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Solid Edge - Community Edition

A personal view of why I like & use Solid Edge

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IanT10/10/2021 12:13:27
1993 forum posts
212 photos

Been watching the Fusion 'Cloud' thread but instead of adding my two penneth there - I thought I'd simply paste a post I've recently made on another modelling Forum (being a lazy b). I understand perfectly that once you've invested time and effort learning a particular CAD - it requires a very good reason to migrate elsewhere. But for anyone undecided about what 2D/3D CAD to adopt - here is some basic info about Solid Edge (and my reasons for using it) that may be useful to you...

PS I have one SE file per 'Part' and then build 'Assemblies' from them - wouldn't want it otherwise...

What is Solid Edge?

Solid Edge is a 2D/3D (hybrid) parametric CAD system, offering ‘Ordered’ (history based) and ‘Synchronous’ modelling technologies. It runs on Microsoft Windows and provides solid modelling, assembly modelling and 2D orthographic view functionality for mechanical designers.

What is Solid Edge Community Edition?

The 'Community Edition' is essentially the same as the commercial SE version with two exceptions. The first is that native SE files created with SE-CE cannot be opened with a commercially licensed SE version (and presumably vice versa). The second is that ‘Draft’ drawings have a ‘SE-CE’ watermark on them. Otherwise all the SE basic functionality that normally costs over £2k pa (per seat) is provided by the Community Edition under a free lifetime license.

Where can I get Solid Edge Community Edition

This seems to have caused others some problems because there are various free, old and trial versions of Solid Edge still available on various Siemens pages/websites. So just 'Googling' can lead you astray (as discovered by one user on this Forum recently). I would therefore strongly recommend that users should download from this Siemens link. It is a large download (about 6Gb) but it is a completely self contained software CAD package and made no real dent on my PCs 900Gb+ storage :

Siemens Digital Industries Software Online Store

As an aside, I downloaded SE-CE version ‘2020’ (which I am still using) last year but another ME I’ve been in contact with recently used this link and says his version appears to be the ‘2021’ Edition (with all the updates recently announced by Siemens for the commercial 2021 product). So this was very encouraging news!

What can Solid Edge NOT do?

SE will not suit you if you wish to run on Mac or Linux. It is Windows only and can be closely linked to external data via Microsoft technology (if you are clever enough). I run it on a five year old i5 laptop under Win 10 Home and have had no performance issues thus far.

It does not have a CAM component, so is not a one-shop stop for CNC. You can however export 3D designs for import into CAM software (including Fusion & FreeCAD) - so this may not be a limitation in practice. For 3D Print users it has an integrated 3DP slicer, although I'm still using Cura at the moment and haven't explored SE Slicer's 3DP features.

What can Solid Edge do?

Well just about everything else ’CAD’ as far as I can tell (although I’m no expert). My other ME/SE user correspondent was previously a professional ‘Solid Works’ user and he is of the view that he can do everything with SE that he could do with SW. That sounds like it’s going to be more than sufficient for my needs.

I should also add that I have been a TurboCAD 2D user for over 20 years and it is taking a little 're-thinking' of my approach to drafting. It’s not quite as simple as just "going from 2D drawing to 3D drawing" – you need to understand constraints, relationships, synchronous versus ordered design etc. However, it is possible to use SE-CE in 2D mode by using SE ‘Draft’ documents – and this 2D capability might be a much easier way to get into SE than just jumping into full 3D design. The 2D 'sketching' tools are essentially the same as used in 3D, so only need be learned once.

Why isn’t Solid Edge more widely known/used?

Siemens were a bit slow in offering a full 3D product for free (only starting in early 2020) although they had a free 2D product and various ‘Trial’ products before then. Some 3D CAD products, like Fusion 360 and Alibre had their offers earlier and therefore established a large (hobbyist) user base much earlier too. Also FreeCAD is developing/improving quickly as the open source solution - although I do not think it is up to 'commercial' quality software yet. I tried Fusion but didn’t progress with it, partly because I didn’t like the Cloud element. SE-CE is exactly right for my needs. It’s totally installed on my PC (locally) and I keep my work stored locally too, so there are no 'cloud' dependencies on future Corporate policy changes.

If anyone is interested, I will follow this up with some advice on how to get started with Solid Edge (from my own experiences as a 3D CAD Noobie). Siemens has provided some excellent eLearning and product documentation but it does sometimes takes some finding.

