If you follow my Dezignstuff blog, you probably know I’m not much for 2D drawings. I tease about charging customers 3X scale for 2d drawings. Plastic parts tend to get critical or inspection dimension drawings, with a few overalls, and maybe a target part weight, and just some notes about fit. First article (off the mold tool) inspections are really the important thing with plastic parts, and from there, if you keep the process and the material the same, you’re not likely to see big changes.
When I was younger, I had to make fully dimensioned 2D drawings of all my parts (because I was also the guy machining the parts in many cases), so I know how to make drawings. And although I was a CAD admin at a company that made a lot of fully dimensioned and toleranced drawings, and wrote our drawings standards, I have to admit, that kind of thing isn’t really my first love. Still, I recognize that one of the strengths of Solid Edge throughout the years (besides sheet metal) was widely considered to be its capabilities to do 2D drawings.
So I’m going through the drawings functions in Solid Edge, and finding it easy to use, easy to apply typical dimensions and annotations. Like SW, Solid Edge is not basic CAD software, so you can’t hope to understand all the options available in a cursory examination.
One impression that hits me is that the functions in SE seem more integrated and better thought out. You will hear me say this time and time again on this blog, because it is really true. You (or I anyway) don’t get the feeling that Solid Edge is broken up by multiple egos trying to make their mark on the software. SW has a lot of “doodads” with cute, misspelled, capitalized names. Like FeatureXpert, DimXpert, SelectionManager, RealView. Sounds like marketing/branding sound bite speak to me, not like tools for design.
I ran into a couple of things in Solid Edge that are particularly nice. I like the way you set up hole callouts. This is probably not something you can do without any explanation, but you can build automated callouts that pull information from the geometry. The one difficulty was that it won’t automatically build a hole callout for imported geometry. I would think that with all of the feature recognition powers of Synchronous Technology, it would be able to recognize a counterbored hole. It worked ok if placed a synchronous Hole feature, but not with a strictly imported feature.
Another nice one is the straightforward ability to use view labels. SW can do this too, but it’s more convoluted, and you have to ask someone who knows where to find it. And then try to show a label without showing a view arrow. The SW way of doing this is a hot mess (label text is shown under view, and also at ends of view arrows, treating any view like a section view).
Solid Edge drawings present some of the same issues as SW with model dimensions on the drawing. My stance in SW is that I never use model dimensions because I never model the same way I would dimension for manufacturing or inspection. The difference in Solid Edge is that you can change the PMI (product manufacturing information – dimensions on the 3D model) much more easily than you can change it in SW. So you can have bi-directional editable dimensions on the drawing in SE if you wanted to.
Also, there are some nice options in the Advanced Properties for views:
- visible hidden line tolerance
- tangent tolerance
- simplify spline display
- part interferences in assembly (process or don’t)
- hatch ribs in sections
These are some thoughtful little things that we don’t get options for in SW. Generally, these appear to be aimed at the balance of thoroughness vs speed. It’s nice to have the choice.
I know I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg here, but I’m starting to see where the strength of Solid Edge comes from in the drawings area. It seems to have a much more thorough set of options, and a more integrated workflow for many functions. Again, it’s software that’s too deep to really get the whole feeling for in just a short blog post.
Why don’t some of you old crusty edgers tell us what you like about drafting in Edge?