or reposition the standard or you customized templates (Figure 5).

Managing default templates in Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology.

If you are working in the context of an assembly, you can also use the Create in Place command to start a new part based on the type of assembly file you are working in.

While Synchronous Technology is a new modeling concept, you can optionally adopt it at you own pace, straight away or in a progressive manner. Even if you don't design you own products using Synchronous Technology, the hassle-free way in modifying imported files is reason enough for any company to make use of it. With Synchronous Technology you will deliver products to market even faster and get a jump on your competition.

Stay tuned, next month. I'll be looking at converting traditional models to Synchronous.

About the Author: Russell Brook

Russell Brook

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