I have decided to take a bit of a new direction regarding MCAD specific program commentary. While I am interested in what is happening in the MCAD world I don’t have enough real hands on knowledge to talk from a user perspective on things like SolidWorks or Inventor, the two main competitors for Solid Edge. I do intend to talk about generalities and where they are heading but my real interest in these programs is not the nuts and bolts of how they work for daily users but rather where they are going and the severe problems ahead for users because of this. Problems like kernel change and forced cloud usage, corporate management that won’t be honest with users and other things like this are fair game and require no daily CAD program user abilities to reflect upon. Or the serious lack of direct editing which has been such a boon in my world with Solid Edge.
A question that comes up periodically from some SolidWorks users is just what do we Solid Edge users do with our program of choice? This in conjunction with a past post of mine requesting problem parts that had no takers made me think about why I write this blog and what purpose would I like it to serve besides being a bully pulpit for things I like or dislike.
My sole reason for getting involved with CAD programs was based upon the realization in 2003 that I needed to expand my machining capabilities beyond manually operated equipment. This led to me getting my first CNC mill, a used Haas VF3. At the time Surfcam was offering a free 2d program which was all I needed. What quickly became apparent to me was that you have to feed this CNC mill and you need parts to put in the CAM plans to do so. Just like the genesis of CAD in the real world was for the ability to communicate to machines to manufacture objects I was now faced with the same quandary.
The path I followed was buy a machine and then you need a CAM program to utilize it. Then I discover that since so much of what I was asked to do was reverse engineering of existing parts or design new I needed a CAD program. So 2D or 3D? It never made any sense to me at this point in time (2004) to learn 2D when it was clear after research that the future of machining was going to be off of 3D shapes. Besides that a 3D part is ever so much more self explanatory and visually concise that I never hesitated to go directly into 3D modeling and bypass 2D. Lets face it, all I ever need in 2D anyway is more easily created from 3D.
And of course history based Parametric modeling has it’s own share of problems which led me to have a look at Synchronous Tech in Solid Edge just before the release of ST1. I bought Solid Edge ST1 and have been here ever since for all my parts creation or imports.
My sole use for design has been to feed the manufacture of parts either in my shop or as parts created and sent to others who have capabilities I don’t for manufacture. And in reality while many designers I fear never see the inside of a manufacturing facility the only real reason for their jobs is that it is expected that somewhere at sometime something will be made from these designs.
SO with this in mind I begin the Solid Edge for Manufacturing series. I am going to take parts I design and produce in my shop and show how I do so with the emphasis on parts design for manufacturing. From designing for manufacturing to designs that incorporate assemblies which allow me to cut parts and jigs for those parts from the parent part I intend to demonstrate how this shop does things with Solid Edge. In the near future the upcoming wonderful CAM goodies I can finally talk about when Solid Edge University starts up this June will be in addition to parts creation. Yeah that’s right you heard me CAM goodies on the way.
The frequency of these posts will depend on when I think I have an interesting or different type of part to talk about so if this is of interest just be on the lookout.
By the way, the upcoming SEU2013 this June will be the only event like this in the history of Solid Edge where you can be there when all the pieces of the puzzle are finally put in place. Hasn’t been one like this before and there can’t be one like this later so may I recommend to the curious or the fence sitters debating going that you do so.