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PTC Creo 3.0 new features : face-to-face with Brian Thompson

Brian is PTC's vice-president of product development. CADplace had the pleasure of a face-to-face discussion on the latest features and benefits PTC Creo 3.0 provides to 3D design engineers.

CADplace filmed the keynote launch of Creo 3.0 here. In the following video of our discussion with Brian Thompson, he presents first-hand the major enhancements in the PTC Creo 3.0 release. Brian presents, in an informal, direct fashion, the benefits Creo 3.0 delivers via PTC's Unite Technology, the benefits of the new conceptual design enhancements, as well as a selection of the large number of productivity enhancements which have been implemented in the latest version of PTC Creo. We give you the details for each of the major benefits in this article with direct links into the video below.

PTC's Unite Technology helps customers consolidate their CAD platforms onto Creo, and helps customers collaborate in multi-CAD environments.

Unite Technology in PTC Creo 3.0 is the implementation of an idea which PTC had called AnyData capabilities. This includes an ability to import multiple CAD formats directly into Creo 3.0 without any add-ons or extra licenses (CATIA, SolidWorks, NX, SolidEdge, and Inventor). Additionally, Unite Technology allows Creo 3.0 customers to open models from Dassault CATIA, SolidWorks, and Siemens NX directly in PTC Creo design sessions.

Consider for a moment the difference between import and open. If you need to work with a foreign CAD format and you import an assembly, for example from SolidWorks with 100 parts, then you now have an additional 100 business objects which need to be managed by the business. Now, if you needed all 100 parts and you plan to throw away the SolidWorks version, then import technology could be a good solution, but that is more the exception than the rule during the design process, and you still have created 100 new business objects for your company to manage. On the other hand, if you can open the SolidWorks assembly from it's native format and use it within your PTC Creo session, you are able to continue your design work without any overhead of importing and without creating a single new business object.

Unite Technology's ability to open foreign CAD formats inside a Creo session provides several benefits over import technologies.

Now imagine the very common work-flow scenario where the designer needs the SolidWorks design for the project and needs to adapt and modify a small part of that design file. It's possible that the designer only needs to modify a single part, however, the entire design assembly is required to provide the design context for the change. PTC Creo Unite Technology not only allows a designer to open and work with a foreign CAD format as if it were Creo geometry, it also allows the Creo designer to selectively modify small parts of the entire foreign CAD assembly.

Join CADplace for a personal discussion about PTC Creo 3.0 with Brian Thompson, VP of Product Development

So, in our example above, import technology would add 100 parts to the business overhead in order for the designer to make a change to a single part in the assembly. With PTC Creo's Unite Technology, the designer can open the assembly without importing, and – this is a key feature – when the designer goes to modify a part from the SolidWorks design within his PTC Creo session, Creo alerts the designer that this is a foreign CAD part, and if the designer choses to continue, then Creo automatically converts that part to a Creo part for the designer to continue with the design changes. Now the business has two new business objects, the new part and the top-level assembly, rather than 100 new business objects.

The ability to open Siemens NX, CATIA, and SolidWorks designs combined with the possibility to automatically convert and edit parts within those design files completely changes the effort (and cost) to consolidate CAD design onto a single CAD platform when the customer is moving entirely to PTC Creo 3.0. The customer can leverage Unite Technology to continue to work with legacy designs in CATIA, SolidWorks, and NX while moving forward into Creo 3.0 only the design changes which are actually needed by the business.

We think this is a brilliant solution for designers in a multi-CAD environment. In addition, these features are free to all PTC Creo customers on support.

PTC Creo 3.0 Unite Technology's Open & Convert features for CATIA, SolidWorks, and Siemens NX are free to all customers on support.

That describes how PTC Creo 3.0's Unite Technology is great for CAD consolidation. It also has more features which make Unite Technology in PTC Creo 3.0 a very useful tool for multi-CAD collaboration.

PTC Creo is exceptionally good at managing assemblies and design dependencies which is a critical tool in good parametric design. PTC Creo 3.0 allows customers to extend this ability to create geometric design dependencies across a multi-CAD environment. This same ability to open foreign CAD formats which supports more efficient CAD consolidation has been intelligently implemented in Creo 3.0. Foreign CAD formats like CATIA and SolidWorks are not only opened and brought into the PTC Creo 3.0 design session for designers to work with, but these non-Creo designs are wrapped with Creo technology which allows designers to create cross-platform geometric design dependencies. These multi-CAD geometric design dependencies use the same technology as PTC uses for Creo design dependencies. This means that a designer can create geometric design dependencies in their Creo 3.0 designs between objects and assemblies coming from CATIA, SolidWorks, NX and Creo – and these dependencies are as robust and reliable as if done entirely in PTC Creo.

With PTC Creo 3.0, designers can collaborate better with suppliers in a multi-CAD environment and create robust, cross-platform design dependencies across design platforms using PTC Creo, Dassault Systèmes CATIA, SolidWorks, and Siemens NX.

If that sounds impressive, well, … it is. And you will want to listen to the explanation from Mr. Thompson. He describes how a Creo customer does exactly this using Creo, CATIA and SolidWorks for a truck design.

