In the Solid Edge Zone (On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial)

31 Aug, 2007 By: Russell Brook

Use zones to isolate areas of design responsibility and increase performance of large assemblies.

For some time now, the advanced assembly design capabilities of UGS Solid Edge software has helped many customers overcome the complexities of large assembly design in industries such as heavy industrial vehicles, large mechanical machinery, and process and power.

Factory floor layout.

This month, I'll look at a brand new capability in Solid Edge (Version 20) -- zones -- and how they help boost performance, manage resources, and deal with visual clutter, so you can quickly 'zone' inon areas of design responsibility from the top level of your assembly project. For more about how Solid Edge can help solve 3D large-assembly design problems, see this online article here.

The Problems
First of all, let's look at some of the problems that working on large, complex assemblies create. Imagine a design team all working on their specialized areas of a project. It all starts off smoothly, but as all the different subsystems come together later in the design cycle and component detail increases, many 3D design systems start to slow down because of depleted system resources. Also, individual designers usually need to see how their design fits in the grand scheme of things, but capturing and displaying all the components that interface with their design can be time-consuming.

When returning to a design project, Zones provide efficient reopening of your projects, why load all the unnecessary components just to get to the ones that you want to work on and waste time and valuable resources? Last, but not least, zones allow you to easily see components that colleagues may have added or deleted on adjacent designs.

What are Zones and What are their Benefits?
Zones define a permanent range box to isolate specific areas within assembly designs, allowing you to quickly isolate areas of your design you are responsible for at a subsystem level. Zones are easy to set up, with options that let you include parts that are inside or fall across the zone box. You can resize the zone box and redefine options at any time. The contents of a zone are dynamic, so as parts are added or removed, even by other members of the team, applying them updates the zone display. When opening a design after a period of time, intelligent caching allows retrieval of only the parts in the zone, without having to open component files to determine if they lie in the zone or not, creating a significant performance boost.

Although zones are useful for machinery and equipment design, many companies must consider the environment in which a machine or multiple machines are installed and Solid Edge can help assist plant equipment layout. Zones are just one technology that helps by dividing up areas of responsibility.

How to Use Zones
Let's walk through the basic steps of using, defining, and editing zones. We'll work on this die-crimp press machine to show how zones are used in assembly design and how easy they are to set up and use.

Die-crimp press machine.

Define a Zone
Defining a zone couldn't be easier. To begin, set the display to include the area where the zone is to be created. In this example, the case assembly subsystem on the machine will be set up as a new zone. Select existing components that define the extreme boundaries of the zone box and accept the selection. Next, specify the range to be all of the components that reside inside the zone box. Now, choose to show the components within the newly defined zone.

Define a range box by selecting components.

Edit an Existing Zone
You can edit and resize zone range boxes. To edit an existing zone, simply right-click on the zone box and edit its definition. Options include everything that's inside the zone box or everything that is overlapping the zone box.

Zone options.

To resize a zone box, select a face of the box and drag it to a new keypoint on a component.

Resizing and editing zone boxes.

When the range box options are set to inside, more parts are included because of the new conditions. This can be useful for quickly checking on the interface between an adjacent system and the zone being worked on.

From the Select Tools tab in EdgeBar, it's easy to switch focus to another zone.

The EdgeBar groups zones and provides an easy way to switch between zones.

Displaying a zone automatically loads those parts into memory. Zones are dynamic, meaning that any parts that you add or remove from the assembly in that particular area are automatically applied or removed to the zone. This creates a significant performance boost when switching zones or opening a massive assembly.

Using Zones in an Assembly
From the File Open dialog box, choose the zone that you need to work on from the drop-down menu near the bottom.

Zones are included in the file open options, and they reduce file open times as well as displaying all relevant components.

In the Zone
Solid Edge makes it even easier to layout factory floors with actual machine geometry, as well as deal with other large assemblies in industries such as heavy industrial vehicles, large mechanical machinery, and process and power. Zones provide a convenient solution for dividing areas of responsibility, reducing demands on system resources, and decreasing file open times. Next time, we'll cover imported data and discuss direct editing.

See you On the Edge, next month.

About the Author: Russell Brook

Russell Brook

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