March 14, 2005
UGS Launches Solid Edge Version 17
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by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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UGS Launches Solid Edge Version 17

UGS, has launched Version 17 of Solid Edge software, its 3D CAD system for the mainstream product lifecycle management (PLM) market. UGS expects the new release to begin shipping in April.

UGS made the announcement at a press briefing at the National Design Engineering Show in Chicago. Separately, UGS also announced "Direct Editing" capability in Solid Edge Version 17.

"Solid Edge is the cornerstone of UGS' mid-market strategy. The software has consistently performed well over the last couple of years and is positioned for significant expansion in this market," said Tony Affuso, chairman, CEO and president of UGS. "Solid Edge is focused on helping evolve 2D users to 3D to effectively address the constant increase in design complexity of new products."

Design with Insight And Evolve To 3D

Constant increase in product complexity has prompted designers in all manufacturing industries to adopt 3D technology. Solid Edge's unique four step Evolve to 3D approach addresses this need by helping customers migrate to 3D in a smooth, efficient, non-disruptive manner; thus allowing customers to get their job done today while learning 3D as they go, mixing and matching techniques in a highly productive hybrid 2D/3D environment.

Solid Edge Version 17 continues to deliver on its Design with Insight vision and help customers to Evolve to 3D, by delivering many new capabilities to optimize the design of complex products in a hybrid 2D/3D environment; all under the control of the built-in insight for design management.

Hybrid 2D/3D Design

Version 16 enhanced Solid Edge's capability for hybrid 2D/3D design by introducing the unique "Zero D" capability that allows the definition of product structure before any geometry is committed to paper. In Version 17 this capability is enhanced to include new workflows that allow customers to convert existing 3D parts into 2D profiles for efficient 2D design layout, thus allowing streamlined incorporation of existing parts into the hybrid 2D/3D workflow.

"The fundamental concern voiced by product developers considering a move from 2D to 3D CAD tools is a wish to preserve their existing process of product design in order to minimize risk and business impact," said Ken Versprille, Ph.D., PLM Research Director, CPD Associates. "2D layout is central to their process methodology today and the Solid Edge Hybrid 2D/3D tool addresses the concern head on. By incorporating product structure, 2D layout, and 3D geometry into a single consistent approach that emulates the way they currently work and trust, users get the best of all worlds in their transition."

Direct Editing

Solid Edge Version 17 takes a leap forward in the mainstream CAD market by becoming the only major player to offer direct editing of models without the need to edit the history tree. Direct Editing allows the editing of native complex parametric models "after the fact" without the need to retrace steps in the history tree. Direct Editing also allows the editing of imported 3D geometry from any source, without the need to import features and parameters. With Direct Editing, Solid Edge offers leadership in interoperability with NX software and in helping customers to either co-exist with, or migrate from, competitive systems such as Pro/ENGINEER, Autodesk Inventor, or SolidWorks.

Large Assemblies

Resources are becoming more valuable as designs get bigger and more complex. Solid Edge's new massive assembly support capability allows engineers to work on large volumes of data to help customers to create complete digital mock-ups of even the largest assemblies. Solid Edge Version 17 adds a new simplified assembly capability that uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically determine which external faces need to be displayed to give an accurate representation of the assembly, while a new "structure only" navigation capability allows every engineer to have the top level assembly file as their main point of entry and specifically choose when they want to select the detail of a part or
entire sub-assembly.

"When working graphically with our existing large assemblies, the new simplify assembly enhancements in Version 17 will help us to increase performance up to five times compared to our current version of Solid Edge," said Klaus Langer of Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation GmbH (Heidenheim, Germany) and Solid Edge Version 17 beta tester. "It's a great testament to UGS' focus on customer satisfaction that all our requests for new enhancements made just six months ago are now in Solid Edge Version 17."

In addition to these new features, Solid Edge continues to push the envelope in many other areas. Also delivered with Version 17 are:
  • UGS XpresReview software, a new easy to use email driven solution for design review to complement the existing fully managed collaboration workflow capability of Insight and Insight Connect.
  • Improved ease of adoption through the introduction of Apprentice Mode and Feature Error Assistant. Feature Error Assistant helps users to troubleshoot failures and warnings with meaningful descriptions and appropriate corrective action. Apprentice Mode is a new capability that helps new users to more easily navigate the systems.
  • Solid Edge already provides excellent translation tools for Pro/ENGINEER, Mechanical Desktop, and AutoCAD, as well as neutral files like IGES, STEP and DXF. Solid Edge Version 17 adds to this extensive array by introducing a new CATIA V4 Translator, a new batch Inventor migration tool, and a third party ME10 translator from Voyager Partner PROCIM.
  • "One of the difficult things about operating a CAD system is the sequence of commands and selections that are required to produce a useable model," said Ray Kurland, president, TechniCom, Inc. "Solid Edge is the first system I have seen that makes a serious attempt to solve that problem. The new apprentice mode is quite usable and will benefit both casual and new users."