I hope this has been useful to anyone still wondering which CAD product might best suit their modelling needs going forward. Happy to answer questions if I can - please remember I'm still learning myself.



Rod Ashton10/10/2021 12:36:08
340 forum posts
12 photos

Well done Ian - Waiting patiently for your tutorials.

Squarepeg11/10/2021 13:38:50
31 forum posts

YouTube is great for CAD tutorials, and there's various CAD forums where most questions have already been asked and asnwered. The majority of CAD systems are much of a muchness, and if you can use one then you can generally use another with a bit of time. Having trained and worked in both CATIA and SolidEdge and now a being a SolidWorks user, I can't really comment on any of the free CAD software but I imagine for what most people here require, the SolidEdge community edition will be more than enough. I was quite surprised with what SolidEdge is capable of, it definitely exceeded my expectations.

Nigel Graham 211/10/2021 18:15:14
2133 forum posts
29 photos

Interesting review, Ian. Thank you.

It is good that Siemens have now recognised the private user, even if with an ulterior motive of making life simpler for students. It did publish a schools version (I was told by a teacher) with the idea of turning out young engineers already introduced to SW... and only SW, while pushing to be industry's leading CAD choice.

When I did my shopping around the Siemens SW/SE site implied the software was intended purely for commercial and academic customers - no mention of prices or amateur / student use.


Can ANother drawings be opened in Solid-xxxx, if necessary converted to a standard format in their parent programme?

I assume ANother is a leading make, not some obscure WWW freebie or heavily pruned schools version.


What training aids are available?

I can't learn from videos, and find YouTube an utter pain now anyway. One strength of buying TurboCAD as I did, was its accompanying CD training manual in pdf form.


I use TurboCAD 18 Pro but almost entirely in its orthogonal mode, rarely trying the far harder isometric option. Does SW allow that direct choice or is it like Fusion and Alibre, forcing isometric "modelling" automatically?

If I decided to switch I'd certainly consider TurboCAD's new version for continuity but would not close my mind to trying Solid Edge. Naturally this is provided both will work on WIN 7 Pro.

Had this happened before I retired I'd have had a works drawing-office full of SW users to pester for ..... Hellllp!


A point regarding Fusion 360 files. It may have been changed since but at the time I tried it, probably 3 or 4 years ago now, it did discreetly offer a local-storage option. I don 't know if it was secretly also storing them on-line anyway!

IanT11/10/2021 22:02:20
1993 forum posts
212 photos

Hello again – sorry to make you wait Rod (although I suspect you don’t really need my help!)

OK, so you are new to 3D CAD and you have just downloaded Solid Edge Community Edition.

What to do next? Well I would suggest that one thing you DO NOT do – is just jump straight in and try to figure it out by yourself. It’s much better to be guided in your first few steps and I’d suggest the following ones..

Step 1

Open Solid Edge and click on the top menu option ‘Learn’ – this will take you to the ‘Learn Solid Edge’ page, where you should select ‘Recommended Learning Paths’ link.

This will then take you to an area of the Siemens’ ‘Doc Centre’ and I would suggest you choose the ‘New to CAD’ option (which I did even though I have some 2D CAD experience). Select ‘Click to Continue’

You will be offered three short intro videos – less than 20 minutes to watch them all.

Following the videos (on the same page) there are five eLearning Tutorials, each featuring a number of self-paced guided activities. An excellent feature of these activities is that although the learning material is online – you use the actual Solid Edge CAD package to work through them. So as you follow/work through each activity, you are building real 3D models using Solid Edge.

I worked through all five tutorials over about a week or so. At the end of this period, I was not a Solid Edge Guru but I had achieved one important thing. I knew that given time, I could draw reasonably complex objects in Solid Edge – because I had just done so. I believe that confidence is the first and most important thing that you need to learn when first coming to 3D CAD – and these Tutorials will help give it to you.

(BTW – there are many more Tutorials available should you need them...)

Step 2

Try to draw something relevant and useful to you, keeping it fairly simple to begin with. Try to stay within the bounds of the Tutorial work too. Don’t be too ambitious and don’t be afraid to scrap a drawing and start over if required.

The default setting for Solid edge is ‘Synchronous’ (although you can set ‘Ordered’ as your default if you wish). However, a key strength of Solid Edge is its Synchronous technology and it’s worth learning and using it.

End of Part 1

IanT11/10/2021 22:04:35
1993 forum posts
212 photos

Part Two

Step 3

I watched many YouTube videos, some good and some frankly very bad. Some were also badly dated and/or used ‘Ordered’ methodology. Personally, I found that I learnt very little from videos that whizzed through the subject matter or were far too advanced.

