MCAD Tech News (#363)

21 May, 2014 By: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Labs Report:
Conceptual Design Software Tools

Whether it's a bridge or a ball joint, every design must be roughed out before designers can tackle the details — but a growing group of digital options is making that process a little smoother.

By Sanjeev Pal

Regardless of industry or application, every design starts taking shape at the conceptual stage. Architects, designers, engineers, and other project stakeholders sketch out the germ of an idea, then refine the design by constricting the broad-brush initial concepts into a precise virtual design that meets project requirements.

The latest software tools are helping designers to produce more concepts and complete this process more quickly, resulting in reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction. Whether a stand-alone tool or an integrated part of a primary CAD software application, in the office or on the go, conceptual design software is becoming an indispensible tool for projects that span the design spectrum.

Conceptual Design Defined

Wikipedia defines conceptual design this way:

Conceptual design ... is the creation and exploration of new ideas. It is distinguished from conceptual art by closely relating to function; it is distinguished from design in general by not necessarily being actually functional, but as illustrating a design that may show an idea that may potentially be functional.

Exploratory in nature, conceptual design promotes the generation of creative output by eliminating the constraints that define general design. One of the most effective ways to explore design with freedom from constraint is by sketching, an approach that has been around as long as design itself. Although modern tools provide a far more sophisticated sketching experience than rough drawings on coffee-shop napkins, the goal is the same: Enable designers to brainstorm and apply their creativity in developing new ideas. This contrasts sharply with CAD tools designed for detailed design, which require specific dimensions, tolerances, finishes, and material specifications, as well as constraints that are mathematically precise, accurate, and performance based. Read more »

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Sanjeev Pal is an industry analyst specializing in CAD, product lifecycle management (PLM), and engineering software.

Solid Edge University 2014: Doing More by Doing Less

Siemens PLM Software unveils Solid Edge ST7, which pushes productivity by simplifying design reuse and executing many 3D modeling tasks more quickly than its predecessor.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

"The fastest way to create something is to not create something," said Dan Staples, vice-president of Solid Edge Product Development at Siemens PLM Software. Staples was describing a pattern recognition feature in Solid Edge ST7 that helps users adapt imported parts to meet their needs, rather than create new ones from scratch. It's one of many new additions to the 3D mechanical design solution that aim to trim design time by increasing efficiency in common tasks.

Solid Edge ST7 — the 27th release of the mechanical design solution, and the seventh featuring synchronous technology — was unveiled last week at Siemens PLM Software's annual Solid Edge University (SEU) user conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to technical sessions, customer stories, and networking events, the conference offered attendees free certification exams for the first time. SEU was also complemented by pre- and post-event workshops: a Developer Day, Design Management Workshop, and Femap Symposium.

Karsten Newbury, senior vice-president and general manager for Mainstream Engineering Software at Siemens PLM, opened SEU by discussing the "three pillars" of the company's Solid Edge offerings: product, access, and community. For the first, he told the audience that synchronous technology — which combines aspects of history-free and parametric modeling — can "help you improve your time to market" and resolve the problem of "people worrying about how to design the product, rather than what kind of product to design." Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

Manufacturing the Future with 3D Printing 2.0
Through August 29, 2014
Various cities
These seminars, hosted by 3D Systems resellers in the U.S. and around the globe, will demonstrate how the company's 3DPRINTING 2.0 initiative can help accelerate design-to-manufacturing workflows. Read more »

What's New in solidThinking Inspire 2014
June 3–5, 2014
Various times
This webinar will demonstrate new enhancements including geometry simplification tools, smoothing options, linear static analysis, and concentrated mass parts. Read more »

The Big M
June 9–12, 2014
Detroit, Michigan
The Big M, a manufacturing event organized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), is designed as a springboard for organizations and potential new partnerships in business. A number of industry events will be co-located with The Big M, including the RAPID 3D printing and scanning conference. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at

How Fast Is It? Assess Your Graphics Hardware
Herrera on Hardware: Although benchmark tests may be imperfect tools, they are a valuable source of performance data. Read more »

CAD Is the Least of Our Problems, Part 2
It's time to set your own bring-your-own-device (BYOD) rules. Read more »

Bring-Your-Own-Device Advice
Read more about how to handle personal handheld devices in the workplace at Read more »

Get Your 3D on with PressPull
Adding or subtracting material from your 3D models is a common practice in AutoCAD. Lynn Allen shows you how to do so with the PressPull command, plus you'll learn a top-secret tip to taper your extruded model at the same time! Watch the video »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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