Materials make the world go round

Ansys Materials

The meaning of the word “material” conjures up different ideas for different people. For some, the look and feel are what first comes to mindfor others it’s the physical properties like weight and stiffness. Madonna’s “Material Girl” perhaps takes the meaning to another level for disco queens and kings of the 80s.

Engineers however, are a bit of a different breed when it comes to discussing materials. This blog focuses on current industry solutions and trends for material information management and as well as some insight on applications.
Current industry solutions
The properties of materials can be described by an array of different parameters like Youngs modulus and magnetic susceptibility. These however, are sometimes dependent on other variables like temperature, magnetic fields and time. The behavior of materials in an operating environment can become quite complex to describe from a material science point of view. Additionally, the fact that the simulation models require numerical models in order to describe the behavior adds a additional layer of complexity.

When it comes to the product documentation for used materials, you’ll often find annotations such as “Ultem”, “2024-T4”, “Arne”, “Rubber, EPDM, Black, Sh 70” in the drawings. This value references standardized materials or commodity names. Some companies instead use product data models to store such material information. Within these, materials are defined by materials items in their PLM or ERP systems and can contain information such as documentation, possible standard references, required properties, where used as well as possible alternatives which are available globally. This extra information helps in production planning to calculate required materials and in turn optimize stock levels.

Current environmental legislation is pushing material information requirements to new heights – the chemical compliance and sustainability are top priority in every electronic, electrical, and mechanical engineering company. Some businesses, like those working with medical devices, pressure equipment and power generation, have additional requirements for traceability of design changes and manufacturing steps.

But hey, how did we get here? How do we decide the material for a product?

Finding the perfect material
Optimization of product performance and quality has historically focused on finding an optimal geometry for the various load cases. This design optimization assumes that the optimal material has been found or is known. Let me challenge your thinking on materials selection: how did you make the selection of the perfect material for your component?

Product requirements for environmental impact, utilization of some production methods, minimum operating temperature, fatigue lifetime and chemical resistance are common. Still, the task to gather and use materials data takes some effort and knowledge from any organization.

Of Course industry experience, standardization, available resources in manufacturing etc. plays an important role in materials selection, but sometimes engineering teams still find themselves in a situation where an analytical process could be used to find an optimal material. This analytic selection process is essentially a screening process where all the available materials are screened against the design requirements.

To implement this will require some consideration. Where can I find reliable and accurate material data with compliance information for each of my markets? How should the data be arranged for easy searchability? How is best to visualize and compare the potential candidates? After finding out the optimal material, how should I feed the downstream applications like CAD and CAE with the relevant material data and material models? How will any changes in the legislation be updated to the data?


[caption id="attachment_47380" align="alignnone" width="1084"] Analytical selection process will help us to find best possible candidates for design challenges and additionally it will help on economic decisions as well.[/caption]

The value of material data
If we have systematically managed material data and the ability to reuse it during new product development, we could gain the following benefits:

The insight from materials selection and information will help the design teams to reach the market faster with minimal prototyping. The sourcing will benefit the ability to find similar materials for alternative suppliers.

The simulation teams can reuse material definitions and have consistent approach thus making less room for human error. The information on how the Arruda-Boyce coefficients are fit as well as the data used is available. This enables non-experts to use advanced material models and get accurate CAE results.

At in-house material development or quality control, the variation of individual batches or lots of material can be stored. This can either reduce the amount of material testing required The full description of raw materials and properties of outcome can be used as a teaching dataset for machine learning, thus speeding up inhouse material development.

Should there be data which requires expensive measurements or is hard to obtain, then the material data starts to form valuable intellectual property. The access to this data might be something that requires control. On the other hand, the existence of data can save time and money since the number of tests can be reduced.

The full traceability of material information makes it faster to analyze and report product environmental impacts and product compliance. The teams working on environmental impacts and regulations find it helpful to realize potential risks before a product is launched to market, thus mitigating the risks for quality, cost and brand value.

Any of these possess significant value for organizations delivering new products for global markets.
Materials and digital thread
The material information is valuable and it is important to store in the digital product description. The traditional PLM systems have some ability to describe the material properties, but the situation is similar than with application lifecycle management (ALM). Possible, but not optimal.

Therefore, one could consider additional applications which are connected to PLM/CAE/CAD which would make material information management an integral part of product description. Access to the same data and definitions will provide a competitive advantage which is realized by faster time to market, operational efficiency and minimizing compliance risks.
Solutions for Materials Information Management
When the need for material information increases, one could consider implementing a materials information management or laboratory information management system (LIMS). These kinds of applications enable storing of materials characterization data and support in-house materials development.

Ansys Granta MI is a solution for materials information management. The organizations which use this software find it useful to have single source of truth for materials data and so are guaranteed that materials information is consistent, traceable, and protected.

The Ansys Granta MI can be connected to PTC Windchill PLM for a rich description of material data with full traceability to individual measurements and reports. Connectivity to CAD and CAE applications help with the design of products, the selection of approved materials and the reuse of intellectual property. The regulatory compliance is faster due to a full understanding of product materials and components. This brings significant advantages with time to market, profitability, and ability to mitigate the risks.

[caption id="attachment_47397" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Suggestion of how one could couple Materials Information Management to PLM process thus providing a digital thread of product description. The complete BOM containing mechanical, electrical and electronic components are stored in PLM with the complete description of materials. This approach will support the product compliance analysis early in the R&D phase.[/caption]
Solutions for material selection
Ansys Granta Selector is a desktop application for materials selection. It has a large database of materials and enables one to screen the possible candidates with minimal training. The material property visualization and comparison capabilities really make materials data accessible to all. It has exports for FEA applications as well as Ansys Workbench integration.

