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Solid Edge ST6 First Look: Better Surface Modeling

By Daniel Dobrzynski, November 7, 2013

Continuing the First Look series on the improvements to Solid Edge ST6, it's now time to analyze the interesting new tools for surface modeling.

New Surface Modeling Editing Tools

Solid Edge ST6 gains some very productive tools that assist users in generating and controlling surfaces. The following are, in my opinion, the most outstanding ones:

Tangency control handles. There is a new 3D handle for manipulating the continuity and tangency at curve and surface boundaries (see figure 1). Another handle controls the tangency magnitude. Through this simple method, we users can dynamically manipulate surface shapes graphically for specifying different conditions of tangency on curves and edges of the surfaces.

For users who feel that this tool does not fit their working methodology - or simply prefer not to work this way - it is still possible to deactivate the display of these new 3D handles and so preserve the tangency controls used in previous versions of Solid Edge.

Figure 1: New tangency control handles in Solid Edge ST6

Reflective planes. This is a new tool that facilitates fast visualization of symmetrical parts, giving designers a quick idea of the symmetry of shapes (see figure 2). It also is useful for rapid volume analysis of sculpted model (though only in display mode).

All of us who create a large number of symmetric designs will be thankful for the great assistance offered by this new tool, for it allows inspection of the full model shape without having to mirror the body. It should be noted that reflective planes allows symmetrical visualization of model faces and curves, but do not reflect coordinate systems, reference planes, sketches, or dimensions.

Figure 2: Example of the new Reflective Planes used for the design of an inspection tool

Redefining surfaces. The new Redefine Surface command is simple, but turns out to be a great tool for creating new surfaces by replacing existing model faces with a BlueSurf (see figure 3). In other words, this is a fast and efficient way to replace multiple faces with a single one.

This methodology is one that we use heavily in the common design process, especially when working with imported or reference faces, or even when working with multiple faces resulting from multiple operations. Designers can replace an number of adjacent faces with a single new face. The new face has input curves based on the original faces border limits. In addition, we can create curvature continuous boundaries for generating smoothing surfaces between their existing faces.

Figure 3: Redefine Surface takes several faces and combines them into one, which can be smoothed

Curvature continuous rounds. Solid Edge ST6 supports curvature-continuous conditions along boundaries, something that helps a lot in generating styling surfaces. Let me explain a little bit:

ST6's G2 supports surface blends, synchronous rounds, assembly rounds, constant-radius edge rounds (in ordered mode) and variable radius rounds/blends (in both synchronous and ordered modes).

Section curvature comb. Continuing with the improvements to Solid Edge ST6 that I found interesting, the Section Curvature tool creates intersection curve between a plane and a user-selected surface (see figure 4). From this, it shows the smoothness of the curve. A combo box allows us to shift the display of section curvature comb on and off.

This is a great contribution to surface inspection, because its display simplifies and amplifies surface irregularities. This allows designers to quickly see and correct them.

Figure 4: Visualizing the new section curvature combs

Surface visualization UV curve. All Solid Edge users know the importance of creating surfaces with the BlueSurf command. ST6 adds new visualization enhancements for it. One is a user-defined UV curve density, and the other consists of options to customize the magnitude of the UV curves. This new inspection tool provides designers with real-time graphical feedback in redefining the shapes of surfaces - even for imported ones (see figure 5).

Figure 5: Surface analysis with curvature combs

Intersecting Surfaces. Another practical command, Intersect, allows users in one step to extend or trim multiple surfaces to a common intersection or up to other surface, providing the ability to quickly and easily modify surfaces.

The new Ruled Surface tool creates controlled body tapers by sweeping linear cross sections along a curve or edge. The resulting face can either be tangent or normal to an existing face.

Conclusion

In the new Solid Edge ST6 there are many enhancements. In this First Look article, I highlighted a number of them in areas of curve and surface editing. I and other designers will find the improved tools more intuitive to use, providing us with great visual contributions.

Solid Edge ST6 presents a simplified and powerful curve editing, intuitive management of the control handle, and visual differentiation between control and handle points. But if all these enhancements in curves were not enough, then there is also support of curvature continuous end conditions, 3D control handles, and real-time previews.

With ST6 Solid Edge emphasizes the way for creating surfaces with better quality and reducing the generation time and due the introduction of many options, handle key points and inspection commands.

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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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