Posts Tagged ‘Solid Edge’

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Accelerate tool design with a few simple surfacing commands

Friday, September 14th, 2012

After completing a 3D model of your design, it may be necessary to design some custom tooling for manufacturing. Solid Edge provides some very simple surfacing commands to aid in the rapid generation of tool design. For example, you may have to design a custom dimple punch or a dimple punch and die set. Let’s assume that you have to design a tool to create the dimple shown here.

For this example, I will just illustrate how you can quickly design the face of the dimple tool. In a new part template, I use the Part-Copy command to insert the sheet metal part containing the dimple.

I will insert this as a construction body.

Notice that I have several other options available to me, if needed, in the Part Copy Parameters dialog.

From the inserted construction body, I can copy the inside faces of the dimple. I select the Copy Faces command from the Surfacing tab > Surfaces group.

I select all the inner faces of the dimple.

I then hide the construction body and I am left with the inside surface.

Next I create a symmetric protrusion which encompasses the surface.

I then select the Boolean command.

With the default subtract option selected; I select the surface as my tool.

I then select the direction that I wish to subtract, or remove the material, from the protrusion.

The protrusion is trimmed from the surface, as shown.

I now have a perfectly matched solid to the inner dimple face. I can now model the rest of the tool.

Using the same procedure I could create a matching die if necessary.

Many users are unaware of the powerful surfacing commands in Solid Edge. As shown above, these simple yet powerful commands can significantly accelerate your design process. If you would like to learn more about surfacing, we offer training in our advanced modeling class (http://www.designfusion.ca//advancedmodelingcourse.php) or you could try the self-paced training course online at http://www.solidedge.com/spt/en/ST5/spse01560/book.html.

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Creating insert notches in sheet metal

Thursday, May 17th, 2012conditions

Recently I was asked if Solid Edge had a special command for making insert notches in sheet metal. These notches are used to insert tabs or pins in various assemblies. The image below shows a few examples of the type of notches I refer too.

 

To create these notches and others like them, I always use the Bead command in the Solid Edge sheet metal environment. Although designed to create beads, it also creates open ended beads, which are notches. To do this you start with a sketch which represents the length of the bead. For example, I may need a 6.35mm (1/4 “) wide notch, so I create a 6.35mm sketch line.

Using the bead command options, I select the overall shape of the notch. For example, I may need a U-shaped notch 6.35mm high and 10mm wide.

Notice that I set a lanced end condition. I could also use a punched end condition which allows me to extend the cutout portion of the notch.

If this is a feature that I will use often, I can save the settings for easy recall in the future.

Once I say OK to the options dialog, I simply select the direction that I wish to apply the notch.

The resulting bead feature can be edited by adjusting the options or editing the sketch. It can also be added to a feature library.

So my answer to the original question:  “Does Solid Edge have a special command for making notches in sheet metal?” is yes. It’s called the Bead Command.

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Simplifying the placement of certain dimensions in Draft

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
faq

Recently I had a customer contact our support line, looking for an easier way to place some dimensions. He was self taught on Solid Edge and was attempting to place the following dimensions on a formed tube.

 

 He had figured out how to do this by creating and using extra sketches, but felt there should be an easier way to achieve his desired results. I walked him through the process, and felt that this would be a good tech tip to share.

To place the 2 dimension shown, do the following:

1. On the Sketching tab, in the IntelliSketch group, make sure that the intersection option is toggled on.

 

2. From the Home tab, in the Dimension group, select the Distance Between command.

 

  •  
    • - Make sure your option is set to Horizontal/Vertical on the command bar.

 

  •  
    • - Move the cursor over the bottom centerline so it highlights. DO NOT CLICK

 

  •  
    • - Now move the cursor over the angled centerline and hit the ‘I key’ on your keyboard. (I is for intersection)

 

  •  
    •  - Then move the cursor over to the vertical centerline and click.

 

  •  
    • - place the dimension.

 

Note: Hitting the ‘I key’, tells the system to find and select the intersection point between the 2 highlighted lines. If more than one intersection point is possible, a list window will appear allowing you to select the desired intersection point.

