Opening Pro/ENGINEER Files in Solid Edge31 May, 2003 By: J. Fred White
In today's fast paced environment, you often have to work with data from other CAD systems-either those Solid Edge is replacing or those used elsewhere in the supply chain. Fortunately, Solid Edge includes several built-in translators. The Pro/ENGINEER direct translator provides simple, wizard-driven import of 3D designs. Thus, you need not abandon your legacy data.
This direct translator allows you to import Parametric Technology CAD files (Versions 17 through 2000i2) directly into Solid Edge. It also offers the following features:
Decompression of Files. Compressed Pro/E files are supported by Solid Edge, which also automatically decompresses them.
Color. Pro/E body colors are automatically transmitted into the Solid Edge body.
Assemblies. When Pro/E assembly files are translated, Solid Edge maintains both the part names and assembly structures.
Planning and Preparation
Before translating any model into Solid Edge from Pro/E, consider the purpose and destination of the model. Is it going to be used as is, or will it be modified? Will it only serve as a construction element in the receiving system? How much of the model is needed? Which elements will need to be exported, and which imported? Answering questions such as these helps determine the best import options.
The Import Options for Pro/ENGINEER (PRT) dialog box allows you to specify how you want Solid Edge to use imported Pro/E data, as shown in Figure 1. You can specify that it use the data as individual features or as a single body feature. You can also specify that Solid Edge heal or clean any inconsistencies in surfaces or solids contained in the Pro/E file you are importing.
Figure 1. The Import Options for Pro/ENGINEER dialog box lets you specify import actions, such as Stitch surfaces and Boolean solids. You can even make the Output and Input folder the same.
Heal and Stitch. You use this option to heal and sew the free surfaces to create a solid body. Solid Edge automatically specifies a stitch tolerance range, so you are not required to specify a range.
Healing involves preparing the free surfaces for stitching and cleaning solid bodies. Solid Edge cleans the faces to resolve underlying problems such as self-intersections, multiple intersections, or edges equal to or smaller than the minimum stitching tolerance. Once the faces are cleaned, Solid Edge identifies and removes invalid sheets, such as those with bad trimming curves or those that have turned out as slivers. Healing also resolves other problems dealing with self-intersections, tolerant edges, and topology.
Stitch Surfaces. Choosing the Stitch Surfaces option tells Solid Edge that you want all surfaces and sheet bodies to be stitched to a tolerance of 1.00e005 meters. It may be to your advantage not to stitch the surfaces on import, but to evaluate what needs to be stitched and perform the stitch after you import the file. If the stitching operation creates a valid volume, that volume is then converted to a solid.
Boolean Solids. This option lets you specify that all solid bodies should be united together to form a disjoint solid and then inserted into PathFinder as a part copy. If this option is not set, all solid bodies are added as individual part copies to PathFinder.
Group Curves in a Single Part Copy. The Group Curves in Single Part Copy specifies that you want to combine all curve data into a single part copy. It may be helpful to identify the curves that you don't need and either hide or delete them before importing the file.
Body Check. Picking the Body Check option tells Solid Edge that you want to perform a full body check on the file.
Make Base Feature. This option lets you specify that the imported solid body is to be the base feature for your Solid Edge model. If there is more than one solid body in the Pro/E file, no base feature is created. In this case, you can use the Make Base Feature command to select a solid to use as the base feature or construct a new base feature for the model.
If you clear this option, all solid bodies contained in the imported Pro/E file are placed in PathFinder as a part copy rather than a body feature. If you do insert bodies as a part copy, keep in mind that you will be required to select or create a base feature.
Output Folder. The output folder allows you to specify a location for the imported documents. This is very helpful when you import Pro/E assembly documents. When Solid Edge encounters multiple bodies, the documents for each body are created and written to the specified folder with a PAR extension. If you import a Pro/E part document, Solid Edge does not automatically save the PAR file to this folder. However, if the log file is enabled, it is written to this folder.
You might want to note here that you can also choose an option that makes the Output Folder the Same as the Input Folder for imported documents. This option is aptly called: the Output Folder is the Same as the Input Folder. If you choose this option and import an assembly, the assembly and the individual parts in the assembly are placed in the same folder.
Feature Recognition. This final option lets you specify how Solid Edge will recognize features in the imported Pro/E document. You can choose to import the model as a single body feature without recognizing the individual features that make up the model. You may also choose to have the individual features recognized and maintain the feature tree of the imported model. Setting the Use Feature Recognizer to Recognize Individual Features and Create a Feature Tree option will activate the Feature Recognizer environment. The only catch is that you must have the Solid Edge FeatureReco module installed to access this functionality.
Taking time to practice using these import options will help you work within a supply chain that includes different platforms. Not only will you be able to more easily translate from Pro/E to Solid Edge, you will also be more likely to use the engineering knowledge that already exists in your legacy data.