Finally I settled on the YTs of Dr Mohammed Seif who is a University Lecturer in Engineering in the US. I suspect he originally made his videos for his students and they are well and (for my needs) well paced. His material is also sensibly structured and builds gradually, introducing new concepts in a reasonably logical way. I’ve now watched all of his material and sometimes pop back to check how he approached a particular part. Here is the first one...

Introduction to Solid Edge 2020 - Sketches (Introduction Lab) - YouTube

Step 4

As you progress with Solid Edge, you will discover ‘holes’ in your knowledge. There are several important aids to help get you past these roadblocks.

The first is with the Solid Edge user interface (UI) and is called the ‘Command Finder’. This is the box on the bottom of the screen that has ‘Find a Command’ in it! Type in a word that describes what you want to do and the Command Finder will open a box with the Commands you may be seeking. As you run your cursor over the suggestions, it will animate the associated icon in the Command Line to show you where it is located. A simple but very effective aid.

Secondly, assuming that you can find the Command you need but do not know how to use it, hovering over its icon and hitting F1 will take you to the ‘Help’ for that command – often an animated illustration.

Finally, Siemens has provided a set of very detailed ‘self-paced’ learning that can be downloaded as PDFs and which make a very good reference library. I have not worked systematically through them but have dipped into them as required. There are twelve ‘Fundamentals’ courses which cover more than most people will require I suspect. The ‘Sketching’ course downloads as a 216 page indexed document (and there is also an associated Powerpoint if required). I will probably never work through all this material but I do have the PDFs as a form of very detailed Reference Manual!

You can find the Self-Paced Courses here:

Siemens Documentation: Self-paced and classroom courses

So, that’s what I’d suggest to the ‘Younger Me’ if I’d had the chance a year ago. My progress wasn’t quite so orderly but I am happy to say I’m over the initial “That’s too hard to Learn” mentality. Like anything worth doing, you have to invest some time and effort.

Solid Edge is a very well documented and supported CAD product. I can’t make any comparisons with other CAD products but it’s certainly been a very important part of my learning thus far.

Hope this helps - sorry if it was a bit longwinded!



IanT11/10/2021 22:11:10
1993 forum posts
212 photos

"Can ANother drawings be opened in Solid-xxxx, if necessary converted to a standard format in their parent programme?"

I can certainly (successfully) open DXF files from TurboCAD with Solid Edge Nigel and it supports all the main file formats that I'm aware of (and some that I've never heard of).

With regards to "Learning" and "Documentation - hopefully my previous posts will cover that....



Edited By IanT on 11/10/2021 22:15:36

Paul Lousick11/10/2021 22:36:03
2043 forum posts
722 photos

"Can ANother drawings be opened in Solid-xxxx, if necessary converted to a standard format in their parent programme?"

Yes they can but the 3D model loses all of the constraints that hold it together and it can easily fall apart. Not so much of a problem with a small model but a lot of work with a large multi-part model.

If you do not have the correct software to open a CAD model or drawing,  there are on-line sites that can convert CAD models from one format to another.

Another newer 3D CAD package is FreeCAD. A free and open-source general-purpose parametric 3D computer-aided design modeler and a building information modeling software with finite element method support. Lots of information and tutorials on Youtube. I have only recently viewed the videos and have not used it as I am a Solidworks user but it appears to be similar.


Edited By Paul Lousick on 11/10/2021 22:42:11

Clive Foster11/10/2021 23:20:20
3135 forum posts
109 photos

Further to what IanT says about reference materials I find that with anything complex its a great help to have at least two sources of instruction. When you hit the "WTH! Explain your explanation." log jam a different form of words or viewpoint is often enough to make clear the bit I didn't get. Usually with an unvoiced "D'oh.".

I got the Solid Edge 2020 book by Sham Tikoo which seems pretty good and ought to be a great help if I can ever scare out enough connected time to get properly to grips with Solid Edge. £50 or so for a book looked a bargain compared to £1,000 or so to update VectorWorks for a later operating system. Especially as the Vectorworks Mechanical section development was abandoned years ago.

As another person who doesn't get on with video tutorials I'll be printing out the self paced learning course from Siemens too.