Material data for simulation users
Material data requirements solely for simulation purposes are covered by a Ansys Granta Material Data for Simulation license. Curated for users by ANSYS material data analysts, Granta MDS provides you with the data you need in the format you need it in. Focused specifically on simulation, get access to a database of over 2,600 simulation-ready Generic and Producer Grade Materials. Directly embedded within your Ansys Flagship Simulation Solvers: Ansys Mechanical, Ansys Electronics Desktop, Ansys Fluent, Ansys Discovery.



Contextual Data for IoT

Meaning of data from IoT sources
If you have ever read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you would know that “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42.”

When looking at IoT data from a machine, we are often quite pleased to be presented with a value from a sensor, PLC, or some other “important” reading.

But what does the value 42 coming from that sensor mean?  Does this meaning change over time? Does the meaning remain the same for all your connected “things”?  What happens if another unit of measure is applied because the “thing” is used in another region? What context exists in or around your “thing” when a certain sensor value is reported?

The above are just some of the questions which are relevant when we start talking about the meaning of data from IoT sources. You would be wise to consider what other elements of context might be valuable to your use case and your “things”.

In industrial settings for IoT, we are often presented with an opportunity to connect to PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers). Using a tool like PTC’s KepServerEX to connect to PLCs is quite easy; the challenge arises when you are trying to understand what the contents of each of the “tags” in the PLC really mean.

If you are very lucky, you may be able to obtain some specification documents that the PLC programmer (often reluctantly) produced. But this is quite a rare find, and you are more often left guessing. Depending on the PLC you use, you may be fortunate enough to have a symbolic name assigned to a tag. This may be something like “belt speed” for a production machine on a line.

What is a reasonable range that you can expect? Might it run in reverse and present a negative value, or would it always present a positive value regardless of the direction? What unit of measure has been used or might it just be a raw digital pulse reading?

PLC programs are there to control the process (or equipment). The PLC needs to deal with important elements like safety (both equipment and humans), and control loops are designed to a functional specification that focuses on these requirements.

It is only of late that we started looking at using external systems to read data from machines. Investigating data from a remote machine requires more context against which we can interpret the values from key variables.

If condition monitoring is a use case you are trying to solve, you may need to add additional sensors to mechanical components. This will also require you to update the PLC program, control system, or data acquisition tools.  While you are at this, it may be wise to consider what other internal control variables may be useful for condition monitoring and to expose these variables.

There are many more considerations and I would love to hear what additional context may be useful for your equipment and how that supports your use case.

Using Functional Safety and Reliability for a competitive advantage

Functional Safety Blog Post

Functional Safety and Reliability is a hot topic that stimulates many discussions, depending on the person’s business and previous experiences. Some see it as complying with the functional safety checklist in their industry, and some see it as costing the risks. For some, it‘s a critical success factor for their brand image and competitiveness in the market.
What is Functional Safety?
According to the Oxford dictionary, safety is the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury. When discussing products and their development, safety is often defined as the ability of the product to be safe for its intended use. This type of safety is called Technical Safety, also known as Safety of the Intended Function (SOTIF), and is relatively easy to define because it’s passive and designed into the product. It ensures that machines and systems operate in a safe way when they work as designed.
“Functional safety focuses on electronics and related software and activates built-in safety mechanisms to reduce potential risks that could harm somebody or destroy something to a tolerable level.” – IEC
Functional Safety is a little more complicated; it’s active, like an independent control system to ensure safe operation. Safety is achieved by ‘actively’ doing something or stopping something from happening.
Functional Safety – some real-life examples
A simple example of a functional safety system is a domestic coffee maker with a sensor that detects the coffee temperature or the volume of coffee in the flask. If the sensor detects the temperature has exceeded a threshold, it switches the heating element off. Think about the negative business impact on the leading domestic appliance brand if this didn’t work!

Another example of Functional Safety is a forest machine equipped with a safety radar. Should the radar notice any movement around the vehicle, it will halt the movement of the harvester head. The normal environmental conditions of a forest machine can be anything from beautiful sunny weather to a stormy night. When operating in difficult wet snow conditions, the radar sensors can get dirty. Should this happen, the control electronics will notice the unreliable radar signal, and the vehicle will notify the operator for reliability before the safety risk. Think about the responsibility of the control electronics manufacturer!
Components of a safety-related system
The components of a safety-related system are quite basic. They are typically comprised of 3 elements

Sensors – to detect the state of something, e.g. what’s the temperature of the coffee in the coffee maker?

Logic Solver – a programable electronic device to decide what to do, e.g. if there is movement around the vehicle, then warn the operator.

Actuators – to do something, e.g. to isolate the power to the flask’s element or warn the forest machine’s operator about the current reliability and the potential safety risk.

Functional safety doesn’t mean no failures. The standards define a maximum allowable rate of unsafe failures to achieve As Low as Reasonably Practicable (ALARP). As the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states “…making sure a risk has been reduced ALARP is about weighing the risk against the sacrifice needed to further reduce it.”
A common definition of Reliability is the probability that the product will perform its intended function when operating under normal environmental conditions for a specific period of time.

Whilst Reliability Analysis is a well-established branch of engineering, and even though most of the methods and techniques used are very straightforward, it is until recently an under-utilized technology. This is now changing with new proposed legislation such as the Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products. This encourages more focus on product durability, reliability, reusability, upgradability, repairability and ease of maintenance. The role of reliability in product development and equipment operation can only increase. This highlights the close relationship between Reliability and Sustainability prevalent in today’s society.

