Product Design

PTC Creo 3.0 Includes Game-Changing Multi-CAD Data Handling

26 Jun, 2014 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

New Unite technology said to be the first to allow users to open foreign CAD formats in their native environment without need for additional software, as well as export data in those same formats.

When PTC launches PTC Creo 3.0 in mid-July, the company reports that the collection of 3D modeling applications will be the first ever to allow users to import foreign CAD formats into the native CAD environment, easily reusing existing CAD data as is, in its current format, without the need for a upfront data migration.

With the ability to import SolidWorks, CATIA, NX, Solid Edge, and Autodesk Inventor files, as well as export and share files in those same common CAD formats, Creo 3.0 can eliminate the need to manage many secondary formats, according to PTC.

A long-time provider of software and services for product-development companies, PTC introduced Creo 3.0 in Boston last week at the PTC Live Global user conference and exhibition. In addition to the new Unite multi-CAD technology, Creo 3.0 will offer improved concept design capabilities to support design innovation as well as efficiency boosts to increase user productivity.

Many CAD software developers offer tools to import foreign CAD data, including PTC itself. The difference with Unite technology, says Brian Thompson, vice-president of Creo product management, is its Open capability, which allows users to import foreign CAD formats into the native environment without creating any new objects in the process and automatically manages changes as they come into the native environment.

Assemblies in Creo 3.0, such as those shown in this shaver model, now can more easily incorporate legacy CAD data, supplier models, and data from project partners. Click image to enlarge.


Thompson says that although many customers are currently implementing Creo 2.0, “we have a few customers where this multi-CAD problem is a big problem, so we gave them a bit of a preview that made them think they might wait for Creo 3.0. Customers that were thinking about moving to Creo 2.0 now are reconsidering,” he says, after seeing the updates coming in Creo 3.0.

At the Boston event, PTC also announced the availability of PTC Creo Elements/Direct 19.0, the latest version of the company’s direct modeling software. It delivers productivity enhancements in the core areas of modeling, drafting, and data management that are complemented by greater interoperability with PTC Creo 3.0 and other non-PTC CAD systems, via the new Unite technology, the company reports.

Creo Status Report

Creo 1.0 debuted with much fanfare in the fall of 2010 as a collection of tools for 3D modeling and related product-development tasks. The new product line took the then-new approach of providing a collection of AnyRole Apps that could be used alone or in combination to support the specific needs of users throughout the organization, from product designers to marketers. PTC also touted AnyMode Modeling, meaning Creo users could use the Creo Elements/Direct app (formerly CoCreate) for history-free modeling or Creo Parametric (based on Pro/ENGINEER) for rules-based modeling — or both.

Next came Creo 2.0 in spring 2012 and the concept of the AnyBOM Assembly, which facilitates on-the-fly creation of new assembly configurations based on product data stored in the PTC Windchill product lifecycle management (PLM) system, instead of relying on CAD.


And in a few short weeks, we’ll have Creo 3.0 with its new Unite technology for AnyData Adoption. It will debut with support for SolidWorks, CATIA, NX, and Autodesk Inventor data import as well as the new Collaboration Extensions for SolidWorks, CATIA, and NX, which allow users to collaborate with nonnative PTC Creo software and receive automatic updates of geometry changes from those nonnative CAD solutions. October will bring support for Solid Edge import and the new PTC Creo Mold Analysis Extension.

According to PTC, 70% of Pro/ENGINEER users in the United States have transitioned to Creo (60–65% worldwide). The goal is 75% worldwide by the end of 2014, Thompson says, “and we think we’ll get there.”

Unite Technology

The new Unite technology in PTC Creo 3.0 aims to improve CAD data sharing and collaboration — and significantly reduce the time and expense associated with CAD data translation — by enabling CAD data of varying formats to be used directly in the PTC Creo Parametric, Creo Direct, Creo Simulate, and Creo Options Modeler apps.

