Posts Tagged ‘Training’

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NX – Create a family of standard parts (Excel)

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Design Intent:  The most common use of Part Families is to define a standard library part that has many variations.

     1.  Create an hexbolt  

     2.  Rename the expression that you want to keep

             a: Width = the radius of the cap

             b: Length = length of screw

     3.  Define the columns for the Family Table.

 >Choose Tools→Part Families from the main menu bar.

 >Make sure the Importable Part Family Template option is  cleared.

 >Click OK on the Warning dialog box.

 >Select the width expression from the top window of the Part Families dialog box.

 >Click the Add Column button.

 >Select the lenght expression from the top window of the Part Families dialog box.

 >Click the Add Column button.

Note:  Instead of choosing, Add Column, you could just double-click on the expression name in the Available Columns list, i.e. head_dia.

> Change the option menu at the top of the dialog box from Expressions to Features.

> Double-click chamfer from the top list of the Part Families dialog box.

Note:  The order in which you select the attributes determines the order of columns in the spreadsheet.

Tip:  In production, you would specify a writable folder for the Family Save Directory, but it is not necessary for this activity since you are not creating Part Family Member files.

     4.  Create the family table.

  > Click the Create button from the bottom portion of the Part Families dialog box.


 > Type in a few values

    5.  Verify a family member

 > Select a cell in row 3.

 > From the spreadsheet ADD-INS menu bar, choose PartFamily→Verify Part.

The NX session becomes active and the family member is displayed in the graphics window.

 > Click Resume in the Part Families dialog box.

Warning:  The Part Families dialog box may be obscured, if so, click anywhere in the NX window.

     6.  Save the Part Family and the template part.

 > From the spreadsheet menu bar, choose PartFamily→Save Family.

Note:  The Save Family option internally stores the spreadsheet data within the template part file. It does not save the template part file itself.

Note:  In order to save the template part containing this newly created Part Family Spreadsheet, you would also choose File→Save.

Since we do not use this part anywhere else we are not going to do that.

     7.  Close all parts.

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.


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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New Parts List Architecture

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012report

In Solid Edge ST2, Parts Lists were redesigned to take advantage of the user table architecture. The new architecture was needed to meet the demands of our customers. In this first release of this new Parts List command, just under 250 customer requests were implemented, and many more have been added in ST3 and ST4. Below is a list of highlights followed by some example of the new capabilities.


 The new Parts List architecture allows you to:

  • - Edit Item Numbers from Parts List, not just from balloons
  • - Combine Multiple Properties in Single Column
  • - Comments Columns – User defined text
  • - Split Parts List among Multiple Sheets
  • - Sort on Hidden Columns
  • - Manual Reorder Columns and Rows
  • - Resize Columns in Graphic Display
  • - Placement via cursor
  • - Title/Footer
  • - Display an exploded list of the BOM
  • - Display level based item numbers with the exploded list
  • - Indent any column to aid in the showing of sub-assemblies
  • - Derive item number from the assembly
  • - Display Mass property as Mass of single item, and Mass of total occurrences of the item
  • - Frame data display enhanced to allow for distinction of frames based on cut length, mass, and miter
  • - Align and control style of table titles
  • - Control column headers
  • - Merge column headers
  • - Rotate column headers
  • - Turn on Cell Aspect Ratio adjustment
  • - Format the font for any cell
  • - Override disabled cells
  • - Insert user defined rows
  • - Merge vertical cells with same value
  • - Plus more ….



The following are just a few examples of some of the new capabilities in the new Parts List architecture.



Example 1: How to add a title to the Parts List

 To add a title to your Parts List you must first go to the “Title” tab and click on the Add Title icon.

In the Title text field, type the title that you wish to use – for example Solid Edge Parts List.

 You can also control how the title is formatted by adjusting the following settings:

Position – Specifies the position for the title within the table. You can place a title at the top of the table (Header option), at the bottom (Footer option), and in ‘Both’ locations.  Select ‘Neither’ from the list if you do not want to use the title in the table.

Font – Specifies the font to apply to the currently selected table title. All installed fonts are available.

 Font style – Specifies the font style to apply to the currently selected table title. The options are Regular, Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic.

 Font size – Specifies the text size of the currently selected table title.

 Alignment – Adjusts the horizontal alignment of the currently selected table title text. The options are Left, Center, and Right. The default is for text to be centered.