3. From the Home tab, in the Dimension group, select the Angle Between command.

 

  •  
    • - Make sure your option is set to Horizontal/Vertical on the command bar.

 

  •  
    • - Select the horizontal centerline at a non-keypoint.

 

  •  
    •  - Select the vertical centerline at a non-keypoint.

 

  •  
    • - Place the dimension.

 

Note: the trick here is to not select the lines at keypoints (endpoints or midpoints).

There are several hot keys and various command options, which assist in placing dimensions in sketches and draft files. Take the time to review the help section on each dimension command and you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

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Is Training Worth It? – Calculate your Return On Investment

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In today’s competitive market, businesses are looking to get the most out of their employees, systems, software and machines. With the ever changing technology, this can be somewhat challenging.  Too often companies will invest in new technology but not invest in the training on the new technology. The most common reasons for this are:

  • - I don’t have the time to take the training.
  • - I can’t afford the cost of the training.
  • - I can train myself for free.
  • - I train one employee and he/she can train the rest.
  • - I have a high staff turn over and it’s not worth training them.

As a trainer I have heard all these excuses and more. They all essentially evolve around cost. Therefore, it is important that companies look at both the ROI of professional training and the cost of not taking professional training.

How to calculate the ROI of professional training

To calculate the ROI, you need to determine the total cost of the training course and compare it to the total financial benefit derived from the course. The cost of the course can be determined as shown below:

Cost of course                   = $ 2000

Salary of employee           =  $1000

Travel & Living Expenses  = $1000

Total cost of course           = $4000

The financial benefit derived from the course can be a little harder to determine and often depends on the individual. Below is a one potential example;

Suppose John Smith attends a course on a CAM software package. In this course he learns new and faster methods to create programs. Assuming a modest 10% increase in his program generation skills, we can start calculating the financial benefit. If John makes $25 per hour and he works 50 weeks a year week, allowing 2 weeks for vacation, the company pays him $50,000. If he works 10% faster the company’s immediate savings is 50,000 x 0.10 = $5000. We can also assume that John’s programs will be more efficient, saving machine time, cutter wear, and possibly less manual finishing work. His improved knowledge may also lead to fewer errors in the programs, resulting in less scrap. You may also want to consider any extra profits obtained by the increase efficiency. In other words John will be able to produce 10% more work from which the company will profit. So in John’s example we can calculate the financial benefit as follows:

Estimated savings from improved output                     = $ 5000

Estimated savings from downstream operations         = $ 2000

Estimated savings from reduced rework and scrap   = $ 1000

Estimated additional profit from improved efficiency    = $ 2500

Total financial benefit                                  = $ 10500

Using the following formula to calculate the ROI,

Net gain (total benefit-total costs) = ____ X 100 =____
  total costs  

we get an ROI of 162.5. Clearly this would justify John taking the course, especially when you consider that the financial benefit estimates are very conservative.

You can also view this from another direction. What is the company’s cost if an employee doesn’t take professional training?

Cost of not taking training

Let’s assume that you hire a new designer. This designer has CAD experience but does not know your CAD system. You hand him\her a manual or some tutorials and have him\her learn the system on their own. From the previous example we can assume that you are saving $4000 dollars in training. But how much are you really saving?

Although estimates vary on the topic of study, many agree that 1 hour of professional training could be equal to as many as 16 hours of teaching yourself. In other words you could spend up to 2 days reading, experimenting and learning a process that a professional trainer could teach you in 1 hour. If we extend this model we have one week of professional training = 16 weeks of self teaching. The cost to the company at $25 per hour is:

640 hours (16 weeks) x $25  =  $16,000

You also have to factor in the lost time in production for 15 of those 16 weeks that the new designer is not producing because the are still trying to learn the software. Any mistakes made through this process will also have a ripple effect throughout the company, costing more time and money. You also have to consider lost production time from any experienced employees who may be mentoring the new employee. If the experienced employee spends an average of 20% of his time helping the new employee you will lose one full week of man hours in every 5 weeks.