How it works. Creo 3.0 users will be able to open files in major CAD formats in the native Creo environment; upon opening, Creo does not automatically make a new object but does retain the geometry of the foreign object. When the Creo user attempts to “touch” that object, Creo presents the option to make it a Creo object. In this manner, only those objects the user wishes to convert are actually converted, saving time and system resources. Models saved in Creo can be a mix of native Creo and foreign CAD objects.

Thompson explains how design dependencies are maintained under the Creo 3.0 umbrella: “When the geometry is a top-level update that pushes out changes to the rest of the environment, we want all those changes to propagate all the way through the process. ... Dependencies update the Creo design, but drawings also get updated automatically, the simulation that is based on that [design] gets updated automatically, all the associativity that’s baked into the Creo platform applies now to any of the formats that we can open in Creo. Once you get [the foreign data] into Creo, all the power of associativity on the Creo platform applies to that now, because we can update the foreign geometry no matter where it’s used in the ecosystem.”

In addition to directly importing neutral CAD data formats (such as STEP, IGES, and DXF) into PTC Creo Parametric 3.0, users will be able to import and open most popular proprietary file formats without the need for a separate translator or access to the native authoring software. Click image to enlarge.


New Concept Design Tools

New and enhanced conceptual design tools in PTC Creo 3.0 aim to ensure that efforts undertaken at the concept design stage are fully reusable in later stages of the product development process. Updates include:

  • Align Freestyle: Part of PTC Creo Parametric, it enables designers to create and drive freeform designs parametrically, combining organic geometry creation and modification with associative parametric design intent.
  • PTC Creo Layout: Greater scalability and richer tools in this app support 2D concept engineering activities and seamless reuse in the 3D parametric environment.
  • PTC Creo Direct: More powerful and easier-to-use features help users more quickly create concept designs that are fully reusable in PTC Creo Parametric.
  • PTC Creo Design Exploration Extension: This new app provides a dedicated environment in PTC Creo Parametric for developing design alternatives, investigating modeling approaches, and risk-free investigation of design changes. It significantly reduces the current level of manual effort and overhead required to undertake these activities, according to PTC.

Productivity Enhancements

PTC Creo 3.0 also will introduce new and enhanced capabilities and workflows that support productivity increases, improved overall product innovation and quality, and on-time delivery. Tasks such as sketching, large assembly design, stylized design, sheet metal design, 3D annotation, and fastener design are now 10% to 1,000% faster than with Creo 2.0, PTC reports.

Some of the most significant improvements to core productivity functionality across the suite include:

  • new graphical realism support
  • extensive hardware libraries and automated fastener assembly workflows
  • new flexible modeling capabilities
  • new and enhanced analysis tools
  • core modeling enhancements
  • sheet metal modeling enhancements

A revamped Help system includes:

  • dedicated tools for new users
  • context-sensitive help that displays dynamically based on the user’s current activity
  • built-in, tailored tutorials
  • improved Search using Google technology
  • sample models for practice
  • improved command finder helps users determine name of a needed command based on keywords or based on a SolidWorks command name
  • 100+ new videos

Related News

Finally, the Boston event brought a few other not-insignificant updates for the Creo crowd:

  • PTC Creo Sketch: A version of the free sketching app will be available shortly for the iPad.
  • Design Exploration Extension: New app will enable users to quickly and effectively evaluate design alternatives and determine the most effective modeling process.
  • Design for 3D printing: In a press meeting, Thompson intimated that a 3D printing app is in the works for Creo — but couldn’t reveal the timing of the release. “We’re still very interested in [the 3D printing] trend. It’s a very, very hot trend for us.”
  • Cloud-based solutions: Noting that PTC already offers some cloud-based options, Thompson said, “... But I think [CEO Jim Heppelmann] and all the executive staff would say this is something we’re evaluating for all the product lines. I think what they made clear today, and which I would echo, is we would never force customers to go one way or the other.”

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