June 01, 2009
Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology 2 Announced
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| by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Siemens PLM Software announced Solid Edge software with Synchronous Technology 2. This release is the second version of Solid Edge to incorporate Siemens PLM Software’s breakthrough synchronous technology, the first history-free, feature-based modeling capability that serves as a fundamental tool in helping customers react to the market faster.
“We were looking for something very flexible, but also something with the full power of 3D feature modeling for modifying machine components,” said Ben Fune, process engineering manager, American Renolit Corp. “We found the best of both worlds in Solid Edge with synchronous technology.”
Solid Edge is a core component of the Velocity Series portfolio and combines the speed and flexibility of direct modeling with the precise control of dimension-driven design. The latest release extends synchronous technology deeper in the product with improved part and assembly modeling as well as a new sheet metal application. With this release, Siemens PLM Software also announces a new built-in FEA tool and PDM integration leveraging the latest Microsoft SharePoint platforms.
“The Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology 2 release showcases the expansion of Siemens PLM Software’s groundbreaking synchronous technology into additional part and assembly modeling areas, including intelligent sheet metal design," said Dr. Ken Versprille, PLM Research Director, CPDA. "In our in-depth review done last year, we positioned synchronous technology as a major advance in solids modeling and predicted its positive impact on the industry. This latest release proves us correct based on the strength and robustness it demonstrates as a modeling approach. End user interviews attest to the benefits they have achieved in reducing their design cycle times. The modeling
advancements found in Solid Edge, matched with the introduction of a new mid-range FEA application, Solid Edge Simulation, and continued implementation of Solid Edge’s Insight data management tool atop the latest in Microsoft’s SharePoint, offers a win-win scenario for both Solid Edge and its users.”
The new release of Solid Edge extends synchronous technology within core part and assembly modeling for complex feature creation and advanced sketch editing tools that reduce overall design time. To improve 2D to 3D data migration, Solid Edge turns 2D dimensions from imported drawings into 3D driving dimensions during model creation, so users can edit 3D designs based on the intent from 2D. In addition, Live Sections can be used to simplify 3D model changes by letting users edit 2D cross sections cut through any part of a 3D model, and update the 3D model in real-time.
Solid Edge now applies synchronous technology to sheet metal design, creating a feature-based, history-free 3D design application for modeling straight brake sheet metal parts.
Sheet metal is the second application to leverage the power of synchronous technology (CAM Express leveraging synchronous technology was first announced last December) and further validates its extensibility. Synchronous technology brings new levels of productivity to the sheet metal environment so users can create models with less pre-planning, make changes with unbounded flexibility, and reuse and edit supplier data more effectively.
“A process-specific application such as sheet metal is a good example of a design discipline that requires a specialized skill set and unique features in the software,” said Dan Staples, director of Solid Edge product development, Siemens PLM Software. “Now our sheet metal customers can achieve the tremendous design time savings made possible by synchronous technology. And now that synchronous technology has been incorporated into sheet metal, you can see just how extensible this technology really is."
Solid Edge Simulation is a new optional analysis tool embedded into the CAD system that allows design validation of parts and assemblies earlier in the product development process for quicker time to market and reduced physical prototyping costs. It is based on proven Femap software finite element modeling and NX Nastran solver technology built into the Solid Edge user interface. It is easy for designers and engineers to use and promotes increased use of simulation within Solid Edge, fostering design innovation. Solid Edge Simulation also leverages synchronous technology to ease simulation model preparation and speed design refinements.
“These economic times force engineers to do more by themselves than ever before," said Bill McClure, vice president of product development for Velocity Series, Siemens PLM Software. “By embedding FEA into Solid Edge, more designs can be simulated in less time with minimal need to outsource analysis. This allows companies to respond to their customers faster with improved quality and lower costs."
Solid Edge now provides key enhancements to improve the embedded Insight design data management application, a key element of the Velocity Series strategy for scalable PDM, which also includes the Teamcenter Express platform.
“Solid Edge Insight running on SharePoint Server adds design data management to enterprise collaboration for small and mid-sized businesses,” said Don Richardson, director, Global Innovation and PLM Industry Strategy, Microsoft. “Siemens PLM Software, a long-time valued partner of Microsoft, has been utilizing SharePoint services since 2001, and continues to leverage the latest Microsoft technologies in its PLM applications to meet the business needs of customers.”
Solid Edge with Insight leverages the latest Microsoft SharePoint platform for improved collaboration, faster release workflows and enhanced security capabilities offered by Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS). Solid Edge with Insight using the first version of SharePoint was introduced to the market in 2001 and today has more than 1000 customers. Moving Insight to the latest platform helps users reduce PDM deployment and ongoing support costs. Microsoft SharePoint is especially popular with small to medium size businesses (SMBs) and now totals over 100 million seats worldwide.
