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CAD Software for Students: Easier Importing and Editing of Models


 Working with imported CAD data is the number one challenge computer-aided design (CAD) users say they face, with more than 56% of engineers surveyed citing it as a pain. It’s no surprise when you consider that most companies today use more than one CAD system or work with suppliers and partners who do, making it an absolute must to master the skill of working with imported data. In today’s video and tutorial, you will learn how to quickly and easily edit imported parts using the power of synchronous technology in Solid Edge.  In most cases, it will be faster to import and modify the part in synchronous technology than it would be to change the part in its native CAD system.


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We’re going to import a STEP file to get started. The file is of a jaw from a robotic competition, and you can see as we bring this in that it is just a single part, a part copy. As a single body feature, this part has no features to edit to make modifications. However, with synchronous technology, we don't care how the model was created; we can modify it however we like.


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For example, we might come in and add a dimension to the width of this jaw, making it an even 45mm long. When we key in the dimension, the geometry is modified directly. If we want to change the height of this jaw, notice that the light blue face is highlighted. When we start to make a change, you can see that the light blue face is the one that changes. If we flip the arrow to the bottom, the bottom face highlights instead, and that will be the face that changes with the modification. If we click the double ended arrow in the center and begin modifying that, you can see that it's going to stay centered on that jaw, which in this case is what we want. Let’s make it 18 mm wide.


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We’re making modifications to a part that has no features to modify. If we come over here and look at this end, for example, we see that while it has a set of teeth like a gear, there is no pattern to modify. Solid Edge has a proprietary technology for recognizing patterns though. All we need to do is select one gear tooth, which we’ll do by dragging a fence around those faces. Once we have those selected, right click and Solid Edge identifies a circular pattern of those teeth and notifies us that there are three instances of that pattern which have been suppressed. Let’s go ahead and select okay. What that does is actually adds an editable pattern now in synchronous technology which we can select and edit to go from having 10 teeth to 12 teeth. We can modify that part as though it was designed in Solid Edge.


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Let’s run the recognize pattern again in another area. We’re going to select one tooth cutout in this case. Accept the selection, and we find there is a linear pattern. That now becomes an editable pattern in Solid Edge, so we can come in here and make it wider, make it fill that area on the jaw, and maybe change the count to 16. You may have heard the phrase dumb solid before; well now there is no such thing. We can modify this part however we want.


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Turn off the PMI and we can see that there is a ring here that is symmetric about some center line, but our part is not centered on the base coordinates system. We want to take advantage of synchronous technology, so what we will do is hover here for just a second in order to bring up what we call Quick Pick. Pick the design body. We’re going to strategically place the steering wheel on the midpoint of one of these teeth. You can see that it's not highlighting a midpoint, so turn that option on so it finds the midpoint of a tooth. It snaps into location. Now, let’s move that vertically and center it on that base coordinate system.


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Once it is centered on the base coordinate system, we can take advantage of synchronous technology and symmetry. As we start to drag, you can see that it maintains symmetry and keeps it centered on that jaw. We might move that out 2 mm. What about this angle? We could click on that face move the steering wheel down to this corner. Let's zoom out so we can see what's happening. If we click on that, it begins to modify that angle. You can see again that it is also staying symmetric based on that base coordinate system.


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Again, there is no such thing as a dumb solid anymore with synchronous technology. Import the part and make modifications however you want to change it. In fact, in most cases, it is faster to modify the parts in synchronous technology than in the native software in which that part was first created. This is because history-based models require you to go back to when the feature was created to make the modification, which can often result in a broken model for any changes that came after. Synchronous technology makes working with imported data much simpler.


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Community Manager, Solid Edge
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