Model solution

With the launch of Solid Edge V15 Charles Clarke explains how it will add another dimension to design.

With Solid Edge Version 15 EDS PLM Solutions is out to attract new customers and exploit new sectors of the mid-range modelling market. Solid Edge has been a pioneer in many areas but after a relatively chequered history it has often been thought of as a ‘runner-up’ in the market, although some argue that it is technically superior to the other main players.

From a surface modelling standpoint, the capability introduced in Version 12 has been extended in V15 to such an extent that it can handle automotive class ‘A’ surfaces and EDS calls it shape creation rather than surfacing.

This comes under the funky marketing term Rapid Blue, the shape creation ‘add on’ to Solid Edge which also allows users to change models as if they weren’t history based. So now you can drag features anywhere throughout the history tree and examine their effect on other/subsequent features without the fear of rendering the model completely unusable.

Mid-range products in general should be making the creation and manipulation of 3D solid geometry much easier for the general-purpose design engineer. Mid-range modellers are new products, so they should be innovating within the process not just making traditional solid modelling more affordable. This has always been a central focus of the Solid Edge development.

V15 sees the introduction of Stream XP, an improved version of the intelligent, predictive Stream interface. Similarly, Solid Edge’s approach to surface design has not been via the complicated interfaces of classical surface design codes. Solid Edge also has process-specific features called super features so that vents and ribbed support/fixture bosses in plastic design, for example, are possible with just a couple of mouse clicks instead of taking hours.

Solid edge is also good at very large assemblies so companies making specialised machinery for mining and construction are able to use the assembly modelling facilities. One market Solid Edge dominates is specialist vehicles such as buses, trucks and fire engines. This is because it has large assembly capability, good memory management and can produce top quality drawings.

Also important to the specialised machinery market are Solid Edge’s sheet metalcapabilities. With V15, enhancements include upgrades to the close corner operation and the ability to create a mid-surface from a sheet metal model. This is particularly useful for downstream applications like FE and progressive die design. New flat pattern-related capabilities include a save as flat pattern wizard, tools to clean-up flatpatterns, and the ability to add user-defined attributes to flat pattern files.

One of the most effective ways Solid Edge can save time is by reducing engineering change orders (ECOs); any ECOs that do arise are resolved much quicker. Central to this capability is Solid Edge Insight, which was introduced in Version 10 to handle product data management (PDM) issues via Microsoft’s Sharepoint server.

Insight has been extended to encompass the data management aspects of a design centric solution. The unique aspect of this technology is the integration provided by EDS. All these improvements work as a complete system and the PDM tools manage the other software and all the external links. The only third-party software required is Microsoft’s .NET platform.

Insight has attracted development in Version 15 in three significant areas:

1. Insight for the consumers of data, which consists mostly of PDM tools. With V15 you can use Microsoft Sharepoint 2.0 – it now uses SQL Server and a concept called package collaboration files (PCF) for workflow and revision management control. This is essentially a managed version of an e-drawing. A collaborative packet can contain more than just Solid Edge data. It can include, for instance, files in MS-Word and photographs. These are lightweight files that are tracked and managed by Insight. These PCF files are Insight-enabled but they can be distributed to non insight users. In these cases Insight is aware that information is going to a non-Insight user. The data is viewable on any machine. If you want to do ‘view and mark-up’ you use a small software package called Insight Connect.

2. Insight into design intent is where all the systems libraries and intelligent documentation are pulled together. There is also a start-up program in this area called Evolve to 3D which is an easy introduction to Solid Edge.

3. Industry insight includes specially-tailored packages for machinery and equipment design, electro-mechanical, mould design and now consumer product design.At Solid Edge V15 and Insight Version 2 the basic architecture has been re-written to take advantage of modern operating systems and utilities. Solid Edge resellers take the responsibility to sort out the implementation issues, and bigger users will have internal capability in their IT departments. Windows 2003 server is the basis and SQL becomes the vault.

The good thing about Insight is that with this kind of configuration the entry level pricing is kept to a minimum – a 10-seat system, for example, would be about $3,500 (£1,900) a good price for integrated PDM capability.

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