Solid Edge Frame Design for ST10 totes the standard array of features needed to layout a typical frame. The interface is consistent with the Solid Edge UI, and while useful, generally requires a bit of training to get the most out of it. I needed to put together a chimney cap using some leftover square tube steel I had. Some funky sheet metal hips would be involved so why not use CAD. I thought I’d crank up Solid Edge Frame Design and see how the features have progressed into ST10.

Rather than spend a week pounding out all the details of the software, I decided to do an overview in a couple of parts. This way you get the big picture with my observations, and it doesn’t end up being a 5 thousand word essay.

Basic Frame Generation

I created a basic frame for my cap using assembly sketching, rather than a skeleton part. I like assembly sketching for top-down models, and think the feature is really useful in this type of layout.

The Solid Edge Frame Design workflows are accessed through the Tools tab of the menu. Once selected, the User interface (UI) is placed in a frame design mode. The interface remains largely the same: the user is left in the weldment model space, but the Frame [generation] button is added to the Home menu, and the Frame Components header is added to the Assembly Browser. When in this mode the frame interaction functionality is turned on.

Solid Edge Frame Design

Figure 1: Basic frame layout

Picking the Frame [Generation] button above starts the process.  The Frame Options dialog appears (Figure 2), allowing users to configure the Frame Group as desired. Everything here is reasonably straight forward, but it might be useful to realize how Siemens PLM was envisioning the tool. I’m still trying to figure all that out.

Figure 2 : Frame Options Dialog. (Notice the Preferred Frame Orientation and Corner Treatment Options. These are plane oriented, and determine how joints will be oriented. Watch the graphic they offer as you pick the 3 options; it becomes rather self-explanatory, and should give an experienced frame welder enough information to choose the joints they prefer.)

Beyond the standard corner treatment options, there is an “Options” button at the lower right. This hides a handful of things that are largely legacy oriented. I’ll leave these to each user’s review. One interesting option is Coping for Non-mitered joints, where the system will trim a frame member around another frame, rather than a miter. This is another area where the Group concept comes up, which I will discuss later.

Frame Segment Selection

After confirming the group options, the user is directed to select the guiding entities to shape the frame creation. Chain works well if your sketching was well thought out. Single works just fine too, in case it wasn’t.  Users can select their frame cross-section shapes at this time. I tried rectangular, angle iron, and square tube. There were not as many sizes as I would have hoped. In addition, I did not notice a custom size option.

Figure 3: Frame Sketch Selection. Notice the The Frame Creation Toolbar near the top with four main options: Selection, Cross Section, End Treatment, and Shape.

From here is may be possible to adjust the cross-section lineup and end treatments, but I prefer to get the frame built and saved before monkeying with the finer details; I’m emotionally scarred from too many crashed CAD files in my past.

Solid Edge Frame Design

Figure 4: Frame members being created

Once the selection process is completed and the Finish button is selected, the members are created, organized into groups, and collected under the Frame Components header in the browser at left (Figure 5). Notice how the miters in the upper section are not quite right. I’ll go over this and explain the grouping in the next part.

Solid Edge Frame Design

Figure 5: Frame Component Collection example

Conclusion

My initial impressions of using Solid Edge Frame Design for ST10 are mixed. The basic needs of frame design are there. Solid Edge is great at recovering after sketches are modified. While this is a basic requirement for any CAD software, some do it better than others. Thus far in my testing, any alterations of the framework result in a good rebuild of the frame. Moreover, the end treatments that were developed are rebuilt automatically.

There are plenty of user interface features that, in good Solid Edge fashion, are available, but you just have to know how to get to them.  As for the funky looking miters, well, I’ve yet to see any frame design software that gets them all correct automatically. CAD software is about as good at reading my mind as I am at reading my wife’s.

When we return, I’ll look at grouping and how Solid Edge deals with these, and we’ll move on to modifying and tuning the frame. Hopefully I’ll discover how to get a better (proper) end treatment in some of the obscure joints.