Worth looking around the Scribd site for literature. Some pretty up to date stuff needs to be read online but there is some older literature from several sources that can be downloaded and printed. I've never got my head round whether or not Scribd has copyright issues, its about £40 annual subscription for the full fat service, but I find it a very handy way of filtering out whether or not a book is worth buying. Especially so if contemplating paying £50 or more for a tutorial or text books where the authors style needs to work for you. Screen is no substitute for print so if its not going to be a one time read or give up partway I buy the book,.About 1 buy out of ten looked at


IanT11/10/2021 23:34:13
1993 forum posts
212 photos


Solid Edge has a toolset called "Reverse Engineering" that allows some manipulation of .STL files and may be part of solution to this issue but it's way beyond my understanding at this time.

Siemens Documentation: Reverse Engineering Workflow

Likewise there are "Simulation" tools that allow FEA

Siemens Documentation: Analyze a Model - FEA Process



Of possible more utility to us mere mortals (and 2D converts) - Solid Edge has a "Create 3D" function that allows DXF files to be imported and used to create 3D models. Thus far, I've found it easier to simply import the DXF and use the imported 'Sketch' to then extrude and build the 3D model but the 'Create' method is probably much quicker (once mastered). It's on my (long) list of things to learn....

Siemens Documentation: Create 3D Command



Squarepeg12/10/2021 08:34:23
31 forum posts

If you do a search, there's a few fundametals training pdf's available on the internet. Usually on the courses you just work through these with obviously with the help of a tutor. Granted this is an old one, but the fundamentals don't change much!

SolidEdge Fundamentals

There are also various companies that offer training. This one is quite popular for all sorts of different courses and often does some good deals and plenty of free courses. Haven't used them myself but it's worth a look for anyone new to CAD. There's also plenty of other free courses that may interest some of you that aren't CAD related.

Udemy - SolidEdge Training

Dave Smith 1412/10/2021 09:14:42
213 forum posts
43 photos

All the 'good' CAD systems can talk to each other in a least a limited way. This is either achieved using native translators embeded in the software or importing geometry using dxf for 2D and either IGES or STEP for 3D. STEP is the preferred file format for 3D. As Paul says with regards to 3D geometry you get a 'dumb' solid. This means it has none of the history as to how it was created, as this is unique to the parent software. However a dumb solid can be modified, have materials allocated etc you just cannot deconstruct it and it is still orrientated correctly relative to its origin axis. So although parts in an assembly may lose their relative positions, it is an easy task to reposition them. (I have the tee-shirt on a full model of a 5" gauge loco). STL files are not designed to be modified as such and are difficult to manipulate, some CAD systems have functions to change the mesh to a surface model, which in turn allows a solid model to be created (CATIA has this function).

Bazyle12/10/2021 10:53:42
6324 forum posts
222 photos

Ian, Thankyou for the introduction and instructions. You mentioned 3 intro videos provided once downloaded. Are these available directly. Their website seems to go out of its way to avoid any actual details about the product.

IanT12/10/2021 11:03:22
1993 forum posts
212 photos

Yes, I beleive so Baz, although you will need to have solid Edge installed to do the Activities that follow

Solid Edge - New to CAD - Intro Videos



IanT12/10/2021 11:24:26
1993 forum posts
212 photos


I don't have the need to move solid models between different CAD systems, as I've only previously used 2D CAD. I guess I might need to modify an existing 3D Print design but I've decided to avoid that where ever possible, at least until my skills improve very considerably.

However, for anyone interested in SE's 'supported' file types - here are the options a) when exporting/saving to non-native SE models (Part & Assembly docs - haven't checked Weldments and Sheet Metal docs) and b) when opening/importing same...

These options are document specific - so DWG, DXF etc file types only appear for 'Draft' (e.g. 2D) documents...


Solid Edge - export file types.jpg

and Importing...

Solid Edge - open file types.jpg

As I've said, most of these file types I will probably never need/use myself but I guess they may be of interest to the more advanced CAD users here. Hope this helps.



SillyOldDuffer12/10/2021 13:02:22
8694 forum posts
1967 photos
Posted by Dave Smith 14 on 12/10/2021 09:14:42:

All the 'good' CAD systems can talk to each other in a least a limited way.

They can, but jumping between CAD packages is asking for trouble. 'Lost in translation' is a common problem. There's quite a lot to go wrong converting from one drawing format to another and unsupported features like missing fonts have to corrected manually. Other problems are seriously challenging. Hoping to automatically convert from one format to another is fraught with compatibility issues, not least because vendors can and do change specifications.

