Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, the Christmas/Holiday season has passed us by and now we are in the year 2010. I am curious to see what 2010 will bring us, especially in the PLM market.

Solid Edge should have it's 3rd release of Synchronous Technology out if they continue to follow their traditional release cycle. This is one area that I'm watching with much anticipation. With ST2 we saw the birth of a new type of Synchronous feature which resembles a "history based" feature in that it is associative to it's defining sketch, but in this new type of feature, the sketch is not a separate feature, but rather becomes part of the Synchronous feature. This is not exactly new to Solid Edge, as it has always allowed sketches to be created as part of a feature in the older versions which is now the "Traditional" modeling environment, but this is new to Synchronous Technology and works a little differently. It was applied to the Synchronous Helix feature first and was delivered in ST2. What it provides is an axis and a cross section profile, each editable after the feature is placed. Now for all those who summed up Synchronous Technology as just another "direct edit" modeler, this is a departure from that "pigeon hole"! I imagine that in 2010 we will see the addition of the Sweep and Loft features joining the Helix feature with this new edit capability, and possibly the surfacing commands as well. And since the Solid Edge development group always seems to pack a ton of new features into every new release which appear every few months, I'm sure there will be plenty more as well...

Here's to hoping each of you have a great 2010!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fortune Cookies

Trying to figure out how the title ties into CAD :) Well, it doesn't unless you know my background.

Today, I was treated to lunch by my boss. Quite a nice gesture, and we had a good lunch at a chinese buffet (rough afternoon now!). One of the required items at any chinese buffet is the fortune cookie. Mine read "Your curiousity will lead you to great achievements.".

Got to thinking about it and it is so right! My curiousity about everything has given me a broad knowledge about a large variety of topics, including CAD. In fact, my success in the CAD world is in large part due to my curiousity. I like to know how things work. I used to tear apart mechanical items just to see what made them tick (my father was really upset about the rototiller and dirt bike). I treated CAD much the same. I had to know what was there and how it worked and I had to quiz the developers how things interacted under the hood. To me, it was fun. I craved it. I still do.

Here's to hoping that "great achievements" are just around the corner. Maybe my curiousity about the numbers on the backside of my fortune will yield a winning lottery ticket :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Solid Edge ST2

Solid Edge ST2 is now shipping to customers and is available for download. A couple notable new features are Solid Edge Simulation and Synchronous Sheet Metal.

Solid Edge Simulation is a an embedded implementation of Siemens PLM's standalone FEA product FEMAP. Prior to ST2, Solid Edge shipped with a feature called FEMAP Express (now called "Simulation Express" in ST2) which was limited in load/constraint options and to single parts. In ST2, Simulation Express is still what's included with the product but Solid Edge Simulation can optionally be purchased as an add-on license through your normal sales channel. The good news is that Solid Edge ST2 does come with a temporary license for Solid Edge Simulation good through December, so install early so that you can try it out.

Now as I mentioned earlier, Solid Edge Simulation is an integrated implementation of FEMAP. What this means is that it has a lot of FEMAP's capabilities, but the UI is Solid Edge's which means it's easy to use.

Now for a list of capabilities over Simulation Express:
  • Assemblies (Synchronous only)
  • Complete environment with dedicated ribbon bar and vertical feature tree pane
  • Additional Loads and Constraints
  • Multiple "studies"
  • Export to FEMAP ".MOD" files
  • Multiple results options including the ability to probe nodes

Synchronous Sheet Metal is a new environment based on the Synchronous Technology concepts introduced in ST1. It allows modeling and modification of sheet metal models through direct action to the model while still retaining the intelligence that it is sheet metal. What this means is that sheet metal can be created quickly and edited even quicker. Imported models can also be transformed into a Synchronous sheet metal models as long as they are comprised of common thicknesses.

Obviously there are many other enhancements and new features with ST2, way too many to mention here. I encourage you to try it out when you receive it, especially Solid Edge Simulation before the trial license expires at the end of December.

Digital Prototyping - Is it New?

