PTC Creo Parametric ( Pro/ENGINEER) vs. Solidworks – The Second Coming

Hello, do not worry, I am not intending to discuss with you W. B. Yeat’s famous poem from 1919 today! No, I am of course talking again about the evergreen PTC Creo Parametric vs. SolidWorks.

The reference to second coming is more to remind you that this is a continuation of my previous Creo Parametric vs SolidWorks blog. This focused on the origins of this rivalry and as announced at the time, the “return” of Creo Parametric vs. SolidWorks as a “Heavy Weight” battle of software giants.

For this second round, I have selected a few topics to show you more where I believe, from my own user experience – that Creo Parametric is better than SolidWorks, and in my opinion by some distance.

PTC Creo Credentials

Creo Parametric has a fundamentally better and more stable approach to dealing with references than SolidWorks. If you insert something between a reference and the referencing feature, the reference is retained. In SolidWorks, that can be a bit tricky. For example, if a sketch is at the beginning of the model and is later used for a construction element (feature), the subsequent construction element (feature) absorbs the sketch, although there are features between the reference functions. Problem diagnosis becomes very difficult in SolidWorks. The opportunity to take a quick look at whether a change is feasible is not entirely without effort. In Creo this is not the case and I can choose how to use a sketch with a feature.

Edges or surfaces? In Creo, you have a choice of what you want to use as references. SolidWorks only has edges. If you want to create a very robust model, this can be problematic.

The possibility of making fundamental changes

Do you sometimes change models? Do you have to change a construction element (KE) in the model that is at the beginning of the model tree? Changes can be so fundamental. Anyone who has a lot to do with design iterations or change requests knows this only too well. Such numbers are often an enormous effort in CAD. This could be debated for a long time, but it suffices if we note that Creo Parametric has the ability to reassign references, and SolidWorks simply doesn’t do that. In SolidWorks, I have to delete the reference and then recreate it. This can be very, very cumbersome and, above all, time-consuming. For example, Creo Parametric also shows me where the old references were, even if they may no longer exist.

If we add that Creo Parametric always keeps its original references, even if they have been changed by a radius or a chamfer, for example, the advantages and technical depth of Creo Parametric become clear to everyone. SolidWorks always changes these references based on the latest feature (construction element) – in short, a fillet destroys a reference. Ultimately, this means that changes in SolidWorks can take days for large and complex parts, while in Creo Parametric we may have to change a few (KE’s) features.

How are errors handled?

Construction elements (features or KE’s) sometimes fail! When editing 3D CAD models, references or other things sometimes change. This leads to an unsuccessful regeneration of construction elements. In parametric systems, this is necessary to ensure design intent and is in the nature of things (parametric).

The decisive factor is how such errors are dealt with.

Creo Parametric has an excellent tool to deal with these errors. In the case of failed features, it shows the designer where the old reference was and, above all, what it looked like. So it will be very easy to adequately replace it

Direct modelling

It is often said that SolidWorks could model directly. It’s just not true! What looks like solid modelling in SolidWorks is actually an indefinite sketch! Only then can you touch and move a surface. Things look very different at Creo Parametric. PTC bought CoCreate Modelling a few years ago, and one or the other is still known as SolidDesigner.

CoCreate was and is by far the best and leading system among the direct 3D CAD programs. Today it is known as Creo Elements / Direct Modelling. This program is a direct modeller throughout. As this technology belongs to PTC, it is also available in Creo Parametric. You can work here mixed parametric or directly. Creo doesn’t care.

This is a great advantage, especially for imported parts (also called “dumb parts” in English) or parametric parts where the external references have been broken. The “Flex Part” from Creo can basically do everything that the old Create could do.

I can simply delete, move or change the geometry. Incidentally, this is also possible for sheet metal parts. Yes, non-parametric parameters such as imported “stupid” (in English also “dumb”) sheet metal parts can be changed directly! Creo puts another slice on it. For example, if you change a geometry by, say, 100 mm, these 100 mm are now a parameter that can be easily changed later or used in all other functions that use parameters.

I’m just saying: You can import family table parts from step files.

