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An overview of Sensors in Solid Edge

Manny Marquez - Thursday, April 24, 2014

During a benchmark last week I demonstrated sensors. It had been a very long time since I have used that functionality and after seeing the usefulness it could provide for a prospect I decided to write a review for the blog. One such use is when constructing parts and assemblies, you often need to keep track of critical design parameters.

For instance, when designing a shield or shroud that encloses a rotating part, you must maintain enough

clearance for maintenance and operational purposes. You can use sensors to define and keep track

of design parameters for your parts and assemblies.

Types of sensors:

          • • Minimum distance sensors
      • • General variable sensors
      • • Sheet metal sensors
      • • Surface area sensors
      • • Custom sensors
A Sensor Assistant keeps track of sensor alarms that have been triggered by changes
to the model. It quickly accesses the affected sensor definition information so you can
review it and fix the alarm or the model as needed.

You can activate or deactivate the Sensor Assistant and alarm notification
in the graphic window using the Show Sensor Indicator option on the Helpers
tab of the tools options dialog box. This does not affect the operation
of the sensors themselves.

Alarm Types

Displays a bitmap indicating the type of sensor alarm:

  • A sensor violation alarm indicates a design threshold has been exceeded 
  • A sensor warning alarm indicates an element has been deleted:
  • Click the alarm hyperlink to jump to the specific sensor definition information.

We will be using a sample model from the training folder in solid edge.

1. Open the sheet metal assembly located in C:\Program Files\Solid Edge ST6\Training \ (seaabbf.asm) folder.

Minimum distance sensors

Minimum distance sensors are used to track the minimum distance between any two elements.
For example, you can track the minimum distance between two part faces in an assembly.
You define a minimum distance sensor similar to how you measure the minimum distance
between two elements with the Minimum Distance command in the assembly from one part to another.

2. Click on the command, and then select one surface of the chassis part and the other surface from powsup.par part.

3. Enter the name of sensor and values as shown.


Once done with creating this sensor, we will get back to this sensor on how to trigger the alarm.

Variables Sensors

You can use a general variable sensor to track variables, such as driving and driven dimensions. Let's say that your company only has machines that cuts or bends to a specific size. Ideally you want a safe guard so that you don’t design a part you can’t manufacture or don’t carry stock of that size. In this example we will track the overall height of the part being designed.

5. Edit the Chassis in place.

6. Select the variable sensor. Enter a name for the sensor, then select 552.61 cell. Click on the add variable icon then add values as shown below.

Observe the threshold and sensor range and compare that to the gauge and description. This should give you an idea on how the sensor will alert when it has been triggered.

Sheet Metal Sensor

You can use sheet metal sensors to track design parameters, such as the minimum distance between particular types of sheet metal features and part edges. You can create your own sheet metal sensors from scratch, or you can select from a list of predefined examples. Let’s say that we need to make sure a cutout does not get to close the outside edge, for reason that the heat sink will get hot and damage the component. Sheet metal sensors are available only in sheet metal documents.

7. Click on the sheet metal sensor; make sure to select the Face on the options on ribbon bar. Select surface on part as shown.

8. Select cutouts on (edge set 1) and exterior edges from (edge set 2). Set threshold at 20, therefore if a hole gets 20mm of an edge, a sensor will be triggered.


Notice the two sensors now; we are done creating this sensor, we will get back to this sensor on how to trigger the alarm.

Surface Area Sensor

You can use a surface area sensor to monitor a surface or a set of surfaces. Also you can monitor both the positive and negative surface area. A negative surface area sensor monitors the "holes" or internal boundaries in a surface.For instance, you may need to track the total area for a series of ventilation holes and cutouts in a surface.

10. Click on surface area sensor icon; select the negative area with face option then click on surface of part as shown.

11. Enter sensor name, with indicated values, again study the current value to the threshold and sensor range. Notice on the airflow gage how much it’s left to trigger the alarm.

Done with creating this sensor, we will get back to this sensor on how to trigger the alarm.

Custom Sensor

You can use a custom sensor to monitor any numeric result that is calculated from a custom program. For example, you could create a custom program that assigns a manufacturing cost to each feature type used for creating sheet metal parts. The program would then monitor the part features and give you the part cost of the completed model.

Note: you need to run the CustomSensorRegistration.exe from the custom sensor folder.

12. Select custom sensor then click on GetMass.

13. Note: If you did not add a material type, you will get this message. Simply go to the material table and add a material. See below.

14. Enter the sensors name and fill in the indicated values as shown below. The current value is 8.18 lbs, we set a threshold of 10 lbs and range between 5 lbs to 15 lbs. If the part goes over 11 lbs the sensor will set a warning alarm.


Let's put all sensors to the test, starting with the clearance sensor, this will allow us to have a minimum distance from other parts on the assembly For example, if you don’t want the heat sink to get any closer to the side wall for it want allow proper flow.

16. Edit in place chassis.psm part. Select Hole 5, then click on dynamic edit, select dimension 62.50 and enter new value of 80. Since the sensor is a Assembly part, you need to (close and re-run) notice the sensor violation alarm indicates a threshold has been exceeded. (If don’t see indication, select on the tools tab click update all links)

17. Click on sensor violation alarm, for sensor details.

In real scenarios you will determine what actionsare needed to resolve the violation by making changes to the model.

In the following scenario we will only be triggering off the sensors to show sensor violations.

18. The following sensors will take place on the part environment (chassis.psm); we will trigger the Height sensor this time. Select the (contour flange 1) then click on dynamic edit. Enter 200mm value to see violation. Click on update all links.

19. We will trigger the holes to edge sensor now, select on the (Cutout 1) click on dynamic edit. Select dimension 30 enter new 15 value then enter.

20. Next will be the Airflow sensor, select on the (Cutout 1) click on dynamic edit. Click on the 94 dimension, enter 90.

21. The final sensor to trigger is weight, Select the (contour flange 1), then click on dynamic edit. Select value 250, and then enter 400.


I hope this simple example on sensors gave you an insight on the usefulness of sensors during design.

Until next time!
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