First Encounter: PTC CoCreate 17.0

In CoCreate 17.0, you extrude a 2D profile by repositioning the work plane on which the profile exists.

In CoCreate 17.0, you extrude a 2D profile by repositioning the work plane.

CoCreate's Copilor lets you slide a selected feature along an edge you choose as the guiding axis.

CoCreate's Copilot lets you slide a selected feature along an edge you choose as the guiding axis.

Top: a close-up of the Copilot as it appears when you select the entire part by clicking on a vertice. Bottom: rotating a face along an axis using the Copilot.

Top: a close-up of the Copilot as it appears when you select the entire part by clicking on a vertice. Bottom: rotating a face along an axis using the Copilot.

First, a disclosure: I have never used CoCreate before — that is, not till two weeks ago, when PTC delivered a review copy of the software to my doorstep. But CoCreate happens to be a direct modeler, a CAD specie that I feel is much easier to learn and master than parametric, history-based modelers. A short WebEx demo and a few hours of online tutorials later, I was able to start creating parts.

CoCreate’s user interface and default mouse setup are a bit different from what you find in other CAD packages, so a few observations may be in order. In CoCreate, you add volume to a 2D sketch profile by extruding the work plane it’s on. (In other programs, you’ll most likely extrude the 2D profile itself.)

In addition to right-click menu options, you may also activate other options by hitting on the space bar. For example, hitting on the space bar while you’re executing a circle will give you the option to place the circle tangent to a line (by default, your circle’s center will snap to a point on an existing line). Similarly, hitting the space bar while you’re placing an item will give you the Relative Measure option. This option lets you place your object (say, the center of a circle) at the desired distance as measured from nearby vertical and horizontal lines.

According to PTC, CoCreate’s interface is designed so you can directly interact with the geometry. This minimizes the need to browse through drop-down menus and fly-out menus to pick commands. By default, scrolling the middle mouse-wheel lets you zoom in or out, as you might expect. Clicking on the middle mouse-wheel also terminates an action (a line in progress) or executes a command (for instance, finalizes a blend or an extrusion).

The navigational icon that lets you push, pull, or rotate faces and features is dubbed Copilot (think of it as your CoCreate pilot). Clicking on its wheel gives you the rotate command. Clicking on one of its arrows lets you drag a face or a feature along the corresponding axis. Clicking on a vertice (like the corner of a cube) selects the entire part. You also have the option to draw a rectangle box to select features and faces within a certain region.

Simple commands like moving faces need no explanation. They respond to the push-pull actions as you’d expect. But CoCreate also lets you move a feature along a desired edge, using it as the directional axis. In addition, you may also activate the relative-distance measurement tools to fix the new position of the feature relative to any desired edge (the measurement is done using the red and green arrowheads, activated via the Copilot).

In some history-free direct modelers, you’ll find an expandable tree comprising faces, features, and extrusions (case in point: Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology). The stack of features doesn’t represent the historical steps you take to build the design (for one thing, they’re not order-dependent like the features listed in a parametric program’s history tree), but it gives you a way to sort through the features and modify them as needed.

By contrast, CoCreate is quite literally history-free — you find nothing other than the part and the work plane in the history pane (or the pane where you’d normally expect the history tree to be). Once you execute a command, be it an extrusion or a blend, the geometry becomes an inherent part of the design. So you need to be comfortable with this Spartan approach to history. However, the absence of a history tree won’t prevent you from modifying your design. You can simply select the edge or face to adjust its extrusion height or angle.

According to PTC, CoCreate is deployed by customers who use the software for production work. In my view, CoCreate’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach makes it an ideal package for concept exploration, the phase in which you’re more concerned with form and less with precision.

In subsequent reports on CoCreate 17.0, I’ll look into its sheet metal tools, analysis tools, and assembly tools. Watch the video below for an illustration of the functions discussed above:

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5 Responses to First Encounter: PTC CoCreate 17.0

  • Jon Banquer says:

    Great job on this intro video and with pointing out what you make clear in the written introduction! I found it very helpful since CoCreate is not a product I have any experience with.

    You said:

    “In some history-free direct modelers, you’ll find an expandable tree comprising faces, features, and extrusions (case in point: Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology). The stack of features doesn’t represent the historical steps you take to build the design (for one thing, they’re not order-dependent like the features listed in a parametric program’s history tree), but it gives you a way to sort through the features and modify them as needed.”