So for a conservative estimate, let’s assume that a new employee can learn the CAD package in 10 weeks with some assistance from experienced employees. Each week the new employee improves his/her output by 10% per week. The cost to the company can be calculated as follows:

Cost of no productive work over 10 weeks is:

  New Employee Experienced Employee
Week 1 1000 200
Week 2 900 200
Week 3 800 200
Week 4 700 200
Week 5 600 200
Week 6 500 200
Week 7 400 200
Week 8 300 200
Week 9 200 200
Week 10 100 200

Total cost of lost production  =     5500  +  2000 

                                                  =     7500 

Remember you still have to factor in the cost of fixing any training errors and the downstream effect of each error. If we assume a modest 5 errors, at an average cost of $500 per error, this results in:

Total cost of lost production = 10,000

Keep in mind that the cost could be much higher depending on the new employee’s ability to teach him/her self, and how many errors are made in the process.

Finally, you’ll have to wonder if the self taught employee has learnt the most efficient use of the software. With today’s software there are often several methods to achieve the same desired results. Each method has advantages and disadvantages depending on downstream factors. Too often self taught individuals find one method to solve a problem and use it, without further investigation to see if a more efficient way exists.  A good professional trainer will teach the different methods highlighting the situations where each method is most efficient.

Other excuses

Some companies have chosen to train one employee and have him/her train the others. They look at this as a cost savings to the company. Although this may appear to save you money you have to factor in the cost of using the first employee as your trainer. Every time he/she is training other employees, he/she is not producing work. Plus the assumption is being made that this employee has learned and retained the same knowledge as the professional trainer. This is often a false assumption, leaving the company paying almost a similar cost for a lower standard of training.

I’ve saved my favorite excuse for last. Some companies will not pay for professional training because they have too high of a staff turn around. It has been proven time and again that stress levels rise in adults when they have to learn something new. If you combine the stress for self teaching with the daily stress of the workplace, you may be contributing to the staff turn around. By providing professional training in a setting designed for learning, the employee will learn, without the work stress, and return to work with the proper skills.

Conclusion

When you actually take the time to do an honest, realistic cost analysis, it quickly becomes clear that sending your employees for professional training is a good investment.  The above examples are very conservative, yet they clearly show the advantage to professionally training your staff. Although it may be difficult to free up time and money to provide professional training, the cost of not doing so will be greater in the long term.

A well-trained employee is more likely to be satisfied with the company he\she works for, which in many cases means he\she will be less likely to leave to find a job elsewhere.  The payback is not just in a few months or a year. Instead, it can be a lifetime of service and reduced operating costs.

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Non-graphic parts in Solid Edge assemblies

Friday, March 9th, 2012conditions

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 Application 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.

 Types of non-graphic parts

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, and 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 drag the part into the assembly.

 

Create a non-graphic part that uses units and value

This procedure shows you how to define custom properties for a non-graphic part that requires units, and a value for those units. Although no 3D model is required for these parts, they still need to be documented in a bill of materials or parts list. For example, you may require 4 liters of oil in an assembly.

Step 1. In the part document, choose Application menu→Properties→File Properties to open the Properties dialog box.
Step 2. On the Custom tab, in the Name box, type: SE_ASSEMBLY_QUANTITY_OVERRIDE.
Step 3. In the Type box, select Number from the list.
Step 4. In the Value box, type 0 (zero). Then click the Add button.                                                                                                                                 
Step 5. In the Name box, type: SE_ASSEMBLY_QUANTITY_STRING.
Step 6. In the Type box, select Text from the list.
Step 7. In the Value box, type the unit and number of decimal places you want. For example, Liters;4. Then click the Add button.           

Note:  You must separate the unit type and decimal places with a semi-colon (;). If the number of decimal places you want is 2, you do not need to enter a value for the decimal places.

To use the custom properties in an assembly, do the following:

Step 1. Place the part in the assembly.
Step 2. Select the part in the PathFinder tab or the graphics window, then on the shortcut menu, choose Occurrence Properties.
Step 3. On the Occurrence Properties dialog box, type the quantity value in the Quantity cell for the occurrence. Notice that the unit value you specified in the part document is displayed in the User-Defined Quantity column.

