Solid Edge 5.0, the first version built on the Parasolid kernel, includes more than 274 enhancements for creating parts, assemblies, drawings, and sheet metal designs. Solid Edge has an excellent user interface with equally good Microsoft Office 97 compatibility.
Solid Edge lets users design 3D parts in the context of other parts or assemblies. Its design method uses edges and surfaces of existing parts to create and place the new ones. You begin by constructing the basic sketches. Solid Edge's Intellisketch technology is a true time saver when it comes to establishing snap controls or relationship indicators. While sketching the part profile, Solid Edge will detect ends of lines, arc tangency, and centers of arcs, making profile sketching easier.
Along with the Intellisketch controls, the SmartDimension tool assists in defining the feature dimensions, which can be modified later. The finished profile can create complex features and surfaces by sweeping, lofting, or revolving the generating profile.
Complicated parts can be imported from 3D IGES format and converted to Parasolid format using an external utility. Their features and surfaces can then be used as construction geometry. New features like Part Copy allow you to make a copy of a part or assembly, make it associative to the original part, and then mirror/scale the copy. The associative features will be updated in all instances of the copied part once the original is modified.
New in this version is the ability to create parts from an assembly. Solid Edge will make a part copy of an assembly with two or more parts. That copy can then be modified by changing its parts or adding new ones. Solid Edge will create family parts controlled with variables that define key features. Although all members of the family must have the same number of variables, certain members can have some of the features/variables suppressed without affecting other family members. Editing an existing part is just as easy as creating it. With the Feature Path Finder you can trace back to any feature created and alter its parent-child dependencies.
Assemblies of more than 5,000 parts will not hamstring Solid Edge's performance. The sheer size of an assembly being loaded into memory is reduced by de-activating portions of the assembly that don't need to be accessed. The same idea applies when building an assembly: Clutter can be reduced by inactivating the parts that are not referenced directly. The inactive parts will become active when you want to edit them or use them to create or position another part in the assembly. An assembly layout in Solid Edge can be used as a profile to construct other parts or sub-assemblies and still maintain the associative links to these parts or sub-assemblies.
Solid Edge offers some exciting tools for part detailing. The draft views and cutting planes can be defined, along with the parts list and automatic balloon referencing. The cutting-plane definition has been enhanced in version 5.0 to include arcs that connect to linear segments of the cutting-plane line definition. Dimensioning and geometric tolerancing controls can be included as part of any dimension in the drawing. A nuisance in Solid Edge is the lack of two-way associativity of the drawing to the part or assembly. That is, any changes to the drawing's contents will not be reflected back to the corresponding parts; you have to enter the part mode for any updates.
You will be hard pressed to find things that cannot be done with Solid Edge. Its 274 enhancements add more robustness to an easy-to-learn-and-use program. Its printed documentation falls a bit short, but thanks to the excellent On-line Help and superb tutorials, you will hardly miss its manuals. Solid Edge is a strong contender in the midrange market and should be looked at more closely.
Solid Edge 5.0
Solid Edge 5.0 solid modeling package is built on the Parasolid kernel. Minimum (preferred) requirements: Intel Pentium PC (Pro or Pentium II) with 64 (128+) Mbytes of RAM and 150M bytes of hard disk space; Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0.
List Price: $4,995
Unigraphics Solutions Inc./Solid Edge, 17D Intergraph Way, Madison, AL 35758; Tel: (800) 807-2200; www.solid-edge.com Product Code 4423
A similar product: SolidWorks98 - SolidWorks Corp.; 150 Baker Ave. Ext., Concord, MA 01742; Tel: (800) 693-9000; www.solidworks.com . Product Code 4424