Let’s consider our two examples – the coffee maker and the forest machine. Two different products with very different markets – one high volume and one low volume and Reliability Analysis will be used differently for each product. The role of design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is critical for understanding how to mitigate potential product failure during the product concept and design phases, and process FMEAs for limiting the introduction of product failures during the manufacturing phase. Effective FMEAs will go a long way to a successful product.

With the best will in the world, sometimes unexpected failures happen. Successful companies handle this by demonstrating to their customers that they are in control of the situation and have the tools and processes in place to resolve the problem. Tools such as FRACAS (Failure Reporting and Corrective Action System) can play a significant role in this.

For the coffee maker machine manufacturer, better reliability analysis during the product development phase can provide the manufacturer more confidence to offer better warranty periods – 5 years rather than 1? An interesting feature of Reliability performance often observed is that the more features present in machines (and thereby more components) the poorer the reliability performance can be – so perhaps less is more?

For the forest machine manufacturer effective reliability, availability and maintainability analysis can help define the best strategy for maintenance, spare part and logistics management – particularly for equipment operating in very remote locations – providing the machine operator the confidence that any downtime is minimal.


Support Management using Simulation
Companies add the cost of risk to the equation: fire, injury, death, brand, supplier reputation. CAE and simulation provide methods to look what’s behind what we see. Simulation models along with empirical data from prototype testing and field environment can us help design products that are safer for the customer and better for our business. A simulation model that is adjusted to empirical data is the digital twin of our product. The digital twin will help us understand the root cause of a failure, optimize your product design, and mitigate the risk of an unsafe failure.

Take control of Functional Safety and Reliability
Whatever business and industry you´re in, however you define Functional Safety and Reliability, it is undisputedly important to define the risks, manage the processes and tools, and maintain the safety of your products.

Getting Started with IoT for Manufacturing

“In the beginning … the earth was formless and empty.”  – Genesis
Where to begin? That is a good question. One of my colleagues suggested I just start writing and not stop until I’ve finished a couple of paragraphs. Admittedly, that was advice about writing a blog, not for starting an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) project.

Most likely, you are beginning at the point where someone in your company has undoubtedly heard about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Factory 4.0, or one of these IIoT terms.  I am willing to wager that there is at least some interest, if not urgent pressure, from leadership to take advantage of these new technologies to drive profitability and become more competitive. So now what?

Research into the success of such projects indicates that only 26% of all surveyed companies believe that they are successful with their IoT initiatives. Interestingly 35% of IT executives considered their initiatives successful vs 15% of business executives.  So, your initial research has led you to conclude that there is disconnect with the definition of success among the ranks.

I have been implementing IIoT technology for over a decade, so I have started from the beginning many times. The IIoT parallel of “where to begin” should read: Start by setting reasonable expectations and connecting just a few machines.  Or, as I often say, “switch on the lights”. A sensible approach would be to identify some of your most ubiquitous and meaningful machines, investigate their data interfaces or control systems, connect to these, and collect the data.  Once you have an understanding of the data that is available, it’s time to consider the vision for the next round.

The first round of IIoT, and possibly the first few, will be a learning experience.  Structuring your goals around learning and celebrating failures (and learning from said failures) will serve you well.  For example, when I first looked at connecting to a brewery system, it took a whole day to connect into the Beckhoff TwinCAT PLC (not always easy with people looking over your shoulder). It took so long, not because of anything complex, but just because and we had to guess config settings. As one might expect in a brewery, there was some beer drinking after connection to the PLC was established and we could see some real live data.  But, we also learned that there was much less useful data presented than hoped for.

In brainstorming workshops at the beginning of projects, the ideas are very practical and focused on business value. The first project looks great. Lofty expectations are set across the board. Unfortunately, this is where things often go wrong.  And that’s why it’s best to start with simply turning on the lights. Sometimes, for various reasons, you just can’t get your hands on the data from equipment in the plant or out there in the real world.  If you are lucky, you have one of the Kepware products and with reasonable ease, you can connect PLCs and other industrial equipment (such as in the aforementioned brewery example). But if you can’t, you’ll need to start there.

Now here comes the data.  What do you do with the data? Let’s pause. What does “the data” mean?

“Reducing downtime” through preventative maintenance is one of the most common use cases for IIoT project workshops. Here is the challenge: If the control system in your equipment does not record downtime, your initiative to reduce downtime becomes impossible. (And hence, it becomes clear why only 15% of Business Executives consider their IIoT initiatives successful). You need a strong team with experience in IIoT technologies, knowledge of the equipment, and expertise with the control systems to move things forward. But, if the data is not collected by the machine, it is not available to collect.

By first focusing on connecting to equipment and acquiring real-world data, you can determine what data points are available and what use cases these data points enable. Armed with this insight, you are in a great position to set realistic expectations and guide your organization to fund initiatives that will have early returns.

Some initiatives companies may choose to prioritize might be:

New or improved sensors to capture additional data to empower teams to make better decisions
Redesigned or optimized control systems to report more information
New or redesigned products or subsystems to enable entirely new business models such as pay-per-use.

The ROI in the initial cycles of your IoT projects lies in time-to-insight. By focusing on immediate goals of connectivity, and using scalable technology architected for industrial equipment and complex use cases you can “switch the lights on” quicker and your acquired skills and experience scales to the next leg of your journey.

What’s new in Luxion’s Keyshot 11.2?

Keyshot 11.2! This version offers a range of powerful new features that allow users to create stunning visuals with ease.

PTC Creo 9 – What’s New?