Tip:

  • - You can place a non-graphic part in an assembly without applying relationships by holding the SHIFT key, then dragging the part into the assembly.
  • - You can also set the quantity value using the Occurrence Properties button on the Place Part command bar.
  • - If you use many non-graphic parts at your company, you can create a template that has the non-graphic part custom properties defined.

 

Create a non-graphic part that is unit less

This procedure shows you how to define custom properties for a non-graphic part that does not require units. Although no 3D model is required for these parts, they still need to be documented in a bill of material or parts list. For example, you may require a small quantity of grease that on the parts list is documented “As Required”.

Step 1. In the part document, choose Application menu→Properties→File Properties to open the Properties dialog box.
Step 2. On the Custom tab, in the Name box, type: SE_ASSEMBLY_QUANTITY_OVERRIDE.
Step 3. In the Type box, select Number from the list.
Step 4. In the Value box, type 1 (one). Then click the Add button.                 
Step 5. In the Name box, type: SE_ASSEMBLY_QUANTITY_STRING.
Step 6. In the Type box, select Text from the list.
Step 7. In the Value box, type the constant text you want. For example: As Required. Then click the Add button.                                                       

 

To use the custom properties in an assembly, do the following:

  • - Place the part into the assembly. The “As Required” property is automatically recognized in the Occurrence Properties dialog box. To review the part’s properties, select the part in the PathFinder tab or the graphics window, then on the shortcut menu, choose Occurrence Properties.

Tip:

  • - You can place a non-graphic part in an assembly without applying relationships by holding the Shift key, then dragging the part into the assembly.
  • - If you use many non-graphic parts at your company, you can create a template that has the non-graphic part custom properties defined.

 

Set part properties in an assembly

  1.  Click a part or subassembly in the assembly.
  2.  Right-click, then choose Occurrence Properties on the shortcut menu.
  3.  In the Occurrence Properties dialog box, set the options you want to use.

 Tip:

  • - You can also set the part properties with the Occurrence Properties command on the shortcut menu when a part or subassembly is selected.
  • - When you select the top level assembly entry in PathFinder, then click the Occurrence Properties command, the entire assembly structure is displayed in a bill of materials format. You can use the (+) and (-) symbols to expand and collapse the assembly structure.
  • - When you select one or more parts or subassemblies, the selected occurrences are displayed in a table format that cannot be expanded or collapsed.
  • - If you need to change the properties of a subassembly, you must first check out all subassemblies where the occurrence properties are being modified. Then the documents can be saved and checked back in to Teamcenter.

*Text passages taken from Solid Edge Help files.

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New to ST4 – a positioning relationship command: Range Offset

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
faq

Now an offset can be created to control the range of allowable motion in relationships such as mate, planar align, axial align and more. This can be particularly useful when you wish to control or limit the motion of moving components. It allows you to prevent over extension, or collisions, of parts.

How to set a range offset

In the following example we want to set a range of allowable motion for the hydraulic cylinder, which controls the handle movement.

 

Step 1:       Apply assembly relationships as normal.

  • - Here we created an axial align and mate relationships, to position the moving part of the cylinder.

 

Step 2:       Edit the mate offset.

  • - Select the “Mate” relationship from PathFinder . Notice that it is a fixed relationship set at 20 mm.

 

  • - Click on the “Fixed” icon and change it to range as shown.

 

Note:  The “Range” toolbar appears showing first the current position (20mm) and then the range which starts at zero to 20.

  • - Set the range value. In this example, we changed the 20mm value to 50mm and select “Enter”.

 

Note:  You have to use the Enter key or it will not take the entry.

Step 3:       Test the range setting.

  • - Select the drag component command and use the “Freeform Move” option.

 

  • - Drag the black handle back and forth and notice that motion is limited by the range that you set.

 

  • - The handle now has a 50 mm range of motion.

Note:  Range offsets are not intended to be used for geometric tolerances, as over constrained components can occur.

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