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Issue #819 |  May 20, 2014
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In This Issue


1. What I Learned at Solid Edge University 2014

   Powerful Solid Edge SE7 functions kept quiet


2. Noteable Quotable

    Learning the lesson


What I Learned at Solid Edge University 2014

Even at age 18, Solid Edge is largely an unknown. An unknown MCAD package with more than 500,000 users of the 3D version and another 600,000 of the free 2D one.


So, how come so invisible? It has to do with history. Originally, Solid Edge was developed by Intergraph, one of the earliest CAD companies, but one unfamiliar with marketing MCAD. When UGS bought it, Solid Edge came under the shadow of Unigraphics, a high-end MCAD system subsequently renamed NX. When Siemens AG bought UGS (renaming it Siemens PLM Systems, then Software), the Huntsville-based Solid Edge became a tiny part of a $76 billion-a-year German conglomerate.


After the SPS division launched the brilliant plan to create Synchronous Technology for NX and Solid Edge, it blundered on the launch marketing by over-promising the capabilities, which I think created distrust in potential customers. (Six releases further and ST still isn't implemented 100%.)


So, the brand name suffered from nearly two decades of being under marketed, over shadowed, under valued, and over marketed. Well, that and the oh-so-bland gray of the Siemens corporate color scheme. Working their way out of this pit of history, the Solid Edge folks now are thinking differently. For instance, last year for the first time they invited the media to Solid Edge University, expenses paid, and this year close to 40 media attended from around the world. That's good news.


Figure 1: During the break at the main session of Solid Edge University 2014


Less good news is the difficulty the company has in attracting third-party developers. The exhibit hall was also the dining room, with 20 (I think) vendors in small booths lining the walls, some of whom work with any 3D CAD package, like 3D printing. This is pathetic; even a company as compact as Bricsys has over 300 third-party developers. A press release from Siemens PLM Software states, "There are now over 500 Solid Edge apps available," but on their apps page < http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/velocity/solidedge/applications/index.shtml>, I count 28.


The good news, however, is that Siemens PLM Software says it recognizes the shortfall, is working to attract more, will launch an on-line app store, and points out that some of the ones they have are significant.


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Article continues...


About Solid Edge ST7

Siemens PLM now numbers Solid Edge releases from when Synchronous Technology was introduced, sort of like a BC/AD system. Version 7 is due out in June, and incorporates 1,300 enhancements -- although we were not given the entire list, and so who knows what level of granularity counts as an enhancement.


Nevertheless, lots of useful functions were added in many areas -- with the significant exception of surface modeling. The biggest cheers were, as always, for improvements to 2D drafting, the loudest cheer of all for automatic spacing of geometric dimensioning. One new function is automatic placement of these dimensions, made possible after Siemens PLM Software settled with patent troll Auto-Dimensions.


Other highlight functions:

One feature blew me away. Starting with a 3D solid prismatic shape, Solid Edge automatically generates either a sheet metal part (complete with bends and reliefs) or a frame -- along the edges, automatically. Here's the thing: this wow!-fucntion gets no mention at all in the marketing for ST7, Neither in the official press release nor in the seven-page What's New PDF at http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/velocity/solidedge/st7/#lightview%26uri=tcm:1023-220333%26title=What's-New-in-Solid-Edge-ST7-Fact-Sheet-40384.


So, there you have it. An MCAD system that's progressing in remarkable ways (admittedly with some help from the NX division) and one that's trying not to stay under the radar any longer.




[Disclosure: Siemens PLM Software provided me with airfare, accommodation, most meals, and ground transportation.]


For Further Reading

Solid Edge looking like a Big CAD company in Atlanta by Roopinder Tara


Solid Edge ST 7 running on Surface Pro tablet


New numbers place Solid Edge #2 behind Solidworks


And One More Thing...

Autodesk's third paroduct named "Spark" is a 3D printing platform the company will make public, and so hopes to connect CAD users, 3D printer makers, software developers, and materials providers. The company will release its own 3D printer later this year for $5,000 but not aimed at the maker market. Autodesk says it is "uniquely positioned to lead the development of 3D printing platforms given its long-standing leadership creating intuitive, feature-rich software interfaces that make design easy and accessible," although it might acknowledge that some companies it hope to work with had a 30-year head start in 3D printing. http://www.autodesk.com/campaigns/spark


For More News


Searching for ODA members interested in licensing facet modeling


QModeler is used for Boolean operations in the BModeler package from Bricsys. With additional partners looking at QModeler agreements, now is the time to make a money-saving joint license. Contact me at henrik.vallgren@streamspace.com.


More information at www.qmodeler.com



Industrial design inside SolidWorks

Power Surfacing from nPower Software provides organic and freeform surface-solids modeling inside SolidWorks. Recently awarded Gold Medal for Best Software Product at SolidWorks World. Find out why the judges said, "nPower makes SolidWorks a surfacing monster."


Download a free trial version of Power Surfacing to become an industrial design superstar. And then visit our tutorials page to learn how to model difficult shapes easily.




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Notable Quotable

"Last year has been spent learning the lesson that imposing grand corporatist visions on users is dumb, and it seems like a lesson that's been well-learned."
      - Tadhg Kelly



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