Solid DNA blog

Blog about stuff on Solid Edge CAD software

Been there done that – Manage properties

When it comes time to deal with properties Solid Edge offers a wide range of functionality:

Properties play an important role when it comes time to create a design.

Since properties could influence how the part will be designed, manufactured, shipped etc…They should be entered as soon as possible in the process (workflow).

This is why each time you save a file for the first time the properties dialogue box popups.

This ensures to remind the creator not to forget important information, especially at the beginning of the project.

There are many things to covert in term of properties. Quick tour is hard to do because many questions may be raised, comments are welcome.

I set a yahoo group making it more interesting for long exchange.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/solid_dna

File properties

Located in the application menu they are easy to access.Three tools are available to users.

  • Material table
  • File Properties
  • Propertiy manager

Properties – Material Table

Choosing the correct material early in the process is often under estimated. The type of material will influence the whole process.

To help designers adopt good habits the material type could be set to popup when a new part is started.

     

Machined part

For machined parts users determine the material with the drop down list at the top.

  • To add material simply select a predefined one or type a new name and fill the form, the «ADD to Library » will be available.
  • To modify existing material, choose one, change the value and click «Update Library»
  • To copy an existing material select one, then enter a new name, finish copy by clicking «ADD to Library »

Sheetmetal

For sheet metal, we have the «Gage» tab to define the basic parameters.To make sure the flat pattern gets the correct dimensions, the user has two methods.

  • Neutral factor
  • Custom formula

When using «custom Formula», the user has to define a few parameters:

  • Material Thickness
  • Bend Radius
  • Bend Angle
  • Length of bend in the flat

It is possible to create as many custom tables as needed. To use one, simply write the correct name in the field.

This topic could be covered in greater detail in another post.

Rendering

 

One nice thing with material table is that information is centralized, meaning:

  • «Face and fill style»…..set the rendering for the work area and the hatch style for later producing draft.
  • «Rendering»….set the rendering for the Explode- Render-Animate module (ERA)

Using the Part Painter function, user is able to changed individual face appearance.

Properties – File properties

This one is a popular one. Most of software has this so what can we tell about it? It is accessible from the «Application menu» when part is open. When working inside an assembly selects the file from which you wish to see the properties, from the contextual menu (RMB) choose file properties.

General

First, this is a central point for data entry.Then we have multiple tabs, each of them containing information needed to create a BOM or populate draft template.

Summary

Here we found basic information.

Nothing fancy but when we look closely we can see that it is possible to start «Categorize« part and attribute «Keyword» to ease the search.

We can also have the name of the template used to create the part.

Drop down lists contain predefined values, preventing misspelling and helping constant phrasing (correct position for caps and accent).I will come back later for the drop down menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Statistics

Here we can see critical information about the file:

  • Last modified date
  • Last access
  • Who saves it last

Who currently works with the file, useful when many people work on the same assembly. Those are accessible live from the assembly at any moment.

For CAD managers that information could be gold.

Project

Information related to projects include the document number, revision number and project name.

Note the hardware.

You can designate parts such as bolts, nuts, and washers as hardware parts.

Parts purchased externally and used without modification could be identified the same way.

Status

Remember the DNA in blog’s name.

That is another example.

Right in the core of the file we can see that the Solid Edge file contains genetic code ready to be incorporated into a managed environment (Teamcenter or Insight).

You can manually manage the status outside a manged environment.

This portion of the genetic leads your company on the right tracks of best practice management without heavy investment. When time comes to scale up the file management, your files are ready.

Available

Shows that any author can access the selected document. An author can change the status of the document to one of the following: In Work, In Review, Released, Baselined, or Obsolete. You can use this option to change the document’s status. If the active document is not part of a set, you can change the status of the document from Available to any other state.

In Work

Shows that someone is currently working on the selected document. The name of the person working on the document displays next to the document name in the View box.  You cannot change the status of this document unless you are the person working on the document or a Coordinator.  If the active document is not part of a document set, you can change the status from In Work to any other state if you are the person who set the document’s status originally.  Other users will be able to check out the document, but it will be opened read-only in Solid Edge.

