Before PTC rolls out a new version of Pro/Engineer, it usually tests the release with several preproduction versions. Pro/E Wildfire 4.0 is no exception.
Edited by Leslie Gordon
The first prerelease was in June 2007 and the second followed in September. Such phasing makes sense because the 2008 version has some 300 enhancements and required the work of more than 250 programmers. Overall, it’s an impressive package, particularly for existing Pro/E users.
For example, a noteworthy improvement lets users show 3D models along with their product and manufacturing information such as component dimensions. Although this capacity has been available since Wildfire 2, additional layering capabilities and flexible annotation planes have made it much easier to use.
In addition, a nifty new Auto-round function reduces the time it takes to place rounds or blends on all sharp edges of a part. Users can even place rounds into a group and modify or delete individual items. The function generates a set of geometric “features” — or series of edges that are tangent — which are defined by algorithms to maximize the number of rounded chains and facilitate automated selection.
Another enhancement comes from the Import Data Doctor (IDD). It heals small gaps and slivers in imported data. Users can also replace, move, or modify imported surfaces. These operations work best with prismatic surfaces. IDD can also remove geometry including holes, rounds, and protrusions from imported data. Also useful: a new Feature Recognition tool that identifies parametric features of an imported “dumb” geometry.
A global reference manager makes an impressive diagnostic tool that simplifies the job of understanding complex references and helps eliminate potential problems during model rebuilds. The tool makes it easier to understand complex model structures, which helps engineers reuse existing models because references and dependencies are easy to see.
Several new modules add yet more improvements. For example, the MCAD-ECAD collaboration and a change-identification module lets users click on a component in the MCAD or the ECAD view, and the component highlights in the other. Users can also compare a board design imported into MCAD against previous versions, see changes, and accept or reject them. This capability looks interesting for highly specialized users. However, they would have to organize a process to deal with rejected changes during this part of the design cycle. PTC employed the acquired InterComm ECAD translation capability to support communication between the two disparate environments.
Yet another module allows the import and export of NX 3 and NX4 files with JT, a 3D data format developed by Siemens PLM Software and used for product visualization, collaboration, and CAD data exchange. Users can also import to and export from AutoCAD 2005 and 2006, as well as export to U3D, a compressed file format for 3D data. Pro/E allows use of imported exact representations in the PTC ProductView data format.
Because the control of intellectual property is always critical, a Rights Management Extension module delivers digital-rights management for parts, assemblies, and drawings. For example, the module lets users digitally encrypt files and control who can open, print, save, and copy that data, while the server reports on how data is accessed and who attempted to do what and when. Users can even work offline for a limited amount of time. PTC partnered with Adobe for the digital-rights-management capability.
Also new is the Tolerance Analysis Extension module for 1D tolerance analysis. The module supports tolerance stack-up and analysis along an axis or plane. Users begin by selecting faces between the first two components of interest and continue selecting the faces between other components for the analysis, in order. The module can also read existing dimensions and tolerances as well as create a dimensioning scheme and tolerances. The module quickly produces a sensitivity-analysis diagram and statistical bell curve of the tolerance. The tool is relatively easy to use and results are straightforward.
Closely associated with the new release are Mathcad, Arbortext, IsoDraw, and Pro/Toolmaker. They work like this: Values calculated in Mathcad can be mapped to parameters and dimensions in the CAD model to drive the geometric design, while parameters from a Pro/E model can go into Mathcad for downstream engineering-design calculations. Arbortext provides XML authoring, content management, and dynamic publishing, so that, for instance, technical publications update with changes to a design. IsoDraw works with Arbortext to generate 2D and 3D technical illustrations and animations directly from MCAD data. Pro/Toolmaker works with Pro/E NC to enhance the design and manufacturing of mold and die tools.
Pro/Engineer Wildfire 4.0 comes from PTC, 140 Kendrick St., Needham, MA 02494, (781) 370-5000, ptc.com.
Raymond Kurland is president of TechniCom Inc. and its principal consultant and editor. The firm specializes in analyzing MCAD and PLM systems and has been involved in reviewing and comparing such software since 1987. Ray consults with developers and users and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A “dumb” but complex model is imported into Pro/E (top). The features on the model were developed using the Feature Recognition tool (bottom). It works well for extruded protrusions and cuts, rounds, chamfers, slots, holes, and patterns of identical shapes.
A new module supports tolerance stack-up and analysis along an axis or plane. The module produces a sensitivity-analysis diagram and statistical bell curve of the tolerance. Users can, for example, change a tolerance that might be too tight to see whether the assembly will then mate as expected.