North America's Leading Siemens PLM Partner

Designfusion Blog

Using a Quick Query in Assembly

Cory Goulden - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Over the years I have noticed some gems in Solid Edge that I would like to share.  Quick Query I feel is a small but powerful little nugget.   I will list the steps below to perform a quick query in assembly and also try to state some benefits to this.  Trust me it takes longer to explain than to do.

Firstly it is important to note that parts and assemblies have properties embedded in them.  These fields should be used for a multitude of reasons from parts lists to searches.  It would be important for all to understand this before moving on.  Obviously these fields must have information in them in order for Solid Edge to report back anything.

Below I have an example part that exists in the example assembly I will use.

To check the properties

We can check what has been entered by going to the part properties.  Select the Solid Edge application button and go to Properties>File Properties.

You can also look at the property manager, which will be discussed at a later date, or perhaps through automation if you have a custom program to assist in entering this data.

 

As you can see below we have an entry of “hardware” in the “Category” field.  This is what we will perform a quick query on later.

We now return to the assembly.

 

Click on the “Select Tools” tab. 

Perform a quick query


RMB in the blank area just below the words in the title bar that say “Select Tools” and the following menu appears.  Note that these options correspond to those fields we had seen in the part properties.  You can set up a search to find these items based on these same categories.


 

You can see the many choices presented to you for searching.  Any one of them can be used.  For this example we will search the “Category” field.

Let’s set up a Quick Query to find and part in the assembly with the word “hardware” in the “Category” field.  We RMB in the blank area, and select “Category”.  This sets the Quick Query option to search the “Category” field in all parts and select and highlight all that contain the word “hardware”.

Once the text has been entered, press the enter key and you should have all the parts highlighted and selected like below:

Note that the highlighted parts are any that contain the word “hardware” in the “Category” field.  This search went into sub assemblies and patterns to select items.  It would also select different items as long as the field had the word hardware in it.   You could do a “Show Only” or other options for the selected set of parts.

There are many applications for this tool (another time we will discuss a full Query).  Quick Query is very useful.  It can select a set of items so you can do things like double check quantities or locations.  Also, because it shows only items matching the query, it can help determine if an item might also be missing properties.  This is good to know especially if those fields are required for a parts list in draft for example.

NX – Create a family of standard parts (Excel)

Charles-Etienne Lavoie - Wednesday, July 04, 2012

                   

                  Design Intent:


                  The most common use of Part Families is to define a standard library part that has many variations.


                  1. Create a hexbolt 

                   


                   

                  2. Rename the expression that you want to keep


                  •   a-Width = the radius of the cap

                    b-Length = length of screw

                  •  

                  3. Define the columns for the Family Table.

                   

                    Choose Tools→Part Families from the main menu bar.

                    Make sure the Importable Part Family Template option is cleared.

                    Click OK on the Warning dialog box.

                    Select the width expression from the top window of the Part Families dialog box.

                    Click the Add Column button.

                   



                    Select the length expression from the top window of the Part Families dialog box.

                    Click the Add Column button.


                  Note:

                  Instead of choosing, Add Column, you could just double-click on the expression name in the Available Columns list, i.e. head_dia.

                   

                    Change the option menu at the top of the dialog box from Expressions to Features.

                    Double-click chamfer from the top list of the Part Families dialog box.


                  Note:

                  The order in which you select the attributes determines the order of columns in the spreadsheet.


                  Tip:

                  In production, you would specify a writable folder for the Family Save Directory, but it is not necessary for this activity since you are not creating Part Family Member files.


                  4.Create the family table.

                   

                  •   Click the Create button from the bottom portion of the Part Families dialog box.

                   


                   

                  •   Type in a few values



                  5.Verify a family member

                   

                    Select a cell in row 3.

                    From the spreadsheet ADD-INS menu bar, choose PartFamily→Verify Part.

                   


                   

                  The NX session becomes active and the family member is displayed in the graphics window.

                    Click Resume in the Part Families dialog box.


                  Warning:

                  The Part Families dialog box may be obscured, if so, click anywhere in the NX window.


                  6.Save the Part Family and the template part.

                    From the spreadsheet menu bar, choose PartFamily→Save Family.


                  Note:

                  The Save Family option internally stores the spreadsheet data within the template part file. It does not save the template part file itself.


                  Note:

                  In order to save the template part containing this newly created Part Family Spreadsheet, you would also choose File→Save.

                   

                  Since we do not use this part anywhere else we are not going to do that.


                  7.Close all parts.