In Review

Shows that the document is being reviewed.  Any user can edit the document.  The status can be changed from In Review to any other status.

Released

Shows that the selected document has been approved. Once released, the document is read-only for everyone except a Coordinator. A coordinator can open a released document in a managed library with read-write access. Although other users cannot change this document, they can create a revision of this document. The new document will have its own life-cycle. You can change the document to Baselined so that no one can make edits to the document.

Baselined

 Shows that the selected document is frozen from further edits.  Once baselined, the document is read-only. Although you cannot change this document, you can use the Save As command in Solid Edge or the Set Action to Revise command in Insight Connect to create a new revision of the document. The new revision will have its own life cycle. If the document is baselined and resides in a managed folder, then all users, including Coordinators, can open the document as read-only.

Obsolete

 Shows the document is no longer the latest revision, but is still available for viewing.  A Coordinator can make changes to the document but other users are not allowed to make changes.

  

Units

Units tab contains all the information to set the units needed to build your part. Basic information like length, angle or area is accessible upfront. Precision associated to those range from no decimals to seven decimals and can be round off to the nearest 1/2 to 1/64. Two types of round off could be set:· All Values (.625 = .63, .635 = .64)· Odd Values (.625 = .62, .635 = .64)Advance units give a wider range of properties used in FEA analysis or Part analysis.

 Preview

Help users create the thumbnail associated with the file when browsing in window or at the file opening. Preview is created each time the file is saved or created on demand by the user. On demand makes it possible to freeze the preview in a desired position.

Custom

Each company has its own set of properties, this is why the custom tab is essential.

You start by naming the property and then assigning a type from the drop down list.

Then choose a value.

 Exposing variables as custom properties

You can select variables from within individual parts and assembly files and expose them as custom properties using the «Expose» and «Exposed Name» columns in the «Variable Table». The variables you expose are displayed in the properties list in the «Custom» tab in the file properties.This also makes the variables available in the Draft environment (for inclusion in annotations, for example), in Property Manager, Insight Connect, Teamcenter and associated SharePoint interfaces.The exposed variables are displayed in the properties list in the custom tab in the order in which they were exposed in the variable Table. If you want to change the order in the properties list, clear the check marks for all the exposed variables, then check the variables you want to expose, in the order you want them displayed in the properties list.

Propseed file properties

From the beginning of the article, I showed different locations where properties are written and stored.

Many of them have drop down menus.

Questions that might raised in your mind: How do I fill drop down menus?

Answer: The propseed file.

Propseed.txt is an ASCII text file that is used to populate values on the Properties dialog box. You can use a text editor, such as Notepad, to add values to the file.

By default, the file is located in the Solid Edge Program folder. You can instruct Solid Edge to look for propseed.txt in a different folder, including a folder on another machine in the network.

Once defined, each time a file is saved for the first time, properties will be fed by «Propseed» using the default value set by the user. Users can then review them to make sure everything is correct. Once the save button is clicked properties will be written to the corresponding field.

If properties need to be changed while the project evolves simply, go back to file properties and choose a value from the list or write a new value.

Non-graphic parts

Non-graphic parts are another excellent example of what could be considered a best practice.

Often I have been told horror stories from designers who migrates to Solid Edge. Those other systems, who allowed too much freedom to manipulate BOM outside the 3D, lead to monumental error. Other mistakes I have seen are designers who take shortcuts manipulating the BOM instead of making sure 3D represents real life.

In solid Edge instead of manipulating the BOM table to add new lines to insert new part, we use the non graphic part concept……

Assemblies often contain components for which there is no model required, such as paint, grease, oil, labels, and so forth. These non-graphic parts still need to be documented in the parts list and bill of materials that are created for the assembly. In Solid Edge, you can use the File Properties command on the File menu in the Part and Sheet Metal environments to add custom properties to an empty part document. These custom properties allow you to define the required information for these types of parts. You can create two types of non-graphic parts: parts that require a unit type and quantity, and parts without a unit type and quantity.

