Low cost CAD designed for PLM

Tom Shelley reports on a development aimed at easing the path of collaborative design and PLM without incurring undue expense



The capability that sets Solid Edge Version 15 apart from its other low cost competitors, is that it has been strongly tailored for enterprise wide, collaborative working.

It has, for example, been built on top of Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server V2. Solid Edge product manager Russell Brook says of it, "You don't need it, but having it there allows synchronisation between multiple servers on multiple sites." To use it requires having Windows 2003 server, Windows Share Point Services and ASP Net, otherwise, Version 15 runs quite happily in stand alone mode on Windows 2000 or XP on a client, with an SQL vault on a server.

In a true collaborative engineering environment, Brook quoted figures from CIMdata that show that for every creative engineer producing designs, there may be five reviewers, and 200 consumers, who could benefit from just being able to view the drawings. View and markup may be accomplished with a module called Insight Connect, costing £490 for a node lock or £790 for a floating licence. Consumers can pan, zoom and rotate 3D modules in a Packaged Collaboration File (PCF) using a free web browser plug-in.

Insight is the PDM or PLM element, built into Version 15, which includes Data Vaulting, Revision, Engineering Change Order and Bill of Material management. While full Solid Edge Classic sells for £4995, putting it at the low cost end of the serious CAD price bracket, it is no longer restricted to the design of small models. Users include those designing products with up to 100,000 parts in assemblies that may be made up of 5, 10, or 15,000 components.
Key to many design processes, however, is the production of engineering drawings. As Brook puts it, "The paperless office is still not yet with us." The software therefore includes such facilities as QuickSheet, for predefined drawing view placement, and the ability to put shaded views on 2D drawings, a facility that would have been appreciated by the likes of the Brunels, whose offices produced aqua tinted drawings that came close to works of fine art. They did so, for the same reason that designers often wish to produce shaded drawings today, of course, to sell their concepts.

Other facilities include a hybrid solid/surface modeller, the ability to create Class A surfaces up to G2 and tightness of curvature colour maps. Other facilities ease plastic mould design and tooling, including the creation of non planar split lines, and one allows the linkage of text to a curve, which can then be extruded to form lettering on moulded products. A specialist sheet metal module continues to offer an environment that enables users to build and flatten complete 3D models of fabricated components with commands tailored specifically for fabricators and sheet metal designers.

Solid Edge

Pointers

* Solid Edge V15 has many of the facilities normally offered by external PDM and PLM systems already built-in

* It is a full function 3D solid/surface modeller also configured to ease the production of drawings, and web publishable models to allow users to pan, tilt and zoom and examine all parts

* Run on top of Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server V2, it allows synchronisation between multiple servers on multiple sites

Author
Tom Shelley

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