Lightning combines direct and parametric

Tom Shelley reports on the shape of PTC's long-anticipated combined CAD software.

As widely expected, PTC's Project Lightning, or 'Creo' as it is now named, is 'created from the elements of Pro/Engineer, CoCreate and ProductView', which are to be re-branded, 'creo elements/pro', 'creo elements/direct' and 'creo elements/view' respectively.

There are, however, two breakthroughs in the amalgamated offering. The first is that it will be possible to take a parametric model, bring it into a direct modelling environment and then manipulate it, without losing the parametric elements of the parts.

So, when a nozzle that has been designed using the parametric modelling facility is imported into a directly modelled assembly in order to create ribs, drafts and rounds, then move the nozzle to a new position – all without a feature tree – the nozzle remains a parametric model. Hence, if the overall model is saved and opened back in the parametric environment, the parametrically designed nozzle can be manipulated using its parametrics.

It is now fairly general amongst CAD packages to be able to import a parametric model as geometry and to then manipulate it using direct modelling techniques. But once the feature tree has been abandoned, it is, in all the other packages we have seen, not then possible to resurrect any of the parametrics for what were the originally parametric parts of the model.

The new facility forms part of what the company calls 'Any Mode Modelling'. Another important aspect of Any Mode Modelling is being able to start in 2D, apply constraints and intelligence, and take these across when developing the model into a manufacturable product in 3D.

The other breakthrough is the idea of 'AnyRoleApps', which in PTC terms means a focused set of tools that allows a particular user to do what they need to do to a model, without confusing them or including tools that may result in their getting lost or stuck.

Hence, a design manager, for example, can review a design, examine internal components and check for interference, without getting involved in all the minutiae of 3D modelling. Similarly, an industrial designer will have access to surfacing tools and rendering, whereas an analyst won't need either of these, but will need access to tools to simplify geometry and undertake FEA.

In addition, 'AnyData Adoption' will permit working with data from multiple CAD environments and 'AnyBOM Assembly' will ease the importing of new parts into a design in order to create alternative configurations. The changed design can be reflected through all aspects of the model.

We were told that it would be possible to import a part into a design by this method that did not fit. It would therefore be wise to interrogate the new design to check if the new part fitted, and if it did not, create an alternative modification. It is possible to create rules to prevent this but such rules would have to be written by the user.

Creo is not available right now. Version 1.0 is scheduled to be available as a beta release in Spring 2011, with the full commercial version in Summer 2011. This version will include: conceptual modelling, 2D drafting, 3D parametric and direct modelling, simulation – everything currently available in 'Mechanica' including FEA and thermal analysis; schematic capture, 3D technical publications and visualisation.

Version 2.0 with more 'Apps' is to follow with a beta in Summer in 2011 and full commercial version in Fall 2011. The current version is described as 'Alpha', and has been made available to selected PTC customers in order that they can input their specific needs.

Tom Shelley

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