Two of the best Solid Edge sessions I attended at SEU12 were done by Art Patrick, who heads up the assemblies product definition area. I spent a good chunk of time talking to Art on Monday night at the reception. He’s a great guy, very funny, and very knowledgeable about many areas of Solid Edge. If you want to talk to someone intimately familiar with several areas of the software, Art would be a great choice. Also if you want to get some functionality added to Solid Edge assemblies, Art would be the main guy. He seemed to have a great grasp of the software from the perspective of an actual end user – it’s not just theory to him. I’m convinced he has an accurate sense of what users need to do with the software.
There is some value knowing who is behind various functions in the software, and talking to these people helps give you a sense of how much work and consideration go into the various steps. From Dan Staples conceptual work, to guys like Art working out the details for functions and interface, the development team coding the various aspects to bring them to life, and the testing to make sure it’s something worth shipping to customers.
Art is the kind of guy who likes to build cool new assembly models for his presentations. He had a few to show that were pretty impressive. There was a running man, a roller coaster, and a very cool cam and slot mechanism. All of these would have pressed SolidWorks probably beyond its limits. I didn’t get screen captures of these assemblies.
Assemblies are an area of Solid Edge I haven’t started working with in a lot of detail to this point. All of Art’s presentations were done using the ST5 software. I don’t have the new software yet (best guesses point to end of July at this point), so I can’t reproduce his cool results. I was very impressed with the functionality in Solid Edge ST5 assemblies. The first thing to mention is that SE has added mirror assembly tools that are at least on par with SW. But the Connect function goes beyond SW’s capabilities with the ability to mate a sphere or a cone to the edge of a hole. In SW this takes a sketch, a plane and some ingenuity. Connect looks like a little bit of a big deal, since it will greatly simplify the need for unintuitive workarounds for mating together faces that in the past just haven’t gone together.
And then there are the new Slot tools, which SW has to some extent with both Slot and the bi-directional offset, but Solid Edge has special mate capabilities attached to slot features as well as counterbored slots, and raised counterbores (slot with a lip).
Visualization tools in Solid Edge are also at least equivalent to those in SW. Hiding parts, showing parts, an Isolate equivalent, scroll and zoom options are all there.
Another bit of functionality that was pretty advanced is the ability to replace and copy parts. This goes well beyond what SW can do, even with Pack And Go. Replacing an instance (occurrence) of a part with a copy of the part was one such tool that I recall. It also has all the ability to create subassemblies in place, dissolve (disperse) subassemblies, and use virtual components.
Beyond just the presentations and the new functionality, I learned a lot just from watching how expert users use the interface. This was kind of amazing to me. If you watch SolidWorks users use the interface, there are several ways to use the tools, but most of them involve (for a wide set of tools apart from just using the most common handful of functions) a fair amount of clicking menus, toolbars and the FeatureManager. Watching Art use the interface, he rarely accessed the toolbars. Even more rarely did he have to mess around with the Pathfinder (FeatureManager). I think this is because the interface is cleaner, and is just more in line with what you need to do at any given time. Art is not a demo jock, but in his hands the software flows very nicely.
If you make it to SEU13 or if Art shows up at a regional meeting near you, you would do well to go check out what he has to say. And take some of your assembly questions.
Here are a couple of the videos Art created. I haven’t put them on Youtube because they aren’t mine. Click on the images to download the video.