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Commentaries

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Solid Edge University 2014 (Commentary)

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Key takeaways:

  •  The new Solid Edge ST7 revision delivers over 1300 user-requested enhancements
  • Luxion’s KeyShot for advanced rendering and lighting technology will be bundled into Solid Edge ST7

Siemens PLM Software’s Karsten Newbury, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mainstream Engineering Software, opened Solid Edge University 2014 on May 13. The two-day event brings together Solid Edge users, called “Edgers,” industry analysts, press, resellers, third-party software vendors, and the Siemens Solid Edge team to share product and business news, introduce the latest version of the software, Solid Edge ST7, and conduct informational and training classes. This year’s theme was “Re-Imagine What’s Possible.”

To exemplify the theme, Mr. Newbury highlighted a list of industrial companies around the world that use Solid Edge for product design. Bringing together both art and science, the Swiss ski manufacturer STÖCKLI develops and manufactures precision custom skis that have delivered podium wins for many world-class skiers. Hutton Technologies, Ltd. developed the flexipump, an innovative irrigation pump for farmers in the developing world that was inspired from watching a bicyclist repair a flat tire.

Turning to business aspects, Mr. Newbury noted that the Solid Edge team focuses on Product, Access, and Community. The new release of Solid Edge is the seventh since the adoption of Siemens’ Synchronous technology. Efforts to provide flexibility in customer access to the product have resulted in the addition of a 45-day free trial offer and monthly subscription usage. These are in addition to the traditional purchase and maintenance agreement. For the more than 500,000 seats of Solid Edge that have been sold, the 600,000 downloads of free 2D drafting software, and the 300,000 free academic licenses, the emphasis is on the new online Solid Edge Community, established over the past year to bring together Edgers to enrich their use of the software.

Two announcements of interest were made during the event by third-party companies. Luxion, makers of KeyShot and a leader in developing advanced rendering and lighting technology, announced that Siemens has chosen their implementation as its new rendering solution for Solid Edge. KeyShot for Solid Edge will be bundled and licensed with ST7. Hardi Maybaum, CEO of GrabCAD, joined Mr. Newbury on stage to announce that GrabCAD was licensing Parasolid (the Siemens geometry kernel that is a basis for Solid Edge) to use in their Workbench collaboration product, and to enhance the viewer in their free Community presence online. This synergy will afford Solid Edge users better inter-operation if they also use GrabCAD solutions.

Solid Edge ST7

Dan Staples, Vice President, Solid Edge Development, took the stage to present an overview of the new product release Solid Edge ST7. He noted that the version was actually the twenty-seventh release in the product’s history and summed up its focus with one word, “You,” noting that the new software incorporated over 1,300 user-requested enhancements.

Mr. Staples characterized the numerous improvements as all falling within one of four categories:

  • Accelerating your 3D modeling
  • Streamlining your design management
  • Power up with new apps
  • Enjoy an amazing user experience

Leading the list of the more important enhancements is the new ability to create a 3D sketch. The capability is available in the part, assembly, and sheet-metal environments. Users can more easily construct 3D sweep paths that bend through more than one plane for the design of pipes, wires, and tubes. In a related improvement, users can also define fixed-length curves. The designer specifies an overall length of the curve, which is preserved when either of the curve ends is repositioned. Thus, users can more readily place hose and cable-type components that are purchased in stock lengths.

Mr. Staples also listed a number of improvements in the areas of 3D measurement, the creation of hole features, and material definition. One of the more intriguing enhancements was the Create Blank command for users needing to design formed and stamped parts. Similar to unfolding sheet metal parts, Create Blank can take any 3D model shape, assess its material properties, and produce the flat, planar shape which when stamped or pressed results in the proper 3D form.

The University

Solid Edge University is so named because of the eighty-plus breakout training, teaching, and roundtable discussion sessions that users could chose to attend over the two-day event. Presentations ranged from the definition and use of custom properties to large-assembly design techniques. A number of the classes were devoted to exploring the new features in ST7 such as 3D sketching in Solid Edge. The team of instructors included Solid Edge employees as well as resellers and third-party software suppliers.

One important aspect in a number of the sessions was the ability for users to get operational training using Siemens-supplied laptops running the software. These hands-on sessions covered not only new ST7 functions but also major disciplines of sheet metal, electrical design, and visualization. A wealth of breakout sessions covered Synchronous technology including the use of both synchronous and ordered (history-based) features in the same model.

Opinion

The mainstream engineering contingent of Siemens PLM Software staged Solid Edge University 2014 in a professional, experienced manner. The wealth of knowledge and networking available to Edgers from management presentations, keynotes, and breakout sessions is a testament to the importance the Solid Edge leadership gives its customer base. Users would be well served to attend future Solid Edge University events. In CIMdata’s opinion, the Siemens Solid Edge product as exemplified by ST7 offers users a world-class competitive, mainstream CAD solution. The distinctive addition of Synchronous technology alone warrants a look by product designers.

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