Solid Edge V14 – the CAD-Reviews independent review

An organic development

Solid Edge V14 review screenshot

Solid Edge V14 from UGS

Having superstitiously skipped release thirteen, Solid Edge continues its journey from early releases aimed at machine builders through electro-mechanical products including sheet metal to now offer in version 14 tools suitable for the organic forms demanded in consumer products.

Both modeller continuity and freeform credentials have been emphasised by the reappointment of Dan Staples who was instrumental in defining the original version, back into the role of director of the Solid Edge business unit having been vice president of software development of digital sculpting products at SensAble Technologies.

Solid Edge has always been notable for guiding the user through commands as part of the Stream technology.

This has been enhanced in Stream/XP with updated icons that differentiate Smart Step buttons from commands, context dependant tool bar items and by grouping all important information including Smart Step buttons, prompts and edge bar (history tree) tabs in the top left corner of the graphics area where the eye is most frequently focussed.

A raft of new shape creation tools are available under the banner of Rapid Blue.

Shapes can be defined using predictable analytical entities such as lines, arcs, circles and ellipses then be readily converted to a closely fitting, fully editable Bspline curve in order to create higher quality surfaces.

Control points can now be constrained such as tangent to other entities and be analysed with a comb display showing curvature and inflection points.

By assigning the shape preserving option to curves it is possible to retain the overall design intent during subsequent editing by effectively editing the entire curve rather than having a purely local influence.

Blue Dots can be used to force non-intersecting curves together at the dot location by altering the curves.

If they have shape preservation applied the overall curve will update, if not the change will be local.

BlueDots are persistent so subsequent editing of one curve can be used to update a dot-connected network of curves.

BlueDots can be manipulated in 3D using another jargonised tool, OrientXpres, to lock movement to a single axis or plane.

Importantly curves can be connected irrespective of where they appear in the history tree and the BlueDot overrides any existing associativity so the edit is construction order-independent.

Similarly, Dynamic Edit continuously calculates model results, providing dynamic feedback of actions such as dragging features around, including the impact on downstream features.

The BlueSurf command available in the part and sheet metal environments blurs the distinction between lofts and sweeps, using sections and guides based on existing sketches or part edges, and offering end and side tangency control and G2 continuity.

Additional control can be exerted over the surface by inserting a new sketch where the surface intersects with a reference plane.

Fillets and blends can also be G2 continuous and both curvature and zebra stripe analyses are available.

There have also been significant developments in assembly modelling.

Parts can now be constrained to sketches so that editing an assembly sketch can be used to analyse motion of the 3D mechanisms.

EDS describe the associativity as intelligent links, with Uplinks allowing assembly sketches to be driven from existing parts and Downlinks allowing parts to be driven from assembly sketches.

New constraint types enable a sketch entity to be given a constraint such as tangent to a group of existing sketch elements and a cam mating relationship is available in assemblies to maintain contact to spherical, flat or cylindrical faces.

The re-use of standard parts is more intelligent.

A wizard can be used to create system library elements that not only contain parts and relevant constraints but also associated features that are needed on mating components.

This means that on placement into an assembly, material may be automatically added or removed from an number of other parts to form fixing holes or mounting bosses for example.

Drafting has not been overlooked in this release with expanded options for creating broken views with projections and break out sections to show internal details or components.

The parts to be sectioned can be specified and the section view placed on any sheet in the drawing file.

Phantom reference parts can be depicted in a user defined linestyle without appearing in the BOM.

Similarly, the already integrated data management tools have been developed in order to aid collaboration.

For dedicated Solid Edge sites, built on Microsoft’s SharePoint technology is available.

The Life Cycle Assistant uses predefined folders to organise file revision status, automatically moving files as status is changed and notifying subscribers such as approvers of any new contents.

Compliance with revision procedures is enforced as managed documents can only be modified using the Life Cycle Assistant.

The open file dialog has a Revision Rule option allowing links to be updated in a controlled way when opening managed files.

Using the Latest Released revision rule opens the assembly then searches for the latest released revision for the parts in the assembly structure.

The where used function has been expanded to deal with nested instances so that all documents affected by a change are identified.

Integration with the wider EDS product family is available with the option to upgrade Insight to Teamcentre engineering process management tool.

As EDS converge Unigraphics and I-DEAS into NX, Solid Edge offers compatibility via Parasolid and .PLMXML format containing BREP geometry, assembly product structure and a facetted representation.

V14 is a significant release for Solid Edge, adding flexible surface manipulation tools to rigorous solid modelling capabilities.

Clearly for the construction of complex forms, curve and surface creation and manipulation is required and it is fascinating to see how the design centric modellers are providing easy to use, solid modelling compatible tools without resorting to historically complex surface modelling techniques.

Recognition that management of multiple associative files is also commendable and the additions to Insight will further aid revision management.

Despite the never-ending adoption of marketing jargon for tool names and technologies, Solid Edge delivers significant modelling capabilities in an approachable, easy to use package.