PTC Creo – The best CAD software on the market today

Religion, politics, what football team you cheer for, some topics can generate emotions instantly when talking to people of dissimilar thoughts. In conversation with mechanical engineers – this list also includes your favourite CAD software. To us CAD (Computer Aided Design) is just like a religion or a football team. So I will be bold enough and just say it.

Last year PTC announced a new release schedule for Creo Parametric including a major release every year in April. As promised Creo Parametric 6.0 was made available for customers in late March – and man what a release!
Creo Simulation Live

There is no secret that the pressure is building on designers to create lighter, faster and stronger products at lower costs. Simulation is a great way to analyze and validate the product as a virtual prototype before making a physical one. This enables you to iterate more quickly and design with greater confidence  – while saving both money and time.

PTC’s newest addition to its Simulation suite is Simulate Live. Built right into Creo Parametric it gives you real-time feedback as you design. The analysis updates dynamically as users edit or create features, or changes other properties of the model. It works for both parts and assemblies and features structural, thermal and modal analysis. This is one of the new features in the new partnership with ANSYS – the global leader in engineering simulation.
Augmented Reality Improvements
PTC is an important player when it comes to AR today. Some of the worlds biggest companies (read Apple, Microsoft, Google) are dependent on PTC and the Vuforia technology in their AR strategies.

Creo Parametric might feel far away from this technology but for creating an AR experience solely within the PTC infrastructure – it is actually a key component as this is where the actual content for AR experiences will be created.
Creo Parametric ModelCHECK
A great functionality that I don’t think gets enough spotlight is the ModelCHECK tool. A configurable framework of checks that can validate your data. It is for example great to use before you check in your models to PTC Windchill to secure meta data quality. With Creo Parametric 6.0 comes with an updated look, added functionality and new check types. If your unaware of what this functionality can do, I suggest that you take a quick look at it – I strongly think that it can improve the quality of your data overall.
User Interface and Experience

Improvement to the user interface is a recurring highlight for any Creo Parametric release these days. In this version the mini-toolbar functionality is incorporated in more locations. For one, it now presents features in the parts and sheet metal design modes. Descriptions, links to the help topics and more logical grouping of sub-actions are added to the feature toolbars.

The model tree has been updated with visibility filters to hide and show additional columns, a new color scheme and a new “insert here” dragger. These small improvements together with the ones added in PTC Creo 5.0 makes it feel more modern, intuitive then in earlier releases.

This is after all a user pane that we work with every day. On an administrative stand point, all customization of the model tree is now stored in the same file, as all other configuration changes to the UI making it easier to maintain and control.

PTC is really showing that they are pushing technology and innovation with all their products whilst at the same time simplifying features used for daily tasks by engineers, and more intuitive. So if your company has invested in PTC and Creo Parametric, I am glad to tell you that our team is winning!

 

Happy modeling! 

Nils

Creating Inheritance Models for Manufacturing with Creo Parametric (Formerly Pro/ENGINEER)

In design, the question often arises as to how you can design so that you do not have any problems later on, even in production. One way is to design structures during construction that later work better in manufacturing. Is this effective? Very often I would say no. Construction and manufacturing should be clearly separated. So how can I derive production-appropriate models from a normal assembly in Creo Parametric without having to use the original construction?
The answer is the usage of inheritance models.
To briefly illustrate this for you, we choose a PTC Creo welding assembly. We all know that we construct such components as an assembly, but these are later an item, because you can’t take them apart again without flex or saw.

Our welding PTC Creo part consists of two plates: an edited Creo part that is welded with the floorboard, and 4 cylindrical spacers which are also spot-welded with the floor plate. Also take a closer look at the Creo model tree in the picture above. The model tree for this welding part is a flat structure in an Creo assembly.

Next, we assume that the production of this welding construction will go through a process. First, we have to weld the two plates together. Additionally, the stamping and the breakthrough for the centering section and the positions of the cylindrical spacers need to be produced. Finally, the accessories are welded with the plates. So how can we develop a process model for this welding assembly? Should simplified representations or family tables be used? What if the designer responsible for the design and documentation of this process does not have the rights to change the original models? Should the original Creo assembly be restructured?
Example 1 – Models with inheritance geometry
The simple answer is that we use PTC Creo process models with inheritance geometry. Let’s say, the first model that needs to be developed is the floor panel without processing and with some additional welding preparation.

To construct this model, we first create a new PTC Creo part.

We then select retrieve data, merge/inherit. This opens the dashboard to define this feature.

We select the icon for open folders and select the original sheet part as shown below.