    I see this as something PTC is going to have to address in CoCreate because as you allude to having access to features can make modification quicker/easier.

    Paul Hamilton of PTC has made it clear to me that CoCreate has a very robust direct modeling engine… perhaps the best in the business. However, I believe other direct modelers like Solid Edge ST have a much better user interface than CoCreate does and Soild Edge ST also creates a collection of features. I wonder if in the future this will have an even greater advantage than it does now because direct modeling is going to get much more automated. If you or others haven’t already read Dr. T.R. Kannan of Geometric comments on Paul Hamilton’s blog in regards to feature recognition being used to quickly change say a countersunk hole to a counterbored one, etc. I think it makes for some good reading and gives a very good idea where direct modeling is headed.

    Bottom line is I don’t see any advantage to not creating a collection of features and I do see many disadvantages to not having said collection of features.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

  • Paul Hamilton says:

    Jon,

    There are certainly strong opinions both ways on whether a direct modeling tool should capture the modeling operations as “features”. Of course there is no order to these features; they are just basically tags that are applied to a set of faces in the b-rep solid.

    The problem with capturing modeling features in a direct modeling CAD tool is that additional modeling operations can significantly alter the faces of the model, ultimately rendering the previously defined features useless, or at least insignificant. Features are created in CoCreate either by selecting features from a library, such as machined hole types, or by defining a collection of faces as a UDF (user defined feature). These features can then be edited as such or extended into patterns.

    It certainly makes sense to capture features like specific types of holes. The question is whether every modeling operation yields a recorded feature. I personally don’t see the value.

    Paul Hamilton

  • Jon Banquer says:

    Paul,

    “The problem with capturing modeling features in a direct modeling CAD tool is that additional modeling operations can significantly alter the faces of the model, ultimately rendering the previously defined features useless, or at least insignificant.

    I fail to see why a way can’t be found to update these tags without regenerating the entire model.

    “Features are created in CoCreate either by selecting features from a library, such as machined hole types, or by defining a collection of faces as a UDF (user defined feature). These features can then be edited as such or extended into patterns.”

    I see UDF’s as being very useful but I don’t see them as being the only answer. I think Dr. Kannan’s suggestion on your blog for how holes should be handled makes a lot more sense to me. I think he’s 100 percent correct that most users don’t want to waste time picking a ton of faces if they don’t have to. For sure I know I don’t.

    In any case, I feel Kenneth did an outstanding job on this CoCreate introduction. By outstanding I mean it’s a better intro to CoCreate than anything I’ve ever seen on You Tube or elsewhere in regards to explaining the basics of how it works. I’m hopeful the rest of his series will be just as good because this one was beyond excellent.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

  • Pingback: Working with Assemblies in CoCreate 17.0 | Kenneth Wong's Virtual Desktop

  • Great job on this intro video and with pointing out what you make clear in the written introduction! I found it very helpful since CoCreate is not a product I have any experience with.

    You said:

    “In some history-free direct modelers, you’ll find an expandable tree comprising faces, features, and extrusions (case in point: Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology). The stack of features doesn’t represent the historical steps you take to build the design (for one thing, they’re not order-dependent like the features listed in a parametric program’s history tree), but it gives you a way to sort through the features and modify them as needed.”

    I see this as something PTC is going to have to address in CoCreate because as you allude to having access to features can make modification quicker/easier.

    Paul Hamilton of PTC has made it clear to me that CoCreate has a very robust direct modeling engine… perhaps the best in the business. However, I believe other direct modelers like Solid Edge ST have a much better user interface than CoCreate does and Soild Edge ST also creates a collection of features. I wonder if in the future this will have an even greater advantage than it does now because direct modeling is going to get much more automated. If you or others haven’t already read Dr. T.R. Kannan of Geometric comments on Paul Hamilton’s blog in regards to feature recognition being used to quickly change say a countersunk hole to a counterbored one, etc. I think it makes for some good reading and gives a very good idea where direct modeling is headed.

    Bottom line is I don’t see any advantage to not creating a collection of features and I do see many disadvantages to not having said collection of features.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

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