There is another specialty that no other CAD system can, not only to mention SolidWorks can complete because of the lack of direct modelling. The use of the “Flex Tool” or the use of direct modelling in Creo Parametric has no effect on the history of the construction elements and these remain. All “direct” changes are easily displayed as a separate construction element in the model tree, thus solving the mix between “parametrics” and “direct” perfectly mathematically and topologically. A masterpiece of product management and the developers of PTC!

I used both – and chose the winner!

As in the first part, please consider: I was a long-time SolidWorks user and I don’t want to leave Creo Parametric anymore. It simply offers too much outstanding functionality. All in all, it simply puts any other system in your pocket.

As always, if you have any further questions … don’t hesitate to contact us.

We are happy to help.


How do I create a single part in the context of the assembly in PTC Creo Parametric?

For historical reasons, PDSVISION Germany has many customers who use Creo Elements / Direct Modelling. Sometimes these companies want to switch to Creo Parametric for their CAD design in order to benefit from the advantages of parametric methodology in addition to direct modelling.

For those who do not know Creo Elements / Direct Modelling well, this program comes directly from the legendary ME10, which is still in use in its most modern form and is part of the Creo Elements / Direct package.

Creo Elements / Direct Modelling is a so-called “Direct Modeler”, that is, the 3D CAD program has no reference, as is common in parametric applications.

Creo Elements / Direct Modelling is iterative, i. H. the moment I z. B. have executed the command to create a profile, the previous process is irrelevant. The bottom line is a very free construction, which allows very creative work in the context of an assembly.

If you compare the two PTC products Creo Elements / Direct Modelling and Creo Parametric at first glance, some people ask themselves: How can I work as freely as in Modelling? That doesn’t work with a parametric method of working without having external references that later cause problems!

Now, at the said first glance, this is correct, but only at this first glance. So what does the proposed best practice in Creo Parametric look like if I want to or even have to work with external references?

The magic word is reference control. In short, as a designer I have the possibility of external references from Creo construction elements (features or features) or z. B. to use whole areas. The method of “copying” an entire area and then reloading it in a new part is very popular in Creo Elements / Direct Modelling. The crux of the matter in the parametric environment is that external references update themselves when there are changes in the origin of those. Sometimes this is desired and sometimes not. In other words, I have to be in control. Reference control …

I would like to present two recommended ways for you to do this.

Securing external references

This method is intended for external references that come from a Creo construction element. A simple example are e.g. B. two holes that are in different parts of a Creo assembly and must be aligned. That means: one hole is the reference for the second. I can simply save the reference of the second hole in Creo Parametric (1) and then have full control of what happens to the hole when the source is updated.

Now I have the option to choose from four different options (2):

Update automatically
Manual update with notification
Update manually
No dependency














I have z. B. “Manual update with notification” selected, I will be notified when the reference has changed.

In the “Show differences” tool, I now see which references have changed by highlighting them in color.














The “No dependency” option breaks the reference permanently and cannot be undone. Creo construction elements (KE’s) can be referenced afterwards or e.g. B. edited with Creo Flexible Modelling.

As you can see, with Creo Parametric I have every opportunity to deal with 3D CAD references.

Creo publishing geometry

The question often arises: How can I e.g. For example, use a complete surface to create a new Creo part in a Creo assembly? An ideal way is to use the publishing geometry function.

In the example, the flange surface is published. I can then see the published geometry in the Creo Parametric model tree. From here the part can now be processed normally. This can be done either parametrically or with the Creo Flex Modelling Extension. In the case of an update of the original Creo part, the already known options for controlling the reference are again available to me. In the example below we have e.g. B. uses the “Thicken” tool.

Creo Elements / Direct Modelling comes as close as possible to the example shown here, but with the advantage that you always have full control over the references.


















A note: The “Publishing Geometry” tool is only available in connection with the Creo Parametric “Advanced Assembly Extension” (AAX). AAX also offers other very interesting functions, such as B. Inheritance parts and skeleton assemblies / parts. Last year I wrote a blog entry about Creo inheritance models, which you can find here.

Why not try the two methods shown – See for yourself the advantages of PTC Creo!

Don’t have a Creo Parametric yet? Just talk to us or arrange a demo appointment with us. For customers with Creo Elements / Direct, PDSVISION offers special paths and packages that make the changeover very attractive in most cases.

Just contact us and we will be happy to show you our examples live and optimize your internal design process.