PLM Europe is an annual conference, centered around Siemens PLM product line. Most of presenters are from Siemens PLM, showing the new features of the software and further development areas. There are also software partners and customers, showcasing the add-ons and examples of software use.
Here I would share the things I found interesting and will give some comments regarding presented features. My overview covers mostly NX CAD.
At the beginning, the tendencies in innovative technologies were presented, and Siemens PLM portfolio was shown to support the needs of these technologies and of today’s devices.
This was mainly related to three topics:
- Digitization of early stages of product development
- System-driven product development
- So-called “Digital twin”, which is mainly about production simulation in Technomatix
One more thing I have noticed is that most of the demonstrations are shown with the use of Active Workspace. I did not have opportunity to try it yet, but it looks much faster and user-friendly than classic Teamcenter interface. It is a web-based, and for this reason it can be used on any device. Also, a good thing is that it can be customized for specific role.
Since I have been involved in early product development, the first topic was of large interest to me. For this, Siemens has developed the product called Catchbook.
Catchbook is a separate product from Siemens – a sketching app.
It looks very easy to use. In my opinion, the most important thing is that the geometry you draw on a touchscreen automatically assumes the closest geometric shape. For example, if you draw someting of a circular shape – the system would make it a circle. As you draw curves by hand, the system recognizes the sketch constraints. We were also shown that it can import existing pictures.
On the conference the following demo was shown:
My feeling about Catchbook is that it is something that was missing from Siemens PLM portfolio. I previously tried conceptual sketching in NX Sketch, but found it a bit slow for that purpose. Using NX sketch means that you need to have an NX license, you would need it for each person who is involved in sketching. They also have to be familiar with NX. Inexpensive and simple app expands the possibilities of conceptual design and makes it available for everyone.
Although, the import of the Catchbook sketch to NX was shown, I am still interested how effective would it work with import of sketch constraints. And, probably I should mention that the tool does not have connection to NX, you simply do export-import when needed.
Few things about System-driven product development and digital twin
The main aim of System-driven product development is to keep vision on high-level aims through the design process. According to presenter, it should help working and managing of competing requirements. The way requirements interaction is managed in Teamcenter and is coordinated with NX Check-mate.
Digital twin is mostly related to Technomatix product. The main message is – the sooner you know the best way to produce the product – the better you design it.
NX development and investments
During the conference, the developing areas of NX application were shown.
- Shape studio
- Mixed modeling (facet + traditional)
- Overall system performance, for example when loading assemblies
The interface was made adaptive; it adjusts itself to the size of the screen.
I tried it myself on a tablet, and I find it nicely working for design. However, I think that most of the designer’s workplaces are still “classic” – for which improvements in two-screen support are done.
If I think about the situation, when I would really use touchscreen – it would be CAM application on a manufacturing site. Often, there is not much space in front of machine tool, and sometimes you have to put some adjustments to the toolpath. I think it would be one of the next things to try.
Shape studio and mixed design
One of the next major improvement areas, which continues its fast development, is the Shape Studio. If you know the shape, you want to create – it should take minutes.
I probably should mention that at this versions, not all tools are parametric. When the designed shape is static and cannot be put into connection with the rest of parametric assembly. Synchronous technology may help here, since it allows moving surfaces and allows attaching an expression to it (for example distance). This this is something I will test next.
Siemens also works on improving the work with facet bodies. The shown example has a traditional NX model and faced bodies united and working in one environment.
I think, it can have a good potential for using scanned data in your projects.
I remember once when we were working on package design, we were unable to create the surface we liked. It looked nice on the screen, but when we 3D printed it – it was not looking like we want. We eventually made it on a CNC machine and used sand paper to adjust. Then, we imported the scanned model to NX and rebuilded the model faces. Overall, the work took plenty of time. So I am glad to see the tools which bring improvements to this area.
Layouts and conceptual design
When I came to the conference, I already had some understanding on what layouts are. They allow defining components already on the 2D level and reuse them while building a product in 2D. This time it was shown in more detail.
The presenter told that initial stages of conceptual design are still made mostly in 2D or on paper, but not is 3D. With addition of layouts and 2D synchronous technology – there are powerful tools to get it done in NX.
In the presented example, a full assembly is created with the use of 2D components.
It has its own 2D assembly tree and 2D components library.
The 2D layout can be modified with the use of 2D synchronous technology. At some point, it is transformed into a real assembly.
I probably should also mention that layouts are not connected to 3D assembly. If you transfer your 2D layout assembly into 3D – you lose connection. The same happens, if you define a 2D layout component as a section from 3D, no connection between those is kept.
However, this is not important, since you probably do not come back to 2D after finishing the concept. Overall, the tool looks very promising.
Product Template Studio (PTS)
That is the tool I am well familiar with, but last version I was using it with was 8.5.
I was very glad to see that it is now transferred into NX and is not anymore a separate application. Since actions are done inside NX and this should save time for adjusting of a template. Overall, I feel it would make trainings and installation for PTS easier.
For those who are using this tool probably would be important to know that old PTS will still be supported. Visual rules are planned to be transferred to NX in version 11, so in version 10 you still have to use them in old interface.
Some very strong improvements are planned for work with expressions. The dialog looks more like an Excel table now.
Here is the short overview:
- When you change an expression it is shown as updated in the list and other expressions affected are highlighted
- New possibilities for search
- Possibility to create expression groups (probably one I was missing for a long time)
- The system would highlight the errors in expression table, you can confirm expression with error and edit other, but cannot leave the expressions dialog
The improvements do not add much of new possibilities, but they make the navigation way faster and easier. Probably the groups, who would benefit the most – are new NX users and thouse who work heavily with expressions. I can already imagine how it would improve my parametric modeling work and trainings.
There is new engine behind rendering, which should make it faster and better quality of images
Siemens announces a strong increase in productivity
It also includes productivity for getting expansions. The shown example took minutes.
Interesting tools in modeling for sweeping the solid body and for emboss.
Actually the emboss was shown in the same example with the expansion,