Solid DNA blog

Blog about stuff on Solid Edge CAD software

Synchronous Technology – Birth of a part (part1)

In the next few articles, I will explore what designers must master, the birth of a part.

Even if Synchronous Technology gives us more flexibility, preparation is still an  important factor to make our work easier.

For that reason, I will explore basic notions /concepts that will give our part a good start in life.

In certain cases it is necessary to go way back to the origin…..


In French, we have this citation (hope translation will reflect the idea), I believe it could be apply to CAD also:

«Travel is important, destination is not»

By professional deformation, designers are action personalities, who put destination in front of travel. A designer has the tendency to resolve problems ( propose  solution), therefore instead of avoiding them, he will run into it.

The obsession to resolve problems places some shadows on the global perspective. Designers see individual trees, and not the whole forest. This lack of perspective is in part due to an aggressive marketing where functionalities are places at the front and lacuna hide in the back. No software is perfect, but sure, some has strong SolidDNA giving a solid advantage… ;).

Adopting good tools and best practices will make the ride less bumpy and more agreeable

Once we translate this into the SolidDNA philosophy:

«Process is important, functionality is not»


«Goal to reach and not a task to do»

To help better understand those citations, this article will talk about the birth of a part.

Intrinsic nature

Designers do not control all the parameters, some are intrinsic to their tool:

  • A good modeling kernel helps to accomplish some fundamental tasks.
  • The work philosophy that surrounds the kernel, gives software personality and influences your work method.
  • Good predispositions to promote best practices, helps to eliminate errors at the source.
  • Etc…

The intrinsecte nature of your software is your means of transportation. The better your transport is adapt to your work, the more pleasant will be the trip.

Several aspects influence the choice of transport, reduce the choice of a good CAD software to one or two aspects, regardless of the journey ahead, can be a risky business.

I will risk making the parallel with a driver looking for a good traction system for his car.

  • Characteristic that he is looking for, is to have two or four wheel drive.

Two wheels choice is a simple traction or propulsion. However, Four wheels starts to get more complicated, because there is many systems transmit power to four wheels.

  • Functionality: How that traction will be exploited.

It is also important not to confuse characteristics and functionalities.

While writing this article someone whispered to my ear (with a video) that Synchronous Technology is not worth it or does not give a significant advantage. This is the perfect example where we try to place the destination in front of the travel where functionality hides characteristic. EULA prevents anyone from posting competitive analyses involving their software online.

If someone (related to ██████████ in anyway……) could post the video or the verbatim online, perhaps we could let Siemens PLM division comment on it, after all they are the only knowledgeable experts on the subject that could talk about the performance……….

3.   Other Restrictions on Use


You may not modify or make works derivative of the Software and you may not analyze for purposes competitive to ██████████, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Software, except in accordance with Article 8 below, if applicable, as it contains trade secrets (such as the Software’s structure, organization and code) of ██████████ and its licensors….»

In another situation, not intent to competitive comparison, I receive a video showing how  a professor projects lines on a cylinder.

To show the concept “characteristic before the functionality”, where good characteristics promote best practices and lead to ease of use, I made my own video inside SEwST. I left it to you to compare thi to the other video.

Projection lines in HD

Ok lets return to the main subject……….


These two words are the most important ones when it comes time to design. Like when playing billiards, it is essential to plan a few shoots in advance to avoid being stuck in the corner.

Solid modeling makes the task so easy that the designers can forget/neglect this important aspect of their job.

When building a part, you should think about the best way to built it by identifying the operations.

With Synchronous Technology the game does not only become easier but alos becomes more fun to play because you will always play with the ball at hand to compare to the others, giving you the chance to correct a false move.

Managing/Planning – Good sketching/feature

If you have, good practices in parametric modeling. most of them will be easily transposed in synchronous.

Common ground for linear and non-linear modeling (Parametric versus synchronous) is to choose the correct base sketch/feature. The sketch should contain as much information as possible but still avoid being too complicated .

Here we could easily spot those who are oriented towards a skeleton approach versus those who use a feature base modeling approach.

How many of you had problems at this step ( sketch) when you did not even start modeling your part….:-)  Designers using a skeleton approach will be more affected by sketch problems.

Apply dimensions and constraints to get full control on that sketch.

As a rule of thumb, 1-2-3-4…5…..6 lines. As you add more lines, you should think about revising your strategy to make sure you do not get yourself stuck in a corner.

Usually with three to four geometries, you could build a nice feature

In many cases, just one geometry ( line) could do the job.

Managing/Planning – Reference plane

Basically what we should have in mind is the direction of the X or Z axis. So whenever it is possible try to place the part in the correct orientation. Even if constructing the part in context of the assembly

The Z if to be manufactured on a mill or X if turned on a lathe, should always be oriented correctly. It may sound futile but in a manufacturing process, it could influence the development of the part.

If you are not convince, ask around how much we hate when the part came into the wrong orientation… talk to the CNC programmer where Z axis always point to the wrong direction and they had to reposition the G54 on the part. :):):)

Managing/Planning – Symmetry

Because the three base reference planes are fixed, (they cannot move), when modeling symmetric parts, you should also use the base reference planes to take advantage of symmetric features on the part. For example, when drawing the profile for the base feature, you can use dimensions and relationships, to orient symmetrically the profile about the Front (A) and Right (B) reference planes.

