So Solid Edge ST4 has finally been announced to the masses who are attending the global user event in Huntsville this week. As you know I have already talked about some of the non-embargoed ST4 details in two previous posts.
Now that the embargo has been lifted I can let you know about some of the other more important details which will be covered in two separate posts.
Let’s start by focusing on the new functionality in the part and assembly environments which facilitate more advanced machine design.
ST4 will see an improved workflow for the creation of Synchronous revolved features. A simple selection of a region and a drag of the handle that appears will invoke the revolve command. Once the revolve feature has been created a Live Section will also be automatically generated through the 3D geometry. Any dimensions that were on the original sketch will automatically attach to the Live Section which will enable quick and easy editing. If any subsequent features such as holes are added to the revolved geometry and they intersect the Live Section it will automatically update in order to accommodate the changes.
When it comes to creating Synchronous Holes it is now easier to place them accurately on cylindrical geometry such as shafts as there is a new dynamic placement workflow available. If you have ever used the Tangent Reference Plane command you will understand the benefits here since the new workflow for Holes is now very similar to this.
The Web Network command in the Synchronous mode has been enhanced so that its parameters can easily be modified after it has been created. This allows us to change its thickness, finite depth and draft angle much more easily. We will no longer restricted to just making changes via the steering wheel. However, if we do make changes via the steering wheel, because we are dealing with Synchronous geometry, the changes can be made without having to regenerate the entire model.
On the subject of editing geometry, there has been some additional work behind the scenes on Synchronous edit performance. This will provide near instant edits in certain conditions that may have slowed things down in the past. Some examples are - parts that contain many concentric cylinders, parts that have many locked dimensions, or parts that have many aligned holes.
There are a couple of new Synchronous 3D relationships in ST4 that will help ensure various forms of design intent are satisfied as well as maintained during a Synchronous edit. The Offset relationship will allow a face to be offset from and maintained at a given distance another face. The Horizontal / Vertical relationship will allow features and faces to be aligned with other geometry in the model. For instance we might want a hole centre to be aligned with the middle of an edge, or we might want a face in the model to be aligned vertically. If you think about the equivalent 2D sketch constraints (Offset and Horizontal / Vertical) that we would use in an ordered model, these are very similar. In fact when a sketch is used to create 3D geometry, if these constraints exist, they are automatically transferred to the 3D model.
The Face Relate functions now have a dedicated set of commands on the main toolbar making them more accessible and easier to use. Previously they could only be invoked by selecting some geometry, then changing the action in the command ribbon to relate. These new enhancements will speed up the workflow for manipulating faces in the model using these commands. The relate enhancements also apply to the assembly environment.
New Assembly Relationships
The assembly environment also sees some significant enhancements to the Mate relationships available. There is a new centre plane relationship that simplifies the placement of a part that sits centrally between two other parts or 2 faces. Think of either placing some part centrally between two brackets, or a bolt centrally in a slot. Of course if the parts or faces are moved, the placed part will remain central.
The mate relationship now has a limit option that will allow the definition of a range of movement between parts and will help when trying to simulate a mechanism. There is also a new rigid set relationship available that will fix a group of parts together so that they behave as one entity when moved.
In ST3 it was possible to use the steering wheel in order to move a part within the assembly. This is still the case at ST4 however the process has been enhanced so that if a part is moved into a new location, Solid Edge is then able to automatically detect and create any appropriate relationships in order to position the part in its new position. In fact the same workflow can be applied if an existing part needs to be replicated a number of times elsewhere in the assembly.
On-Line Parts Database
The ST4 launch will also see the introduction of a brand new on-line parts catalogue which is powered by Cadenas. This contains a large library of parts from hundreds of manufacturers who supply things like valves, u-joints, actuators, etc. The site is designed to be easy to use and has built in search capabilities so that the correct part can be found by either by vendor name, specific dimensions, part number or even its geometric attributes. Check it out Here
The predefined view styles in ST4 have been enhanced so that they appear much more realistic. You will find that reflections and shadows are switched on along with the introduction of a reflective virtual floor. This will give more of a realistic feel when working in the normal modelling environments. In addition to this the view quality settings have been simplified with a new auto-sharpen function. Take a look at the image below for an example.
Explode, Render, Animate
The exploded view environment (ERA) also sees some enhancements that make it easier to define custom flow lines between parts in the exploded representation. The aim of this is to provide better documentation in the form of our drawing views. There is a new Path Express style command to create the new flow lines (similar to the command in the XpresRoute environment). Also existing flow lines can be split or deleted to customise their path, then editing them is a simple drag and drop operation.
Whilst on the subject of the ERA environment it’s worth mentioning that there have been some improvements to the rendered images that you should be able to create using the ‘out of the box’ settings for photo realistic rendering. This is achieved through better material mapping, some new scenes, backgrounds and lights.
Finally for this post I wanted to mention a few miscellaneous items:
- Some enhancements to the Frame environment mean we now get a live update when the frame skeleton is dragged around as well as better support for more undo / redo conditions.
- The assembly shortcut / context menu has been simplified so that it is more logical and takes up much less space.
- There is better error processing and clearer error messages.
- The built in standard parts (machinery & piping libraries) see the addition of British standard components, more fastener types, more pipe fittings and pipes, and more frame cross sections.
- The Solid Edge News Group is no longer a closed group. This means that you do not need a valid Webkey in order to create an account. The group is now open to anyone who cares to join in on the Solid Edge converstation.
Look out for the next post on ST4 very soon where we’ll concentrate on the Drafting and Simulation enhancements.
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