Machinery designer uses Solid Edge to significantly improve product design and delivery
Use of synchronous technology makes the difference in speed, efficiency and overall productivity
Machine design specialist
WL Solutions Ltd. provides engineering design services to the industrial machinery industry and, in particular, to the mechanical handling and print finishing segments. The company utilizes specific skills and exceptional experience gained in machinery design over many years to brings its customers high-value solutions.
WL Solutions recently adopted product lifecycle management (PLM) technology from Siemens Digital Industries Software: Solid Edge® with synchronous technology, which is particularly advantageous for accelerating design, enabling faster revisions and fostering better data re-use.
No reason to change – until now
“My mechanical background has underpinned my development as an engineering designer,” notes Owner Paul Wheller. “I started working on cash dispensers, testing the designs and working on the shop floor with machine operators. From there I moved to the drawing office and then into mold design. Having worked as a setter/ operator, my background has always been on the practical side and has given me an almost instinctive ability to visualize a design or a machine and say, ‘yes that is how it works.’”
He adds, “I was working at a packaging equipment company where we designed our own robots to package products – books and things in cases/boxes, using another 3D CAD (computer-aided design) package. When I formed WL Solutions, I saw no reason to change – until I saw Solid Edge.”
Flexibility = productivity
“I was invited to a Solid Edge event run by OnePLM,” says Wheller, noting, “I hadn’t really thought about Solid Edge. I thought maybe it was just a different version of another well-known CAD system, until I looked into it in more detail during the seminar.” He notes, “It was an eyeopener for me – a great event and a great demo provided valuable insights into the advantages of using Solid Edge. The event focused on the differentiation which Solid Edge with synchronous technology provides and I came away from the seminar determined to move to Solid Edge.”
Solid Edge combines the speed and simplicity of direct modeling with the flexibility and control of parametric design – made possible with synchronous technology. The flexibility enabled by using synchronous technology makes a real difference in productivity. “I’ve produced a number of piece-parts and part drawings using Sold Edge,” says Wheller. “I have also created some replacement parts for old machines – Perspex guarding, brackets and more – and I am working on a complex machine, but details are currently confidential. Solid Edge lets me play around a lot with my initial concepts, without needing to have a vision of the final design, whereas with our previous software, I had to have a better idea of the final design at the outset.”
Wheller notes, “With synchronous technology, I don’t have to choose between constraint-driven or history-free modeling, and I don’t have to be a programmer to re-use a part. It’s now so much quicker and easier to adapt a part to make another similar one, much quicker than creating a new part from scratch and much quicker than having to go back down and up the history tree to make a change. I just copy the part, rename it and then edit it.
“For example, I’m working on the design of a new ink cartridge cleaning system, and I had to create a number of similar ink barrels – five or so different configurations of the barrel. Using Solid Edge, this was really easy; I simply modify the base design, stretch it, make it taller, change diameters and so on.” He adds, “I also had a request from local engineers who wanted some design changes, but they were using a different system. I made the changes using Solid Edge and returned the files with no problem. It was a simple part, but it had numerous radii, and that is always tricky in data exchange.”
Much surer of design integrity
Wheller observes, “The benefits of using synchronous technology hit me instantly. If a design review reveals the need for a change, you don’t want to be deleting features until you reach the one you need to modify. That takes too much time and is too prone to error. Instead, you need to be able to go directly to the feature that needs changing and do it there and then, without having to rebuild the model afterwards. Using synchronous technology enables you to edit parts very quickly without having to know how the parts were designed. With Solid Edge, I am much surer of the integrity of the design.” He points out, “With other systems, I have seen parts made with features missing. If you don’t respect the process 100 percent, you could be missing holes, for example.”
Tried and tested
Wheller has his own tried and tested method of working: “I like to create parts and then create the assembly, rather than create an assembly and then add parts to it. I have found that approach really useful as much of my work is related to making frames – made up of extrusions and brackets – for the machines. With Solid Edge, I can do that relatively easily – certainly more easily than with my previous software. You just direct the software to create the assembly, and it exports each individual component to file. You can modify each part afterwards, and then put it back into the assembly. When you need to move a number of parts around an assembly, you just select the parts you want and move everything in one go. I could do that using my previous software, but because the parts are all tied-in you couldn’t just click on them and move them.”
Sheet metal is particularly important to Wheller: “I really like how easy it is to use the sheet metal capabilities of Solid Edge, especially using the material tables that hold the thickness, bend formulae, bend direction, reliefs and other parameters. In the software that I used before, there were cases in which the part turned out differently because it might have bent something from the wrong side. I‘ve had five years of practice with the previous software; it’s a good product, but I think it has limited development headroom.”
Synchronous technology – a key differentiator
Wheller concludes, “Solid Edge is really reliable. It is more productive and has more functionality than I am used to. It is clearly important to get the design right, but if I can also save a week in the process, that has tremendous value. Using synchronous technology makes it easy, and that’s what makes the difference for me.”