Siemens axes feature-trees

Solid Edge from Siemens PLM is now equipped with what the company calls Synchronous Technology 2, which does away with the feature tree – a standard feature of parametric 3D CAD software - that allows the designer to browse and change selected features from any point in the design history of a 3D model.

Vice president for marketing, Neil Dunsmuir, says that synchronous technology goes much deeper than direct modelling, which other vendors offer as a means of editing CAD models that have been imported without a history tree.

The move will now allow 2D geometry with dimensions to be imported into 3D models. For example, using the AutoCAD to Solid Edge translation wizard, a user can access the AutoCAD layer structure and then select the drawing views they wish to use. By selecting a key point on a drawing – a boss for example – the user can extrude it to match an elevation view. The geometry can be manipulated, dimensions changed, and even linked to formulae. Conversely, live sections can be cut in 3D models and then edited in 2D, by accessing a 'Live Section Menu' tab.

Because the software is not feature tree based, quite significant edit changes can be made. For example, changing the helix shape of a fan blade will not force a general regeneration. In addition, the technology has been applied to sheet metal fabrications. Dunsmuir says: "Operations are stored as features in a collection, but are not dependent on each other."

This means, for example, that users can input a model and then drag faces around while sheet metal regions can be pulled into tabs or corner treatments. The company is also offering a new add on Finite Element Analysis (FEA) package that works within Solid Edge using the NX Nastran solver to perform linear static, vibration mode and buckling analyses. And for data management there is a new module, Solid Edge Insight. This is based on the Microsoft SharePoint platform that comes freely with Windows Server 2003 and 2008.

Alan Blackwell, managing director of reseller Cutting Edge Solutions, says: "It's been quite a change for everybody. Parametric modelling has been around for 20 years. To get people to shift has taken time. But, the general consensus is that it is a breath of fresh air. Initially, a lot of customers were very sceptical, but a number have now been using it in earnest. "Direct model editing, which has been around for some time, is not the same. If you compare it, you can now do some things in half an hour that you could not do at all before."

Tom Shelley

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