Jeff's MCAD Blogging
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
MCADCafe e-Magazine: Solid Edge ST5 Released
June 25th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Industry Automation Division and a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, announced the release of Solid Edge ST5, with advances in core design capabilities aimed at helping users develop better products faster. The latest Solid Edge release also contains more than 1,300 new customer-driven productivity enhancements.
Siemens PLM Software also announced Solid Edge Mobile Viewer, a new free 3D viewer mobile device application (app) for the iPad portable digital device, which broadens access to design data to help companies enhance collaboration. The announcements were made at Siemens PLM Software’s Solid Edge University 2012
“The new features in Solid Edge ST5 are driven by our strong focus on our customers’ requirements. By responding directly to their needs, we ensure each functional enhancement delivers real business value,” said Dan Staples, director of Solid Edge product development, Siemens PLM Software. “Customers are seeing real benefits from our industry-leading synchronous technology and we’ve strongly extended our lead in this area.”
Faster more flexible ways to use synchronous technology
Solid Edge continues to leverage synchronous technology, Siemens PLM Software’s breakthrough history-free, feature-based design technology for digital product development, to provide designers and engineers a better way to create and edit designs and to help cut design time by enabling reuse of imported models. Solid Edge ST5 uses synchronous technology to provide enhanced support for multi-body modeling, which lets users import parts and assemblies from virtually any CAD system. The resulting imported geometry can be combined into a single part or multiple parts depending on manufacturing requirements.
“I am very impressed with what I have seen in Solid Edge ST5; especially the new multi-body design capability,” said Grant Holohan, Mechanical Engineer, Hatch, a leading global EPCM company specializing in designing large-scale mining operations. “The new multi-body design capability gives us the freedom to design without worrying about individual parts unless needed. Using Solid Edge ST5 will dramatically increase the design productivity of our staff, saving a substantial amount of design time.”
Continues to simplify drawing documentation
In many design and manufacturing companies, drawings are a key deliverable. Solid Edge enhancements continue to focus on drawing productivity to help lower shop floor errors. Enhancements in Solid Edge ST5 include the ability to show an assembly in multiple positions within a drawing view, to automatically place parts lists across sheets, and easily align the position of dimensions. A new marquee feature is the ability to create nailboards of electrical wiring harnesses, complete with flattened and “bend” views, drawing views of connectors, and connector and conductor tables for creating complete manufacturing documentation.
Delivers thermal analysis for steady-state simulations
Engineers often need to simulate both thermal and mechanical systems where a part may have to undergo both stress and a thermal load. And when issues are encountered, they require a fast, easy approach to making changes that improve design quality. Solid Edge ST5 now includes steady-state thermal simulation and when coupled with synchronous technology users can test more alternatives in less time, so designers can reduce the need to build and test physical prototypes.
Solid Edge Mobile Viewer App for the iPad
Users across a company now have the ability to view 3D parts and assemblies created with Solid Edge using the new free Solid Edge Mobile Viewer app on an iPad. The app includes the ability to rotate, pan, zoom, show and hide parts, create and email images. Solid Edge Mobile Viewer allows individuals outside of the traditional design and engineering departments to view design data, enabling faster, more convenient design reviews, customer presentations, or general model inspection.
Solid Edge ST5 is scheduled to ship in July. For more information please visit www.siemens.com/plm/solidedgest5
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
With ST5 the Synchronous Technology saga continues . . .
Starting about four years ago, one of biggest mechanical CAD software developments then arguably was Synchronous Technology (ST) that found its way into both Solid Edge and its big brother, NX. Given that it was a “Version 1” of the technology, it was stable, but was not implemented through all design environments within the Solid Edge product. That, however, has been addressed over time, and continues to be increasingly implemented throughout in new releases.
In 2008, Siemens PLM Software announced a new CAD methodology that it claimed to be the biggest MCAD breakthrough in a decade called Synchronous Technology. That was a pretty big claim, but the possibilities and implications were pretty intriguing.