NX – Modeling a tapered thread

Charles-Etienne Lavoie - Friday, May 04, 2012

Currently, the NX Thread command can be used to create a fully modeled straight thread. When
this command is run and the Detailed Thread type is selected a fully modeled thread will be
created. NX provides Modeling tools which allow users to create fully modeled tapered threads.
The Variational Sweep is one of these tools.

 

1. Create a Datum CSYS on the centerline of the thread at the start location of the tapered
thread.

 

2. Create the following expressions in the Expression editor.

 


 

ANGLE will be the included angle of the thread profile. This is typically 60 degrees.
L will be the length of the thread.
P is the thread Pitch which is the distance from thread to thread.
START_DIA is the diameter at the start end of the thread.
TAPER is the taper of the thread.
END_R will be the calculated value L*TAN(TAPER)+STRT_R.
STRT_R will be calculated as START_DIA/2.

 

All expressions should be created as Length type expressions except for the ANGLE
and TAPER variables. These two need to be set to the Angle expression type. If these
variables are not created as Angle type expressions they will not be selectable when
creating the feature.


3. Start the process by creating a Helix curve.

 



The Number of Turns will be calculated by dividing the Length by the Pitch or L/P using
the defined expressions. The Pitch variable will be specified using the expression P.


4. To create the tapered helix the Radius Method Use Law will be used. When selected
the Law Function window will be displayed. At this point select the Linear type.

 



5. Specify the Start and End radius values by supplying these expression variables.

 



Note that the tolerance of the helix can greatly influence the accuracy of the thread.
Initially the helix will be created to the model tolerance in effect when created. This can
be found at Preferences => Modeling => Distance Tolerance.


If the accuracy needs to be improved after the helix is created a higher tolerance can be
specified by editing the helix and changing the tolerance value.


6. After the helix is created select Insert => Sweep => Variational Sweep. Select the helix
curve as the path. For Plane Orientation pick the Through Axis option and select the
centerline of the helix for the vector. For the Sketch Orientation select the same axis.

 



7. When OK is pressed a Sketch will be created. At this point create the profile of the
thread. Constrain all geometry to the point that was created on the helix curve when the
Variational Sweep operation was started. This is an important step.

 



It is significant that the width of the thread be smaller than the Pitch (P-.01). If this width
value is too large then the model will intersect itself as it sweeps along the helix guide
curve. This would cause an invalid solid to be created.


8. When the sweep is complete a hollow thread profile will be created as seen below.

 



9. The thread would be completed by Uniting it to the model of the base of the thread.

 



This same procedure can be used to create a multi-lead thread. When creating the
Variable Sweep Sketch of the thread profile create two threads at half the Pitch in width.
See the sketch below along with the picture of the resultant multi-lead thread. The colors
of the different leads have been altered for emphasis.

 




Using tools provided in NX, users can quickly and easily model complex features.
Randall Waser



Is Training Worth It? - Calculate your Return on Investment

John Pearson - Tuesday, March 27, 2012
In today’s competitive market, businesses are looking to get the most out of their employees, systems, software and machines. With the ever changing technology, this can be somewhat challenging.  Too often companies will invest in new technology but not invest in the training on the new technology. The most common reasons for this are:

  • • I don’t have the time to take the training.
  • • I can’t afford the cost of the training.
  • • I can train myself for free.
  • • I train one employee and he/she can train the rest.
  • • I have a high staff turn over and it’s not worth training them.

As a trainer I have heard all these excuses and more. They all essentially evolve around cost. Therefore, it is important that companies look at both the ROI of professional training and the cost of not taking professional training.

How to calculate the ROI of professional training

To calculate the ROI, you need to determine the total cost of the training course and compare it to the total financial benefit derived from the course. The cost of the course can be determined as shown below:

  • Cost of course                   = $ 2000
  • Salary of employee           =  $1000
  • Travel & Living Expenses  = $1000
  • Total cost of course           = $4000

The financial benefit derived from the course can be a little harder to determine and often depends on the individual. Below is a one potential example;


Suppose John Smith attends a course on a CAM software package. In this course he learns new and faster methods to create programs. Assuming a modest 10% increase in his program generation skills, we can start calculating the financial benefit. If John makes $25 per hour and he works 50 weeks a year week, allowing 2 weeks for vacation, the company pays him $50,000. If he works 10% faster the company’s immediate savings is 50,000 x 0.10 = $5000. We can also assume that John’s programs will be more efficient, saving machine time, cutter wear, and possibly less manual finishing work. His improved knowledge may also lead to fewer errors in the programs, resulting in less scrap. You may also want to consider any extra profits obtained by the increase efficiency. In other words John will be able to produce 10% more work from which the company will profit. So in John’s example we can calculate the financial benefit as follows:

Estimated savings from improved output                     = $ 5000
Estimated savings from downstream operations         = $ 2000
Estimated savings from reduced rework and scrap   = $ 1000
Estimated additional profit from improved efficiency    = $ 2500
Total financial benefit                                  = $ 10500


Using the following formula to calculate the ROI,

Net gain (total benefit-total costs) = ____ X 100 =____ total costs  

we get an ROI of 162.5. Clearly this would justify John taking the course, especially when you consider that the financial benefit estimates are very conservative.