Now, we open the folder or the PTC Windchill work space and select the original sheet part.
We assemble the model to standard.

Next, we choose the icon to switch the function to inheritance, as shown below.

By switching the function to inheritance, all construction elements (CE) of the original model are available in the new model. Therefore, we can suppress all CEs of the original model in the inherited model, without affecting the original Creo design model.

For this example, we need to suppress the editing CEs (that would be the cutout in the middle and the 4 reductions) to illustrate the plate in the initial state of our process.

Let’s complete the feature by ticking the green check mark on the Creo dashboard. Note that the geometry of the original plate is now in the new model. We expand the structure with the plus icon next to the inheritance feature in the model tree to show the original features as shown below.

With these CEs now displayed, the editing CEs can be selected and suppressed without affecting the original design model. Note the image below showing the model tree with the machining CEs and the resulting geometry.

The final step in creating this process model is to add edge preparation for the weld seam. This can be done, for example, with the standard functions of PTC Creo Parametric; this too is done without us influencing the original design model. In the image below, a simple round was added to show the edge preparation.

The process model is now complete and remains fully associative to the original design model.
Example 2 – Multiple Creo inheritance features
The same steps can be repeated to illustrate multiple process steps. In addition, multiple Creo inheritance features can be used to inherit geometry and CE formations of other parts. I’ll briefly show you another example of a process model for the next production step of our welding structure. Note the Creo model tree in the following example. The editing CEs in the first record were suppressed. A round was also added to illustrate the additional material added by the weld.

A single drawback remains with his process which is that the Creo parts need to be reassembled during the creation of the Creo merge/inheritance feature. Even with this small disadvantage, this procedure still has many advantages.

Here’s an example of step 3. Note that for this example the inherited model from step 2 was used to create the model for step 3. This nested, inherited structure allows us to display the CEs of the original plate and restore the editing CEs. In addition, dimensions can be added to this process model to show the dimensions and tolerances required. Note that the dimensions position the processing preparations of the second plate. This is a different dimensions scheme from what was used for the original design model.

The final step could be created in a similar way. Note that the dimensions are taken from the model in step 3.

 

Finally, the new Creo parts can be grouped together into an assembly to represent the process order.

This is just one of many techniques available in Creo Parametric (formerly ProE). To break down a structure and depict the manufacturing in process models. It has the advantage of not using Creo family tables or assembly functions that could cause parts to regenerate when retrieving. In addition, a designer can build a separate manufacturing structure without the design owner of the original design assembly having to restructure or adjust according to the production order.

This technique also works in an environment with PTC Windchill MPMLink. Windchill MPMLink allows the conversion of an engineering parts list or E-BOM into a production parts list or M-BOM. Once developed, these new Creo CAD models can be linked to downstream Windchill parts created with Windchill MPMLink. Here it becomes very quickly apparent that Creo, in combination with Windchill, has many advantages compared to other midrange CAD Systems like SolidWorks and Inventor.

This blogpost is more process-oriented. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting topic that makes manufacturing and construction easier. The methodology roughly shown here can also be applied to the spin industry. Especially when it comes to establishing the connection between the raw part and the finished part without the models influencing each other.

For this I also have a brief example.
Example 3 – Connect Creo Parametric designs without influencing each other
In roll construction the pure body of the rolls is often created from a pipe. So, we can first create the “finished” roll as an assembly. The structure here is like the one in the example above.

So, we now want a model that depicts the raw part. We are proceeding here as in the example above and creating a new part called raw Creo part. We inherit the finished roll body and depict the raw part as a pure measure. In our example, a standard of 5mm has been used.

This measure can, for example, be entered as a fixed parameter so that it can be easily controlled. In our example the parameter “ROH” was simply directly related to “d14”.

In the same way, we could also control the raw parts length for the roll body. The roll shown here is also a welding assembly and, just like our example above, can be prepared for production accordingly. You can even go so far to create such assemblies as templates and therefore only control them via parameters, including the production drawings and customer drawing. Our in-house configurator product myPDS Configurator can also be used here. One advantage is, for example, that the sale can already provide all the necessary parameters in order to have a minimal design effort with recurring but minimally different products. The corresponding parameters only need to be loaded and the arbor is ready.

Why don’t you try inheritance models yourself? No Creo Parametric yet? Just talk to us or schedule a demo appointment with us. We are happy to present our examples live.

Best regards
Hans-Joachim Estler

The benefits of using myPDS Configurator

I find PTC Creo Parametric as an excellent 3D CAD solution for large, configurable assemblies. Creo Parametric is in its own league with its ability to support top-down design powered with excellent performance.

