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From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 16 No 02 - MARCH 2003
PTC's Pro/Engineer is one of the industry's leading solid modelling applications. The latest version has been given a complete facelift - resulting in Pro/Engineer Wildfire, a completetly intergrated system for product development.
Widfire has been described by it’s developers, PTC, as a breakthrough version of Pro/ENGINEER, the companies well known 3D solid modelling software package. It has also been described as the world’s first completely integrated Product Development System, incorporating all elements of design, visualisation, manufacture and PLM, built around a web browser that provides total collaboration between designers, collaborators and suppliers.
The latest Press Releases use a key mantra to describe the advantages of Wildfire – ‘Simple – Powerful – Connected’. To take them at their word, we need to look at each in turn, and see how they have achieved this.
Simplicity is a relative term, when you are looking at a mid-range solid modelling application. PTC says that it has achieved a greater degree of simplicity within the new Wildfire product by completely revising the Interface with the user, reducing the number of functions that have to be performed to achieve a task, and making each command responsive to fewer clicks.
Wildfire has retained the ‘Granite’ core, but PTC has developed a completely new user interface – one, it says, that will appeal to both expert and infrequent users. Expert users need a package that they can use with some fluidity and with an economy of clicks, functions and features, whilst those that visit the software on fewer occasions always need some form of guidance through the software. Getting infrequent users up to speed depends on the number of routines that have to be learned.
PTC has reduced the number of actual number of prime functions on the card, and says that, in tests against its competitors, and with similar levels of expertise on each, models can be created using Wildfire with 50% fewer mouse clicks!
The number of functions that need to be accessed has dropped from 76 in Pro/E 2001 to just 23 in Wildfire. This is not to say that the performance of the software has declined, but that the same functionality has been rationalised, requiring fewer operations to use them.
Early users of Wildfire have been enthusiastic anbout the new User Interface. Dennis Steffen, of Plantation Key Design in Florida, a company that designs electrical and medical products, says that “…Wildfire user interface exceed my expectations ..the streamlined user interface and direct modelling capabilities give users the option to make decisions when they really should be mnade. Before I had to think out the model before I designed it. Now my models have invcredible flexibility which enables me to be more creative.”
Pro/E was always quite a powerful bit of software. This has now been added to in all areas – parts complexity, functionality, design, engineering and manufacturing.
One of the most interesting additions that beefs up the design capabilities, is the introduction of a global deformation tool. Complete assemblies can be selected, displaying ‘handling’ or ‘ear lobes’ that can be picked up and used to push or pull the assembly in any direction to achieve a completely new shape or set of dimensions.
To provide some further examples, Photorealistic rendering capability has been improved, with new visualisation effects added that include smoke, light, flares, lens and fog.
Engineering models can now be produced with a degree of dynamic analysis of motion, or structural simulations can be produced for thermal analysis. To give a simple example, springs are normally inserted either fully extended or compressed. Now, springs can be inserted that automatically determine their own length – calculating the degree of ‘stretch’ required.
Manufacturing capabilities have been extended, and now include a mould-making or designing function with smart parts. Moulds can be designed with the ability to define their own parting functions – i.e., the line through the mould that is calculated for the male and female parts of the mould to be separated.
Wildfire is built around a new browser to improve collaboration with co-workers, suppliers and to enable it to integrate with other PTC application software and on-line databases. This web style connection provides access to PTCs Windchill PDM, as well as other users, for a seamless solution for full project collaboration and management
One particular function, using Groove Networks, enables
collaborators to perform peer-to-peer design reviews, working simultaneously
over the web on the same model – contextual collaboration.
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