If you were standing on the corner of the CAD block yesterday, you had obscure CAD terminology splashed all over your new pants. Everyone and their step-uncle’s mom was waxing intellectual about the ‘newest-in-new, right-up-in-your-face- and-hit-you’ CAD tech announce by Siemens PLM called (prepare for large phrase that makes you mildly uninterested)… ready… “Synchronous Technology.” Ok, before you head off to LifeHacker, check this out… the cadmosphere is a-changin’…

What is Synchronous Technology?

First off, in January 2007, Siemens AG bought UGS, who created NX and Solid Edge. These are roughly equivalent to Dassault’s CATIA and SolidWorks.

The term, Synchronous Technology, is not new. A more understandable term would be real-time design. If you want to explain it to me without all the big words, just tell me you can change the model without understanding how it was created. When a list of feature history doesn’t work right, that is dang attractive.

Still doesn’t make sense?

This technology is going to be mixed into NX and Solid Edge in May. In my mind, that would be equivalent to SolidWorks removing the history-based modeling or adding a way to add and change geometry without editing features. You probably thinking it’s like the Instant3D functionality in 2008, but for that, the features have to already exist, it only works at the part level and there’s a certain amount of parametric forethought you need to build into the model. Granted, they’re adding more to it in 2009 for assemblies, but still… not exactly the same.

The spit and sizzle of Siemens new tech is closer to SpaceClaim’s CAD-without-borders approach. In that sense, their ideas are similar. But really, the idea to make CAD easier, is what all the major CAD companies are joining hands around the campfire to do. ah-hem.

Trends in CAD

User bases in CAD are that wet well rope of a CAD company Well. (Don’t run dry or we’ll take our bucket somewhere else mister.) Investment into a new system takes loads of resources. How a design is created is only one aspect of the process. How drawings are produced and how models interact with other programs are aspects that always fall below the haze of spine tingling, sped-up video demos of parts flying together. Hey, there’s one trend that will always be around.

On the other hand, SpaceClaim and Seimens are adding a new aspect (not a new idea) to CAD-topia that needs to be considered, tested, and made better by everyone involved. Just because they’re doing it doesn’t mean it sucks and all my legacy data and work is going up in flames. It’s not necessarily a breakthrough (maybe for their programmers), but it is helping their marketing and giving us something to talk about.

You will determine the outcome

In the end, this is good stuff to be aware of, even if your a hack of a modeler in a room filled with drafting boards, because one day, someone may ask, “What do you think?”

Seimens website has more info, as does this video. It’s 9 minutes long. The main points are at 3:20 when they announce Synchronous Technology, at 5:10 when they explain the ‘breakthrough’, and the last minute when they tell about it being in the next versions of NX and Solid Edge.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.