In my previous blog post I discussed different product configuration approaches and the value to use a product configurator. We at PDSVISION develop our own product configurator, myPDS Configurator, as a part of our myPDS Apps.
myPDS Configurator adds to Creo Parametric the automation and integration needed to create robust, intelligent and reusable 3D CAD assemblies and 3D CAD drawings.
You can easily add animation to engage your audience with simple turntables, dynamic exploded views, dramatic camera paths and much more.

myPDS Configurator can be divided into three components: engine, user interface and configurator logic solver.

The engine is created using PTC Creo API. Which allows supporting a wide range of different Creo Parametric versions. PDSVISION has created a Microsoft Excel template that can be used for the user interface and logic solver. The Excel file can take use of all functions, VB macros or other techniques generally available in Excel.

[caption id="attachment_6328" align="aligncenter" width="1019"] The following is short explanation and requirements of the different components.[/caption]

 
Configurator Engine
The engine takes XML-script as an input to drive Creo Parametric. The engine has commands to place, remove, replace components, to create drawing annotations, and to drive dimension or parameter values. In addition to model and drawing commands, it can also execute model rename and /or save in a Creo session.

The engine supports both super-BOM approach and creating new configurations from scratch. The latter option brings flexibility and efficiency to model creation, since not all options need to be placed within the master assembly. Many times, a new option can be introduced to assembly without updating the master CAD assembly.

The engine also supports updating structures that have been created using the configurator. This is important in cases where model creation from scratch takes time, or revising a previously configured product needs to be supported.
Configurator User Interface (UI)
Different user interface solutions can be used to create the previously mentioned XML-file to feed the configurator engine. The common user interface options are:

Microsoft Excel can be customized to any look and feel. Forms and visual basic macros can be used to create a user interface that has changing elements based on selections and inputs. Excel files can also be stored as documents together with configuration results to get needed traceability and version control. The same Excel files can also be used to collect input from different stake holders before running the actual configuration. Excel is naturally a great tool for large design tables in order to drive option selection using one or more design choices.

Web pages can be used to give a central, more simplified access to multiple users without need to have Creo installed onto a user’s workstation. Naturally web pages can be used for very rich user experiences and can be combined with other files and media.

Creating equations without programming is a challenge. So this option works best for configurators that do not require complex equations to be solved. Configuration results can be shown as a 3D file in a web page.

A separate configurator such as PLM, ERP or sales configurator. myPDS Configurator can be used with any configurator front ends, if the external configurator creates the needed XML-file in the end. For example, PTC Windchill has a very nice and PLM integrated configurator user interface that can be used. The generated variant specification is used as an input to the configurator engine. The same approach works with any existing configurator tool that is needing to be enhanced in order to create the design deliverables automatically.
Configurator logic
The approach in the myPDS Configurator has been to isolate the configuration rules from the user interface and CAD models. Many Creo based configurators utilize relations and programs in 3D models.

In our approach the 3D CAD model has no information about design intent. Thus it can be given to partners and suppliers without risk giving away company’s IP.

This approach also makes models easy to modify. We all know how hard it can be to make changes to a model that has lot of references and relations driving geometry and component locations. To create good 3D models requires still some planning and methodology understanding. Hence the configurator development is normally a task for experienced engineers.

If another equation solver other than Microsoft Excel is going to be used, it should support at least following things:

Both basic and advanced arithmetic operators such as multiply, divide, square root or exponents.
Logical expressions such as IF, ELSE, AND, OR, greater and smaller than.
Features such as subprograms and loops make logic creation faster and less error prone.

It would be also preferable that logic can be written as normal equations without prior knowledge of a specific programming language.

Syntax errors should be easy to spot whilst writing and debugging logic and should be easy for a mechanical engineer to conduct.

myPDS Configurator can create highly customized products whose components are virtually created for the order with new numbers and drawings. Or, it can be used to build new variants from predefined modules creating only one new top-level item with BOM and visualization for interference checking as only deliverable.
myPDS Configurator Benefits
There are many benefits to gain from this process, but to be concise the three main factors to highlight are:

An automation project can take hundreds of engineering hours. But cost savings can be significant if the engineering and development time goes down from weeks and months, to even just a just few hours. If the product’s yearly delivery volumes are big enough, the cost saving all over are enhanced more.
Modularizing product structures reduces the number of different items, which leads to a smaller number of documents being requiring maintenance & itemization.
Standardized product and document structures bring more efficiency to both in-house and outsourced manufacturing. Suppliers spend less time in production planning and quoting, whilst the sourcing process is shortened.

Best regards
Perttu Korpela