Click Image to Enlarge
UGS (Plano, TX; http://www.ugs.com/products/solid_edge) debuted version 15 of Solid Edge in February, 2004. Version 16 of this 3D computer-aided design (CAD) system came out in June. That's UGS' development goal: two releases per year.
V16 lets you mix 'n match components to create differentvariations of the same assembly. You create these alternativeassemblies through a table that lets you select multiple options from a set of potential pre-selected alternatives. Or you can configure assemblies on-the-fly. Design validation works behind the scenes.
Ordinarily, problems would arise from this approach when more than just a few parts exist. Car seats are a good example. Multiple variations quickly proliferate into thousands of different model numbers. To solve that potential nightmare, V16 tracks all the assembly variations—without having to create a rash of new, and useless, part numbers as well.
V16 lets you place parts, such as springs and bushings, multiple times into the same or different assemblies under different geometric configurations. You need only define how the part adjusts by selecting the "adjustment variable" for that part. (For example, changing the length of a spring will change its compression.) The part number is the same no matter what context or geometric representation it's in.
You're not alone. About 80% of CAD users still use 2D. UGS's "hybrid 2D/3D design" permits creating 3D parts from 2D assembly layouts. You get the best of both worlds: you can work in 2D and 3D, and you can switch back and forth between the two with ease and with no loss of information about geometry. As the design progresses, 2D and 3D representations can be mixed; 3D details can be added when required. You can even position 3D components using 2D relationships. Along the way, any changes to the 3D part will drive changes in the 2D layout geometry.
V16's "Zero D" capability permits defining a product structure before creating product geometry. You basically insert placeholders for components and assemblies in a virtual product structure, or you can associate that structure with new or existing 2D drawings or 3D parts. When it comes time to actually design the product, you can assign ("publish") portions of that product's virtual structure to the appropriate engineers. When they're done, the finished drawings or solid models are entered into the virtual product structure, thereby completing it. This capability is typical for product data management (PDM) systems, not CAD.
A PDM system called "Insight" is built into Solid Edge V16; it's not yet-another-bolted-on piece of software. When you go into Solid Edge to open a file, Solid Edge checks the file out of Insight and off you go. Data vaulting, check in/out, changes tracked as they occur, access to information as needed, and product structure/BOM management—all from within Solid Edge, no separate system to deal with, at no extra charge.
There are some industry-specific design modules. One, for mold design, debuted in Solid Edge V15. This add-on lets you analyze a solid model to ensure it will be ejected from a mold. It can also automatically create a parting surface to determine the correct geometry for mold cores and cavities. In V16, Solid Edge Mold Tooling automates the design of additional features such as runner bars, slides, inserts, and water channels. You can select a standard mold base or define a custom one. In either case, Mold Tooling will finish the mold by adding related standard components, such as bolts, support pillars, and ejector pins.
V16 alone, called "Solid Edge Classic," costs $4,995. Add in the Mold Design add-in, and the package costs $9,995 through the end of 2004.