In Part 1 I mentioned that I would try and find answers to a few questions floating around with respect to Synchronous Technology. One of them was, “Is this really new?“. Up untill now I have discussed the Steering Wheel and Live Rules, both of which are not new. There is at least one CAD system that has implemented both of them before Siemens did. It’s SpaceClaim. SpaceClaim has something known as the “Move Handle” and an advanced face search and selection window (not sure what fancy name they have given it, if at all) which does more or less the same things as the Steering Wheel and Live Rules of Synchronous Technology.
And here is where the similarity between Solid Edge ST and SpaceClaim (and probably other similar direct modelers) ends, at least with respect to the capabilities of Synchronous Technology.
One of the main reasons why parametric solid modeling became a hit when it was first introduced by PTC many years ago was it’s ability to capture design intent. Another was the ease at which you could edit features or delete them. Yet another was the concept of having patterns or arrays of the same feature in an ordered manner. Synchronous Technology offers all these advantages without the overhead of the dreaded feature tree. This is truly the best of both worlds.
In this part I will discuss design intent and how it is encoded into a model using dimensions. For those of you familiar with parametric solid modeling you already know how dimensions can drive the geometry of a model. So for the benefit of those who are not familiar, I will take a very simple example of a box with a hole at its center. Now, as a designer it is my intention that the hole should always stay at the center of the box, no matter how much I increase or decrease it’s length or breadth. So I create dimensions for the length and breadth and set up formulae for the hole dimensions (in red) to be exactly half of the length and breadth respectively.
Now I can give my “intelligent” model to any other designer who can look up the formulae that I set up in the variable table and deduce my design intent. And if I or someone else decides to pull a face in order to increase the length of the box, the formulae will ensure that the hole is repositioned back to the center of the box.
As you can imagine, you can do far more complicated things, but I think you get the point. Solid Edge ST is the first direct modeling system I have seen that offers such functionality. If you know of any other please do let me know.
In the next part I will discuss procedural features. Stay tuned.