Parts with a Unit Type and Quantity

Some non-graphic parts require a unit type and quantity. For example, you may require four liters of oil in an engine assembly. You can create a part document named OIL.PAR, then set the unit type, Liters, in the part document. Later, when you place the oil.par document in the assembly, you can set the unit quantity using the Occurrence Properties command on the Edit menu.

Parts without a Unit Type or Quantity

Other non-graphic parts require no unit type or quantity. For example, you may require a small quantity of grease between certain parts in the assembly. These types of part quantities are usually documented “As Required” on a parts list or bill of materials. For these types of parts, you define the custom properties and the text string you want in the part document. You do not have to edit the occurrence properties in the assembly.

Placing Non-Graphic Parts

Since non-graphic parts do not need to be positioned with assembly relationships, you can place the part in the assembly by holding the SHIFT key, and dragging the part into the assembly.

Report

Retrieves and displays lists of the parts and subassemblies contained in an assembly. Information is collected from the file properties of the referenced part or assembly documents. For subassemblies, the information is collected from the file properties of each part in the subassembly.Report is also accessible from windows explorer contextual menu. Making it easy to extract BOM, if the assembly file is not open. If Insight Connect is installed «Report» will also be available. This is pretty useful when other departments need to extract a BOM at any point in time of a project.

Report – Among

  • Copy the current report to the Clipboard, then paste it to your ERP, MRP application or use Excel as a bridge to communicate with other applications.
    • All the parts in the assembly
    • Only the currently displayed parts
    • Only the currently selected parts

    Report – Bill Of Materials

    Indented list of subassemblies and parts that shows a given part, along with the quantity, only once for each subassembly.

    Report – Exploded Bill Of Materials

    Indented list of subassemblies and parts that shows each part occurrence individually. This type of report is useful when occurrence-specific properties are of interest.

    Report – Summary Of Atomic Parts

    List of all unique atomic parts in the assembly. This type of report is useful when working with assemblies that contain subassemblies, but you do not want the subassemblies appearing in the parts list. The parts list that is generated will appear similar to a single-level assembly that does not contain subassemblies.

    Report – Parts List

    Lists all the parts and subassemblies in the top-level assembly. The parts in the subassemblies are not listed.

    Report – Expand Weldment Subassemblies

    Controls how weldment assemblies are treated in an assembly report. When you set this option, the parts in a weldment assembly are included in the report. When you clear this option, a weldment assembly is treated as a single component. Some companies treat a weldment assembly as a single component for assembly report purposes.

    Report – Format

    Formats helps users choose which properties need to be displayed, the column order, the sorting order etc….

    Report – Outputting the Report

    After previewing the report, you have the following options:

    • Save the current report
    • Print the current report
    • Copy the current report to the Clipboard, then paste it to your ERP, MRP application or use Excel as a bridge to communicate with other applications.
    • Create another report

    Annotation

    An essential part of the design process is adding text, notes, and annotations. Annotations are text and graphics that give information about the design. You can add annotations to a drawing, a part, or an assembly by using the text and annotation commands in the software.Annotations in 3D file are placed using PMI functionality.Different types of annotations are available (11). From the point of view of this article what interested us are those who have this Icon:

      Once this icon is clicked users have access to a whole range of way of retrieving properties from the 3D container (files).

    From Active Document

    Specifies that property values are retrieved from the active file.

    Variables From Active Document

    Specifies that property values are retrieved from variables in the Variable Table for the active file.

    Named Reference

    Specifies that property values are retrieved from the reference file currently highlighted in Parts.

    Index Reference

    Specifies that property values are retrieved from the history-based index of model files inserted into the drawing. You can see the sequence of inserted files in Parts. Index Reference provides access to top-level assembly information.

    From Graphic Connection

    Specifies that the property values are retrieved from one of the following:

    • If the annotation is connected to a part in a subassembly, information is retrieved from the subassembly.
    • If the annotation is connected to a part in a top-level assembly, it displays information from the part.