There has been an addition to the PTC family of Design Solutions; PTC Creo 9 has arrived!
PTC Creo 9.0 is the tool that helps with the increasing advances and challenges within product design while providing features and functionalities that keep one ahead of the competition. And Creo 9 takes it to the next level.

Let’s start with the new capabilities coming with Creo 9. In the bigger picture, one could say that this release will concentrate on the following areas:

Usability & Productivity
Model-based definition & Detailing
Simulation and generative design
Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing
Design for ergonomics, Manikin, and Vision

For the advanced users, we suggest PTC knowledgebase articles CS357304 and CS361457, which cover all versions, applications, and enhancements in a condensed format.
The CAD user view
[caption id="attachment_33417" align="alignright" width="380"] Divide Surfaces and Unify Surfaces features enable splitting and uniting the geometry. The user can split the surface to have different semantic references for PMI.[/caption]

Divide surface

The Creo Parametric has its way of handling geometry so that surfaces are kept as large and “clean” as possible. This, however, has a downside if one wants to split the surface into two or more distinct areas. Previously one could circumvent this by using Designate Area, surfaces, or sketches. With the introduction of Divide Surface, it is now possible to:

Divide surfaces to create new regions
Isolate constraints and loads to specific locations on the model in simulation
Greater control of PMI references while making MBD annotations
Create surface markings for design communication


The general usability of multibody has been enhanced by introducing a new Quilt/Body Evolution tree, which will display the structure of all active bodies/quilts and their contributing features. Additionally, the Design Items Tree now supports features in Custom Groups and Grouped items.

These enhancements will help you, mainly while working with large and complex models where the parent-child relationship can get complex. A clear understanding of incrementally built geometry is key when modifying design.


Freestyle is a modeling feature where one creates C2 continuous surfaces based on control mesh manipulation. The sub-divisional control mesh can be connected to external geometry, which will then drive the overall dimensions of geometry.

Additional features exist with Reverse Engineering licensing. Then one can import tessellated geometry, which is used to map the Freestyle surface. This feature is highly automated and fast – great for those who create organic shapes based on scanned, x- ray or MRI data. Application possibilities in the medical devices area are remarkable.

Creo 9 will extend the functionality by introducing a new brush toolset, where control of sub-divisional mesh can be applied in a new way. Additionally, possibilities to mirror geometry are brought to the users’ fingertips.

[caption id="attachment_33419" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Freestyle makes it easy for users to select and manipulate the sub-divisional control mesh through new Brush tools. Here the rabbit is getting smooth C2- continuous surface. This wabbit sure is a smooth operator.[/caption]

Hole Features in Patterns

Hole features in a pattern now have more flexibility since one can redefine the hole type and adjust pattern generation options. The latter will help you with massive patterns, where generation times can play a role.

Geodesic Curves

Creo 8 introduces geodesic curves to ensure that the shortest path between two points is represented. With Creo 9, there is new functionality to define the geodesic curve on surface starting from a point and angular direction. This will thus provide additional level of control when geodesic curves are placed on top of complex surfaces.

[caption id="attachment_33420" align="alignright" width="224"] Periodic surface with four curves.[/caption]


The Interactive Surfacing environment now supports draft tangent connections for COS (curve on the surface) curves. This will help capture the design intent and improve the geometry reconstruction in Generative Design while keeping the parting line manufacturing constant.

Additional tools for simplifying and smoothing curves are provided as well. The support for periodic loft surfaces has been added as a new capability. These are created with three or more curves.


There are various assembly enhancements in Creo 9 as well. The component replacement and retrieving of missing components features have been enhanced. For those who need the Session ID of models in their assembly relations, it is nice to find them in the Model Tree.

[caption id="attachment_33421" align="alignright" width="250"] Manikin Editor enables the fast generation of custom population.[/caption]

One of the many Product Ideas posted in the PTC Community implemented to Creo 9 is the ability to group explode offset lines. This is just a hint that active participation to community discussions pays off.

New Manikin Editor allows the creation of custom manikin populations. This will help you to evaluate where one can reach and what one can see in our use case. What is the maximum and minimum size for a safe operation, etc. For positioning the manikin to assembly, the 3D dragger brings a new level of control. The Visual Field feature helps visualize visibility cones where obstructing objects have been trimmed off.

Model-Based Definition (MBD) and 2D drawings (Detailing)

With Creo 9 comes some powerful MBD and detailing tools. The surface finish symbols have been modernized to the most recent standard, and the workflow for their creation, placement, and editing is updated. Particularly, at PMI annotations, the ability to indicate semantic definitions is improved with STEP AP242 support for downstream applications and importing such information to Creo Parametric.

Extensive support for parameters in PMI symbols and weld symbols has been added.

Working with cross-sections, the new streamlined workflow is a joy. The hatch gallery with preview contains numerous ANSI/ISO and user-defined hatching patterns. A quick review of all hatched items of a drawing sheet is available in the tree view. Additionally, one can use the new Hatch Designer to create and edit custom hatch patterns with multiple lines.

[caption id="attachment_33422" align="aligncenter" width="276"] Hatch Gallery helps to find and set proper hatch in cross-section views.[/caption]

Simulation and Generative Design

Here is a quick summary of the enhancements in the simulations tools.

Creo Ansys Simulation now supports mid-surface geometry for shells, bearing loads and inertia relief, and multiple usability enhancements.

[caption id="attachment_33423" align="alignright" width="300"] Lattice geometry brings new possibilities to the design of heat exchangers. This is now fully supported in Creo Flow Analysis.[/caption]

Creo Simulation Live has taken the first steps toward Multiphysics simulation with thermal stress computation. In fluid studies, the Additive Manufacturing users will benefit from gyroids and lattice geometry. As a promise for “future ware,” the contacts should be available with Creo

Creo Flow Analysis now supports multiple projects, lattice geometry, and integrates with Behavioral Modelling (BMX). This BMX integration will help to optimize heat transfer and fluid flow. All this, with usability improvements, elevates CFD to the reach of every engineer.

