The Different Kinds Of Solid Edge

Looks like the folks at Siemens PLM didn’t quite appreciate my last post titled “Solid Edge Design1 And Local Motors” because they scheduled another call with me to better explain Design1. This time I spoke to VP of Product Development Bill McLure and Director of Solid Edge marketing Kris Kasprzak. There have been a number of versions of Solid Edge flying around recently that it has caused some confusion. In this post I would like to list the different “kinds” of Solid Edge out there and what I think about them.


Solid Edge Free 2D

This is basically the 2D drawing portion of Solid Edge given away to everyone for free. This is similar to what SolidWorks did with their free DWGeditor and now free DraftSight. That is to give people (mainly AutoCAD users) a free tool to create 2D drawings from scratch or edit existing 2D drawings. It is important to note that 2D Free doesn’t come with the feature of creating 2D drawings from Solid Edge parts or assemblies. It is merely a 2D viewer and editor, that’s all.

In my Design1 post I wrote:

With Design1 you can create only parts and assemblies. I found it weird that Siemens PLM decided to leave out 2D drafting, especially since they already give away Solid Edge Drafting for free. Common sense, anyone?

I downloaded Solid Edge Free 2D and tried to install it along side Design1. I got this error message.

The thing with Solid Edge is that you cannot have two instances of Solid Edge on the same computer, be it different versions or different parts of the same version, as is the case here – Solid Edge ST4 Design1 (parts and assemblies) and Solid Edge ST4 2D Free (drawings). The only exception I have seen is that a beta version of Solid Edge can be installed alongside a release version so that people can test it out. So due to this limitation, users of Design1 cannot have 2D Free as well.


Solid Edge Student Edition

This is a free version of Solid Edge whose functionality is equivalent to the $5,000 commercial Solid Edge product. This is meant for students or instructors attending any academic institution and is licensed to be used for academic course work only. Files saved from this version cannot be opened in the commercial version of Solid Edge and the 2D drawings have a watermark.


Solid Edge University Edition

This educational version has the same restrictions as the Student Edition but has premium features. It is licensed to a university and is installed on the computers of students studying at that university. The university pays Siemens PLM a nominal fee for support.


Solid Edge 45 Day Trial

This is a fully functional trial of Solid Edge that expires after 45 days. Nothing much to explain here.


Solid Edge Design1

This is a restricted version of Solid Edge (parts and assemblies only) with advanced features like surfacing turned off. It is offered to members of the 25,000 strong Local Motors community at $20 per month and you need to be approved to get access to it. Siemens PLM tells me that Local Motors controls the approval process, not them. I guess in my Design1 post I bitched about the approval process enough to make Siemens PLM get Local Motors to approve  my request. 😉

Local Motors is a company that uses crowd-sourcing to “co-create cars”. The idea here is to create a community of people who have a regular day jobs (designers, engineers, etc.) and who are enthusiastic enough help out in designing cars in their free time. Local Motors does this by holding design contests. For example, Local Motors may get a client who needs a different engine on the Rally Fighter, for which the chassis will need to be tweaked. So Local Motors holds a design contest to redesign the chassis and the winner gets a cash prize which can be anything between $200 to $5,000. Siemens PLM considers this as commercial activity and that’s the reason they are charging $20 a month for Design1. I was told that Design1 is licensed to be used only for these Local Motors design contests and not for any other purpose.

Personally I think that’s stretching it a bit too much. I would hardly consider the chance of financial gain as commercial activity. This is like asking a kid using Solid Edge Student Edition to pay up because he won a design contest. Even worse, asking the kids that didn’t win to pay up as well just because they stood the chance of winning money. Its freaking ridiculous.

I’m trying hard to figure out exactly what Siemens PLM is trying to achieve here. Do they really see this as some kind of a revenue stream? Would the sales of Solid Edge be cannibalized if Siemens PLM simply let Local Motors members use the full blown student edition instead of going through the hassle of creating a new type of stripped down Solid Edge? Instead they could have simply given Local Motors a small utility to convert student edition files submitted by Local Motors members to regular Solid Edge files that can be opened in the commercial version. That way they could give Local Motors members all the functionality of Solid Edge and prevent them from using it for anything else other than Local Motors design contests. This is just an idea that popped in my head as I was typing this post. I’m sure if the folks at Siemens PLM and Local Motors really put their minds to it they could find a more elegant way of doing this.

Something needs to be understood here. The people who are supposed to use Design1 are enthusiasts. They should not be confused with novices. They are experts in their field and already use a fully functional powerful CAD system at work. No matter how Siemens PLM and Local Motors put it, sooner or later they are going to hit a wall and get frustrated with the limitations of Design1. After all, they are designing real cars, not toy trucks. Siemens PLM wants to upsell them to the full blown version of Solid Edge as can be seen from this message. Really? Is someone who may stand a chance of winning a prize going to shell out $5,000 for a commercial license of Solid Edge?

Come on. The people doing commercial activity are Local Motors, not the enthusiasts taking part  in design contents. If someone must pay for Design1 it should be Local Motors. Frankly, nobody should be paying for anything. If Siemens PLM really wants to promote Solid Edge to a community of 25,000 people then they should find a way to do it in a way that everyone’s commercial interests are taken care of and more importantly, the members should want to use the software. The way the whole thing is set up now, Siemens PLM is probably going to make peanuts from this deal with Local Motors and their members are probably going to use the same CAD system they were using before Design1 showed up. That’s if they actually bothered to submit their application for Design1.

IMHO, I think Siemens PLM and Local Motors are looking at this whole thing the wrong way. They could have done better. Much better.