At that time, using NX and Solid Edge as vehicles, Siemens PLM Software became the latest MCAD company to jump on the bandwagon espousing the advantages of non-history-based design methods. Synchronous Technology actually had a predecessor; Direct Modeling (really, direct model editing) technology.
Solid Edge actually employs the following three paradigms:
Ordered: The ordered modeling process begins with a base feature controlled by a 2D sketch, which is either a linear, revolved, lofted, or swept extrusion. Each subsequent feature is built on the previous feature. When editing, the model is “rolled back” to the point where the feature was created so that you cannot try to apply constraints to geometry that does not yet exist. The drawback is that you do not see how the edit will interact with the subsequent features. This is typically called “history” or “regeneration based” modeling.
Direct: Direct modeling features let you change model geometry/topology without being hindered by a native model’s existing – or an imported model’s lack of – parametric and/or history data. This is particularly useful for working with imported models or complex native models. Direct modeling features are available in both Ordered and Synchronous mode. If used in the Ordered mode, the direct modeling edits are appended to the history tree at the point of current rollback just like any other ordered feature.
Synchronous: The software combines direct modeling with dimension driven design (features and synchronously solving parametrics) under the name “Synchronous Technology”. Parametric relationships can be applied directly to the solid features without having to depend on 2D sketch geometry, and common parametric relationships are applied automatically.
Unlike other direct modeling systems, it is not driven by the typical history-based modeling system, instead providing parametric dimension-driven modeling by synchronizing geometry, parameters and rules using a decision-making engine, allowing users to apply unpredicted changes. This object-driven editing model is known as the Object Action Interface, emphasizing a user interface that provides Direct Manipulation of objects (DMUI).
Synchronous Technology has been integrated into Solid Edge and NX as an application layer built on the D-Cubed and Parasolid software components.
While most parametric modelers, such as SolidWorks, Pro/ENGINEER (now Creo Parametric), and Inventor (although Fusion has changed this a bit) rely on feature history, an increasing number do not. Notable non-history-based modeling packages include those from CoCreate (now PTC’s Creo Direct), SpaceClaim, IronCAD, and Kubotek. Parametric, history-based MCAD has dominated the market since the late 1980s. However, several vendors in the past few years have gotten into the non-history-based arena, including a couple from China.
Simply put, Synchronous Technology combines the speed and flexibility of explicit modeling with the precise control of parameterized design. Theoretically, models can be developed faster because designs no longer require preplanning. Changes are more flexible since you can apply 3D driving dimensions to completed models. For example, during a design change, models are not regenerated so performance is enhanced.
Even though it does have its own inherent limitations, probably one of the biggest advantages of a non-history based approach is that it lets you make changes late in the design process so they are not bound by the constraints and complications that a history tree can impose. Also, a non-history-based system can make data import easier, since you don’t have to worry about the overhead of dealing with a history tree from a different system. Therein lies another one of the biggest advantages for a non-history-based approach — 3D model data can be imported from just about any source for editing without the need for a translator/converter.
The “synchronous” part of Synchronous Technology comes into play as the technology is intended to synchronize engineering relationships, features, and parameters through more direct model creation and editing. In other words, Synchronous Technology will synchronize feature recognition and constraint solving with geometry and topology.
Synchronous Technology can be applied to portions of models or entire models and will let you import features, such as bosses, from other MCAD systems. Relationships and constraints of these imported features are inferred by Synchronous Technology and can be treated as if originally created in Solid Edge. This is a new way of using feature recognition because, according to the company, any boundary representation (b-rep) data that can be extracted, regardless of origin, can be used with Synchronous Technology. This ability is probably how most users will benefit from Synchronous Technology – making multi-CAD environments easier to work with.
So, while Synchronous Technology continues to sound promising, will history-based, parametric modeling necessarily or ultimately go away? A history-free design approach can provide some surprising benefits, but the history-based, parametric paradigm will not disappear. However, the non-history-based method does work especially well for working with pure geometry. Maybe a better way to go is “parametrics on demand.” While many of us realize the benefits of history-based methods, they aren’t always the best methods.
