New Terms and New Ideas in CAD – Synchronous Technology

By MarkBurhop

With all the changes in CAD that have been happening the last few years, there has been a struggle to come up with terms that properly describe and allow you to compare what comes from each CAD provider. Chad Jackson is making some attempts to discuss this on his blog posts which is leading to a lot of chatter on twitter.

I’m all for getting some standardization if only so I don’t have to write a string of terms or definitions for my readers in every blog post I make. The problem is a lot of the terms just don’t fit us. Or, if they do, they might not fit others.

Below is on pictureon Synchronous Technology that has been around since before it was released (3 versions ago).

For people talking generally about CAD,lets talk about some terms that get confusing, especailly around Synchronous Technology.

Traditional CAD programs, say SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor(not with Fusion) ,Solid Edge( V20 or earlier ), are sometimes refereed to as “Parametric Modelers”. The problem is that while “Parametric” includes “history”, it also includes variables, driving or driven dimensions, really anything that depends on something else.Removing history from the equation doesn’t make it “non-parametric”.So, I generally prefer the “History-based” versus “History Free” terminology above. In fact, Synchronous Technology adds new ways to parameterize things with relationships and more dimensional control.

Another term often used is “Feature based CAD”. Features showed up with history and parameterization (e.g. feature has radius parmeter) so there is a tendency to link them together.However, the three ideas can stand on their own. As you can see above, Sychronous has the concept of features.A round is still a round. A gusset in sheetmetal is still a gusset (I can go back at any time and change the parameters of the gusset). Trying to divide systems based just on support of features is hard too.While I don’t think everyone understood it back then, all of this combined is why Dan Staples often talked about Synchronous Technology “being a 3rd fork in the road”.

Now I’m not even getting into the “ordered” functionality new with ST3 which gives you the advantages of history without forcing you to use it for everything you do. Thats a topic for another day.

And Chad, did this help or did I make things worse? 🙁

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at