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Solid Edge: Learn The Basics in 1 Hour

Solid Edge logo, Scan2CAD logo

Solid Edge is a drafting and solid modeling CAD program that offers tools for mechanical design, electrical design, simulation, manufacturing, and collaboration. It is owned by Siemens PLM software. Solid Edge is a multifaceted software that is used by both large and small scale industries. The program has a wide range of applications and highly functional features that make it the choice of many professionals. However, these also make it complex for first-time users, regardless of their knowledge in CAD. If you are a first time Solid Edge user, we at Scan2CAD have created this article with precise information that would help you understand and seamlessly navigate Solid Edge as a first time user. We would start by giving you a brief explanation of its capabilities, before exploring the software’s GUI (Graphical User Interface), and proceeding to basic modeling. You would learn the basics in a little as 1 hour.

Solid Edge capabilities

The primary step in learning a program is knowing what it can do. Solid Edge’s capabilities/features are divided into mechanical design, electrical design, simulation, data management, technical publications, cloud-based collaboration, and CAM. 

Mechanical design

The software’s mechanical design features enable you to create various 3D mechanical designs in a flexible user interface. This improves users’ product design using the adaptive user interface capabilities that utilize AI technology to predict the next design step. 

Electrical design 

Solid Edge offers solutions for electrical design. It enables you to design and simulate different electrical systems, route wiring and place their corresponding components, and create 2D industrial control panel layouts. You can also examine your models to ensure accurate wire lengths and harness design, and use virtual simulation to make sure the circuitry performs correctly. The program facilitates users to visualize the electrical aspect of their designs and collaborate between MCAD and ECAD domains. 

Simulation 

The simulation feature allows the simulation of assembly analysis and definition and analysis of complete systems. This feature also saves you a lot of money and design time as there is no need for a physical prototype. 

Data management 

The data management solution is for both large and small projects. It ensures secure storage of data and effortless retrieval and sharing of the data.

Technical illustrations 

This capability enables users to generate high-quality illustrations from 3D models, open, save, and revise data from the developer’s PLM solution. You can make use of the digital twin, to make sure that all the changes made in the original design are seamlessly incorporated into the existing publications. 

Cloud-based collaboration 

Solid edge cloud collaboration enhances communication among team members and customers. Team members are able to work on a design simultaneously as changes made on the design are synchronized in the cloud. You can also review your designs in augmented reality on your mobile device. 

CAM

With Solid Edge, manufacturers can prepare their models for different manufacturing processes such as welding, CNC manufacturing, bending, assembling, nesting, and additive manufacturing. You acquire a high level of quality in designs in a short time. 

Before you get started 

There are some important things you need to know about Solid Edge before we head to the interface. Solid edge has various file types depending on what you want to design. There is the par file format for the creation of parts, with the .par extension; asm file format, which used when designing assemblies with the .asm file extension; psm file format, for sheet metal design with the .psm file format; and pwd file format, used in the creation of weldments with the .pwd extension. 

Launch screen

Immediately after you launch the program, you are welcomed with its launch screen. The launch screen may appear either almost blank with the application menu icon at the top (though rarely) or with the application menu already open.

At the top left corner of the screen is the application menu icon which is already open at launch. The application menu contains various options such as Learn, through which you can watch some tutorials videos; New Menu, a toolbar that is used to when you want to start a new document; Open, to open existing documents; the Print toolbar, used when you want to do basic printing of samples or printing or 3D models; the Share toolbar; Settings, for making basic or customized settings in the software; the Tools toolbar, for customization of your tools; the Info toolbar; and finally, exit. 

In the middle of the screen are the various workbenches opened from the new option. There is the new workbench, where you use the traditional design templates to create your designs; ISO metric Part workbench, for creating of parts; ISO metric sheet metal, for sheet metal design; ISO metric assembly, for the creation of machine assemblies; ISO metric draft, for generating drafts from 3D models; and ISO metric weldments, a special feature that shows the weldments of parts and assemblies. 