Generative design used previously strain energy-based optimization for mass reduction while generating geometry. Now one can use Safety Factor as the target, which guarantees that stress levels are kept reasonable.

Additional functional enhancements to modal optimization, support of boll joints, and validation of starting geometry are helping engineers to reach the goals.
The Manufacturing view
Creo 9 will bring new possibilities to additive and subtractive manufacturing. Both are fully embedded in the Creo design environment, thus enabling unparalleled associativity, familiar user interface, and connection to Windchill PLM.

[caption id="attachment_33425" align="alignright" width="300"] 5-axis finish toolpath with undercuts requires careful tilt control and collision avoidance.[/caption]

Subtractive Manufacturing

Creo 9 will continue making NC approachable for every engineer by various usability enhancements from sequence parameter sorting, MFG dashboard update, toolpath visualization, new configuration settings, and enabling user-defined CL data parameters.

The quality of toolpaths is enhanced in HSM by adaptive feed and cutter compensation features for faster machining and enhanced tool life.

The multithreading in material removal simulation will help verify the toolpaths faster. The ability to create in-process stock for all NC sequences helps with gouge and collision avoidance.

The geodesic 5-axis finish toolpath in the 5-axis HSM extension adds capabilities like automatic hole filling, containment curves, and multiple tilt controls. The toolpath is optimized for spherical tools in collision avoidance and generating smooth toolpaths with constant stepover on complex parts with undercuts.

[caption id="attachment_33426" align="alignright" width="300"] Lattice geometry in formula-based approach. This provides new means, for example, for heat exchanger design.[/caption]

Additive Manufacturing

Stochastic lattices now allow creation based on individual surfaces or quilts. These can also contain open areas. Variable wall offset and baffle generation is available to formula-based lattices. These allow one to design efficient heat exchangers and guide fluid flow.

The additive manufacturing of these lattice designs requires support structures and population, checking printability, and building optimized tray assembly. These can be done and set in Creo 9, which has extensive tooling for plastic and metallic materials.
The system admin view
Now let’s look at the hardcore, but necessary, system administration updates and changes.

Maintenance Period

The concept of Creo Enterprise Releases was introduced with Creo 4, and the idea was to have much more extended maintenance periods for specific releases of Creo Parametric to enable companies to implement the program without having to plan for another upgrade within the following year. The Enterprise Releases of Creo Parametric are Creo 4 and Creo 7, while Creo Parametric 5 and 6 are so-called standard releases with a shorter support plan. However, this changes with Creo Parametric 8. To better support multiple Creo releases as requested by Creo users, PTC is changing the support cadence for all new Creo releases beginning in April 2021.

All new Creo releases will be supported for four years, starting with the release of Creo in April 2021. Maintenance releases will be delivered quarterly for the first two years of Creo 8. For subsequent years, maintenance releases will be delivered at a reduced cadence.

Creo 9 continues with the same maintenance release plan as Creo 8.


The default embedded browser of Creo Parametric is now Chromium instead of the previous Internet Explorer. This change is related to the official end date for Internet Explorer: June 15, 2022. This change will occur to older releases of Creo and – the user can continue to use IE by setting the config option windows_browser_type = ie_browser. With Creo, there is no IE support.

Small easter egg

In software, the meaning of “easter egg” is a hidden feature, image, or message. To encourage readers of this block to investigate Creo Parametric 9.0 release even deeper, please try out the following:

Shift- key and arrows on the keyboard
Shift+Alt keys and arrows on the keyboard

You’ll find the related config option rotation angle to be handy for finetuning this feature.
All in all, Creo 9 is another strong release from PTC. The enhancements and new capabilities in core functionality will speed up the modeling process, enable the utilization of new technologies and deliver quality to design.

The enhancements made in simulation, additive and subtractive manufacturing, generative design, and more are highly appreciated.

Powerful. Innovative. Easy to use. That is what Creo Parametric 9.0 is.


Compliance within MedTech and the medical device industry


Today’s product development faces several challenges, and one of the biggest challenges is regulatory compliance. It is crucial to prove compliance with standards and regulations when developing a product. What was previously seen only as a prerequisite for medical device manufacturers is now a reality in most domains.
Keeping up with medical device industry regulations
Without the proper tools and system support, a constantly changing regulatory landscape can be hard to comply with, especially within the medical device industry. Rules and laws are affected and shaped by trends and innovation but still mandatory to comply with.

Regulations are determined by increased pressure on high-quality products while keeping costs down and decreasing time-to-market. And most importantly, improving patient outcomes and surveillance is never something we want to compromise with, even if that means we most likely should expect and be prepared for continuously increasing regulatory requirements and risk management.

So how do we handle the ever-changing demands on the medical device industry? How do we have time to innovate within the MedTech industry without facing risks of decreased quality, increased lead times, and reduced efficiency, all because of changes in regulations?
The challenges within medical device product development
[caption id="attachment_32303" align="alignright" width="350"] Silos of processes and information in the medical innovation cycle[/caption]

The most common challenge in the MedTech industry is having a siloed and document-based product lifecycle. The typical issues that come with a document-centric approach are:

Discrepancy between “approved product” and product in the field
Frequent quality events
Quality events don’t reference correct product versions/parts
Manual and error-prone synchronization efforts
Lack of or struggles to achieve collaboration

All along the medical innovation cycle, we must collect information on and prove compliance, handle complaints and act on them. In a document-centric lifecycle, that would result in more paperwork.

