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First Look at Solid Edge ST6: New User Interface Functions in Synchronous Technology

By Daniel Dobrzynski, October 14, 2013

This is the sixth version since Solid Edge introduced the Synchronous Technology (ST) and still there are users who do not know the meaning of the technology. Or when it could be used. Or simply what benefits it has over traditional history-based methodology, which Siemens PLM calls "Ordered."

Siemens PLM combined the two technologies in one product, allowing users to decide when to use one or the other - or the combination of the two on the same model. In addition, Solid Edge maintains criteria, associability, and existing methodology from previous versions. This is critical from the point of view of users because they can be certain that any innovation introduced to Solid Edge will not change anything done previously, even while maintaining the interoperability and stability of their CAD database - not to mention their investment in training and customization (applications, macros, interfaces, and so on). It does not drastically replace their work processes and functions, preserving them from the consequences of ramping up to a new application.

At this point, Solid Edge's direct competitors do not employ a technology as innovative as Synchronous Technology.

Solid Edge ST6 introduces new functions in the user interface (UI) and in the Synchronous Technology (ST) environment. In this First Look, I describe some of the most prominent ones.

Synchronous Technology Moves Design to a New Level

There are in Solid Edge ST6 enhancements to the Steering Wheel beneficial to all designers but they are particularly applicable in Synchronous Technology: it now has a clearer graphical control. The steering wheel displays all three directional axes, eliminating the bother of flipping it to check its orientation (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Comparing the old Steering Wheel (left) with the new one (right)

This new Steering Wheel can be resized, and positioning and orientating it is easier than before.

Regarding the enhancements on the Solution Manager, it appears to me to be more intuitive and easier to visualize through the color controls (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Solution Manager showing color highlights

Solution Manager is an optional mode that can be used during synchronous move and edit operations. I find it is a good tool that graphically interacts with the model. In many design situations, it assists by providing information and control of all relationships relevant to the intended modifications. The new colors show, among other things, the following states:

One other new function that I'd like to highlight: when we work with imported models from different systems, Solid Edge ST6 now allows us to delete blends partially. This is very useful for cleaning up medium and complex geometries.

Synchronous Technology Improvements in Assemblies

Let's shift our focus to assemblies. In Solid Edge ST6, we now have the option to create Assembly Part synchronous features, when possible. This was a restriction in previous versions that forced us to create synchronous objects only at the part level. Of all the Boolean commands, the one that now works on assembly features (at the assembly level) is Subtract.

For better assembly organization and to speed up processes there is in Solid Edge ST6 a new way in to simplify part modeling interactions. This is achieved by the addition of a target part in the assembly, which can include some synchronous features like cuts, revolved cuts, holes, rounds and chamfers, and Product Manufacturing Information (PMI).

Another productive feature that appears in Solid Edge ST6 is the option to directly use assembly occurrences, like faces and bodies, for creating synchronous Booleans, such as Union, Subtract, Intersect, and Split. This improvement is important because it avoids duplication between parts, something that was necessary in previous versions of Solid Edge.

Hole Pattern Recognition

I enjoyed the Solid Edge ST5 Recognize Hole command, which easily converted holes types like threaded and tapered. A similar concept was applied to Solid Edge ST6 through Hole Pattern recognition.

Now when I work with imported models that contain holes generated through patterns, Solid Edge will use Synchronous Technology to recognize patterns that can be rectangular or circular:

Figure 3: Recognizing a rectangular pattern of holes

Figure 4: Recognizing circular patterns of holes

Synchronous Copy and Paste

When I want to copy and paste a feature, the dimensions, variables, and relationships of this feature are also copied. In this way it is possible to maintain associativity changes, giving total flexibility.

Conclusion

The new Solid Edge ST6 has many enhancements that reinforce and justify the use of Synchronous Technology, thus giving users the security of more tools and greater design freedom. It is clear to me that this tendency to boost the use of Synchronous Technology is consolidating more and more with each new release of Solid Edge.

Working with imported models is easier now because of the improvements that were implemented in the recognition and editing of entities. This implementation of the Synchronous Technology in ST6 has a priority condition that is not easy to achieve: full compatibility with previous versions. This differentiates Solid Edge of several of its direct competitors.

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About the Author

Daniel Dobrzynski is a expert in the CAD/CAM industry with over 27 years' experience as enterprise consultant. He has worked as a designer (mainly in automotive & aerospace areas of big companies), CAM programmer, post processor generator, advance machine builder for CAM simulation, PLM administrator, methodology and procedures creator. He has more than 20 years as a CAD/CAM/CAE certified trainer. More...

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