What does work is moving between packages of a different type: workflows where the output is simpler than the input. For example, using a fully parameterised 3D-CAD package to generate STL (geometric slices), which are converted by something else into less clever G-code, which is interpreted by the CNC machine into simple tool movements.

My advice is to minimise the number of different drawing packages used and keep them apart. Though it's possible to transfer a FreeCAD model into Fusion, change it, and then move it to SolidEdge, the process is likely to be painful. Better, I think, to find a package that does what's needed for new work and stick with it. Don't get hung-up on legacy - if an old drawing must be converted, accept it might have to be recreated from scratch.

For what it's worth I use QCAD for all 2D-drawings, FreeCAD for 3D single parts, and Fusion360 for assemblies. Although deficient when it comes to assemblies and joints FreeCAD is free open source and doesn't use the Cloud. It's my safety-net in the event Fusion360 withdraws or severely restricts their free to hobby version. Not surprising when commercial vendors change the deal because they create software to make a profit, not to give Model Engineers a free ride. For 3D-printing I use Cura, which works with FreeCAD, Fusion, and pretty much anything else that can output STL.


Dave Smith 1412/10/2021 14:10:45
213 forum posts
43 photos


I did say in a limited way. I agree with 2D data that there are compatibility issues with fonts, drawing borders etc but the important bit which is the geometry does not normally have problems. It does not take long to recreate dimensions add a drawing border any way. With 3D models on the 'good' CAD systems 3D model transfer is not a problem. I transfer models between CATIA, SE and occasionally F360 without any issues. The first photo shows the boiler for my Aspinall which was modelled in CATIA, the second photo shows the boiler assembly after conversion to a STEP file and then imported into SE which took about 5 mins Depending on the system and how you create the STEP file it can be made to bring all the parts in their correct relative position.

So for Ian this may be useful to know if he needs to import a complete assembly.

I was not advocating people use multiple packages, just answering a question if systems can talk to each other which they can. I would always advise if possible to chose a CAD that does what you want of it and stick with it.

By the way I have used CAD systems continuously since the early 1980's where I was involved with the introduction of the first system into Rolls Royce, Computervision CADDS 3 if anyone remembers it. I then went onto to use CADDS 4, CATIA V3, V4 and V5 which is my current weapon of choice.



IanT12/10/2021 15:02:54
1993 forum posts
212 photos

"I understand perfectly that once you've invested time and effort learning a particular CAD - it requires a very good reason to migrate elsewhere. But for anyone undecided about what 2D/3D CAD to adopt - here is some basic info about Solid Edge (and my reasons for using it) that may be useful to you..."

Copied from my opening post....

I didn't really intend this thread to convert existing 3D CAD users across to Solid Edge CE - more to point out that 'late-comers' to 3D CAD now have a very good (free) alternative to Fusion and other existing 2D/3D CAD systems - than was avaialbe to us before early 2020.

Whilst there may be good reasons for existing CAD users to move their CAD product, I was primarily addressing the 'New to 3D CAD' user, especially anyone like myself who had previously just used 2D CAD for many years (together with a little Open SCAD for 3DP).

So whilst I understand how some folk might accumulate a mix of product knowledge (and use several different CAD systems currently) - if starting with a clean sheet, then focusing on a single 2D/3D CAD solution probably makes good sense. As my Solid Edge skills have improved, my use of TurboCAD 2D and SCAD has declined.




Edited By IanT on 12/10/2021 15:08:07

IanT12/10/2021 15:07:28
1993 forum posts
212 photos

Dave S14,

Thanks, I may well need to do something like that one day but CAD-wise I'm currently still learning to walk (so to speak) - not quite ready for a marathon (or even a short sprint) yet. Very nice work though, something to aspire to.



SillyOldDuffer12/10/2021 15:08:13
8694 forum posts
1967 photos
Posted by Dave Smith 14 on 12/10/2021 14:10:45:


I did say in a limited way...

I was not advocating people use multiple packages, just answering a question if systems can talk to each other which they can. I would always advise if possible to chose a CAD that does what you want of it and stick with it.


We are having a violent agreement! My fault, because I addressed a point that's come up in other posts, not what you said. I'm warning against the desire for a Universal CAD solution that can read and write historic files produced by any other CAD package, which is asking a bit much!

I'm probably out of date too: in the last 20 years, software has become much more compatible. In my day, almost everything was locked into proprietary formats. Today it's far more likely file formats will conform to a more or less open standard, hurrah!


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