Solid DNA blog

Blog about stuff on Solid Edge CAD software

Enroute to ST4 – How the Synchronous Technology is different (part 1/5)

imageMany of you are only seeing the technical possibilities offered by the CAD software. They swear by the number of available features or the number of mouse clicks.

Others are attracted by the marketing that surround a product. And I can understand because the purpose of marketing is to make us dream to make us forget the reality.

However it is often more important to understand the impact these programs have on how we work.

Yes CAD software is a tool just like any carpenter and machinist tools, but it goes further. Often there is a philosophy, a culture that comes with software that will shape in bad or good your way of seeing and working.

Often the path to get to the destination is more important than the destination itself.


The new version of Solid Edge is about to be release, 2 more weeks The Solid Edge ST4 Global Launch Event.

ST4 version will mark the beginning of the fourth year of commercial use of Synchronous Technology, the concept of non-linear modeling. In a sense, it is important to make a note, because Siemens PLM Software was the first major CAD application developers to commercialize this concept.

During this same time, some have proposed technology preview or beta versions derived from that same preview. Others are still developing their strategy / implementation to compete against the Synchronous Technology in the clouds.

But let’s not be too chauvinistic and give the deserved credits to applications such as IronCAD, which have introduced a concept of direct editing that look similar to the Synchronous Technology.

Kubotek PTC has bought software that was initially developed by HP, if I remember correctly .

Kubotek with KeyCreator

More recently we had SpaceClaim.

Let’s not forget Google SketchUp, which in some ways was a catalyst for all these new non-linear modeling technologies.

According to the adoption patterns, new technologies are generally adopted by innovators* then by the majority.

Early adopter

As more and more people are aware of the Synchronous Technology, I think it is important to understand not just the tool, but what lies behind this technology and its implications.

A little history….


Despite the fact that we have seen the arrival of new features, the basic concepts of CAD modeling have not changed much since their introduction.

Most modern CAD applications refer to what PRO/E introduces to the market in the late 80s. If you want to stretch a little the explanation, the basic theories were conceived in the years 50-60 with the first computer system and their development continued through the years 60/70/80. For a more accurate vision…

Isn’t it time to have something better than what we had two decades ago?

Why is it that linear modeling can be inflexible, slow and prone to error?

It use the concept of “recipe of steps” to create the final model.

  • A recalculation is necessary to update ALL the steps, even if steps are not affected by an update.
  • Performance is affected by this recalculation requirement; models that have many steps are particularly affected by this feature.
  • The editions have to be done in the same order as the creation. This requires planning in the design process.
  • In some cases it is better to start over than to rework the model.
  • Capturing design intent can be easy, but at the same time will make an unplanned change difficult or impossible to do.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

[Albert Einstein]                        

The theory

Here is a summary of the six (seven) concepts associated to the Synchronous Technology, I’m sure you’ve seen this chart, but this time do not take the marketing or technical approach, but a more conceptual approach to understand the Synchronous Technology.


Concept number 1

Features are using the concept of collection instead of the linear tree.

How to make changes more quickly? By using the concept of collection without forcing the linear dependency.

At the heart of designing ideas rapidly with Solid Edge Synchronous Technology, the features are stored in collections instead of being placed in a linear tree. The concept of the linear tree found in traditional CAD software; force the model to be edit in a specific order and request a recalculation of the design tree for each modification.

With the Synchronous Technology, you can create features that are not dependent on each other. Having features without any dependency link you can:

  • Reorder
  • Regroup
  • Sort by name or by type
  • Freeze a portion of the design

In addition to rearranging the collections, you’ll be able to change your model virtually as fast as you move the mouse.

It is possible to select, edit, or delete the features with very little impact on overall performance (recalculation).


Concept number 2

Eliminate the parent relationship between the features

How to make changes easier? By editing the geometry regardless of the creation order.

The concept of collection, take for base that the linear dependency relationship, that unite two features is eliminate. Historically, this linear dependency forced changes to be made in one direction, toward the bottom of the tree and in the same order the creation was made.

The possibility for Solid Edge, to work without the need of linear relationship dependence between features, is due to a major technological difference in how Solid Edge works and handles the management of the information.

To illustrate this technology difference, a hole is added as the last operation and can control the surfaces and the features created earlier.

As we can see in the image, the user is able to use different approaches:

  • Edit the base of the model to move the hole
  • Move the hole directly to reposition the surface of the base.
  • Change the value of the PMI dimension directly on the 3D model.

Because the linear dependence does not exist anymore, it is possible to make this change without needing to regenerate the model.


As mentioned in the introduction, we should not just look at a surface moving (the technique); otherwise we only see dynamic editing or direct editing.

We should also not looking at the spectacular side, a hole operation place at the end that can change the complete model.

It is the concept that works behind the screen and not visible to the naked eye, which makes the beauty of the Synchronous Technology.

Part 2/5 – Keep the mechanical integrity of the model

Part 3/5 – Add and specify dimensional constraints in real time

Part 4/5 – Edit non-linear model using parameters

30 May 2011 - Posted by | ST4

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