The problem with paperwork is that it commonly does not end up in the right hands – in this case, the engineering team designing the next product release. And even if they do have access to quality information, that information is typically unrelated to the actual products, versions, and parts they are working on. Something is needed to tie it all together and connect the silos of information and development.
Regulatory compliance with a digital thread
As it stands today, enterprises that want to remain competitive must move forward on their digital thread initiatives. Many companies, however, seem to lack a digital thread roadmap and a strategic plan for digitalization. Changing regulations might be a factor as the focus is on being compliant in product development, and the overarching holistic goal of digitalization is consequently not prioritized. With all trends pointing this way, especially from what we experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is apparent how important digitalization is.
Medical device industry solution – accelerate your digital transformation in four steps
Having the right tools and system support is essential in compliance with regulations while increasing quality, reducing cost, decreasing time-to-market, but without compromising innovation. The regulations will change, and requirements for high-quality products will increase. That is why you need to have a system that is flexible and capable of accelerating your digital transformation.
Here are four steps to a successful digital thread within the medical device industry:
1.   PLM as the foundation
A stable and reliable foundation is needed to ensure quality in all stages of a product’s life cycle and throughout the digital thread. An example of a good foundation for the digital thread is a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system, such as Windchill. With PLM, you can manage products throughout their life cycle stages, enable efficient engineering change management processes, and provide the correct information to the right people at the right time. In Windchill, support for compliance and quality assurance can be found in the out-of-the-box version, which means medical device companies can apply processes and safely share information between stakeholders across the enterprise in no time.
2.   Best practices as an integral part of the product lifecycle
[caption id="attachment_32304" align="alignright" width="442"] A joint digital thread for an effective medical innovation cycle[/caption]

Another important aspect of a successful digital journey is adopting best practices for design and document control as an integral part of your product life cycle. By unifying engineering, quality, and regulatory teams in a shared, product-centric view, you can accelerate your medical innovation cycle and make it more efficient.

Tailor the foundation of your digital thread to achieve what you want. Add integrations and add-ons to suit your needs and the regulations you must comply with. If you are using Windchill, you can add the Windchill Product Quality to extend your PLM solution with compulsory practices for medical device manufacturers. There is support for integral risk, CAPA, non-conformance, and complaint management – all linked to your product. Windchill Product Quality provides a hub for all information shared across the whole production chain.

[caption id="attachment_32306" align="aligncenter" width="451"] Windchill Product Quality extends the industry’s leading PLM solution with best practices for compulsory ISO processes for medical device manufacturers[/caption]
3. Augmented Reality for medical devices
With a good foundation in place, it is time to extend and add to the digital house. With Augmented Reality (AR) tools, you can leverage the digital twin of your product in virtual demonstrations and offer customers close to a real-life experience with the product. AR tools can also be used for spreading expertise within the company by creating interactive work instructions for assembly, service, and support.
4. Smart connected medical devices – IoT VS. IoMT
Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the pillars of Industry 4.0. Smart, connected products bridge the gap between operational technology (OT), your products, and IT to allow for innovation, increase operational efficiency, and improve customer experience. IoT is a modern, connected model of a physical product and can be anything from connected appliances and autonomous farming equipment to wearable health monitors and biometric scanners.

From IoT and connected products, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is rising for connected products within the medical and health care industry. By connecting medical devices, such as monitors and sensors, to the internet, health care personnel can receive data and information about a patient from anywhere in the facility. However, there is, of course, a security aspect to consider with IoMT.

Having smart products, whether categorized as within IoT or IoMT, means you can run analyses on data and performance, alert technicians of devices at risk of malfunction, or alert health care personnel of patients who need medical attention. It allows users and maintenance personnel to work proactively, thus reducing downtime while keeping the patients’ safety the highest priority.
Key benefits of the MedTech digital thread
World-leading companies have already embraced digitalization leveraging the power of IoT and IoMT together with a solid foundation of a PLM system.

With a PLM system, you can move away from the document-centric challenges and instead have a product-centric approach with high-quality medical devices without compromising regulatory compliance, innovation, time-to-market, or revenue. Add the layer of connected products, and you achieve full integration between the physical and digital world to shorten improvement cycles and increase the ability to adapt to regulatory changes.

The key benefits of a digital thread for the MedTech industry:

Access data at the right time by the right person – all teams share the same information, thus eliminating the risk of disinformation
Automatic regulatory compliance – everything is defined in the Digital Definition
Ability to quickly adapt, improve, and innovate using real-time data input from the medical devices out in the field

Now is the time to join in and start building your digital thread!

Best regards,
Per Ekholm

For more than 20 years, PTC has partnered with leading life science companies to advance medical technology. Today, five of the top ten medical device manufacturers rely on PTC products to help them design, manufacture, and provide service for medical devices. The company Weinmann in Germany works to improve the quality of life for patients through excellent medical technology. Watch how they do it in our customer reference video (in German) – here.

If you want to read more about the topics mentioned in the blog post, click the links below:

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) – Windchill
Internet of Things (IoT) and Thingworx

Short facts about KeyShot version 11.1

This version includes several new features and improvements that will make creating amazing visuals faster and easier than ever before.

Integrate ECAD with PLM to achieve full product definition

ECAD BOM in Windchill

As PLM Business Director, I meet with companies from different industries daily. It is apparent that all products include electronics nowadays, but the management of electronic CAD data (ECAD) is not as mature as the management of mechanical CAD data (MCAD). In this blog, I will go through my take on why companies, regardless of their industry, should take ECAD data management seriously and include it in their PLM roadmaps.

