Solid Edge kicks off user conference with ST6

Solid Edge University 2013 showcases the new Solid Edge ST6 with productivity enhancements, sheet metal tools, surfacing improvements, and collaboration.

SolidEdgeUniversity2013For the last three years Siemens PLM has been making good on its pledge to build, support, and expand Solid Edge as a part of the Siemens PLM family of products. Not that the company ever said it wouldn’t do such a thing, but for a while there, Solid Edge was undeniably neglected as Siemens concentrated on the opportunities for PLM among large enterprise companies and to improve the company’s own productivity in manufacture and design.

As the company kicked off its Solid Edge University on June 24, and celebrated the introduction of Solid Edge ST6, those dark days were resolutely shoved into the past. The conference comes as an answer to the prayers of the Solid Edge team as well as their customers and according to reports, the event has a real “we made this” feel to it.

This year’s conference showcased the latest version, Solid Edge ST6. The company claims increased productivity for surfacing, sheet metal, simulation, and analysis. The company’s Synchronous Technology (ST) is also credited with increasing productivity as it enables designers to import and re-use files. Importing files is now faster using ST.

Synchronous Technology provides a bridge between direct modeling and parametric modeling. It’s a key part of the company’s engine for Solid Edge and NX, enabling better collaboration between Siemens PLM products, and between Siemens’ design tools and those of competitors. Increasingly, designers are using hybrid workflows that put easy-to-use direct modeling tools into PLM systems. It’s an industry-wide trend, and  it’s especially valuable in the mid-range SMB market where Solid Edge is playing. People are using Solid Edge, SolidWorks, Inventor, and AutoCAD and they may well be collaborating with people who are using Siemens NX, Dassault’s Catia, and PTC’s Creo, in the enterprise. There is a need for model exchange between different products and customers are demanding it. ST was actually one of the first, and most practical responses to customer demand.

The focus for this year’s Solid Edge University is on designing products and getting them to market faster, says Solid Edge General Manager Karsten Newbury. That translates to improved assembly design. But, collaboration and communication are also key as Solid Edge grows. Solid Edge ST6 includes a new YouTube docking pane so that users can quickly record, upload, and share a modeling session. The pane will also offer a doorway for users to look up other videos and go to discussions, tutorials, and expert advice on the brand new Solid Edge Community.

Options and Partners

There were several announcements of strategic partnerships for Solid Edge as well. Luxion’s Keyshot is integrated in ST 6 and they’re working with GrabCAD for online viewing. Solid Edge also has a Share Point component named Solid Edge SP obviously enough.

Support for mobile devices is becoming a must-have for designers. The Solid Edge viewer is keeping up with added support for Android tablets and the popular iPad mini.

Our take

The event is happening as this is being written. We’ll follow up with  more detail. It’s striking however, to see how cheerfully aggressive the Solid Edge is. They’re taking clear aim at their mid-range competitors. The Siemens and Solid Edge folks been emphasizing the opportunity they see among SolidWorks users who are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the determination of Dassault to shift SolidWorks to Dassault’s V6 technology. Well, that’s what the Siemens PLM people say and hope. There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on there. We’ve commented before that so far, the SolidWorks community has demonstrated a willingness to trust Dassault not to do damage to their workflow. And do you know why? Because it would be crazy to damage a half-billion dollar business like SolidWorks. Dassault is a lot of things, and I suspect there are plenty of contributors to this site who have their own adjectives, but calling them crazy would be a mistake.

Who cares, though? This is Solid Edge week and Siemens sees the mid-range CAD industry as the land of opportunity. Solid Edge has grown faster than its competitors in the space. That’s partly because Solid Edge has had some catching up to do, but it’s also because there is plenty of opportunity in the mid-range and the Solid Edge people are going for it.

It’s significant, we think, that Solid Edge director Dan Staples told the audience: we want to be, hands down, the best mechanical assembly design system. No qualification, not for Siemens, not in the mid-range, but the best.