I thought I would throw out some thoughts out on a term that some individuals are throwing around like they just pioneered it. The term is "Digital Prototyping". Lets start of first by defining what it means. Essentially it means that whatever design checks you might have gone through with a physical model, you are now doing with a virtual model at least up front to reduce the number of physical models needed to prove a design.

So for instance, if you were designing a new car door handle:
  • The old school method would be to get a physical prototype made of the actual material using temporary aluminum mold tooling costing 10's of thousands of dollars and waiting weeks to get it and then mount it into a special fixture with data aq and servos/pneumatics to simulate Bruno opening his car door. If it failed, start over, spend 10's of thousands of dollars again and wait weeks.

  • The Virtual Prototyping method would be to load your 3D CAD model into one of the many FEA packages available and test it the same day the model was completed. If it fails, redesign it and test it again before tomorrow afternoon.

So now that we know what it is, lets talk about "Is it new?". The answer is "Most definitely not!". Digital Prototyping has been around for at least the past 20 years. What is new is the widespread availability of it to virtually everybody doing 3D design work in every industry. Most 3D CAD products now include FEA software embedded in them, and what isn't included can easily be found and afforded from the multitude of analysis vendors on the market. Dare I say the phrase "So easy a cave man can do it"... The stuff is so easy to use too. Anyone can start up an FEA app and run an analysis with a very basic understanding of Model, Constrain, Load, Mesh. You obviously need to know a fair bit more than that to have a meaningful understanding of what your trying to accomplish, but the point is, the softare is darned easy to use.

Now I won't go into the argument of whether Virtual Prototyping can replace physical testing in all cases or the argument of whether Joe Blow Designer should be doing analysis or if it should be reserved for a analyst specifically schooled in the work. I will say that it is definitely a benefit, and if your designing without it, then your probably throwing a lot of time and money away.

So again, it may not be a new concept, but it's widespread adoption and use is.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Long Time, No See!

It has been a really long time since I have posted (8 months!). What can I say, I've been busy! I'm sure you can relate. What have I been doing?
  • Work of course.
  • Getting ready for my oldest's graduation from High School (I'm feeling really old).
  • BETA Testing :)
  • Accepting a position on the PLM World Board of Directors.

Wait a second, what was that last one? Yes, I've taken on the role of representing You, the Solid Edge user, at PLM World. Now before you go off thinking "Wow! Grundey got himself a nice cushy board position making fat wads of cash.", let me burst your bubble and tell you; there is no compensation!

So why am I doing it? Well, there was a variety of reasons:

  • Somebody needs to represent Solid Edge at PLM World
  • Somebody thought I would be a good Solid Edge representative
  • I was silly enought to say "Yes"

Now, here's the hard part. I need your help. That's right, I can't do it all my self. So what can you do?

Well, let me fill you in on a little secret first. PLM World is unlike some other CAD/PLM user groups in that it is ran by the users, for the users. It is not a marketing arm of Siemens PLM. That being said, obviously it needs a lot of users such as yourself to participate in the events as well as just attend them. I would like to ask all Solid Edge users to become involved in some way. Below is a list of ways you can become involved.

  • Become a PLM World Citizen. Sign up is free, easy and non-commital (you will need your Sold To ID)
  • Provide constructive feedback on the user events you have attended to help improve them.
  • Attend the user events. There is the annual event as well as regional events closer to home, and the value of the training, tips, and networking far exceed the cost to attend.
  • Make a presentation. If you think you don't have something to present that someone else would be interested in, your wrong, and if that's not enough of an incentive, the event admission is FREE for presnters!
  • Take a leadership or membership role in a Special Interest Group or a Regional User Group.

For those who are already registered, I encourage you to attend the Solid Edge SIG Round Table meeting being held adjacent to and during the Industry Night even Sunday evening (May 31st) @ 6:30 PM for some socializing and informal discussion.

For those who have not registered yet, there is still time especially if you're close to Nashville :) And pay attention to the different events inside of the main event. If your just interested in Solid Edge, sign up for the Velocity Series Connection. It will save you some time and money.

Hope to "connect" with you soon!