Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology, Part 5 (On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial)

31 Dec, 2008 By: Russell Brook

Making CAD so easy, anyone can use it.

Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of Siemens PLM Software.

In this five part series of articles about Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology, I have looked at how this new way of working directly helps you to get products to market faster with your current design team by allowing you to work more efficiently. Another way to maximize your investment in CAD is to make it available to many more types of users.

Familiar 2D work flows and an intuitive user interface mean Solid Edge can be used by more users and ease the transition to 3D.

In this fifth and final article on Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology, I'll show how more users can add value to the entire product development process. From the sales engineer mocking up a new customer request to R&D iterating design solutions to more capabilities in data reuse to more suppliers fighting for your business, synchronous technology can help you improve quality while cutting costs.

Before learning how Solid Edge 3D removes some of the final barriers to transitions from 2D to 3D, let's take a quick look at some of the obstacles faced by current systems.

Powerful modelling and editing tools mean changes can be made by anyone.

Why CAD Is Not as Prevalent Throughout an Organization as it Could Be
Recent market research shows that there are still many companies still using 2D CAD, so why have so many still not made the transition to 3D? For many 2D is enough for instance creating layouts, schematics, or diagrams, but many others have not moved because users feel they need to understand parametrics before they can learn 3D. Or occasional users can't make expert changes, which require a skilled engineer to make any level of change.

An intuitive user interface, AutoCAD-like tools, and 3D workflows that mimic those found in 2D, such as fence stretch, mean there has never been a better time to move to 3D.

3D CAD So Easy, Anyone Can Use It
Moving sets of faces or regions of a model is as easy as doing a stretch in 2D. Solid Edge has taken that familiar process in the 3D. And because Solid Edge has hot keys for quickly snapping models a top or side view, 3D stretching on parts and assemblies is just that much easier. Imagine being able to snap to a front view, fence half the model and stretching it into position without having to find and edit the appropriate feature (if that were even possible) and fixing any downstream failures. Solid Edge will automatically maintain geometric conditions with Live Rules and if there are any 3D driving dimensions to control fit and position, those will be maintained as well, even if they are locked or formula driven.

Developing a system that is easy to use also requires the right user interaction model. The new interface found in Microsoft Office 2007 is based on a direct user interaction paradigm and makes a perfect foundation for Solid Edge. As you select items in Word or Excel, such as text or graphics, a customized toolbar appears that only presents the available operations. That same familiar concept applies to Solid Edge, select a face and you get just the operations such as move and rotate. In many cases, geometry can be created or edited by directly manipulating the geometry virtually eliminating create or edit commands.

The Office 2007 style user interface makes expert users more productive, while allowing novice users to learn as they go.

Some operations do required commands, like drawing and viewing, and those are organized for easy reach while avoiding complex menu picks or fishing through a pallet that manages commands. Having CAD tools consistent with Office applications has proven itself in being the most productive way to work, and the interface in Solid Edge is licensed from Microsoft to ensure consistency. This proven fact has been shown to reduce training costs while keeping all users working as efficiently as possible.

If you want to design faster than your competition, CAD has to be so easy everyone can use it. Using the most powerful interaction paradigm makes all your users experts in less time. Because less training and design coaching are required, more people associated with product development can add value to the process. It's been proven that 3D increases product quality, and you can expect standards to increase when more people have access to the data. You will also see better utilization of engineering time, less downtime with new users, and casual users become more independent. At the end of the day this new interaction paradigm will help you get to market faster.

In this series of articles, I have described how Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology will get you working faster and be more productive, and why synchronous technology is so flexible while retaining the precise control of parametric models. Plus I've discussed how you can work with CAD files from multiple systems, and how 3D design has become so easy, that anyone can use it. I hope you have enjoyed reading this series as much as I have writing it.

I'll keep you updated with further enhancements in Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology over the coming months. Until then, see you On the Edge.

About the Author: Russell Brook

Russell Brook