    From Graphic Connection provides access to top-level assembly information. In assembly documents, it retrieves property values from the top-level occurrence, whether the occurrence is an assembly or a part file.

    From Graphic Connection to Part

    Specifies that property values are retrieved from the part in which the annotation is connected.

    Properties

    List the available properties based on the active ratio button or the file selected from the top left corner.

    Manage property

    Even if you take good care of properties, it comes time to where we need to make batch modifications. Other situations involve assembly modification, creation of new property inside multiple parts at once etc….Tools to achieve this:

    • Physical property
    • Physical property manager
    • Property manager

    Manage property – Physical property

    Calculates physical properties for a part or assembly.

     From here, you can turn on the display of the Center of mass, center of the volume (assembly in this case). Once those are turned on, you can display them in draft and add dimensions to precisely locating them.

             

    Manage property – Physical property manager

    Allows you to view, edit, and manage the physical properties for all the parts in the active assembly. This can be useful because you can view and edit the physical properties for all the parts at once, rather than opening each part document to view and edit its physical properties.You can use the options on the Physical Properties Manager dialog box to assign or edit part properties for the material, density, and so forth. You can also add columns, sort, search on existing properties, print, and so forth. When you click the Update All button the physical properties changes you made are calculated for the parts and the assembly.When you save the assembly document, any physical property edits you made to the part documents are saved to the part documents.If the part documents are read-only, the physical properties cells for that part are displayed in a different background color to indicate that the properties are read-only for that part and cannot be edited.When you assign a material to a part using Physical Properties Manager, Solid Edge looks up the material properties for the material in the Material Table, and if a density has been defined for the material, the density value is automatically assigned in the density column.If any parts in the assembly do not have a density assigned, when you click the Update All button, the Unassigned Density dialog box is automatically displayed. You can select a default material for all the parts without a density, or assign a particular material to each part.You can use the Physical Properties command on the Inspect menu to specify whether the physical property symbols for center of mass location, center of volume location, and principal axis orientation are displayed.

    Manage property – Property manager

    Enables you to modify existing properties or create new properties for one or more Solid Edge documents.

    You can use Property Manager to edit the properties for the active document, a group of documents you define, or all the documents used in an assembly or assembly drawing.

    Property Manager uses a table-driven user interface that makes it easy to view and edit all the document properties for a group of documents at one time. This reduces the productivity burden that can occur if all the documents were individually opened and edited.Viewing all the document properties for a group of documents simultaneously also makes it easier to ensure that the document properties are defined completely and uniformly.What is interesting, the Property Manager can be launched from:

    • Part/sheet metal  file
    • Assembly file
    • Draft file.
    • From windows explorer through visualization and annotation

    Propsynch add-on

    This utility automates the process of generating custom property based on criteria set by the user.

    The other main advantage, is that it removes the human factor error when it comes time to enter standard values based on rules.

    This utility was developed originally by Mobius Technology inc. However, since it was merged with Designfusion, existing users of Solid Edge should contact Designfusion to get more detail about Propsynch.

    Well I believe I covered a lot of stuff in this one, some of ths stuff maybe know; many might be refresh and for those whoare not working with SE I hope it opened your mind about what SE has to offer in terms of properties management.

    Comments are well received.

    Feel free to join the yahoo group to extend the discussion about this topic.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/solid_dna

    1 Comment »

    1. Hi,

      That’s a pretty comprehensive article!

      Apologies for this blatant plug, but I thought our software might be of interest to readers of your article that don’t have a PDM system but want to search Solid Edge properties.

      We’ve developed a desktop search app for Solid Edge called PartBrowser. It indexes all the .par and .psm files on your PC and network and allows you to search through file and custom properties.

      There’s also a search-by-shape option for times when you can’t remember any textual data, but remember roughly the shape of a part.

      Anyone interested can try it for free from http://www.partbrowser.com

      We think it can really help people find parts quickly, especially for those with thousands of parts.

      Cheers,
      Andy

      Comment by Andrew Sherlock | 15 August 2008 | Reply


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