By Jonathan Gourlay
Explaining it represented more than a $100 million investment in research and development, PTC (Needham, MA) Senior Vice President of product development Mike Campbell introduced Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 last week by pointing out some 350 enhancements, resulting in an overall performance increase. Plus, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 uses 6.6 percent smaller memory footprint on the desktop. Campbell introduced the latest version of the modeling program at PTC’s annual media and analyst event at its headquarters January 16-17.
Modernization of the user interface (UI) was a major theme in the introduction to the software. The desire to deliver a familiar and consistent UI and the company’s success at that has paid off in the small- and medium-sized business market over the last four to five years, according to Campbell. PTC is intent on creating an environment that will allow the users of its software to spend less time learning the program and more time designing products.
Among the first improvements highlighted during the launch event was Wildfire’s new Auto Round feature. Once a designer designates the sections of a model that need to be rounded, he then enters a few parameters and clicks a button. Auto Round takes over and places fillets and rounds on edges automatically using a library of existing algorithms. PTC says the task that might have taken a Pro/E expert 20 minutes to accomplish the old way can now be completed by the software in 40 seconds. A demonstration of the new feature after the introduction certainly backed up this claim.
Among other improvements is automatic memory management to help with retrieval of such things as large assembly performance. It is said that automated and optimized assembly file management using simplified representations reduces memory consumption by 40 percent and model retrieval times by 60 percent.
Also improved in this latest release is the display of dimensions in 3D drawings to increase design information reuse; new capabilities for directly editing surfaces including multi-resolution editing and smoothing; faster surface removal for mold making or analysis; and a new feature recognition tool to quickly convert imported geometries to features in your model.
The new feature recognition tool (FRT) is a plug-in application for Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 and gives design engineers a comprehensive set of tools to selectively replace the geometries of features in imported solid models (IGES, STEP, etc.) with true parametric features. The feature enables design engineers to build design intelligence into imported models for easy, predictable changes. For example, a user can replace static hole geometry with a fully editable hole and use it downstream for assembly, detailing, and manufacturing. FRT can even recognize and place patterns of features.
FRT enables the replacement of static geometry with feature-rich content, and works with simple or sketched holes, protrusions or pockets on flat or curved surfaces, extruded slots, constant-radius rounds, chamfers, and table patterns for holes. PTC says the feature will enable downstream reuse of imported models; rebuild flexibility into imported designs from a single, familiar modeling environment; and increase efficiency over remastering 3D imported designs by hand.
|PTC is intent on creating an environment that will allow the users of its software to spend less time learning the program and more time designing products.|
Wildfire 4.0 also includes a new ribbon cabling function. It is said to create electromechanical designs faster with intelligent, automated capabilities for adding and routing ribbon cables (see March 08 DE for a detailed description).
One of the slickest pieces of the new version of Pro/E Wildfire is the package’s new ECAD-MCAD Collaboration Extension. This electromechanical capability enables both the solid model and the electronic design of the same component to be connected and viewed side by side. It’s a great way to help engineers working in each discipline on the same project, perhaps on different ends of the world, communicate their intentions and ideas better and more clearly. Enabled by a new interface between MCAD and ECAD designs, it allows for making fast work of incremental changes that can be cross-highlighted between MCAD and ECAD board designs. It allows each designer to work in his or her native environment and collaborate with ease.
Say you are a mechanical designer responsible for the packaging of an electronic component. You have a smooth curved cover to encase the circuit board and find that a capacitor on the board is interfering with your fit. Working in your MCAD program, you can highlight the capacitor and dynamically move it to what looks to you like an open space on the board so the cover does fit. Your colleague, an electronics engineer, can open the ECAD program file you saved and see the highlighted capacitor that offends your design. He immediately knows what the problem is and can either approve your recommended move or adjust it, and your MCAD file automatically updates. Simple.
Other features of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 include an enhanced import DataDoctor with an easy-to-use, modernized user interface; updated data-exchange processors with support for CATIA V5, AutoCAD, 3D PDF, ProductView, and Rhino, and new support for JT; new security and rights management protection; easier and enhanced simulation; and more.
Using the new intellectual property (IP) module, Rights Management Extension (RMX) and Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management ES, a user can protect parts, assemblies, and drawings files by assigning varying levels of security to those sharing the files. For example, the person charged with controlling the digital rights management (DRM) policy, does so from a policy server and can give someone in another department or a partner in a project an “only open” permission for a specified period of time. This policy will allow for the part or assembly file to be opened, and interrogated (measured, cross-sections viewed, etc.), but will prevent all actions that could persist or replicate the data such as save, export, copy geometry, etc.
Protected Pro/E files have “persistent and dynamic protection,” meaning the originator can grant more rights or disable access quickly and easily from the policy server to change the permissions or revoke a vendor’s right to access the file at any time. In addition, the policy server includes auditing capabilities, which report both successful and unsuccessful attempts to open protected content. This provides the IP owner with insight into how and when a model is accessed and provides accountability through the tracking of each partner’s use of a model.
Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 is scheduled to be available later this month. Active maintenance customers can download Wildfire 4.0 or order a CD from the PTC support site under current maintenance coverage. For more information, please visit ptc.com.