Data Exchange Between Solid Edge ST3 And NX 7.5

Siemens PLM took note of my bitching about NX 7.5 not being able to read Solid Edge ST3 native files and sent me an updated DLL which fixed that problem. You can download it from the GTAC FTP server from http://ftp.ugs.com/solid_edge/ST3/plmxml/. There is no ReadMe file yet, but installation is quite simple. The DLL file name is plmxmlAdapterSE70.dll and you need to simply overwrite the one in the UGII folder.

A word of caution is in order here. In the post linked above I mentioned how some parts were missing when I tried to use Parasolid as a data exchange format to get the engine model from Solid Edge ST3 to NX 7.5. A couple of readers suggested that I may not have written the missing parts to the Parasolid file in the first place and they turned out to be right. I have since updated that post with a clarification. The problem was that the missing parts were construction surfaces and solids which are not written to a Parasolid file by default. The thing is the engine model was initially in STEP format and when Solid Edge is unable to create a closed solid from the faces of an object in a STEP file, it imports the object as a construction surface or solid.

The real problem is that NX 7.5 does not give me an option to import these constructions surfaces and solids in a Solid Edge ST3 file. At least I could not find a way to set an option to do so. When I go to import a Solid Edge assembly in NX, the options button is disabled. If you know of a way please leave a comment and I will update this post. So when I opened the Solid Edge assembly of the engine directly into NX, I got the same parts missing as when I had used Parasolid as the intermediate file format.

I guess this is not a problem when you create geometry in Solid Edge because the construction surfaces and solids, if any, will be for construction purposes only and will not be required to be sent across. But if you have imported an IGES or STEP file into Solid Edge, then you need to be sure that there are no construction surfaces or solids before you hand it over to a NX user. If there are then you need to fix them and convert them into closed solids.

Another point worth noting. Solid Edge has a STEP import option called “heal and stitch” which basically recreates missing surfaces and stitches them together to the create closed solids. While this does a pretty good job most of the time, I couldn’t use it in the case of my engine model. Look what happened to the fan.

Just for comparison sake I would love to see how CATIA handles data from SolidWorks. No wait. I don’t believe CATIA is able to read SolidWorks files in the first place. I know that SolidWorks cannot read CATIA files. I know that because we develop and sell SolidWorks add-ins to read and write CATIA files (see CATIA V4 and CATIA V5).

In this respect, I guess Pro/ENGINEER has an advantage. The base version of Pro/ENGINEER sits alongside the mid-range MCAD systems like SolidWorks, Solid Edge and Inventor and the top of the line sits with CATIA and NX. So there is no need to convert CAD data from one format to another when working in the same company just so that different people can work on the same model. In fact, this is one of the strong points of Pro/ENGINEER.

Siemens PLM also does a decent job. NX and Solid Edge can both read each others native file formats. But then you lose the feature tree since models turn up as dumb solids in either CAD system. Synchronous Technology in Solid Edge solves that problem to an extent. SolidWorks does not even have that.