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CAD Software for Students: Learn fast, flexible modeling with Solid Edge


What makes Solid edge with Synchronous Technology different from other CAD tools available on the market today? Most 3D CAD systems are using technology developed in the early ‘90s and what is called history-based modeling. In Solid Edge, this is known as ordered modeling. It is a paradigm in which features are built on top of each other. You start with the base feature and add more features as you go to complete your model. If you want to make an edit, you have to roll the model back to a particular feature, make the change, and then all every feature that came after it will have to be recalculated. This is a method of design that is prone to failure, because you often create dependencies you didn’t anticipate.  

The example and demonstration from Doug Stainbrook you will see today show what a difference Synchronous Technology makes in the design process.

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We’re going to start with a simple sketch in 2D which we will then make into a 3D model. We start by creating a rectangle on the front plane. From this 2D sketch, we simply click on a region—we don’t have to run a command—select an arrow to indicate the direction in which we wish to extrude, and we can immediately begin extruding the sketch into space to create a 3D block.

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Another method we could use is to click on the region and drag the steering wheel toward the edge of the model. This allows us to extrude to a circular feature, a revolve feature. In this case, though, we want this to be a rectangle, so we will go back and undo that.

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We are going to drag to make the model 100mm. As we accept the change, watch what happens to the dimensions. The dimensions migrated from the 2D sketch directly onto the 3D model. This means that if we want to make a change, let’s say to make this 60mm tall instead of 100mm tall, we can key in the value and drive the 3D model directly. You can see that we’re modifying the dimensions on the block itself, not on the 2D sketch.

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The other way we can edit this is to just select the faces and drag. Notice how the part stays symmetric. Design Intent Manager, a proprietary tool found in the upper right corner, manages the design intent that we have developed in the model. Because we built this model symmetric about the base cornice system it assumes we want to maintain that symmetry. If we don’t want to, we simply uncheck the Symmetric option and move only the face that we selected. In this case, we do want to keep it symmetric. Let’s pull this out 20mm to make it 40mm wider overall. (Remember, it moves in both directions when symmetry is set.)

We can turn the original sketch back on to see the difference in size between the original sketch and our modified model. This proves we are not going back to our sketch to make these changes. In fact, we no longer need the sketch, so we can go ahead and delete it.

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If you try to do this in any other CAD system, you will lose your extrude. Because the model is based upon the sketch, you have to modify the sketch in order to modify the model. The premise of Synchronous Technology, on the other hand, is that all of the intelligence is in the solid. If you want to modify the size or shape, modify both directly in the solid.


We did a sketch on a plane, but what if we want to sketch directly on the face of the part? That’s possible, too. Simply highlight the face upon which we want to sketch, click the F3 key, and now we’re locked onto that face. Draw a line across the face, and once that is drawn, you can see that we’ve split this face into two regions. If we select a region and pick the arrow to indicate direction, we can push this region down into the part to cut away material or pull the region up to add material.

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If you think about how we built this model, the first extrude was in the Y direction to create a block, followed by an extrude in the Z direction to create a vertical extension. What if later the design intent changes, and we want this vertical section tipped 15 degrees? It’s difficult to do in an ordered model, because it was built as an extrude in the Z direction. One way to fix this in ordered models is to cut the extended part off and draw it from the side view at 15 degrees. In Solid Edge, you don’t have to do that. We don’t care how the model was created; simply select what you want to change and make the modification. If we move the steering wheel to the corner of our model, we can rotate about that corner by clicking and dragging on the wheel. Synchronous Technology makes this possible, and because it is proprietary to Siemens software, you’re only going to find this capability with Solid Edge.

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With Synchronous Technology, you don’t have to worry about downstream features breaking when you make a modification, and there is no need to roll the model back for every change. Simply select the features or dimensions you want to change, and modify the model directly. You never have to worry about breaking those downstream features that are so time-consuming to try to fix.


(view in My Videos)

Community Manager, Solid Edge
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