Solid Edge Version 4.0 has 150 enhancements, including an expanded feature set and improvements to its sheet metal module. With its ability to automatically extend out to the surrounding geometry, Solid Edge adds flexibility to its features through the use of open profiles. At first, open profiles do not seem particularly intuitive. But with some practice, they simplify feature creation and reduce the number of feature references, allowing the creation of more robust parametric models. Open profiles can be particularly useful for patterning features across complicated geometry.
In feature management, release 4.0 provides a "go to" or insert features capacity to compliment the existing ability to suppress and rename features. The "go to" functionality is essential because it lets the user easily return to earlier stages of the design and interject modifications as design concepts change. Solid Edge needs to be commended for its simple feature-management interface. Simply click the right mouse button on the feature in the geometry window or the Pathfinder and a menu lists the relevant feature management possibilities.
Much of Solid Edge's ease of use comes from its ability to create under-constrained or non-parametric geometry. This flexibility allows users to investigate various "what if" scenarios without expending extra effort constraining geometry. Once a design is chosen, it is easy enough to return to the feature to properly constrain the geometry. However, Solid Edge does not highlight under-constrained geometry, so the user must investigate each feature to ensure that it is properly constrained. This can become a sizable task, especially for models with hundreds of features.
Version 4.0 presents several enhancements to geometry creation capabilities. A new helical cutout/protrusion feature provides several user-controlled options such as taper, height, and number of turns. Sweep cutouts/protrusion now allow sweeps along the edges of already existing geometry, reducing the effort required to create certain types of geometry. A blend option added to the round feature improves Solid Edges ability to create rounded geometry. The user can now create rounds between edges, faces, or a combination of the two.
Solid Edge's sheet metal module conveniently allows standard sheet metal parameters such as material thickness and internal bend radius to be entered all at once. The system uses this information to automatically create the geometry.
Adding a 90-degree flange to the sheet metal part is exceptionally easy. Simply select the edge to add the flange to and then indicate the flange length. The system then automatically determines the bend radius and whether bend relief is required. To create a contour flange, chose an edge and create a sketching plane perpendicular to the edge. Once in the sketching plane, a complex profile can be created using any combination of straight lines and arcs. The system will then extrude the profile along the edge for the desired length.
To allow formed or drawn sheet metal features such as louvers, the sheet metal part can be easily linked to part mode where cuts and protrusions can be created to define the formed geometry. Once a part is made, the flat pattern can easily be created and used for part manufacture. Unfortunately, to create a drawing, the flat pattern must be saved as an independent file from the bent-up part. This requires the user to continually update the flat pattern part and could easily lead to a mistake, especially when dealing with a large number of sheet metal parts.
Overall, I really like the simplicity of the sheet metal module and feel it has a complete offering functionality. However, it is important that the bent-up part and the flat pattern remain associative.
Solid Edge version 4.0 is an easy-to-use, robust modeling package with several noteworthy enhancements. The product's move to the Parasolid modeling engine in version 5.0 should enhance functionality even more.
Solid Edge 4.0
Solid Edge runs on Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 95, on Intel-based PCs (minimum 486/66). It requires at least 64 Mbytes of RAM, and 100 Mbytes of hard disk space and a CD-ROM for installation.
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 4267
A similar product: Mechanical Desktop--Autodesk Inc., 111 McInnis Pkwy., San Rafael, CA 94903; ph: 800-964-6432 Product Code 4268
For more information on the products above call 1-800-828-6344 x011 and enter the product code.