Concept design is the second area with major benefits for Creo customers. PTC has improved concept design and kept inter-operability a core feature of the process. This means that 100% of your work from the concept design phase is compatible with the rest of the Creo platform so that you never lose design-intent.

Four key areas are addressed in the PTC Creo 3.0 release.

  1. Freestyle
  2. Creo Layout
  3. Creo Direct
  4. Design Exploration Extension

FreeStyle allows for free-form surfaces in Creo Parametric. In PTC Creo 3.0, it is possible to control the boundaries of a FreeStyle surface parametrically. You can align the edge of a FreeStyle surface to another curve or surface in the model. The design can change and as it does, the FreeStyle surface regenerates to maintain the relationship defined with the rest of the model.

PTC Creo Layout has much improved scalability in this 3.0 version. This is due to creating the concept of sub-layouts which allows designers to work with much larger layouts than had been possible in Creo 2.0. PTC also provides new 3D integration technology into Creo Layout. As the 3D designer begins building 3D geometry off of the 2D layout information, Creo Layout provides very deep, specific information about what has changed in the 2D information to the 3D designer. This goes down to the level of the individual entity. This let designers know exactly which entities have changed before the Creo Layout updates are accepted by the 3D designer.

In this release, PTC continues the integration of Creo Elements Direct technology into the Creo 3.0 platform. Brian Thompson concedes that while the tool has improved greatly, it is still not up to designing products from beginning to end. On the other hand, he claims that the product is a very good product and has become much more mature.

The fourth area is the “Design Exploration Extension”. This functionality allows designers to create an arbitrarily wide and deep set of design alternatives. By setting checkpoints at any time during the design process, the engineer can create design branches to explore and compare alternative design choices easily and safely with an absolute minimum of overhead.

Another scenario customers appreciate is the ability to accept design changes from other project members safely. The designer can open a Design Exploration session, set a check-point, and then safely accept the changes and evaluate the impact to the model. Should there be problems that arise, the designer can quickly return to the check-point status of the design and address the issues with the design team.

The Design Exploration Extension has a hierarchical tree built into the Creo user interface to facilitate exploration, to allow easy navigation, and to show the relationships between design alternatives. PTC manages all of the data automatically and uses incremental design change information so that the feature is extremely efficient.

As many engineers can imagine, the work of exploring alternative designs can provide valuable information to the company and create valuable intellectual property. As such, the design spaces are valuable to customers. For that reason, PTC made it possible to save and archive the design spaces easily (for example, in Windchill) which provides the company the ability to go back to alternative design ideas at a later time.

In addition to Unite Technology and Concept Design, PTC focused on enhancing customer productivity in the 3.0 release. The enhancements are many and they can be found across all of the PTC Creo 3.0 applications.

In keeping with PTC's move to enhance the graphics performance, PTC Creo 3.0 integrates realistic material properties for design objects and the design can be developed in a full HDR (high dynamic range) environment. By partnering closely with AMD and NVIDIA, PTC has implemented these improvements intelligently so that the work is done by the graphics system which keeps PTC Creo performance and responsiveness high for the designer.

Last year, PTC announced support for virtualized workstations running on the Citrix platform. Remote workstations can have multiple GPUs and each GPU can be very powerful. This technology allows customers to run multiple PTC Creo sessions on a single remote workstation.

This year, the company is extending the support for a remote workstation running PTC Creo to include virtualization for the GPU. Powerful GPUs in a remote workstation can have enough graphics performance to support many Creo users. Now multiple Creo sessions can share the same GPU. This makes the value-proposition for Creo-based remote workstations even more attractive.

The customers are migrating to the PTC Creo platform

Brian Thompson shares the information that customers are migrating from older platforms to PTC Creo. As of mid-2014, 70% of North American customers were on PTC Creo and 60% of global customers were on PTC Creo. With several large clients moving to the platform over the summer, the company seems prepared to hit or exceed the goal of having 75% of their customers running on the Creo platform at the end of 2014.

The big news in Creo 3.0 is Unite Technology.

Unite Technology is PTC's leverage to convert more and more 3D designers to Creo. The technology makes consolidation much more efficient than it ever has been and it is a more efficient platform for consolidation than any of PTC's competitors can offer. And with the cost savings which consolidation offers customers, many are looking for a good solution to help them get to a unified CAD environment.

In addition, the need to collaborate effectively is essential to productivity, competitiveness, and profitability. Unite Technology provides a tool to allow efficient cross-platform collaboration and this is unique to PTC Creo 3.0.

Providing a solution to help customers consolidate their CAD platforms and a solution to help customers collaborate with suppliers and partners in a multi-CAD environment is an excellent strategy to solidify a market position and even gain market share. While it is not a forgone conclusion that the strategy will work, it is obvious that PTC offers advantages to customers which are both valuable to the customers business and not available from any other competitor. Unite Technology is very clearly the heart of the Creo 3.0 release.

The work done in concept design tools and productivity enhancements across all the PTC Creo applications should please existing Creo customers, customers upgrading from versions of Pro/ENGINEER, and future customers who chose to migrate to the PTC Creo platform.