Issue: Volume: 22 Issue: 12 (December 1999)

Reviews: Solid Edge 7

By David Cohn

Solid Edge Version 7, the latest release of Unigraphics Solutions' mid-range me chanical modeling package, boasts 250 new features and enhancements, the most notable of which are a tubing design module, new plastics and sheet-metal design capabilities, an automatic feature recognizer, and additional improvements for creating assemblies and drafting.
The new XpresRoute module makes it easy to define 3D tube paths, specify parameters, and create tubes that are fully associative to the parts with which they connect.

As in previous versions, Solid Edge is divided into separate environments for creating parts, working with sheet metal, constructing assemblies, and producing drawings. Each environment is self-contained and presents only those commands specific to a particular environment, yet all are tightly integrated. For example, you can model individual parts in Solid Edge Part, then fit those parts to gether in the assembly environment, or start your designs directly in Solid Edge Assembly.

As you work, Solid Edge guides you through the pro cess by displaying successive steps on the Smart Step ribbon bar and providing concise instructions on the status bar. When you're sketching, Solid Edge's Intelli Sketch provides visual indicators, handles, and intent zones that help you create profiles quickly and accurately. The program's Quick Pick tool highlights individual elements for easy selection.

Perhaps the most significant new feature in Version 7 is the XpresRoute module. This addition to the assembly environment enables you to quickly define the 3D path between parts and specify tube parameters. The software then constructs the tube as a separate part that you can subsequently modify.

Another significant addition is the automatic feature recognizer, which creates features and a supporting tree based on the topology and shape of a solid, rather than importing solids as a single body feature (as the program did in the previous release). This functionality is available when opening Parasolid files, and is also an option when importing IGES and STEP files.

Enhancements to the part modeler will please those who design plastic and cast parts. Improving on the Plastics+ feature from Ver sion 6, the program's new thin-region capability en ables users to construct thin-walled features within a selected region of a part, while a Thicken command allows the thickening of a local area or an existing solid. The Round command now in cludes a Soften Corner step on the SmartStep ribbon bar.

Sheet-metal design cap ability, long one of Solid Edge's strengths, has also been improved, with the addition of several new commands. A new Normal Cutout command constructs cutouts whose thickness faces are always perpendicular to the sheet faces, while the new Bead command constructs features used to stiffen a sheet-metal part. The creation of flanges has been enhanced so that you can create flanges that don't extend the full width of an edge. The program's Close Corner command now enables you to specify the type of bend treatment-such as a circular cutout-that you want to apply to the bent faces, and you can specify the corner relief for a chain of faces.
The sheet-metal capabilities in Solid Edge were instrumental in the creation of this subassembly of an industrial computer.

The Solid Edge drafting environment provides a few improvements of its own, including a new Attach Dimensions command, the ability to create split balloons (with quantities in the lower half) and add prefixes and suffixes to balloons, and support for international standards such as ISO and JIS.

While most additions in this release are les dramatic than the last time around, XpresRoute is a major enhancement. And the features targeted at the plastics industry as well as continued improvements to the product's already stellar sheet-metal capabilities make Solid Edge 7 one of the most intuitive and powerful feature-based modelers currently available.

David Cohn is a consultant and technical writer based in Bellingham, Washington. He can be contacted at

Price: Solid Edge Classic, $4995; Boxed set (with tubing), $5995
Minimum system requirements:
Pentium processor; Windows 98/NT; 64MB of RAM; 150MB of disk space; 1024x768 256-color display (OpenGL accelerator with 65K colors recommended)
Unigraphics Solutions
Huntsville, AL