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How to: Dimensions in Draft Part 3

Manny Marquez - Thursday, June 04, 2015

Part 1:

Part 2:

More videos here:

Using a Contour Surface Area operation to do undercutting

John Pearson - Thursday, May 21, 2015

Recently I had a customer contact me with a part that he wished to undercut. He needed to use a spherical cutter, which eliminated the Groove Milling operation, since it only uses T-cutters. Not being an advanced user he was unsure how to proceed. With his company’s permission I’ve decided to utilize this opportunity and create a blog article on how to use the Contour Surface Area operation to do undercutting.

Below is the image of the part along with the faces (highlighted in orange) that need to be machined.




Before creating the operation I need to generate some geometry to use as Drive and Projection geometry. First I create a small cylinder, protruded through the center of the part (shown below in magenta). This cylinder will be used for my drive geometry. In other words, I will initially create my tool paths on the cylinder and then project them onto the surface of the part.



I place this cylinder on an unused layer so I can easily hide and show it as needed. Next I create a line along the axis of the cylinder (shown below in yellow).



I place this line on an unused layer so I can easily hide and show it as needed. I will use this line to help project the paths from the drive geometry onto the surface of the part.


I then create my parent groups. For the Geometry group, the customer had created a WORKPIECE1 that contained the part and was a child to the MCS shown below. He’d also created the spherical mill for the Tool group, also shown below.




Along with the predefined PROGRAM and MILL_FINISH method I now have enough information to begin the operation.


I select the Contour Surface Area operation and assign the parent groups as shown below.



Once in the operation, my first step is to specify the cut area.



I click on the Specify Cut Area icon and select the faces that I wish to machine, as shown below.



Next I need to define the Drive Geometry. I select the Edit icon (small wrench) in the Drive Method section.



I then select the Specify Drive Geometry icon.



I turn on the layer that contains the previously created cylinder. Select the cylinder as shown below. Remember the surface will be used to create my initial tool paths.



I click OK to return to the Dive Method dialog. I then expand this dialog and set the drive settings and tolerances as required by the customer.



I can verify the results, of my drive geometry settings, by clicking the Display icon under the Preview heading. Notice the orange surface mesh representing my drive geometry.



Once I have my drive geometry created, I return to the main operation dialog to select my projection vector. To do this I first turn off the cylinder layer and turn on the line layer previously created. I then set the Projection Vector to Away from Line, as shown below.



I’m prompted to specify the Line/Vector, so I select the line that I had previously created. By doing this I’m telling the system to project the tool paths on the cylinder away from the axis towards the surface of the part.



Next I ensure that my Tool Axis is set to +ZM Axis.



I then modify the Engage motion, to use the center point of the opening, as shown below. This ensures that any engage motion will start in the center of the part.



I then set my Retract motion to match the Engage motion.



Finally I set my feeds and speeds to the required values, and then generate the operation. Notice the resulting undercut.




The Contour Surface Area operation allowed me to define how I was going to machine the cut area, by defining a cylindrical drive surface and projecting it away from an axial line, onto the cut area.


If you would like to learn more about this operation and other advanced operations, you should attend one of our advanced NX CAM courses. To arrange for advanced training please contact your Account Manager, or contact us at [email protected].  


​How to build a study with many connected parts

Frederic Menage - Saturday, April 25, 2015

 (Assembly environment – Simulation module)


When there are many parts in a study, the amount of connectors (created automatically or manually) can be overwhelming. I t is important to remain in control of those connectors as their quantity increases. Otherwise, it will be a difficult task to find the source of the problem when a fatal error occurs during solving.


A recommended method for medium size assemblies

The user of Solid Edge can include only a subset of the parts that will eventually need to be analyzed. This way, a limited amount of connectors will have to be created. The workflow is to modify the boundary conditions to accommodate this partial study (add temporary load or constraint) and solve to verify that the connectors play their role and keep the studied parts connected. Then, the user can modify the definition of the study to add more parts or start from a copy of the study to keep a backup of each step. Each following steps, necessary to build the full study, will require the addition of new connectors and modification of the boundary conditions.


