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October 19, 2008



Having gone thru a couple of years with the history vs non-history debate (and to me, the jury's still out there somewhere), I am pretty much inclined to agree with Kevin about the bigger picture issues such as acutal ROI and the real cost of switching one 3D solution for another.

Gone are the days (when I was too young to witness but heard lots of) where some AE from PTC would just create an extruded cube, change it to a boomerang and then cylinder just by tweaking some parameters and the crowd would go wild and pull out their chequebooks unquestioningly.

These days, its more than just that one or two "wow" factor which will truly convince many an organisation to drop its existing solution for another. While I've just seen snippets of ST personally and it does seem intriguing to me on a personal level, ST in itself does not address the larger design-through-mfg issue which I face on a day to day basis as a design manager. Not to mention issues such as my existing data which took years to reach its current state and so forth. What's going to happen to things like legacy data? Or the data that's locked up within the PDM vault? Will I have to retrain all my users all over again, having taken some time to get them to this level of profeciency in my current software? The list just goes on and on.

I will continue, as I've done so in these years of being exposed to CAD, to keep an open mind.


I would expect engineers to use Kepner Tragoe analysis, or some other systematic decision making process to evaluate their CAD software selections.

I'd be curious to see how non-history based compares to history based modeling technologies.

While I'm interested in non-history based modeling technologies, I would want a seamless, hybrid approach that allows a mix of history (parametric) and non-history (direct editing) in the same model. This does not appear to be what ST is offering.

I also appears that ST is currently only suitable for editing of prismatic models. Does it support editing of complex geometry (sweeps, lofts, etc.)?

Jon Banquer

"I think there are some promoting ST in a very polarised manner as it may suit their own style of working, that's fair enough, but it does not suit everybody."

SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor, etc. can't work with non-naive solids and modify them in an easy and efficient manner. With history based products like this you often have no choice but to remodel the part.

Solid Edge with ST solves this problem.

My "style" says that I need to have a CAD system where I can easily modify a part model or assembly quickly and efficiently to make the part manufacturable / make the part manufacturable for less cost.

My "style" is to find a way to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible and in the case of non-native solid models that rules out Pro-E, SolidWorks, Inventor, etc.

Jon Banquer
San Diego, CA

Kevin Quigley

I'm following the ST stuff with interest as a long time user of both history based and non history applications. I think there are some promoting ST in a very polarised manner as it may suit their own style of working, that's fair enough, but it does not suit everybody. There is no way on the planet that the masses of users of SolidWorks or Pro/E or other systems like Inventor are going to switch to ST based SolidEdge or NX. Why? Cost. In the UK, SolidEdge is something like £5500 a seat base compared to £4000 for SolidWorks or even less for Inventor if you already use Autocad. For the majority of users apps like SolidWorks or Inventor are more than adequate for the job - even the same apps 2 or 3 years ago would have been.
Very few small businesses look at ROI because ROI is one of those things that CAD companies invent to tailor to their own methodologies. I could easily argue that the ROI for the time saved manipulating the feature tree in Solid Edge is insignificant compared to the time saved getting a new computer, or updating the broadband connection, or internal network, or updating the CAM system to a better solution with more optimised cutting paths, or even updating the CNCs or buying new cutting tools etc etc.

You see CAD does not make money unless you are in the business of selling CAD services. For most SMEs CAD is a means to getting the job done. SMEs prefer to spend on things that will give tangible benefits immediately - like - if I am sub contracting out £50k of laser cutting a year I buy a laser cutter.

Do Siemens really think the wrold is going to go ST mad? The only way that will happen will be if they license it. Which I think will happen once they see the sales figures for SE and NX remain on the steady path rather the meteoric slope they seem to be suggesting.

R. Paul Waddington

Following on from comments in your earlier posting, this post raises a very important point.
I can accurately say I have NEVER seen any user move into Inventor, or to AutoCAD Mechanical, based on a thorough analysis including ROI; none have checked their ROI or assess their 'returns/value on the run'.
In the main selections are based on a feeling of being left behind, the 'glitz' value, untruthful promises, or thought distorting 'up-grade' offers.
Maybe Jon has a point about aggression, maybe Solid Edge guys need to point out, to users of other systems, just how silly their selections may have been: but they will need to be able to back it up with genuine ROI data.
If excess money is not to be made no change, however good, will be made; think face ;-0

Matt Lombard


I'm trying to follow your advice. I'm not making a spreadsheet, but a series of blog posts on various topics that you need to think about before making an informed rational decision about the new direct editing tools.

As for the election, around here in Virginia there are hundreds of placards that say "I'm voting for the chick!" Shallow, but at least they're honest.

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