• Alan

How Easy is Data Migration?

Updated: May 20, 2019

Attending many trade shows over the years, a common question that is brought up, is “why is Solid Edge better than what I’m using?”. After a short discussion and a demo or two later, users will quite often see that Solid Edge has a lot of benefits over what they’re using. There are also a fair number of people who say that they are not happy with “this” or “that” in their current software or support. So why do users not switch?


One of the main reasons is that all their data is in a different format and it would take too long to re-draw it all. In light of this, I thought it would be interesting to look at what options the main CAD programs (Solid Edge, Inventor and Solidworks) has for dealing with importing from other systems. I will point out that I have only viewed videos and promotional material for Inventor and Solidworks, so may well be missing some key points.


Solid Edge

The tools available in Solid Edge for data migration are:


1. Inventor/Solidworks Data Migration

This option will only work if you have an existing copy of Inventor or Solidworks on your computer, which is needed to open and extract all the necessary information from the old files. You will need to specify a folder that contains the files to be migrated and the wizard will extract the links, assembly relationships, solidworks configurations and draft files (with their links). The whole set of data is then re-built in Solid Edge, with links, so that full assemblies are constrained and able to be manipulated. Draft files are also linked to their respective parts or assemblies and any edits that are made to a model are reflected in the draft. This video shows some of this in operation.


2. Import assembly/parts and use synchronous technology to edit

This option will only work on any imported part or assembly and can work equally well on files from Inventor, Solidworks, Parasolid or IGES. Assemblies will be created, with all parts in their correct position (as exported), but will be grounded in place. The assembly relationship assistant can then be used to automatically build relationships back in between parts. All parts created will be loaded into the synchronous mode (if that is your default option) and can be edited directly in the usual manner from either the part or assembly level. Draft files will not be imported or linked. It is possible though if you have a dwg/dxf version of the draft file to link the imported draft to the imported part (see video). Holes can also be recognised so that they can be modified (hole type changed, etc) and used for patterns, etc.


3. Direct edit of ordered parts

Direct edit capabilities were introduced prior to Synchronous Technology and utilises the imported file, as an ordered feature (dumb solid). Edits can be made to individual faces or holes and become part of the feature tree.


4. Linked copies

The final option allows parts to be used as an insert part copy in an ordered model so that it remains linked. The model from the supplier is linked to a new document and edits can then be made to it using the direct edit command or adding removing features. If the original file is modified and re-supplied, replacing the original, all edits can filter through to the solid edge file, with the feature tree being re-built in the usual ordered manner.


Solidworks

The tools available in Solidworks for data migration are:


1. 3D interconnect

This option allows users to load models designed in other CAD programs into the assembly, just like normal files, but the files stay native to the program they were created in. If the file is updated, it can be refreshed without needing to rebuild the assembly relationships. See a video here.


2. Featureworks

This option offers the ability to automatically and/or manually recognise features of an imported part model. There appears to be no option to work from an assembly and so each file will need to be converted individually.


3. Direct edit

This option utilises the imported file and edits can be made to individual faces or holes and become part of the feature tree. See a video here.


Inventor

The tools available in Inventor for data migration are:


1. AnyCAD

AnyCAD allows users to load models designed in other CAD programs as reference models, which allows the file to be updated if the original changes or to convert the file so that edits can be made. See a video here.


2. Direct edit

This option utilises the imported file and edits can be made to individual faces or holes and become part of the feature tree. See a video here.


In light of this, it seems that Solid Edge is the one CAD program that actually lends itself to users who want to switch from one CAD program to another. While the other two offer tools to work with imported/linked files, it is clear that they are not enough to make it easy for users to switch.

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