A recommended method for large size assemblies (with thin walled parts)

The user of Solid Edge should use mid-surfaces (psm) or other type of surfaces when analysing thin-walled parts. In addition to this, the user has the option to connect surfaces and create one or several associated bodies for the analysis. This will remove the need for connectors as the nodes merge at the intersections. This approach needs to be considered seriously when hundreds of parts are being analyzed.


With these workflows, the Solid Edge user who wants to build a complex analysis can confidently and progressively add all the required simulation features to run a full study. The capacity to verify a subset of connectors and, afterwards, move on confidently to the next group of connectors can be a huge time saver when dealing with large assemblies.

How do you Change the Default Settings in the Operation Templates

John Pearson - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 Manufacturing software has come a long way over the years, and it continues to improve as the machines and hardware evolve. However, the software may not be designed to handle your specific task. It is often necessary to modify settings in the operations to meet your specific needs. For example you may have to modify the cut pattern, the step over distance, cut depths, speeds and feeds, etc. If you find yourself constantly modifying settings, you may want to look at customizing your CAM software.

If your software is NX CAM Express, you can customize the package using several tools. The nice thing about these tools is that you do not have to be a code writer to use them. NX allows you to customize your CAM package in the following ways:

  • 1.Customer Defaults For Manufacturing

2.Manufacturing Templates

3.Definitions of Output formats

4.Definitions of libraries and library data

5.Process Assistants


Further details on these topics can be found in the NX CAM help documents, but for this blog article I’d like to focus on one of the more common requests, that I get on our tech line. How do you change the defaults settings in the operation templates? Believe it or not this is one of the easier things to do in NX CAM. However it does require some knowledge of the inner workings of NX CAM Express.

NX CAM Express Setups


Normally you start your manufacturing program by launching one of the pre-defined setup programs. For example, you may select the Machinery Express setup in Metric.




This opens the manufacturing environment, creates a manufacturing assembly and loads the Machinery Express operation templates. It knows what operation templates to load from this file:


C:\Program Files\Siemens\NX 9.0\MACH\resource\template_dir\template.dat

If you open this file in NotePAD, and view the list, you will see the line for the Metric Machinery Express setup.




The rest of the line lists the operation templates part files which NX will load for this setup.




The metric part files are stored in the following location:


C:\Program Files\Siemens\NX 9.0\MACH\resource\template_part\metric\

If you wish to change the defaults in the operations templates, these are the files you must edit.

Note: NX 9 added a new folder for updates. This folder contains the updated copies of the operation templates when you install a QRM or patch. The folder is:

C:\Program Files\Siemens\NX 9.0\MACH\updates\template_part\metric

The option to ignore this updated file is found in the Customer Defaults, under Manufacturing - General. If toggled off the original files are loaded.


Changing the defaults

So now that we know where the operation template files are saved, how do we edit them? Referring back to the template.dat file we see that the name of the file we need to open is the Machinery_Exp.prt. So we open the Machinery_Exp.prt found in the C:\Program Files\Siemens\NX 9.0\MACH\resource\template_part\metric\ folder.


Notice the Operation Navigator of this file lists all the operation templates that we can choose from when we attempt to create an operation under this setup.




Lets assume that we want to change the cavity mill default Stepover from a 50% to 75%, of the tool flat. To do this we open the CAVITY_MILL operation and change the Percent of Flat Diameter to 75, as shown below:




Click OK to close the operation. Now you must save the change. However this is most likely a “Read-Only” file, and even if it’s not, it’s a good idea to keep the original file. Therefore I recommend that you save it as a unique file. For example, I save mine as DF_Machinery_Exp.prt (DF for DesignFusion, in case you’re wondering).


Next I have to tell the system to load this new file when I launch the Machinery Express setup. So I open the previously mentioned Template.dat file and modify the name of the file to match my new name, as shown below.




I then save and close this file.


Testing the new settings

To test that the new default setting is working, open a new part. Run the Machinery Express setup in Metric.




Create a new cavity mill operation.




If you’ve done it correctly, you should see the new default value appear, as shown below.




Keep in mind that it’s always good to keep a back-up of the original files and your modified files.


I know that editing installed files can be intimidating to some users. For this reason, Designfusion offers customization services. If you’d like us to provide this service for your company, please contact your Account Manager, or contact us at [email protected].     

