| Article Archive
Features List 13
Breaking down the barriers
From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 22 No 10 - OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2009
PTC addresses the barriers that prevent designers from being more productive with the release of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5
PTC has nailed the assumption that it is only distractions like Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites that stop designers from being more productive. The truth is that there are a number of 'speed bumps' within the design process that could be made just that little bit more efficient. You know what speed bumps are - they are the malignant and annoying barriers that rudely interrupt your progress on life's highway. And they can be every bit as disruptive when it comes to design.
For example, you want to make a couple of design changes, but realise that doing so invokes an apparently unnecessary series of fiddly little steps. Or you want to bring in components designed with some other CAD application, and have to go through a tortuous translation process to ensure the imported data is correctly translated and usable. You may also want to try out some analysis on the design to see if it's going to work - but to do so you have to acquire, load, learn and use another couple of software packages.
PTC have recognised all of this, and have introduced the next version of
Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5 with the strict aim of making life a little bit more comfortable for us. They have decided what the 5 main barriers to productivity are - and have enhanced the performance of Wildfire to deal with them.
So what are these 5 barriers to productivity? Well, they reiterate what I said above: making design changes is too hard, time to productivity is too long, dealing with data from other CAD systems is too difficult, and there are too many disconnected point solutions animation, analysis, etc. And the fifth barrier? Finding the right people to help you, and being able to leverage their collective knowledge.
WILDFIRE 5 IMPROVEMENTS
One of the most important changes to Wildfire was the introduction of interactive modelling - direct modelling that localises design changes, gets rid of the need to consult the model tree to work out what else is affected by your edit, and generally making changes much simpler to carry out! Wildfire 5 takes it to the next level with dynamic feature editing and disruption-free design.
The former, accessed from either the model tree or directly within the graphics window, includes real-time regeneration of features, and the ability to directly modify both sketches and features. It's part of the new philosophy of disruption- free design, which is hugely useful when you are dealing with complex assemblies. When changes are made and the model is regenerated, features that are not fully configured or that contain errors - and that don't impinge on the part of the model that you are working on - will not be regenerated.
To put it another way, failed components can appear on assemblies and the model still generates, so you can continue working without having to sort out the geometry. Work can continue on the design unabated without having to dig into the assembly to resolve unrelated design issues before going any further. Suits me! Should I ever find myself in the throws of creative endeavour, I would always want to dismiss minor sideline issues with a promise to return to them 'when I have time!'
Failed features? Happens with the best designs, and could easily be caused by something as basic as moving a feature off the edge of the model during editing, thus turning it into an invisible feature! Wildfire has numerous ways of finding such features, and, in conjunction with Windchill, the process can also be used to enforce standards to minimise their occurrence. The software has sufficient intelligence to understand and complement the design intent.
Direct editing of surfaces also enables PTC to enhance Widlfire productivity. They claim a 70% increase in productivity in just this area alone. Further time savings are achieved by enhancing design re-use, with the ability to place UDFs (user defined features) some 30% quicker than previously.
The user interface is critical to improved efficiency, and PTC has included a number of enhancements and new features. This includes a richer design environment, with faster sketching, improved navigation faster workflows, and improved drawing creation.
Wildfire 5 uses the new ribbon-based UI for drawings - the most popular style of UI
at the moment. Users can select views and place them on the drawing sheet, the software creating a drawing tree as they do so - demonstrating the intelligence built into the drawing, and showing dimensions as part of the tree. Improved awareness of the entire drawing content enables users to see which objects are related to which view - a useful aid for both navigation and comprehension.
The new web browser in Wildfire is a vast improvement too, enabling users to browse more rapidly and search on individual object names. Clicking on each brings up thumbnails, a further click brings up the entire interactive 3D content. Very sensibly, CAD browsers are starting to take on the appearance and capabilities of web browsers, and Mozilla Firefox is the web browser of choice for PTC. Like me, they appreciate its performance and security.
The software's rendering engine has also been improved, with the inclusion of an Advanced Rendering Extension using mental ray from mental images, providing enhanced material allocation and true-tolife or real-world illumination.
Enhancements that bring about improved efficiency and productivity abound in the more than 300 improvements to Wildfire, and cover all areas of the software, including the ability to create simplified sub-assemblies, place forms and create moulded parts up to 80% faster.
Weldments can be created up to 10
times faster, and facing toolpaths 5 times faster, which, incidentally, points to the considerable scope of the software, covering sheet metal, mould-design and EDA design.
Besides performance, one new feature in particular demonstrates PTC's groundbreaking credentials. Spark Analysis Extension is the only commercially available tool for analysing the electromechanical clearances and creepage properties of designs - finding electrical shortage problems that could cripple a design's performance.
Barrier 4 covers disjointed point solutions. With a whole range of Pro/ENGINEER software, covering visualisation, animation,analysis, technical documentation and other applications integrated within Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5, design engineers can develop their products from concept to manufacturing all within one application.
CAD Interoperability (number 3 in the aforementioned 5 barriers) includes increased native support for other CAD systems, including the ability to use CAD data from multiple CAD systems within the same assembly.
Finally, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5 integrates its own resources with those of Windchill ProductPoint, built on Microsoft's SharePoint, which provides the resources for users to find and re-use an organisation or community's collective knowledge - and use it to improve their own productivity.
©2006 BTC. All rights reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced without written permission of the owners.