    We just returned from the National Design Engineering Show in Chicago last week and can report that the city has once again upheld its reputation for being cold and blustery in March. The show, which is part of National Manufacturing Week, continues to shrink in size, as have most other general-purpose design and engineering trade shows. In fact, it's moving to the Rosemont Convention Center near O'Hare Airport next year - a facility that is literally a better fit for this event. The trip this year, however was worthwhile, although there were relatively few "mega" new MCAD product announcements or introductions.

    Of the MCAD products introduced, we felt that Solid Edge Version 17 was among the most significant.

    This was actually our second exposure to Solid Edge v17, as I spent a day covering the highlights and a few details of the new product privately with a Solid Edge application engineer and a product manager several weeks ago. Although I haven't yet had any hands-on time with Solid Edge v17, below are what I consider the highlights based on my private demo and the public presentation at NDES.
    • 2D/3D Hybrid Design - by itself, this is not that earth shattering, but Solid Edge believes, and rightly so, that not everyone needs 3D all the time for all purposes. For example, machinery equipment layout can often be more quickly accomplished in 2D than 3D. With Solid Edge, you can mix 2D sketches with 3D models that sometimes can help visualize complex mechanical designs more quickly. This version also enhances Solid Edge's unique "Zero D" capability that lets you define product structure before actually committing any geometry. With version 17, you can convert existing 3D parts into 2D profiles for design layouts. This
      capability is probably one of the best illustrations of the 2D/3D workflow.
    • Direct Editing - lets you directly edit models without having to worry about retracing steps and editing the associated history tree. For example, you can directly move, rotate, and resize features; delete holes and regions; change sheet metal thicknesses; change bend radii; and change draft angles. Direct editing also lets you edit imported geometry, regardless of source, without having to import features and parameters - a really big deal for interoperability.
    • Handling Large Assemblies - Solid Edge v17 lets you create simplified representations of complex assemblies alone or also exclude small parts, as well, such as fasteners for faster file opening, display, and drawing production. These simplified representations also let you convey a design without necessarily sharing proprietary detail. You are also able to navigate large assembly tree structures without loading geometry from the assembly, although selected parts or subassemblies can be opened for detail design, as required.
    • Apprentice Mode - intended specifically for users new to Solid Edge, this switchable on/off capability provides a startup screen with descriptive choices for initial actions; a command assistant that clarifies commands and explains workflow; and command finder that cross-references Solid Edge commands with commands found in other packages. A feature error assistant helps you troubleshoot failures and warnings with what appear to be descriptions and corrective actions that are actually meaningful.
    • XPres Review - creates comprehensive design packages for collaboration as multi-document, Packaged Collaboration Files (PCFs). These are analogous to ECO/ECR or bid design packages and contain all required information to execute a design change or make a bid on a design, either internally or externally. It provides 2D/3D view and markup with measurement (exact or tessellated) and dynamic sectioning. Related to this is the fact that a version of eDrawings will soon be available for Solid Edge.
    • Like just about every other MCAD vendor, Solid Edge has put forth a strategy for "transitioning" current AutoCAD and Mechanical Desktop (MDT) customers over to 3D, as well as Inventor users. To aid in this effort, Solid Edge v17 has a command finder for finding comparable commands in Autodesk products; AutoCAD emulation; an MDT and Inventor bulk migratory that translates both 2D and 3D data; and the ability to edit Autodesk 3D design using Solid Edge's direct editing capability.
    • With what I have witnessed with so far with Solid Edge v17, coupled with the fact that this release is coming from the "new UGS" (after being cut loose from EDS last year), I feel that Solid Edge will emerge from relative obscurity in the MCAD space and become a real contender among the bevy of products it competes with, namely, SolidWorks, Pro/ENGINEER, and Inventor. Granted, this is only a preliminary first look over somebody else's shoulder, but I feel is a positive indicator for the product and the company backing it.

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