Dan, How did you get involved in Solid Edge in the first place?
I’ve got a bit of a different background from a lot of Solid Edge users. I never went to engineering school or anything like that. I started out in the paint line and worked my way into the engineering office running AutoCAD. Eventually I was doing CAD Admin, and helped make the decision about moving to Solid Edge. We looked at other products as well, but the Solid Edge guys were able to show us what we wanted to see, which was converting a 2d Sheetmetal part and put it into 3D. They were the only ones to do that, so we went with their product.
We started using Solid Edge with V19 (approx. 2004, two versions before ST1) , coming from AutoCAD. Our lead engineer still starts designs for products in AutoCAD, but one of the great things about Solid Edge is that bringing in the AutoCAD data is so easy, and we can continue to work on the design.
I hear you've been to Solid Edge University a couple times...
Shortly after we started using the software, we also started attending the annual conferences. They weren’t called Solid Edge University back then. We attended meetings at Huntsville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Atlanta.
These conferences are like family reunions. We were beta testers for Solid Edge SharePoint so we get to talk to other beta testers and see how they are coming with the new versions, other Solid Edge users, and we always get to see the demos of the new software. Every year there is always new stuff, never the same thing, even though we come to these conferences year after year.
There are so many different classes, you really need to take a look at the agenda and pick and choose your interests. There’s so much stuff you can’t go to it all. Usually Ventrac sends between 2 and 5 people. That way we can split up and each of us sees the sessions we are interested in. On the way home we compare notes and then back at the office we update the rest of the Solid Edge users on the stuff that’s most important for us.
I know that for a small company like ventrac, an event like Solid Edge University was really hard for us to justify the cost. But we went, and what we found out is the access to information and the people we meet, it’s a GREAT way to do networking, learning some tips & tricks whether it’s from other users, or the Siemens pros themselves! If you’re struggling in some area in Solid Edge, this is a place to find out how to do that! You have classes where users like me are sharing what they do and how they use SE. so it’s really easy to relate to someone there. Like Synchronous, If you don’t know how, it’s scary. But go to SEU, attend a class about synchronous and ask questions from those that are using it.
There are a few things that confuse me when I’m at one of these conventions. One is when I see companies that don’t stay up to date with the software. And also when people don’t even try some of the best new functionality like Synchronous. I’ll be talking to someone and they’ll ask how I do something, and I’ll tell them, and they might say “I’ve never seen that before” “What version are you on?” “Oh, we’re on like ST2 or something like that”. Of course you’re going to miss a lot of great new tools when you never upgrade to the latest version.
So, are you using ST9 yet?
ST9 has been available for a couple of weeks, and we’re getting it installed on our Share Point test server. We used to just install the new version when we were using just Solid Edge, but since we are now using Solid Edge SharePoint, we do a test installation to make sure everything works with Share Point.
Shynchronous or Ordered?
We’re a sheet metal shop, and we do all of our own straight brake work. The guys in the shop like to see the drawings coming from Solid Edge. Most of our stuff is done in Synchronous, although sometimes we run into things that have to be done in ordered. It kind of baffles me why more people aren’t using Synchronous. It just makes so much more sense. It’s easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about features blowing up or long rebuild times.
Do you have any advice for new Solid Edge users?
Best advice I can give anyone who would ask me what to do? Attend the next SEU, stay up-to-date on the releases and maintenance packs, and learn synchronous. Like I’ve said before, Synchronous has changed CAD Forever. If you have never attended a Solid Edge University, Start today! It’s well worth the money!