Orienting the profile for the base feature symmetrically with respect to the base reference planes makes it easier to construct the rest of the model because you can also use the base reference planes to orient symmetrically the subsequent features.

Synchronous Technology gives you a good advantage, as it is easy to rotate parts without losing the symmetry. Therefore, if you miss plan the design of your part you have the ball at hand to correct a false move, just like a billiards game.

Video Mirror

Follow the step (linear parametric modeling)

Linear parametric modeling has two important factors taking in account:

1-Human cognitive factor

2-Limitation of CAD system in regard to linear parametric

It is easy to claim a good user interface. Besides the look and feel, what else should we look for?

Without going too much in detail, one of the premises of the interface was to mimic the human cognitive logical step. Each person has its own way of thinking, but human has a native cognitive schema.

Placing this concept at the heart of the interface development, helps the workflow and the creation of feature.

Each feature/function are divided in logical steps to follow with a prompt to read. This is part of the intrinsic nature of the software giving the designer a better spatial orientation of the process.

Better organizing information leads to a more efficient designer:

On the Edge: Stream XP, Part 1 of 3

On the Edge: Stream XP, Part 2 of 3

On the Edge: Stream XP, Part 3 of 3

Synchronous Technology leverages the linear parametric modeling to another level

Choose the option (non-linear parametric modeling SEwST)

SEwST interface with the “Microsoft Fluent interface” concept and his Ribbon keep the same logic build under pre-ST.

Adopting the Microsoft Fluent concept was not simply a cut and paste and then adds functionality all around. We have to be imprinted of the philosophy to understand better the logic/intention behind it. Giving a final product where details matter.

The main tab of the Ribbon has the same cognitive step as the linear modeling in pre-ST, but it is accessible in a non-linear logic.

We have the perfect blend between Microsoft research and the knowledge of linear and non-linear modeling from Solid Edge.

Options become available, under the form of a floating tool bar, as users work.


Solve the geometric conflict

The first time (and still today), I train designer to create solid model, some of them mummified when I asked them draw a rectangle.

Why are they momified?

The answer to this is simple; if no dimensions were given then they were lost.

Many of them were using 2D CAD for year or their 3D software led them to use the skeleton approach.

In those two paradigms, emphasis is placed on the dimensions.

If you read the top of the article, I mentioned that some people see trees instead of the forest. The same applies in this situation. A rectangle is simply four lines so even if no dimensions are given you should be able to draw the shape you want.

Make that exercise honestly, close your eyes and imagine the car/boat/airplane of your dream, and see it in details. You will not see dimensions but shape.

Solve mechanical behavior

Again, some still mummified when asked to draw four lines to form a rectangle. Do not bother with it. Draw those four lines then apply mechanicals relationships.

Video Rectangle

What might have disturbed some of the early criticism about SEwST, “how will I control my model if every face can move all around”. Simple… stop thinking in a linear way.

This is why SEwST has transposed the geometric tolerances into 3D relationships.

Solve the mathematical problem

Once geometries are  in place, and you have solved the mechanical behavior, add dimensions. Remember that the lifecycle of your part incorporate manufacturing, this is where the dimension is important


I apologize for the first paragraph, as mentioned my ear has received some FUD and I could not resist placing an editorial paragraph….

The introduction of Synchronous Technology in 2008 shows us that for 2009 it is not enough to pile up features in a tree and place the patient on medication to put him back on his feet. I saw the term «FrakenCAD» associate to Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology. I am more scared of a «Swiffer» cleaning up my messy design to make it work, then a controlled «Live rules».

Note that I have nothing about the author of those sentences but I do not feel good about the idea behind those sentences referring to Synchronous Technology.

Sorry for that conclusion opening;

In conclusion,

Modeling in a linear or non-linear way, involves a much deeper process than pushing buttons. Once you are aware of this, your modeling skills will make a giant leap.

You should now have a more clear understanding of the philosophy

«Travel is important, destination is not»

The way we will reach the destination will influence the design and everything between the birth and retirement of you part of the lifecycle. Short or easy paths are not always the best.

When a short/easy path is used make sure you have the intrinsic characteristic to make the ride to keep you on course.

Where it is dangerous is when short/easy paths are used to compensate the characteristic or simply because you are too lazy. I would advise you to step back and rethink the path or your means of transportation.

It is often easy to get lost with too much functionality to compensate the characteristic. Keep the eyes on the road.

Manage and plan I cannot repeat enough, preparation is the key to success, remember each time you were stuck with a part and you decided to redesign or worst instead of modifying the existing one you simply redrew it.

Sometime good preparations will not be enough. This is where SolidDNA comes into place. It is transparent to users but I work for tehm in the background. Do not be distracted by a layer on top, scratch the surface, make sure SolidDNA is written deeply in its gene.

So much to say for a process trainer, stop watching the trees when there is a forest and the forest is all you designers that urge me to talk technical :)

Next stop: tools to create a synchronous part (part2)

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