MCAD Tech News (#258)

21 Jan, 2009

Software Review: Solid Edge ST, Part 2 p>

A number of new capabilities set Solid Edge ST apart from its competition.

By Jeffrey Rowe

Jeffrey Rowe photo

In the previous MCAD Tech News, I discussed Siemens PLM Software's new Solid Edge ST and its Synchronous Technology (ST) feature. This time I'll examine the new user interface and a few more of the software's many new capabilities.

The new user interface is actually the crux of ST, so I'll start there. The UI for Solid Edge ST is relatively clean, has a definite look and feel of Microsoft Office 2007, and becomes intuitive in short order. A good UI always eases the pain of the learning curve, and I think most users will see the benefits. I have to mention that I consider a software application's documentation (online help, tutorials, etc.) a part of the UI, and although Solid Edge ST's material is better than previous versions, it is still fairly feature-oriented as opposed to being task-oriented, which I believe would have provided a better level of assistance and lower levels of frustration, especially for new users.

For new users coming over from AutoCAD, Solid Edge ST contains unified 2D and 3D commands that should make the transition a bit easier. You also have the ability to turn 2D regions into 3D geometry -- not totally unique, but a nice implementation in Solid Edge ST.

The Steering Wheel
The Steering Wheel is the primary direct editing tool that is at the heart of ST for modifying models by moving and rotating 2D and 3D geometry. It automatically displays whenever you click on a face. The Steering Wheel comprises parts that reposition its location or orientation, as well as perform synchronous move and synchronous rotate operations along its primary and secondary axes. It's really a geometric editing handle for aligning to any geometric element to achieve precise results. It does take a bit of practice to reorient the Steering Wheel, but doesn't take long to get the hang of it. The Steering Wheel can do a lot of things, though, so I'd recommend spending the time to get comfortable with it.

Live Rules
Live rules are what determine the behavior of the Steering Wheel. In other words, Live Rules determine the faces that will be affected by a move or rotate operation with the Steering Wheel, and the Steering Wheel determines the degree and direction of these operations. The Live Rules feature automatically finds and maintains geometric conditions during drag or dimensional edits. For example, things like tangency, symmetry, and concentricity are automatically found and maintained, even in models that did not originate in Solid Edge or NX. You can suspend Live Rules at any time, and assemblies are independent of Live Rules. Read more »

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Jeffrey Rowe is the principal of Cairowest Group, an independent industrial design, mechanical engineering, and technical communication consulting firm with offices in Colorado and Michigan. You can reach him by e-mail at or by phone at 719.221.1867


Taiwan Researchers Develop 3D Printer Prototype

By Kenneth Wong

Sen-Yung Lee, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Mechanical Technology Research and Development Center at the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan, may have found a new revenue stream for his country. He and his colleagues recently developed a prototype of a rapid prototyping (RP) machine, or a 3D printer.

In the announcement, the university wrote, "This RP technique has also been transferred to a domestic company, MicroJet Ltd. … The annual revenue garnered from this technique is expected to reach 3-5 hundred million NTD [New Taiwan Dollar), approximately US$10-16 million, in five years."

Terry Wohlers, founder of Wohlers Associates and the author of Wohlers Report 2008 (an in-depth global study of the advances in additive fabrication, including 3D printing and rapid manufacturing), observed, "It's possible to ramp up to $10-16 million in five years, but they'd have to invest aggressively, put together a strong R&D team, create a good method of distribution and support, and make few mistakes along the way."

Wei-Hsiang Lai, a participant in the RP machine development, pointed out this could lead to "the first commercial RP machine developed domestically," with "many commercial potentials. … All of its parts and assemblies are nowadays supplied and manufactured domestically, instead of imported from other countries [as] in the past." Read more»


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

2009 PLM Vendor Forum: PLM in Uncertain Economic Times
March 25, 2009–April 8, 2009
Various Cities
Participants should gain an understanding of the current PLM market, dynamics that are impacting it, and expectations for its continued evolution. Read more

COFES 2009: Slipstreaming Innovation into the Mainstream
April 16–19, 2009
Scottsdale, Arizona
This event brings together engineering software vendors and users, developers, and analysts, for an open discussion about the future of the industry. Read more

Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference
July 20–24, 2009
Louisville, Kentucky
Attendees are encouraged to network and learn about the latest innovations in the field of portable 3D industrial measurement technologies. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on