Solid Edge ST5 will be available next month, and I am looking forward to taking a closer look at the broader implementation of Synchronous Technology throughout the product. So, while some of my peers may tend to look at the parts that are still missing with regard to Synchronous Technology, Solid Edge has made definite progress with each release, and the company remains committed to making it more comprehensive with future releases. I think the maturity of ST makes Solid Edge a CAD product that deserves a closer look by those in the market for a very capable 3D modeling application.
The Week’s Top 5
At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.
Theorem’s CATIA V6 to/from JT translator enables the translation of all types of JT data into and out of the CATIA V6 format using the 3DXML file format. The use of Dassault Systemes XCAD and Siemens JT Open technology ensures compatibility. The 3DXML data is a full and complete translation of the JT file, including Brep solids and surfaces, tessellated data, PMI (product manufacturing information), structure and color which can be opened and worked up directly in CATIA V6 providing users with new methods and extends the use of 3D design data within a business enterprise and across supply chains and allows for use in CATIA V6, 3DLive, 3DVIA Composer, Delmia and Enovia. Available for immediate shipment, Theorem’s CATIA V6 to JT CADverter is offered as a bi-directional configuration for unrestricted data transfer between the two formats.
Dassault Systèmes announced Tata Technologies’ use of its 3DEXPERIENCE platform, based on Version 6 technology, for a small urban electric vehicle study – the eMO (electric MObility). The eMO study was undertaken to demonstrate the feasibility of developing an electric vehicle at an attractive price (under $20,000), and at the same time confirming their global experience, knowledge and innovation capabilities. A significant challenge in the development process was the requirement to fit all the required vehicle systems into a small footprint while maintaining spacious seating for four adults. To achieve this, Tata Technologies used CATIA and ENOVIA to develop various studies, allowing global collaboration to rapidly evaluate and converge on optimal solutions. Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform was also extensively used for collaboration, allowing multiple team members to view pertinent data in real time. In addition, it allowed more time for testing of different design features aimed at reducing energy consumption, such as vehicle weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics.
MSC Software Corp. announced that Design Manufacturing SpA (DEMA), a major tier-one aerospace supplier utilized MSC Nastran FEA software to solve stamping stress concentration and blank size issues prior to building tooling for an aluminum acoustic barrier. A part of the acoustic barrier is produced in a stamping operation in which a female die applies pressure to a flat aluminum blank, forcing the blank against a male die to form the finished part. Frequently the first stage of tool and blank shows problems such as cracking or excess trim on the formed sheet. Changes are then made to the tooling and the new tooling is tested again to see if the problem was fixed. It’s not unusual for six iterations of modifications taking two weeks each to be required to meet the customer’s quality standards. Instead, DEMA simulated the stamping operation by using the implicit nonlinear capabilities available in MSC Nastran. The simulation results highlighted two potential problems: the material stress exceeded its failure limits and there was excess material around the perimeter of the finished part. DEMA engineers addressed these problems by changing the model and re-running the simulation until they found a final design that eliminated these problems.
EOS and Cookson Precious Metals (CPM) signed a strategic development partnership. Under this agreement, both companies will introduce and further develop precious metal-based applications to the jewelry and watch industry. The product and services offering will range from the production of precious metal parts to consulting for a Direct Metal Laser-Sintering- (DMLS) driven design process, the development and production of special precious metal alloys and the installation of a bespoke solution chain for high-volume jewelry production. To start with, CPM offers AM capacities enabling production of designs made of 18 carat yellow gold (3N color).
ACD Systems International announced Canvas 14 and Canvas 14 +GIS for transforming technical CAD and 2D data into creative illustrations that can be used throughout an enterprise. With Canvas 14, engineers and designers can draw and edit precise documents that can be annotated and shared. The additional Canvas +GIS allows for the use of geo-data within illustrations. Both products provide the capabilities of the Adobe Product Suite, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat. Companies currently using Canvas include Boeing, Caterpillar, GM, Chevron, Lockheed Martin and NASA. Canvas 14 and Canvas 14 +GIS products are available immediately via www.acdsee.com. Canvas 14 is priced at $599.99 USD and Canvas 14 +GIS is $799.99 USD.
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