Siemenshas changed itsSolid Edgedevelopment process so that it can accept input from end-users. Each year they have round tables atSolid Edge Universityat which users can tell executives what functions they want added to Solid Edge. But they have to explain how the proposed function would benefit users. Not allowed: complaints about bugs.
There were several round tables, and I was able to attend three of them – sheet metal, cloud and collaboration, and drafting and translation. The format of each round table is like this:
Users in the room speak out their ideas, describing how it would benefit users
Executives record the idea, and others in the room chime in
At the end, a vote is taken on each idea and then the ones with the most votes are recorded as the most popular
Sheet Metal Design
I recorded 20+ ideas for improving sheet metal design. Here are three of them:
Being able to enter relative (offset) x,y points along keypoint curves for sketches.
In synchronous, I would like to see the Loft command turned into a procedural, so the guide path and cross sections can be edited. As a workaround, we use hybrid modeling.
What about flattening bends (unbend) in synchronous? This gets asks for every year.
Cloud and Collaboration
Whereas the sheet metal round table was packed (with some even standing at the back), the cloud and collaboration round table had half the attendance. 'Cloud and collaboration' is not, strictly speaking, a CAD feature. It is new to Solid Edge, even if it is not new to most users -- using email to collaborate and Dropbox to share drawings is by now, old news.
To get discussion going, the facilitator asked these questions:
Where do you see your company going in terms of the cloud?
How do you use the cloud if you are an independent contractor?
Do you use Dropbox, etc, and how?
Does corporate policy prevent you from using the cloud?
Is the Internet blocked at your company?
What improvements would you like to see to cloud-enabled Solid Edge?
This session had more discussion than the rapid-fire of feature requests in the other sessions. Here is some of that discussion:
Attendee:We are looking for Solid Edge and TeamCenter on the cloud. Solid Edge Exec: What does that mean to you? Attendee:I have no idea; I am just here listening. We have 155 licenses of Solid Edge and have maybe 5-6 working on the cloud; the 5-6 are at another company with whom we work. We want them to do their own thing, we just want to get their information. We want to view the parts, mark them up, have them make changes, and then use their parts in our assemblies.
Attendee: We would like to see a corporate one-drive area for a group of people. We would like to see selective sync'ing, as well as watermarking on files. Our database is 600GB, you can't sync that! We already pay for an unlimited storage corporate subscription, but we don't want to have to pay more just to get a few more features. Solid Edge Exec: You can specify the folder(s) to sync, but not the individual files in the folder (ie, all files are sync'ed).
Attendee:A cloud-based viewer (for Solid Edge) would be useful, so people don't need to install anything. At larger corporations, employees have no authority to install new software on their own. Just send a link and the viewer loads automatically. Solid Edge Exec: Is there a security problem with employees opening links send to them? Attendee:No. Our NetNanny would catch bad links. Solid Edge Exec : What kinds of files would you want to view? Attendee:We want to view 3D models, and measure them; that's the main thing.
Drafting and Translators
Here are three ideas presented by users at the Drafting and Translation round table:
Be able to add technical requirements, such as embedding surface texture symbols and flags in the text.
Need callouts when we place chamfers on holes.
I want to find the length of a path, and then lock it. When it moves, I don't want the length changing. I want a PMI annotation of the locked length.
Migrating Solidworks Files to Solid Edge
Steve Weatherwax is product manger for 2D-3D data translation for Solid Edge. Here is my transcript of his comments on translating Solidworks files to Solid Edge – or, as he calls it "migrating." He noted that "being able to translate drawings has been the big draw for people" towards Solid Edge.
– – -
Solidworks has the largest user base in the MCAD industry, with numbers ranging from a half-million (commercial users) to 2.5 million (commercial + education). This makes it a target of competitors like Autodesk, Siemens, and even other divisions within Dassault Systems itself. They want to attract Solidworks users. To attract them, the CAD vendors need to be able to move over their design files. In the case of Solidworks and Solid Edge, users are in luck, because both CAD systems use the Parasolid modeling kernel.
Solid Edge has a Solidworks Migration Tool that uses the Solidworks automation layer to extract data. This means that you need to have at least Solidworks 2012 installed on the same computer as Solid Edge ST9. The newer the release of Solidworks, the better the translation (I,e,, more types of data are translated). Solidworks must be able to resolve all the links that Solid Edge is requesting as it opens the model file.
You can open the model files in ordered (history-based) or synchronous (direct modeling) environment, but synchronous is recommended as it can manipulate the body, such as finding holes in bodies.
The migration tool can import drawings, parts, and assemblies from Solidworks. Attributes are extracted and stored in PLMXML files – an XML format created by Siemens that references geometry and stores in a Parasolid x_t file.
The translator supports the following features in Solidworks files:
Material definitions are converted from the Solidworks .sldmat file to Solid Edge .mtl file using the SWmat2SEmat.exe program.
Holes are converted with attributes such as thread data by converting the Solidworks .mbd hole database file to the Solid Edge hole table using the SEhholePipeTxtFromSW.exe program.
Families of assemblies: suppressed parts are migrated as FOA [family of assemblies] members.
Flexible assemblies: alternative position assemblies are migrated as FOA members.
Associated drawing files (new to ST9): geometry and text is translated using DXF format; drawings are kept associative to the 3D model
Migration is not instant, but can take 3-4 minutes even for a small model. Mr Weatherwax recommends starting with converting parts to get used to the process. "This is a data translator. You can't take apples and change them into oranges" because there are differences in the data structures in the two CAD program. If 99% of the data is translated, that's doing good, he figures.
Q: Is there a record of constraints in the log files? A:Yes, there is. The log file also reports number of threads found. A different log file records the assembly details found. Both Solidworks and Solid Edge generate log files. The key thing to search for are errors.
Q: Are custom file properties translated? A:Yes. But we don't get properties in features, such as descriptions in configurations.
Q: Does it place title block info into a background sheet? A:No, it places them on the foreground sheet.
Q: Does it handle display states in Solidworks [where parts are hidden by turning them off]? A:No. We bring the part files over; if it is on in Solidworks, it is on in Solid Edge. But we bring over ones that are off, too. Five different display states are not going to be reproduced. A workaround is to convert display states to configuration data.
Q: If a client does a Pack-and-Go to send us everything in Solidworks folders, how does migration work? A:It does the assemblies first, then checks the parts needed. Clicking the top-level assembly is the best place to start. Do drafts last; they will hook up automatically.
Q: Iso views in Solidworks seem to embed a title; when translated, the text was embedded in the part, right-justified. A: Look at the AutoCAD (DXF) file and see if the problem is there.