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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
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 »

Summer Preview: Solid Edge ST10

 
May 18th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe

Solid Edge SE10’s Generative Design + Reverse Engineering + 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing = Siemens Convergent Modeling

Last week at the Siemens PLM Connection 2017, I was introduced to several new products and technologies, and was reintroduced to a product that I had prior experience with, but needed a refresher as to where it stood today — Solid Edge ST10.

The latest release brings just about every aspect of product development forward with new design technology, enhanced fluid flow and heat transfer analysis, and cloud-based collaboration tools. Solid Edge ST10 makes it easier to optimize parts for additive manufacturing (AM) and obtain quotes, material selection and delivery schedules from AM service providers. Newly integrated topology optimization technology, combined with Siemens’ Convergent Modeling technology, improves product design efficiency and the ability to work with imported geometry.

Originally developed and released by Intergraph in 1996 using the ACIS geometric modeling kernel it later changed to the Parasolid kernel. In 1998 it was purchased and further developed by UGS Corp (the purchase date corresponds to the kernel swap).

In 2007, UGS was acquired by the Automation & Drives Division of Siemens AG. UGS company was renamed Siemens PLM Software in October 2007.

Solid Edge ST10 Preview (Video Courtesy of Nancy Johnson).

In an effort to appeal to SMBs with Solid Edge ST10, John Miller, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Siemens PLM Software, said, “Digitalization is leveling the playing field, providing unlimited opportunities for small-to medium-sized businesses to disrupt industry.”

3 Modeling Methods

For quite some time, Solid Edge has distinguished itself by having three modeling methods — Ordered, Direct, and Synchronous.

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 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. In both ordered and synchronous mode Solid Edge offers hybrid surface/solid mode modeling.

The direct modeling features lets 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.

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.

Synchronous Technology has been integrated into Solid Edge as an application layer built on the D-Cubed and Parasolid software components.

Solid Edge synchronous technology lets you create new concept designs, respond to change requests, and make simultaneous updates to multiple parts within an assembly. With this design flexibility, you can eliminate preplanning and avoid feature failures, rebuild issues, and rework. Synchronous technology also allows you to treat multi-CAD data like native files.

With Solid Edge synchronous technology, you can re-use 3D design detail from other models, saving effort when creating new designs. With just a copy and paste, Solid Edge allows you to transfer design detail from one project to another, and treats files in other CAD formats just like they were native Solid Edge files.

Finally, synchronous technology allows you to make simultaneous changes by simply selecting and dragging parts within an assembly.

Generative Design

Generative Design brings topology optimization to the Solid Edge 3D product development toolkit, where you can define a specific material, design space, permissible loads and constraints and a target weight, and the software automatically computes the geometric solution. These results can then be manufactured on 3D printers, or further refined in Solid Edge for traditional manufacturing processes.

The benefits range from lighter components to minimal downstream manufacturing material waste. Also, highly customized complex shapes can result, perfect for casting or today’s high-resolution additive manufacturing processes.

Based on parameters, a specific component material, a design space (or envelope), and permissible loads and constraints, the software computes a reduced-mass geometric solution that maintains structural integrity. You can even run multiple weight targets, load cases and constraint scenarios simultaneously.

The optimized components coming out of generative design can be further modified with Solid Edge’s toolkit incorporating Siemens’ convergent modeling and synchronous technologies. The meshed results are seamlessly integrated into the normal model editing process, allowing you to get the final design with no errors introduced with inaccurate conversions from triangular mesh to b-rep.

With Solid Edge ST10, the underlying Parasolid modeling kernel can now be applied to facet models by converging classic boundary representation (b-rep) and facet model operations in a single geometric modeling component. Examples include the reverse engineering of digitally scanned models, CAE workflows, and preparing models for 3D printing. By allowing traditional b-rep modeling operations to work directly on faceted geometry, the time consuming and often error prone task of converting faceted models to precise CAD geometry can be completely eliminated, improving product design efficiency.

Convergent modeling provides:

  • A single geometric modeling component with a unified set of modeling functions for facet models and classic b-reps
  • Seamless integration, with no delegation to an add-on modeling component
  • No need to convert between b-reps and facets
  • Freedom to model with classic b-rep, facet models, or a combination of the two.

Solid Edge ST10 can work with mesh or triangle-based data. Bodies can be imported from other systems, digitally scanned, or products of a generative design analysis. All of these come in as a mesh of triangles (or facets) that will probably require further design modification.

Solid Edge provides mesh cleanup tools to remove any errors that may have resulted from the import process for obtaining a workable set of triangles.

Once you have a sound mesh, regions can be identified and created, and those regions can be further extracted as surfaces and edited using traditional surface modeling tools.

Imported mesh bodies don’t always meet your needs, so Solid Edge delivers tools to remove specific facets or mesh regions, fill holes and smooth the mesh. These mesh cleanup operations help prepare faceted bodies for downstream modeling and/or manufacturing.

Finding logical facet shapes is critical for preparing geometry for analytical surface operations, and the Identify Regions tools permit logical grouping of triangles which can be used in the creation of faces.

The true potential of reverse engineering is realized when you can create native surfaces on top of imported data. Solid Edge provides commands to not only extract faces from identified regions of the mesh, but also to fit analytical faces on top of regions.

Solid Edge Portal

The browser-based Solid Edge portal will offer a cloud-based solution to collaborate with other users, suppliers and customers, simplifying communication in product development cycles. Offering a new way to work cooperatively, the portal allows users to upload and manage files in cloud-based folders, with multi-platform browser-based viewing of Solid Edge and many other CAD applications.

The Solid Edge Portal has extensive viewing capabilities for 3D CAD files. Supported file types include Solid Edge parts, assemblies and drawings and most common 3D CAD formats. Viewing capabilities include 3D pan, zoom and rotate, 3D cross sections, and additionally for assemblies show and hide components, and explode.

Solid Edge ST10 is scheduled to ship in summer 2017.

For more information: www.siemens.com/plm/st10.

Like just about all engineering software these days, the price for Solid Edge varies quite a bit depending on subscription license (which includes maintenance), or perpetual license, and which version of the software – there are 4 levels: Design & Drafting, Foundation, Classic, and Premium. Subscription pricing begins at $75.00/month and goes up to $329/month, depending on capabilities.

Check out the comparison chart online for comparing the various versions and capabilities.

Editor’s Note: When Solid Edge ST10 is released this summer, I’m going to take it for an extended test drive to experience how it measures up to the competition.

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