 Underline – Applies underline to the currently selected table title text.

 Adjust text to title width – When checked, automatically adjusts the aspect ratio of the title text when the length of the text exceeds the cell width. Changing the aspect ratio only changes the text width, not its height. The effect of selecting this check box is to shorten the text string to fit the column width; text is never lengthened to fit the column width.

Use this option to prevent text from wrapping within a cell in a title block.

For this example I set the following settings:

  • - Font = Arial Black
  • - Font size = 7.00mm
  • - Toggle on Underline


Below is how this would appear on my Parts List.



Example 2: How to modify individual columns

In this example I wish to rotate the header of the ‘Quantity’ column and merge any cells that have the same quantity, while maintaining my item number order. To do this I first go to the Columns tab, and select the Column that I wish to modify – for example ‘Quantity’.

To rotate the header, select the ‘Format Cells’ button, beneath the header ‘Text:’ field, and change the Orientation to Rotated

I then toggle on ‘Adjust text to column width’ and hit OK.

Notice that when this is applied, the header is rotated and column width is adjusted appropriately.

To merge like cells, toggle on “Merge vertical cells with same value”

If you wish to center the cell’s data, click the adjacent “Format Cells”  button and set both Horizontal and Vertical alignment to ‘Center’ and click OK.

Below is an example of how these changes would appear when applied.



Example 3: Creating indented item numbers

In this example I wish to create an exploded BOM and have the Item Numbers indented to illustrate the parts belonging to the sub-assemblies. To do this I select the Columns tab. Next I select the Item Number, from the Columns list, and click on the ‘Format Cells’ button. Under the Horizontal alignment I select Indent. 


Next I go to the List Control tab.


Here you will select the type of list you want, in this case an ‘Exploded list’. Under the Global settings, change the settings to match those shown below.

You can preview the results on the Data tab. Notice the indent item numbers for assembly number 1.




The new Parts List architecture has allowed the Solid Edge development team the ability to add a tremendous amount of user control to Parts List creation. For more information view the ‘Parts List’ section found in the Solid Edge Help documents.


New training schedule announced for the first half of 2012

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

If your New Year’s resolution is to improve your Solid Edge skills, then this is the article for you. We have released our new training schedule for the first half of 2012. The schedule includes some new course offerings, along with our traditional courses. Below is a brief description of each Solid Edge course along with a link to a more detailed outline.

Solid Edge Fundamentals (4 days) or Solid Edge Fundamentals Plus (5 days)

This is our introductory course for any novice user. The first four days cover both ordered and synchronous part modeling, assemblies, and drafting. The 5th day is optional and covers sheet metal modeling. For more information follow this link

Solid Edge ST4 Update Course (2 days)

This is our “What’s New in ST4 course”. It focuses on introducing the experienced user to the popular enhancements in our latest release of Solid Edge. For more information follow this link

Advanced Solid Edge Modeling (3 days)

This is one of our newer courses. It’s designed to improve the users’ modeling skills by introducing them to surface modeling, along with advanced modeling tools. Many of the techniques taught in this course have been included based upon queries we have received from our technical support line. For more information follow this link

Advanced Solid Edge Assembly (3 days)

This course is for the more experienced user, who wants to improve his knowledge in working with assemblies. It focuses on improving the user’s assembly design skills and introduces many advanced assembly design tools. For more information follow this link

Solid Edge Synchronous Technology Course (4 days)

This is our newest course, and is designed for our traditional users who have yet to learn the new synchronous paradigm. Its focus will be on showing the difference between ordered and synchronous modeling and how to use both paradigms to improve your design productivity. For more information follow this link

All of our courses are designed in house, by a certified trainer of adults, and are unique to Designfusion.

All of our instructors are SETA certified and come from a CAD/CAM industry background with many years of experience.

For our course schedule, please visit the following web sites:

English courses in Canada:

French courses in Canada:

Courses in the USA:

For further inquires, including requests for quotes, please contact your local Account Manager. You can also contact the appropriate inside sales representative listed below:

English Canada:      Rose Francella at

French Canada:       Lily Brault at

USA:                           Sarah Pritsch at

Remember, it is estimated that 1 hour of an instructor led course is equivalent to 16 hours of teaching yourself. Students, who have attended our courses, see immediate benefits for themselves and their companies.

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