Today, companies need to document full product definition in an enterprise system like PLM. Enterprise visibility to complete product data helps companies be more efficient, not only in product design but also across the enterprise.

Common challenges with ECAD and PLM today
Shortage of components, as seen today, puts extreme pressure on companies to find alternative suppliers and parts. Different ways to manufacture or procure parts from various locations make efficient procurement, manufacturing, and change management a challenge if data is managed in network folders and changes in emails. Furthermore, someone needs to document the product changes to enable product support, aftermarket, and different life cycle service. When the frequency of changes increases, documentation and change impact analysis might get neglected if there are many manual steps in the processes.

An increase of product regulatory demands on OEMs increases the need to know and document the products. Today, it is no longer enough to rely on part suppliers’ certification to comply with different regulations such as REACH or RoHS. The regulations change frequently, and new ones are imposed on OEMs. The more markets the products are put on, the more regulations to comply with. Knowledge of chemical substances in the product makes it possible to anticipate needed product changes in advance to minimize the risk of banned market entry or not being compliant with new regulations.
The full product definition includes complete BOMs and related documents to both bought and own-design parts. World-class manufacturers include product chemical composition alongside other documents in the product definition in one way or another.


[caption id="attachment_29395" align="alignright" width="300"] ECAD data model in Windchill[/caption]
Benefits of integrating ECAD with PLM
Improved part life cycle visibility across design, procurement, and manufacturing makes it possible to react quickly to component availability or pricing changes. Sourcing alternative parts and changing the product can start earlier and keep all the functions aware of each other’s progress in the change process.

Improved part supplier management also makes changing suppliers easier. In extreme cases, it is impossible to change PCB supplier because the current PCB supplier has the knowledge of available and approved component manufacturers. When OEMs have the information in their own hands, they are less dependent on the current suppliers.

Improved collaboration of design domains through data exchange between ECAD and MCAD tools enables interference and heat exchange analysis multiple times during the design cycle. With the traditional approach using neutral file formats such as DXF, IDF, or STEP, the iteration rounds take a lot of time and are not done frequently enough. Different domains are synchronized easier and quicker with a solid and version-managed data exchange process. This helps companies get the products to the markets on time with less risk of delayed product launches.

Efficient product compliance reporting is possible when the product information is in one system and is up to date. When the compliance engineer pulls out the data, s/he can at the same time see if there are ongoing changes that affect the regulatory compliance. This reduces the risk of a product hitting the market based on old documentation. If this is discovered later, it can lead to costly product recalls or withdraws.

[caption id="attachment_29397" align="aligncenter" width="366"] ECAD BOM in Windchill[/caption]
Altium NEXUS and PTC Windchill
Every OEM is interested in gaining the above benefits. But collecting all the data needed, and keeping it up to date, requires so much work that it is not practically possible to manage. This is what a good, transparent, and intuitive ECAD data management system, such as Altium NEXUS, makes possible. Getting all these benefits is possible when data collection is part of daily work without added labor. Utilizing online services like Octopart and enabling enterprise access to data through native PLM integration, such as integration with PTC Windchill, does not add to the design team’s work. Quite the opposite, Altium NEXUS reduces manual steps in the process and makes design teams more efficient.

Stay tuned for a follow-up when I tell you about Altium NEXUS capabilities. These capabilities enable companies to achieve the benefits that I have discussed here.

Best regards,
Perttu Korpela


Read more about Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and explore the possibilities with PTC Windchill – here.

Enterprise Visualization in the Product and Service Lifecycle Business – one unified automated publication pipeline

Automated publishing from Windchill

As part of digital transformation roadmaps, industrial companies explore enterprise visualization to enhance business-critical processes. They explore harnessing 3D CAD data for training workers, capturing and standardizing workflows, and enabling collaboration in entirely new ways based on visual rather than verbal and textual aspects. Augmented Reality is often explored in these endeavors, lacking an understanding of how the technology would support the users and the business as part of the solution.

But organizations that have pursued digital transformation confront new challenges and discover gaps with dispersed unconnected systems and siloed organizations. These gaps result in poor enterprise-wide integration, lack of workforce agility, slow business processes, and dependency on expensive third-party subject matter expert services. Heavy manual tasks are required to keep information flowing and up to date. Overcoming these challenges requires new ways of thinking and understanding the relationship between technology and improvements in business processes bridging organizational siloes and connecting business systems. It involves decision-making within new and unknown areas. And if made correctly, allowing for a breakthrough in transformation resulting in business opportunities staying ahead of the competition.

In this blog post, I will talk more about the possibilities of enterprise visualization and the first steps in implementing automated and templatized enterprise visualization.

Content is king
For enterprise visualization to be a valuable asset in an industrial setting, content must be effortlessly managed, published, and available for users. The content needs to be up to date to provide actual insight into both products and processes. In many cases, if the content is outdated, it will form an immediate security risk for the workers and the business. There is a risk of incorrect and slow decisions, cost increases, loss of business opportunities and revenue. In the worst case, inaccurate and outdated data might jeopardize the users’ health and safety, negatively impacting the business and the people.

For many industrial enterprises, these have been the main obstacles to overcome. And for many, the journey ended there, on an experimental level, due to time-consuming heavy manual tasks preparing, optimizing, recreating, publishing, and republishing data for visualization purposes.
Different users have different needs
For decades, companies have invested in automated processes to reuse product and service lifecycle data for various downstream use. Disrupting what seems to be well-working and optimized processes might not attract everyone. But every quarter and every fiscal year, the pressure to show more significant business results is set higher and higher on organizations and individuals. Suppose the systems and processes do not meet the needs of the set business goals due to the way of working being set 10, 15, or even 20 years back. Then, the only focus will be solving critical daily tasks to put out the most urgent fires. Having workers trapped doing non-productive activities does not allow for creativity and productivity or achieve the proper business outcomes. And the questions to put on the table are,

“Do we manage the value potential of our existing data?”
“Is the data that we possess functional for intended use?”
“Where else and who else would benefit from our data?”

