I’m someone who has written a fair number of “Best Practice” lists. My CAD Administration book in particular was full of recommendations for everything from installing software to surfacing design. People assume that a best practice list is really a set of rules, but those people are wrong. Best practice is really a set of suggestions that are meant to serve the lowest common denominator in an engineering office. It’s a flexible attempt to standardize practices when you have people in your office who aren’t expert level.
The re-use of data is one of those huge time savers that we talk about a lot. Doing things faster is great, of course, but the fastest way to do something is to not do it at all, or to just copy it from something else similar you’ve already done.
Those of you who have been working in design for more than a couple of years, and I’d assume that’s most of you, already know that design is not a linear process. You may start in one place, and jump around, and eventually come back to where you started. You may revisit the same area of the design multiple times. Of course this isn’t the most efficient way to work, but you don’t get your information in perfect order, or you may not see a solution for a problem until you’re half way through. Or the requirements change part way through the design process. We all know stuff happens. Lots of things happen, and people are imperfect, so you never go through a project (at least in my experience) straight from top to bottom on each part.
I assume I’m talking to all the smart kids in class. Just because you’re engineers and designers, well, all that math and science weeded out the rest, right? And of course I assume that as the smart kids in class, we all watch the Big Bang Theory, and can relate to the problems of nerds. Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj, Amy and Bernadette each provides something for us to relate to. Sometimes in a “yeah, that happens to me all the time” sort of way, and sometimes in a “don’t you hate when that happens” way.
The first time I saw a demo like this, I flipped. This kind of history-independent power should really be turning some heads. Just to sum it up for you, what it happening in the video below is that you can make features dependent on existing geometry, and then use either the new or old geometry as driving features. No stupid tricks, this is just the way it works. To Solid Edge, it’s just geometry. There is no method to make it, no forced metaphors like baking a recipe, or writing a computer program. It’s just geometry. Think about changing sketches, and that’s the kind of flexibility you have with changing 3D parts in Solid Edge Synchronous Technology.
The whole thrust of this post is that in Solid Edge Synchronous Assemblies, you can design parts in the context of the assembly without creating any of the debilitating effects of references between parts. So you can make design intent go back and forth between parts, which you can’t do in your old CAD system because of “circular references”. You can make references to a part in one assembly, put it in another assembly, and make different references without the dreaded “multiple contexts” error. And you can rename or replace parts with similar parts without having anything going haywire on you.
My last post here talked about Top-Down Design – a big selling point for some CAD software – actually turning out to be a best-practice nightmare. And it is. Besides that, it’s kind of a philosophical brain-bender, but we’ll get to that a little later.
[editor]: This was a post written five years ago about the possibility of using familiar parametric design ideas with history-free models. Here I’m trying to get my head around the idea, and trying to introduce readers to the concept that maybe history-based modeling isn’t the only game in town.
Part 2 is all about the role that the technology played in my switch. Going from a skeptic to a supporter seems like a big jump, but if I explain this right, it will be obvious. The functional differences to me are compelling, especially for the kind of work that the largest group of mid-range CAD users do – machine design, which uses primarily prismatic shapes.
I get contacted every now and then by people or companies doing research before buying a new CAD package.They are interested in the story of a prominent user changing camps. Since I took down the Dezignstuff blog, most of the story that took me from SolidWorks posterboy to Solid Edge employee has been lost. I just want to have the real story on the record and available to those who are curious.