3DEXPERIENCE Integration and Understanding Metadata

Article by Wayne White updated June 17, 2024

Article

3DEXPERIENCE Integration is an option for those using 3DEXPERIENCE on Cloud for SOLIDWORKS CAD data management. Over time, companies have been provided more options to cater the experience in the Platform to their own liking.

One of the more critical options for awareness is called 3DEXPERIENCE Integration, which allows for better metadata specification (part number, description, author and the like). Users can find this in SOLIDWORKS via tools, options, system options.

As a baseline, there is information in the SOLIDWORKS Help. So, what does this option do? Let’s look further.

What is 3DEXPERIENCE Integration?

Simply put, the 3DEXPERIENCE Integration allows the user to control the part or assembly’s configuration structure and how the structure is mapped into the Platform.

Below, I’ve turned on “Update SOLIDWORKS files for compatibility with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform”. Keep in mind, that once the document has been updated for 3DEXPERIENCE Compatibility, there is no going back for that document. Additionally, there is a Rules Editor that allows for users to generate rules on how certain configurations become Physical Products versus representations for existing data. This is outside the scope of this blog.

Update SOLIDWORKS files for compatibility with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

Update SOLIDWORKS files for compatibility with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

New in FD01, 2024x (February 2024) is the ability to allow a single physical product in new parts/ assemblies or multiple physical products. You may wonder, what is a physical product? Let’s start to unpack that as we explore the option.

The Physical Product

3DEXPERIENCE Integration allows for the user to better control the structure of the CAD object in the Platform. Remember, the Platform is where the truth exists. So, when a company’s Purchasing department or Management looks for part numbers, it’s to the Platform where users will go. In SOLIDWORKS, users are familiar with its structure— a part, configuration, derived configuration is the potential structure in CAD. In 3DEXPERIENCE, there is CAD Family, Physical Product and representations. Representations are not ported to the Platform. Representations exist solely in the context of SOLIDWORKS.

Below is the traditional feature tree on the left in SOLIDWORKS showing the CAD Family top-level object and 3 physical products underneath it. To the right side of the interface, in the handy Relations app (All Relations), we see 1 CAD Family, 3 physical products, and the 3 objects referred to as representations, which allow the user to see these objects in the web via 3DPlay. Those are different ‘representations’- those are the tessellated models that the web browser understands to generate graphics.

Traditional feature tree on the left in SOLIDWORKS showing the CAD Family top-level object and 3 physical products underneath it

Traditional feature tree on the left in SOLIDWORKS showing the CAD Family top-level object and 3 physical products underneath it

Below, we have the same variants, but we’ve mapped them differently. So, now we have one CAD Family object, one Physical Product, and two representations (as seen in the feature tree). So, this means we do not see “Large” and “Small” in the Platform, but rather the master configuration called Bracket. So, in this sense, there is one string of metadata as Large and Small do not exist in 3DEXPERIENCE. They are simply different sizes that can be utilized in various states in CAD.

One CAD Family object, one Physical Product, and two representations (as seen in the feature tree)

One CAD Family object, one Physical Product, and two representations (as seen in the feature tree)

Physical Products are perhaps the most critical object in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. A Physical Product is the object that shows the CAD geometry when using tools like 3DPlay- also downstream apps like Product Release Engineer and Project Planner amongst others really work off the physical product object type.

Below, I see the same hierarchy, but the CAD Family object is ‘removed’ from view. So, we just see a Bracket with the 2 various states/ configurations underneath it (Large and Small). Removing the CAD Family object is a nice feature to simplify the User Interface, but realize the CAD Family object is still there as the package.

CAD Family object is ‘removed’ from view

CAD Family object is ‘removed’ from view

The great thing about 3DEXPERIENCE Integration is the ability to convert between physical products and representations throughout. Generally, companies would have a good idea at the concept of a product, but this does allow for flexibility in part number (along with other properties) generation. As seen below, the user can ‘convert to a physical product’ or a representation.

Convert to physical product

Convert to physical product

Below, we explore turning off 3DEXPERIENCE Integration. I have 2 configurations, 1 of which is a derived configuration. Ultimately, in this scenario, we end up with 3 physical products in 3DEXPERIENCE, which means 3 independent but connected objects. So, again, this is fine if you want separate part numbers.

Turning off 3DEXPERIENCE Integration

Turning off 3DEXPERIENCE Integration

A pro tip is to explore the name of the object. Check out the numbers at the end of the string. The prd prefix is the default naming convention for the Physical Product object type. If the user sees a different number, it is a different Physical Product object.

After the fact, documents can be processed for compatibility via ‘update for 3DEXPERIENCE compatibility’ in the right mouse button menu, as seen below.

Update for 3DEXPERIENCE compatibility

Update for 3DEXPERIENCE compatibility

Should I use 3DEXPERIENCE Integration?

The choice to use 3DEXPERIENCE Integration or not is one that should be tested by each organization. Companies may generate templates to standardize this feature across their design team. At the very least, we recommend companies consider what their part numbering intent is as close to the starting line within the platform, and to understand the nuance of this option.

3DEXPERIENCE Integration allows for closer control over the company’s numbering intent, along with a tighter alignment of 3DEXPERIENCE object names- CAD Family, Physical Product, and representations. With the option off, the verbiage remains configurations and derived configurations within the UI, and variants called configurations generally will become physical products in 3DEXPERIENCE with potentially separate part numbers.

As always, take for our 3DEXPERIENCE Platform Training to better understand these options.

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Wayne White

Wayne White is a mechanical engineer and TriMech 3DEXPERIENCE Solutions Consultant focused on helping clients implement and maximize 3DEXPERIENCE (3DX), a cloud-based platform that gives organizations a real-time view of activities across their whole ecosystem.