Did You Know? Family Tables

Suppose you want to design a group of similar products that vary only slightly from each other. For example, think of a collection of socket wrenches ranging from 0.25 to 1 inch. Rather than model and save each piece separately, you can create a generic socket in PTC Creo, and then use a Family Table to quickly create variants of the generic by changing just the relevant dimensions or parameters.


With table-driven design, every row in your table produces a different variant of the generic. And it’s not just for socket wrenches. You can apply this concept to bolts, washers, or even larger assemblies, saving yourself loads of time and disk space.

To create a Family Table, follow these steps:

  1. Create or open a part to reference (your “generic socket”).
  2. Identify a feature you want to modify for your variants. In the example below, we’ll vary the drive size, that is, the extruded fitting that attaches to the wrench handle.
  3. To find the feature name, click Model Intent > Switch Symbols (Fig. 1). This shows the symbolic names of each feature.

Fig. 1. Switch Symbols menu option.

  1. Click the feature on the geometry. It turns out we want to vary a feature called the “DRIVE_SIZE” (Fig. 2).
Fig 2

Fig. 2. Choosing DRIVE_SIZE feature.

  1. Click Model Intent > Family Table to create the Family Table and add instances. Instances are the individual variations that populate the table.
  2. In the Family Table dialog box, notice the add column button (Fig 3a). In the example, we again click “DRIVE_SIZE” on the geometry. Add more columns to add more features, like the description and socket sizes.
  1. Use the add row button (Fig. 3b) to add instances. One for each family object you want to create. Adjust the instance names, descriptions, and other options as you like.
  2. Finally, verify the instances by clicking the verify instance button (Fig 3c), and then click Verify (Fig 4).


insert and verify buttons

Figures 3a-3c: Insert column, insert row, and verify buttons.


Fig. 4

Fig. 4. Verifying instances in the family table.


Now you have a functional Family Table containing three socket options, from which you can preview or edit each instance in PTC Creo. And when you add a generic socket to a model, a dialog box appears asking you to choose one of the three socket instances to add to your design.

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Want to see more detailed step-by-step instructions? Open the Creating a Family Table tutorial on PTC’s Learning Exchange. Note that you may need to create an account if you don’t already have one. The good news is that it’s free, and after creating your new login, you’ll find hundreds and hundreds of in-depth demonstrations and tutorials for PTC products.

You can find more discussion of Family Tables in this Community forum post and in PTC’s help pages too. (Did you know you can open and edit Family Tables in Microsoft Excel?).

And watch for future “Did You Know?” posts here on the PTC Creo blog for more tips on how to make the most of your design work with PTC Creo tools.