Solid Edge launch screen

Solid Edge launch screen (Source)

Getting started 

As mentioned earlier, Solid Edge has different workbenches such as ISO metric part, ISO metric draft, ISO metric assembly, and others. We would be using the ISO metric part design template for this tutorial. You should note that the interfaces of the workbenches are somewhat similar to each other. Before starting your design you would need to set your units. To do this, go to the application menu. Go to settings and then, options. Click on units to make various changes to your specifications. 

The unit settings interface

The unit settings interface (Source)

To start a new project, click on the application menu icon at the top of the screen, if it’s not already open, then go to new. You would be presented with the various workbenches. Select the ISO metric part design. The part design GUI (graphical user interface) would be open and displayed on your screen.

Part design interface 

At the top of the screen is the quick access toolbar, which contains commands such as save and redo and the name of the environment opened. Just below the name of the environment opened, which is part of this case, is the ribbon. This is where the tools required for modeling, visualizing, editing, and simulating are located. The ribbon is divided into different menus and the menus into tabs. The first is the home menu.

Under the home menu from the left is the clipboard. The clipboard is used for copying, cutting, pasting, and other basic editings. Then the select tool, which is for the easy selection of elements for modifications. The plane toolbar is for inserting planes such as parallel or perpendicular planes. 

The sketch tab is for the creation of 2D and 3D drawings. You can create sketches using commands such as lines, arcs, tangent, rectangle, circle, polygon, ellipse, spline, and many others. 

The Solids toolbar. This toolbar helps in the transformation of 2D drawings to 3D models. It has various options such as extrude, cut, changer, resolve, resolved cut, hole, round, draft, and thin wall. 

Others from home are the pattern toolbar, used for creating various patterns and for mirroring; dimensions, for the dimensioning of your drawings and application of constraints; and the switch window option for easy transition between workspaces.

Other menus on the Ribbon are surfacing, PMI, simulation,  generative design, 3D print, inspect, tools, view, and data management. 

The middle of the screen is the drawing area where all the sketches, 3D modeling, and other processes are done. This occupies the highest percentage of the screen. 

The left side of the screen is the pathfinder. The pathfinder displays all the elements and the history of your design. It transitions between the synchronous and ordered environment when designing a part. 

On the right side of the screen, you’d find the featured library tab, solid edge community link, help, featured library, and engineering reference where you can get standard engineering parts such as gears.

At the bottom of the screen is the prompt bar that displays messages and prompts related to the commands selected. Beside the bar is the command bar with which you can locate commands on the windows. This toolbar is very useful for users who are not totally familiar with the interface. Beside this is the view toolbar which contains various commands such as zoom area, zoom, fit, pan rotate, sketch view for changing the views of your design, and a scroll wheel for zooming in and out. There is also a record button provided if you want to record your design process and a direct link to YouTube for uploading. Just above the view toolbar is the quick view cube. For easily navigating all the views of a 3D design. 

Part design interface

Part design interface (Source)

Design and modeling

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the various tools and commands on the interface, let’s go over some basic modeling. The first stage of the design of any model, no matter how basic or complex, is sketching.

To start the sketch, go to the home menu and click on the sketch icon in the sketch tab. Select a plane for your design. As soon as you select the plane, the sketch tab opens displaying tools like lines, rectangles, circles, splines, and others. Select the command you desire, let’s say a rectangle, then go ahead to the drawing area, click then drag to a length. Go to the dimensions toolbar to add constraints to the sketch. When you are done sketching, close the sketch tab then head to the solids toolbar to make your sketch 3D and edit it using commands such as extrude, hole, chamfer, and many others. Viola! you now know the basics. 

Conclusion

While this article doesn’t transform you into a Solid Edge guru, it gives you the very solid foundation you need to go on to become one. After you’ve learned the basics, there are other functions and processes you’ll need to learn to be able to design a completely functional part or assembly. We have provided some links to further your learning. 

  • This Solid Edge tutorial is from Siemens. They teach you according to your selected level of experience, whether beginner, intermediate or higher. 
  • You can also take courses on Solid Edge from Udemy
  • Solid Edge tutorial videos and files provided by Solid Mastermind.

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