Update (21-Nov-2011)

Apparently there some more news coming out from Siemens PLM at the start of 2012. Watch this space.

  • Johnny

    What an idiotic marketing campaign!

    Doesn’t seem to matter if it’s Intergraph, UGS or Siemens, they all fail miserably when it comes to marketing SolidEdge.

    I pity the developers for having their hard work tarnished by these half baked yahoos.

    • The intention is noble. I have problems with the implementation.

  • Dave Ault

    OK I admit some of the things like local Motors seem a bit strange as to what is selected as a vehicle for publicity and yes that is what this is since $20.00 per month doesn’t mean much in the big picture.

      What is really going on here though is the change of management philosophy towards their existing and potential new users. In the USA there are a number of advertising and promotional things going on for the first time in SE’s lackluster past history and it is a direct reflection of the change. SE is mentioned by name and they are pursuing the academic market as you mention with more things to come shortly.

       This is in response to two things. Siemens is not a set of investment bankers looking for a quick profit and no regard for the future or customers. They are here for the long haul and bought the software to use as an adjunct to their manufacturing expertise. They are and fully intend to develop this stuff to be the best and are going to expect it to show growth and increasing utility. So you see new vehicles for promoting the product through ads and discounts like the 2 for 1 sale. And you see releases like ST4 which was all about making geometry and not just gimicky features that look coll and don’t mean squat. They understand that people have to know about the product to be interested in it and that it has to be good enough to get bigger market share so they are fixing both of these areas.

      The second is tied into the first and it is current user based. One of our biggest complaints was we have this great software and the company does not back us up by getting greater market share. Roopinder summed this up perfectly with the article about the “greatest software you’ve never heard of” a few years back. You want to have both capability in your software AND the prospects for employment with companies if hourly or work as a contractor because your customers also use SE. I have to say though with direct editing it does not matter much anymore where the files come from so that last part is not so important anymore.  These things require a company that will make it happen and that is exactly what we have with Siemens now. We are pretty upbeat as users about the way things are going now. It is no secret how I felt about all this a little over two years ago and today I can say there is no place I would rather be.

    • I think selecting Local Motors for publicity is genius. The problem I have with this Siemens PLM marketing initiative is the way this whole thing has been packaged. I mean, designating enthusiasts taking part in a design contest during their free time as commercial activity is plain and simple nuts. Period.

  • Roger

    “IMHO, I think Siemens PLM and Local Motors are looking at this whole thing the wrong way. They could have done better. Much better”
    I actually think this deal is alot cleverer that it would seem at first glance.  For your $20/mth you get the ability to:

    1. Design parts with
    the relative freedom afforded by a direct modeller.
    2. Fully edit and
    parameterize (prismatic)  native SW, IV
    and neutral format part and assembly files as if they were native.
    3. Apply not just
    driving dimensions but geometric relationships (on both native an non-native parts) to fully capture design intent.
    4. Save models with 3D PMI (dimensions & tolerances) in automotive
    standard JT (as well as 3D PDF).
    5. Use the model as manufacturing instruction and because
    sync dimensions ARE the PMI, there is no duplication of work unlike drawings.
    6. Collaborate via a dedicated JT web viewer.

    Bearing in mind there are full blown packages that cannot do this, I reckon LM and Siemens have done a pretty good job of tailoring this offering to provide some very specific functionality at an ultra-modest price point.
    LM is not a conventional company and it is just possible that Siemens has been able to put together enough industry-strength features to make it work for them.
    Let’s look back in 12  months and see if these guys have had more insight than you give them credit.

    • All those features for $20/month does sound great. Not so much when you realize that you can use the software only for Local Motors design contests and not for anything else.

      I doubt this is about the money.

      • Roger

        Yeah, I doubt Siemens see this as an income stream, it’s more like recouping some of the cost of setting the thing up. As Dave says, there is now a focus on building the Solid Edge brand and it’s always good if you can be linked to something cool like LM (or OCC!).

      • I looked at the Solid Edge EULA at

        (this was referenced during the install procedure for Design1.)

        I didn’t see any restriction that would limit its use to Local Motors design contests.

        • Yeah. That’s the standard EULA. I was told about the limitation verbally. Not sure if they gave me the final build of the software.

          • Karsten Newbury (Siemens)

            Evan is right … and Deelip, you should have the final build.  It’s not included in the standard EULA.  The limitation will be part of the Local Motors web site subscription process for Design1 once that is up and running Jan 1, 2012. 
            In the meantime, people can work with and test the trial version of Design1 (by requesting an invitation via the Local Forge web site). 

  • Charles Culp

    I’m with Deelip.

    As a SolidWorks user I would have zero interest in paying $20/mo for a tool to give away my design to LocalMotors. Even with the possibility of winning  prize money. It doesn’t take an actuary to see that this is a bad deal for the designer.

    Does $20/mo make business sense to Siemens to “cover their costs?” Maybe, but since when did running a marketing campaign make a profit?

    If you want to pander to me to get my potential future business, you don’t do it with your hand out at the same time.

  • Karsten Newbury (Siemens)

    Deelip, so first of all thanks for the good overview of the different versions of Solid Edge.  Given we are pushing out a lot of new things, I believe this will be very helpful for others.  On the Design1 offer, I think you are right that the contests do not qualify as commercial.  We also believe that the LM community stands for much more than contests, namely projects for making ideas a reality.  And Local Forge now gives other companies a platform to tap into that community.  Design1 can be used in the context of all of those projects.
    Initially the most important thing for us was that the offer was put together based on direct input from the Local Motors team.  We absolutely intend to keep listening to them and the community members (which I know includes you ;-)). 
    thanks again for your input,Karsten