Solid Edge with synchronous technology 2 is scheduled to ship this summer.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
One of the most controversial and written-about mechanical CAD software developments last year arguably was Synchronous Technology 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 deficiency, however, has been addressed this time around, and will continue to be addressed and further implemented in future releases.
I was given a briefing a couple of weeks ago on Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology 2, and I’ll discuss some of the areas that most impressed me – namely sheet metal, simulation, and product data management.
Synchronous Technology – The Next Phase
A little over a year ago 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, because of what it lacked in terms of real details that wouldn’t be disclosed until a month later, although the possibilities and implications were pretty intriguing.
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.
While most parametric modelers, such as SolidWorks, Pro/ENGINEER, and Inventor rely on feature history, an increasing number do not. Notable non-history-based modeling packages include those from CoCreate, SpaceClaim, IronCAD, and Kubotek. Parametric, history-based MCAD has dominated the market since the late 1980s. However, several vendors in the past couple of years have gotten made non-history-based claims.
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. The capability in Solid Edge called Live Rules is what makes all this possible because it maintains model integrity throughout design iterations. 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 (at least initially) from Synchronous Technology – making multi-CAD environments easier to work with.
The first time around, I felt one of the biggest areas where Synchronous Technology was not present was sheet metal. Well, that specific area has been addressed
This time around, Synchronous Technology has been extended deeper into part and assembly modeling, including sheet metal, with support for a number of new features including:
2D dimensions migrate from drawings to become 3D driving dimensions
Live sections for editing of 3D models using 2D cross sections
History-free, sketch-based edits to Helix features, blend reordering, etc.
Synchronous Technology has been extended into the sheet metal design and editing environment. With Live Rules tuned for sheet metal, model conditions are maintained with or without constraints. Live Rules also automatically find and maintain geometric conditions while making dimensional edits, but maintains sheet metal conditions such as thickness, bends, and reliefs. On the other hand, history-based systems require applying constraints during modeling in order to make future edits, which slows development and complicates the ability to make unplanned changes.
Solid Edge Simulation
From Solid Edge Simulation Express (formerly Femap Express) for individual parts, through Solid Edge Simulation that extends simulation to assemblies, all the way to Femap with NX Nastran that allows you to define and analyze complete systems, there are several simulation options available for Solid Edge
Solid Edge Simulation is a new, optional, built-in Solid Edge application uses the same underlying geometry and user interface as all Solid Edge applications. The company says that Solid Edge Simulation is easy enough for any Solid Edge user with a fundamental understanding of FEA principles to learn and use.
Analysis types that can be performed include statics, modal and buckling analyses using the NX Nastran solver. Solid Edge Simulation provides all of the boundary condition definitions required to define realistic operating environments. The constraints are geometry based and include fixed, pinned, no rotation, symmetric and cylindrical variations. The loads are also geometry based and include mechanical as well as temperature loading for thermal analyses. Solid Edge Simulation facilitates load and constraint application with Quick Bar input options and handles for direction and orientation definition.
You can create and refine finite element meshes. Solid Edge Simulation supports solid tetrahedral element meshes as well as two-dimension shell element meshes on sheet metal structures. You can fine tune the finite element mesh with manual edge and face element sizing, and a mesh size slider bar that makes element size adjustments to the overall mesh, for an efficient simulation model with accurate results.
Assemblies can also be analyzed by connecting assembly components together. Assembly contacts include component to component, in an iterative linear solution, and glued connection of individual components. Contact detection between components can be determined automatically, or connector defined individually through manual face selection. Assembly materials and properties can be applied manually or by default, while the included NX Nastran solver assures realistic assembly component interaction, making for a robust solution.
With postprocessing, you can interpret and understand the resulting model behavior with the comprehensive graphical post-processing tools. Model results can be displayed in a number of forms, including color and contour plots, and displacement and mode shapes that can be animated. You can then identify problem areas and display max/min stress markers, as well as generate reports of final results.
Solid Edge Insight For Product Data Management
This tool is based on Microsoft’s SharePoint business productivity platform. With this release, Insight is now available on Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.WSS is included with Windows Server 2003 and 2008, so many Solid Edge customers already have the basic components they need for implementation. These Microsoft platforms provide collaboration, workflow, and security capabilities to Insight users.
The Solid Edge Embedded Client is a transparent integration to the collaborative product data management environments are provided by Teamcenter and Teamcenter Express. According to the company, with this latest synchronized release, users will experience improved performance for handling assemblies and linked parts, intelligent part numbering through smart codes and more comprehensive attribute mapping.
Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology 2 will be available at the following three different levels and price points:
Solid Edge Foundation (~$4,000)
Solid Edge Classic (~$5,000)
Solid Edge Premium (~$7,500)
These prices are in line with other mainstream MCAD products in this market space.
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,” but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the route that Siemens PLM Software ultimately takes. While many of us realize the benefits of history-based methods, they aren’t always the best methods.
Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology 2 will be available sometime this summer, 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, I’d rather dwell on the fact, that although my comments above are based on a single demo, Solid Edge has made definite progress since the first time around, and the company is committed to making it more comprehensive with future releases.
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.
Delcam announced that it overtook PTC in CAM sales during 2008, this according to the latest NC Software and Related Services Market report from CIMdata. After achieving record sales over the year, the company moved into third place by revenue behind Dassault and Siemens, the first change in the top three companies in more than five years. The report also confirmed Delcam’s position as the world’s leading supplier of CAM software and services, with an increased lead over the second-placed Planit Group. Delcam was also shown to have the largest development team in the industry, with 140 people working on the company’s software. According to CIMdata, an important reason
for Delcam’s success is the company’s diversity, both in the markets it supplies and its geographic coverage. It claims to be the only CAM specialist to appear in the top five suppliers to all of the geographic regions and key industries (mold, tool and die; automotive, and aerospace) according to the report.
Dassault Systèmes (DS) announced the availability of Abaqus 6.9, its unified FEA product suite from SIMULIA. This release delivers key new capabilities for fracture and failure, high-performance computing, and noise and vibration. In addition, SIMULIA is continuing to enrich the product suite with capabilities for modeling, meshing, contact, materials, and multiphysics. The Extended Finite Element Method (XFEM) has been implemented in Abaqus and provides a powerful tool for simulating crack growth along arbitrary paths that do not correspond to element boundaries. The general contact implementation offers a simplified and highly automated method for defining contact interactions in a
model. This capability provides substantial efficiency improvements in modeling complex assemblies such as gear systems, hydraulic cylinders, or other products that have parts that come into contact. A new co-simulation method allows users to combine the Abaqus implicit and explicit solvers into a single simulation—substantially reducing computation time. For a more complete list of new features and enhancements, visit:
Algor, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Autodesk, is now shipping new functionality with the latest version of Algor simulation software. Algor software now offers expanded modeling and FEA techniques and improved support for multiple CAD software tools. The software's broad range of analysis and simulation tools, paired with Autodesk Inventor, the foundation of the Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping. The following features in Algor V23.1 expand a range of analysis and simulation capabilities:
Improved simulation of multipart assemblies: Users have greater control over how to connect adjacent parts for a wider range of analysis types.
Increased efficiency when simulating heat transfer: A new library of common convection data includes properties for air and water over a range of temperatures.
Expanded tools for simulating creep: Users have a broader range of tools for testing high stress levels as well as the effects of long-term stress on a part.
Improved collaboration in a multi-CAD environment: Users can more easily study designs created using Inventor, Solid Edge and SolidWorks, as well as CAD geometry stored in ACIS, STEP, IGES, and stereolithography files.
PTC launched an online resource designed specifically for the SMB market place. The new site is designed to provide resources on all aspects of product development to both existing and potential PTC customers, giving access to the latest articles, analyst reports and presentations. Business Performance is a gateway to the PTC product development story, featuring the latest articles and reports including white papers, feature articles and webcasts on key business initiatives relevant for small and medium sized companies. Exploring 3D Design is dedicated to the topic of 3D design and featuring a variety of informative papers and multimedia devices. This section covers topics such as
“how to cope with the high amount of design changes in an efficient way” or “what to consider when migrating from 2D to 3D”. Also featured are stories written by fellow engineers, promoting best practice for a number of design tasks. For current Pro/ENGINEER users there is a specific area that provides information on available modules, software updates and more. The Resource Center provides features links to a number of external PTC-related forums and communities allowing users to access these and benefit from the large number of networking platforms dedicated to Pro/ENGINEER and other PTC products. The content of the entire SMB Resource Center on ptc.com is available free of
Gibbs and Associates, developer of software for programming CNC machine tools and a Cimatron company, announced that GibbsCAM 2009 has been certified for Autodesk Inventor 2010 software under the Autodesk Inventor Certified Applications Program. Certified applications meet certain implementation guidelines and have demonstrated the highest levels of robustness, quality, and interoperability with Autodesk Inventor. GibbsCAM is able to directly read native Autodesk Inventor models and assemblies for process planning and toolpath generation. The Inventor-to-GibbsCAM add-in also allows Autodesk Inventor models and assemblies to be transferred directly from Autodesk Inventor to GibbsCAM.
Updates to part geometry and process parameters are easily accommodated by GibbsCAM's full associativity across geometry, processes and toolpaths. For more information, go to
Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.