What Synchronous Technology Is—and Why You Can’t Ignore It
Kyle Maxey posted on November 18, 2015 |
Synchronous Technology may be hard to explain, but once you get it you know you're working with a more powerful design tool.

Synchronous Technology may be hard to explain, but once you get it, you know you're working with a more powerful design tool.

Siemens’s Synchronous Technology (ST) has been included in the company’s Solid Edge software since 2008. But despite its being a powerful modeling tool, it continues to lag behind market leaders. While the reasons can be debated, the most quoted are lack of marketing, sales channel (or lack thereof) and market inertia. Never are the technical merits cast in doubt.

What is Synchronous Technology?

First off, ST is a blend of history-based and history-free modeling.

In the past, history-based modeling created organized, hierarchical models that brought design intent to CAD models that previously were as dumb as dirt. What a blessing . . . and eventually a curse.

Synchronous Technology makes designing parts faster, easier and more intuitive.

Synchronous Technology makes designing parts faster, easier and more intuitive.

With a hierarchical, history-based design approach, radical changes (and sometimes even minor ones) could destroy a model, leaving the designer with two choices. On the one hand, they could painstakingly retrace all of their feature relationships, untying them (and letting their geometry possibly go wonky) until they got to a place where they could redesign the part. On the other hand, a designer could start from scratch and build the part anew.

Both outcomes required extensive rebuilding. That’s what I would call a wicked curse.

But it is a curse that ST has lifted.

Rather than being a completely history-free, direct modeling environment, ST is a new way to interact with history-based modeling.

Once a sketch is made, any piece of bounded geometry can be pulled and pushed to create a 3D feature. After an initial piece of 3D geometry has been extruded, further sketches can be made on top of the 3D feature (the sides of a sketch can also be bounded by the edge of a solid, meaning no edges need to be converted and sketching can happen quickly) and then pulled and pushed to make even further modifications to a part. As one would expect, any of these features can also be rotated and bent to add complexity to a design on the fly.

What’s most amazing about all of this is that all of these interactions happen without the use of normal CAD tools. Synchronous Technology actually detects what actions are relevant to a sketch and feature by detecting where the cursor is in the design environment. If a user is hovering over a feature, they’ll have the ability to manipulate it whichever way they’d like. If they’re hovering over a sketch, they’ll be able to give it a push or a pull. The same is true for elements within a sketch.

So What Does This Mean for Designers?

Well, it means that designers can take an idea from sketch to model in the blink of an eye without worrying about design intent. 

But designers’ lack of worry isn’t based on the fact that they’ve given up on design intent; it’s because the design intent is built into the nature of ST. That’s why it’s able to behave the way it does.

Beyond making parts that are built from scratch, ST has the ability to capture and modify the data in models that were built using a history-based package. Whether designers need to modify the elements in a pattern, extrude an already established element or remove a design flaw, ST can pull information from a part and allow designers to make modifications.

So, just as a quick recap, here’s why you can’t ignore Synchronous Technology:

·         ST minimizes the time you have to be in “sketch mode”

·         Once you’ve got a sketch you can turn it into a 3D object with content aware commands

·         Editing an existing design is simple and only requires clicking on a feature to isolate it and make it ready for any modification

Users will appreciate using Solid Edge primarily because of the design freedom that ST provides. You can design without the CAD program getting in the way. It’s really that good. 

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