CAD Tech News (#88)

20 Jun, 2018 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ What's New for Solid Edge and NX

At the annual PLM Connection user conference, Siemens PLM Software developers introduced Solid Edge 2019 and upcoming continuous-release delivery of NX, as well as a new partnership with HP to enable design for full-color 3D printing.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Some say computer-aided design technology is mature, that innovation in the CAD realm is a thing of the past — but Siemens PLM Software would take issue with that. Of course, that's what you'd expect from a developer of said technology, but at the Siemens PLM Connection Americas 2018 user conference in Phoenix earlier this month, the company made its case that CAD innovation is alive and well.

This article, the second of a two-part report from the event, will review the latest updates to NX and Solid Edge, the cornerstone CAD applications in Siemens PLM's range of product lifecycle management applications. (See here for Part 1, "Siemens PLM Is Realizing 100% Digitalized Manufacturing," a look into the company's Digital Innovation Platform and related strategy.)

But First: Design for Full-Color 3D Printing

During the event in Phoenix, Siemens PLM and HP announced they are enabling design of full-color, 3D-printable parts in Solid Edge and NX for prototyping and short-run production on HP's new Jet Fusion 3D 300/500 series of compact printers, described as the industry's first 3D printing solution for producing engineering-grade, functional parts in full color, black, or white — with voxel-level control — in a fraction of the time of other solutions. The models support the leading color file formats, including 3MF, to help designers produce the color parts they want with a reliable workflow.

Introducing Solid Edge 2019

First off, let's address Solid Edge housekeeping matters: The software has a new naming convention. Having morphed ten years ago from Solid Edge 20 to Solid Edge ST1 (when the company introduced Synchronous Technology, combining parametric and direct modeling in one CAD application), the software in its latest incarnation is Solid Edge 2019, available now. Subscription pricing ranges from $75 to $329 per month, depending on package options; it is also available via single-seat, unlimited-term perpetual licensing (contact the company for pricing).

For the unfamiliar, Solid Edge is "more than a mechanical design system," said Dan Staples, vice-president of product development. It's a portfolio of software for product development, including mechanical and electrical design, simulation, manufacturing, technical documentation, and data management. Siemens PLM calls Solid Edge affordable and easy-to-use — the entry point to its Digital Innovation Platform — and offers features to make it attractive to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), including startups. Those SMBs are in fact embracing digital transformation in their manufacturing process, Staples said, and it's helping them compete with larger companies.

A 2018 global survey by research firm IDG found clear movement toward digital transformation among SMB manufacturers. (Source: Siemens PLM Software)
A 2018 global survey by research firm IDG found clear movement toward digital transformation among SMB manufacturers. (Source: Siemens PLM Software)

Design functionality in Solid Edge 2019 comprises not only Synchronous Technology, but also generative design and convergent modeling. "Synchronous is still unique in the industry," Staples said. "No one has been able to duplicate it." Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is the content director for Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst.


▶ Herrera on Hardware: CAD Workstation Form Factors 101, Part 2 — The Tried-and-True Deskside Workstation

You know that the deskside form factor is the familiar mainstay of the CAD workstation world — but do you know why?

By Alex Herrera

As we covered in the first part of this series on modern form factors, the makeup of the workstation market has changed dramatically over time. Particularly in the past several years, the variety of models has exploded. The few deskside towers that have carried on since the workstation's inception have been joined by a broad range of mobile, datacenter, and even wearable workstations of all sizes and capabilities. In this continuation of the series, we're going to start digging deeper into these options, starting with the current landscape of offerings in that oldest and most traditional segment: desksides.

Mention the word "workstation," and the first image that will come to most — and perhaps especially those with a history during the machine's heyday of the late '80s and '90s — is the deskside tower. Today, despite the incursion of mobiles, the deskside (also called desktop or fixed) workstation remains the most popular type chosen by professionals, especially those in the largest served market: CAD. Overall, deskside workstations represent about two-thirds of all models sold worldwide, according to Jon Peddie Research.

The Sometimes Overlooked, but Ultimately Critical Engineering Constraint: Thermal Management

The deskside form factor remains popular for good reason. While a mobile machine would probably be preferable to many, all else being equal, the truth is that all else is not equal. Creating a mobile version of anything requires compromises, not only due to power limitations but — perhaps even more critical today — cooling limitations. Driving up performance and capacity invariably requires adding more components, which run at higher frequencies (and to a lesser degree, higher voltage). That makes it increasingly difficult to compensate for the additional heat produced inside the chassis. And cooling, accomplished primarily through airflow, is much more effective when the thermal density is lower and there's more volume to push airflow. Ultimately, while mobile workstations have made tremendous strides in performance and capabilities, a deskside tower can pile on the most performance and most capacity, period.

Now, the typical consumer and corporate user today don't necessarily need to push performance and capacity any higher than what a modern, mainstream notebook computer can deliver. And that's one main reason we keep hearing about the stagnation in broader PC markets: Many have hit the point of "good enough" computing using hardware far from the cutting edge of capabilities. CAD professionals are different from those users, however; they're motivated to continually search out tools that can help them churn through visual and compute-intensive workloads more quickly. For most, speedups quite literally improve their business's bottom line.

Accordingly, while most consumers and corporate users would gladly trade in their deskside for a mobile, CAD pros typically won't. They may very well (and likely should) demand a mobile workstation to complement their deskside (and we'll get into the rapidly evolving mobile segment in the next installment of this series), but when it comes to choosing the machine that they will rely on for maximum productivity while running modern 3D workflows at the office for the bulk of their workday, the deskside tower still rules.

Of course, on the flipside, what you give up when choosing a deskside is mobility. And while, again, it would certainly be nice to have a machine that can travel, the truth is that most workstation users still do the majority of their mission-critical work in the office. So giving up mobility to get a more reliable, more expandable, more serviceable, and potentially higher-performance machine is the right tradeoff for most. Read more »

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Alex Herrera is a consultant focusing on high-performance graphics and workstations.



CAD Manager Column: Quality Control for CAD Managers, Part 2
If you're ready to begin the journey toward a more efficient and error-free CAD work environment, equip yourself with these four tools for quality improvement. Read more »

AutoCAD Video Tips:
Navigate AutoCAD Drawings at Lightning Speed with Named Views

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Onshape Extends Cloud-Based CAD to the Enterprise, Part 2
Onshape argues that product data management (PDM) solutions are obsolete, and rebuts competitors' criticisms of its own efficacy in addressing CAD users' needs. Read more »

Siemens PLM Is Realizing 100% Digitalized Manufacturing
Acquisitions, key updates to core tools such as NX and Solid Edge, and developments in simulation, additive manufacturing, and more support a fully integrated, automated process. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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