But various users and use cases have different and varying needs,

“Will our existing data in its current form and format meet the users varying needs and requirements?”
“Can we utilize mobility and head warn devices?”

Raising productivity based on data access and comprehension might not seem easy when users could be on mobile devices, desktop computers, smart glasses, or headsets. The type of user depends on where they work, how they work, and how they are comfortable working. Is it in the field requiring both hands-free, in a factory or an office, experienced or novice, a C-Suite, a sales rep, a customer or a partner e.t.c.? Everyone has unique needs that often require data from multiple sources to make things happen correctly and efficiently, with the ultimate goal of meeting or exceeding business targets. Avoiding people’s movement to search, acquire and report relevant data becomes a business advantage and impacts health and safety. In many industrial settings, every human step is a security risk – providing access to extensive and outdated documents is not viable!
Industrial grade complexity
With complex industrial-grade process and product structures, detailed and extensively heavy datasets, a mix of business systems, metadata, immaterial property rights, and cyber security come challenges in delivering relevant data for the users. It is a question of combining, optimizing, and providing the appropriate data from various sources in a secure and user-friendly manner – the data needs to be “good enough for the purpose.”

Many of the business systems in use today are constructed to support a textual description rather than a visual. Textual descriptions are often extensive, complex, cumbersome, and hard to interpret, creating collaboration-obstructing silos, slower than desired business processes, and less than desired business outcomes. In short, there is more value potential to be explored in the existing data!

[caption id="attachment_27420" align="alignright" width="300"] Automated publishing from Windchill PLM to various formats and user interfaces[/caption]
Prioritize and automate where feasible
To automate just for automation’s sake might be a dangerous play. Many digital transformation efforts languish and fail cause there is no connection to tangible business value.

Companies that succeed have identified and prioritized their unique opportunities for significant value creation by utilizing and reusing their data in entirely new ways. Combining and visualizing data from various sources is one compelling way to transform how people work and organizations operate. Visualizing and making data available will often force organizations to realize shortcomings in their products, processes, and communication. These weaknesses force them to rethink and document their products and processes in entirely new ways. This shift in thinking and operating will improve overall communication utilizing step-by-step visual elements and visual guidance. One main objective of this transformation process is to positively impact outcomes (products and processes) to be more customer-oriented and user-friendly, bridging language barriers and overcoming organizational siloes. Success comes with positive business impact and new opportunities covering the ever-growing customer requirements for transparency and customized, easy-to-use, easy-to-understand step-by-step information!

Enterprise visualization puts pressure on the capabilities to efficiently make changes and updates to the visual information. Reflecting content updates and configurations smoothly throughout the process allows the visual content to be actual and up-to-date. When this process is under control and there is a balance between manual efforts, automation, and scale, it provides opportunities to optimize and customize the data flow for various users and use cases.
Many stakeholders of visualizations
[caption id="attachment_27421" align="alignright" width="228"] PLM automation makes actual and up-to-date visual content and experiences available for the user[/caption]

Sales might need high-quality 3D renderings in still-image and video format for presentations and the web. There is an increasing need for interactive experiences to place 3D virtual products in their intended environment so sales can conduct relevant discussions with their counterpart or customer. For the counterpart, it is easy to relate the conversation to what appears to be a custom visual appearance in a known environment. It is easy to document what is agreed upon and communicate it back to the organization to process the opportunity forward.

Service and maintenance are carried out based on visual 3D step-by-step procedural instructions. The instructions contain information from various business systems where product design, technical writers, domain experts, and product/service lifecycle management are central. The step-by-step procedure will automatically capture user and performance data for effortless reporting promoting transparency, real-time progress, and continuous improvement.

The staff can quickly sharpen their domain expertise and task-related knowledge during training based on similar visual experiences. The difference is that the data is optimized for learning and connected to the Learning Management System to document and certify compliance. Learning happens independent of time and place and may also occur on the job. On-the-job learning or visual guidance allows for worker agility. It promotes continuity as it minimizes the skills gap by transferring expert knowledge and promotes workers to be productive from the onset freeing up experts from training sessions and shadowing unskilled workers.
What is your roadmap?
Automated and templatized enterprise visualization might not be feasible for everything and everyone. It is a balance between cost, scalability, and prioritized business outcomes determined and dictated by the individual company’s strategic initiatives. Is it to reduce quality issues, penetrate new markets, find new business models, produce less scrap, or be customer-oriented? Whatever it might be, there is a custom roadmap for every company where automation meets the needs of cost, scalability resulting in business opportunities!

Digital transformation and enterprise visualization will touch upon every aspect of the business requiring people and organizations to rethink their way of working. Partnering with the right stakeholders is key to success. PDSVISION is part of a winning global ecosystem with the proper industrial heritage and winning culture. We possess and master tools, solutions, and technologies that transform and disrupt businesses at a constant high phase. We innovate and implement according to your specific strategic initiatives, and we provide opportunities for long and short-term positive business outcomes. The local PDSVISION office and representatives are ready to take you through what we call Visual Transformation i.e. one unified automated publication pipeline through PLM for product pictures, animation videos and interactive 3D experiences to be used on the web, in PC applications, mobile apps and print!

Kind regards,