Solid Edge v3.0 provides a set of traditional features and an interface
for feature creation that is effectively laid out. A SmartStep guide
conveniently outlines the feature-creation process and allows the user to
quickly and easily return to any stage in the feature development. When moving
between stages, the button picks in the toolbar are updated. I found this
particularly convenient since it reduces toolbar clutter and ultimately
decreases the number of button picks required.
As a parametric modeler, Solid Edge maintains a history of the features created. To keep track of this history, the Pathfinder tool provides a graphical display of the feature sequence. The Pathfinder has a convenient playback functionality that automatically steps the part through its entire creation process. In addition, the user can edit any stage of the design or reorder the sequence of feature creation directly in the Pathfinder window.
Solid Edge permits the modeling of underconstrained features, enabling users to explore various "what if" scenarios without spending the extra effort to fully constrain the geometry. It is easy to return to a particular feature to fully constrain it. With Solid Edge, it is the user's responsibility to keep track of underconstrained geometry. It would be a noteworthy enhancement for Solid Edge to keep track of underconstrained geometry, since it would reduce the user's burden and allow more time for designing.
One of the more confusing aspects of parametric modeling is parent/child relationships. When a parent of a feature is deleted, Solid Edge will either leave the feature as underconstrained or, if this is not possible, will remove the feature from the geometry, but will highlight the feature in the Pathfinder with an exclamation point.
For underconstrained features, Solid Edge will not delete dimensions that place a child feature relative to a parent feature after the parent is deleted. This places an unnecessary burden on the user to clean up dimensions and can lead to some confusing issues, especially when dealing with complex models with lots of children. If a feature is highlighted with an exclamation point in the Pathfinder, the user can easily select the feature, then choose to replace any of the missing references or simply delete it from the model.
Solid Edge's assembly module allows parts and subassemblies to be placed relative to another using an intuitive constraint system. Once the components are placed, it is simple to have a detailed mass-properties analysis performed or to check for interferences between parts. In addition, Solid Edge lets users either create or edit a part in the assembly. I find this "top down" design approach to be an extremely powerful tool.
Creating a detailed drawing of parts and assemblies is particularly easy in Solid Edge. After views are created, the user can show the actual dimensions used to create the part or create dimensions in the drawing mode relative to the views. The views are fully associative, reducing the amount of time the user has to spend cleaning up the drawing. Solid Edge also comes with a completely capable 2-D sketcher that can help transition users from 2-D to 3-D design and allows for quick and easy modifications to 3-D views.
Solid Edge Version 3.0 Spec box
Minimum requirements: a 486-66 Intel processor-based computer with 32 Mbytes RAM, a CD-ROM, 100 Mbytes of disk space, and either Windows 95, Windows NT 3.51, or Windows NT 4.0.
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