Interview: Dan Swartz from Ventrac speaks Synchronous and SEU

Product: Solid Edge
Industry: Automotive abd Transportation

“We looked at other products, but the Solid Edge guys were able to show us what we wanted to see, that it was turning a 2d sheet metal part and put it in 3D. They were the only ones to do that, so we went with their product.”

Dan, how did you get involved in Solid Edge First?

I have a bit of a different background from a lot of Solid Edge users. I never went to engineering school or anything like that. I started in the paint line and worked until I entered the engineering office running autoCAD. Eventually I was doing CAD Admin, and it helped make the decision about moving to Solid Edge. We also looked at other products, but the Solid Edge guys were able to show us what we wanted to see, that it was turning a 2d sheet metal part and put it in 3D. They were the only ones to do that, so we went with their product.

We started using Solid Edge with V19 (approx. 2004, two versions before ST1), coming from AutoCAD. Our lead engineer still starts product designs in AutoCAD, but one of the great things about Solid Edge is that bringing autoCAD data is so easy, and we can keep working on design.

I’ve Heard You’ve Been to Solid Edge University A Couple of Times…

Shortly after we started using the software, we also started attending annual conferences. They weren’t called Solid Edge University back then. We attend meetings in Huntsville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Atlanta.

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These conferences are like family reunions. We were Solid Edge SharePoint beta testers, so we can talk to other beta testers and see how they come with the new versions, other Solid Edge users, and we can always see the demos of the new software. Every year there are always new things, never the same, even though we come to these conferences year after year.

There are so many different classes, you really need to take a look at the agenda and choose and choose your interests. There are so many things you can’t do everything. Ventrac usually sends between 2 and 5 people. That way we can separate and each of us sees the sessions we’re interested in. On the way home we compare notes and then back in the office we update the rest of the Solid Edge users on the things that are most important to us.

I know that for a small business like Ventrac, an event like Solid Edge University was very difficult for us to justify the cost. But we went, and what we discovered is access to information and the people we know, it’s a great way to networking, learn some tips and tricks either from other users, or Siemens professionals themselves! If you are struggling in any area on Solid Edge, this is a place to figure out how to do that! You have classes where users like me are sharing what they do and how they use SE. so it’s very easy to relate to someone there. Like Synchronous, if you don’t know how, it’s scary. But go to SEU, attend a synchronous class, and ask questions about those who are using it.

There are some things that confuse me when I’m at one of these conventions. One is when I see companies that don’t keep up with the software. And also when people don’t even try some of the best new features like Synchronous. I’ll talk to someone and they’ll ask me how I do something, and I’ll tell them, and they could say, “I’ve never seen that before” “What version are you in?” “Oh, we’re in like ST2 or something.” Of course you’re going to miss a lot of great new tools when you never upgrade to the latest version.

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Already using ST9?

ST9 has been available for a couple of weeks, and we’re installing it on our Share Point test server. We used to install the new version when we were using only Solid Edge, but since we now use Solid Edge SharePoint, we performed a trial installation to make sure everything works with Share Point.

Shy or Tidy?

We are a sheet metal shop and we work all our straight brakes. Kids in the store like to see drawings coming from Solid Edge. Most of our things are done in Synchronous, although sometimes we come across things that have to be done neatly. It baffles me why more people don’t use Synchronous. It makes a lot more sense. It’s easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about exploiting features or long rebuild times.

Do you have Any Tips for New Solid Edge Users?

The best advice I can give anyone who asks me what to do? Attend the next SEU, stay up-to-date on maintenance versions and packages, and learn synchronously. As I said before, Synchronous has changed CAD Forever. If you’ve never attended a Solid Edge University, start today! It’s worth the money!