You can also view this from another direction. What is the company’s cost if an employee doesn’t take professional training?

Cost of not taking training

Let’s assume that you hire a new designer. This designer has CAD experience but does not know your CAD system. You hand him\her a manual or some tutorials and have him\her learn the system on their own. From the previous example we can assume that you are saving $4000 dollars in training. But how much are you really saving?


Although estimates vary on the topic of study, many agree that 1 hour of professional training could be equal to as many as 16 hours of teaching yourself. In other words you could spend up to 2 days reading, experimenting and learning a process that a professional trainer could teach you in 1 hour. If we extend this model we have one week of professional training = 16 weeks of self teaching. The cost to the company at $25 per hour is:

640 hours (16 weeks) x $25  =  $16,000

You also have to factor in the lost time in production for 15 of those 16 weeks that the new designer is not producing because the are still trying to learn the software. Any mistakes made through this process will also have a ripple effect throughout the company, costing more time and money. You also have to consider lost production time from any experienced employees who may be mentoring the new employee. If the experienced employee spends an average of 20% of his time helping the new employee you will lose one full week of man hours in every 5 weeks.

So for a conservative estimate, let’s assume that a new employee can learn the CAD package in 10 weeks with some assistance from experienced employees. Each week the new employee improves his/her output by 10% per week. The cost to the company can be calculated as follows:


 

Cost of no productive work over 10 weeks is:

  New Employee Experienced Employee
Week 1 1000 200
Week 2 900 200
Week 3 800 200
Week 4 700 200
Week 5 600 200
Week 6 500 200
Week 7 400 200
Week 8 300 200
Week 9 200 200
Week 10 100 200

Remember you still have to factor in the cost of fixing any training errors and the downstream effect of each error. If we assume a modest 5 errors, at an average cost of $500 per error, this results in:


Total cost of lost production = 10,000

Keep in mind that the cost could be much higher depending on the new employee’s ability to teach him/her self, and how many errors are made in the process.

Finally, you’ll have to wonder if the self taught employee has learnt the most efficient use of the software. With today’s software there are often several methods to achieve the same desired results. Each method has advantages and disadvantages depending on downstream factors. Too often self taught individuals find one method to solve a problem and use it, without further investigation to see if a more efficient way exists.  A good professional trainer will teach the different methods highlighting the situations where each method is most efficient.


Other excuses

Some companies have chosen to train one employee and have him/her train the others. They look at this as a cost savings to the company. Although this may appear to save you money you have to factor in the cost of using the first employee as your trainer. Every time he/she is training other employees, he/she is not producing work. Plus the assumption is being made that this employee has learned and retained the same knowledge as the professional trainer. This is often a false assumption, leaving the company paying almost a similar cost for a lower standard of training.

I’ve saved my favorite excuse for last. Some companies will not pay for professional training because they have too high of a staff turn around. It has been proven time and again that stress levels rise in adults when they have to learn something new. If you combine the stress for self teaching with the daily stress of the workplace, you may be contributing to the staff turn around. By providing professional training in a setting designed for learning, the employee will learn, without the work stress, and return to work with the proper skills.

Conclusion

When you actually take the time to do an honest, realistic cost analysis, it quickly becomes clear that sending your employees for professional training is a good investment.  The above examples are very conservative, yet they clearly show the advantage to professionally training your staff. Although it may be difficult to free up time and money to provide professional training, the cost of not doing so will be greater in the long term.

A well-trained employee is more likely to be satisfied with the company he\she works for, which in many cases means he\she will be less likely to leave to find a job elsewhere.  The payback is not just in a few months or a year. Instead, it can be a lifetime of service and reduced operating costs.

A new look pattern command in NX8

Charles-Etienne Lavoie - Monday, March 05, 2012

With NX8, the pattern command got a fresh new look and more command features associated with it.

One of the new features is the simplified boundary fill; this feature will fill the specified face with three different pattern layouts;

1- Triangle

2- Square

3- Diamond

This can easily be done in a single pattern, so no more having to position the origin of the feature, just select the feature, select the boundary face and voila!