How to: Manage Dimensions in Draft Part 2

Manny Marquez - Thursday, April 16, 2015


Part 1:

How to: Manage Dimensions in Draft

Manny Marquez - Friday, April 10, 2015


Part 1 of 2 - check out part 2 here:

FAQ- How to view a STL file in Viewer

Doug Golomb - Thursday, March 26, 2015


•  This FAQ will instruct you on how to view a STL file in the “Viewer” tab.


•  Important!!! You must login to Teamcenter as “infodba” to complete this task.

Step By Step Process… 

1.Login to Teamcenter as “Infodba
2.Select Edit> Options>
3.Select “Search” and input “seco” into the search field
4.Select “SecondaryVMUDatasets” and Add> “STL”

5.Select “Search” and input “VMU” into the search field
6.Select “VMU_FileSearchOrder” and Add> “STL”

7.Select “Search” and input “def” into the search field
8.Select “defaultViewerConfig.VIEWERCONFIG
9.Add> “STL.DirectModelViewer=STL,STL-bin” to the “Current Values”

10.Select “g4mViewerConfig.VIEWERCONFIG”
11.Add> “STL.DirectModelViewer=STL,STL-bin” to the “Current Values”

12.Login as an end user
13.Copy a STL file into an “Item Revision”
14.Select the “Viewer” tab; result…

How to Calculate the Surface Area of an Assembly

John Pearson - Thursday, March 19, 2015

Calculating the surface area of an assembly can be useful for your manufacturing and other downstream applications. For example, knowing the surface area can allow you to predict how much paint you will need. This knowledge will allow your purchasing department to procure the exact amount of paint in advance, while also helping your company determine production costs.

Here is the method for calculating surface area:


  • Step 1. In assembly environment go to Tools tab and toggle on Simplify and then select the Button 'Visible Faces'.
  • Step 2. Ensure the option 'Analyze Assembly' is active and click on 'Process'.
  • Step 3. In the next ribbon select the option 'Copy Body' and then click on Preview and Finish. A simplified assembly model can now be found in the       Pathfinder.
  • Step 4. Select the Simplified Assembly with the right mouse button and save it as a part.
  • Step 5. Close the assembly and open the just saved Part.
  • Step 6. You should now see the Construction body and also a Toggle to Design Body, i.e. you will now have a closed Body, currently without any assigned material.
  • Step 7Assign any material to the body via the Application Button --> Properties --> Material Table, otherwise you will not be able to calculate the mass, volume and desired surface of the part.
  • Step 8. Go to Inspect --> Physical Properties and in the sub-menu simply click on the Update Button for a fresh calculation of the model.


The system calculates the mass (dependent on the material), the volume and the required surface area.

​How to repair the parametric links in an assembly (Assembly environment and V&M)

Frederic Menage - Thursday, January 29, 2015



A parametric assembly contains links that can transfer data (number, geometric references) between components so that they can share common characteristics. Such a link can be updated if the communicating components are activated and if the active context wasn’t modified since the link was created.


The context

One way to alter the context is to use the ‘save as’ command when in the assembly environment. Solid Edge warns the user about the danger of such an operation:



Analyzing a “broken” model

If you have a parametric assembly that is unresponsive, select a part with a chain beside it and edit it. At the top of the modelling tree for that part, you will see a ‘Links’ collector. If you expand it, you will see the context (the complete path is in the tool tip as shown below) in which parametric features of that part can receive data from other components.



How to fix it with ‘Redefine links’

Open the View & Markup application (Start/Programs/Solid Edge...). In the ‘Tools’ tab of the ribbon, start the command called ‘redefine links’.

Select folder(s) in which all components of the “broken” assembly as well as the assembly itself reside. Note: for a complex assembly with many components distributed across multiple folders, it is possible to use a result log (txt file) of the V&M ‘search broken links’ command.

Enter the path including the filename to the original (old) context (the one listed in Solid Edge as shown in the previous image) and then the path to the current “broken” assembly (also with the file name).



Altering the context of a parametric model can occur in different ways. It is always recommended to use the revision manager and its ‘where used’ command when moving or copying projects or libraries in order to prevent this kind of damage. Nevertheless, mistakes happen and it is nice to have an easy tool to repair parametric links.

How to: 3D Sketching

Manny Marquez - Thursday, October 23, 2014

Check out our newest youtube video on 3D sketching.


View our collection of youtube tutorials and other videos here .