The future is cloud-y for engineering data management

Feb 2015

Lately I have been deluged with the announcement of or introduction to a series of cloud based data management systems for design engineering that are also focusing on collaboration. I plan this blog to be the first in a series that explores new PDM/PLM (PxM) solutions for product design.

Before I begin, we need to clarify the differences between PDM and PLM. PDM manages design changes during product development while PLM manages engineering and other changes made after the production release of the product for manufacturing and other downstream processes. Using this definition, PDM can be used to store all sorts of information during the design or work-in-process stage. Such information might include, but not be limited to: product specs, preliminary designs, analyses and simulation, product versions, QC specs, engineering BOMs, material types, etc. PLM manages engineering and other changes made after the release of the product from engineering. PLM systems might include PDM data managed during design as well as other data, such as, manufacturing BOMs, manufacturing instructions, NC data, service tracking, cost data, customer level documentation, etc. I think you get the picture.

PTC’s recent announcement of PTC PLM Cloud, a webinar I attended about GrabCAD Workbench and Onshape’s inherent use of a cloud-based solution — all piqued my interest. I began wondering about the differences between them and how one might choose a solution for a mid sized firm. One obvious differentiator is how cloud based PxM software connects to CAD software, be it desktop CAD or cloud based CAD. By the way, if you have not seen Onshape’s Dave Corcoran’s blog about the “The blue screen of death,” then I urge you to read it now. http://www.onshape.com/cad-blog. Corcoran discusses some of the benefits of a cloud based PxM – CAD implementation.

A true cloud based system allows full use of easily extensible computational capability and virtually unlimited storage

A PxM system cloud based system may not be much different from the tired old server based software that has been promoted for years. Adding a web based interface and hierarchical data storage in the cloud, masks an antiquated architecture. The old approach of bolting external data management software into CAD simply does not work well enough. It’s too laborious, takes extra time, and makes little use of design info developed automatically during the design cycle. It’s lack of adoption to date verifies this assumption.

A true cloud based system should be radically different in architecture allowing full use of cloud system flexibility. For instance, one reason I always disliked the previous generation of PDM/PLM was their outdated reliance on text-based interfaces. I would expect modern PxM systems to be graphically oriented offering comprehensible and visual navigation within the product structure. It should offer a tight connection to related CAD systems and automate much of the data management function. Automatic backup and easy restore of historical data are mandatory functions, as are easily distributed design among partners along with IP (intellectual property) protection.

The vendors are all moving quickly to position (or re-position) their PxM systems as cloud based

The plethora of cloud based data management systems for engineering and CAD include the following (plus some I haven’t yet discovered): Autodesk PLM 360, Onshape, GrabCAD Workbench, PTC PLM Cloud, and Kenesto as well as Dropbox and related cloud drive systems. More traditional software is offered by ARAS, Dassault Systemes and Siemens PLM software. What follows is a summary of how some of these vendors are positioning their software.

  • Onshape promotes distributed design. Using cloud based CAD along with a fully integrated cloud PDM system allows a brand new perspective on how modern CAD systems should work. Essentially all costs for compute power and data storage are greatly minimized, easily increased, even ”borrowed” for a short duration.
  • GrabCAD’s Workbench calls itself “The fast, easy way to manage and share CAD files without PDM’s cost and hassle.” The company goes on to state “Workbench allows teams on any CAD system to work smoothly together by syncing local CAD files to cloud projects, tracking versions and locking files to prevent conflicts.” The enterprise version costs $89 per month.
  • PTC recently announced PTC PLM Cloud, stating “this solution leverages the power of PTC Windchill, while simplifying PLM adoption with a flexible, hosted subscription offering, deployable at a pace that matches the needs of SMBs.” I am not exactly sure what this means, but expect to clarify this when I speak with PTC this week.
  • Very soon, Kenesto plans to announce a cloud based system that, Steve Bodnar – VP of Strategy, calls a terrific solution for small shops, enabling them to replace their server based, in-house error prone, file based systems with a much higher function cloud based system that requires minimal change to the way CAD users work, yet improves the reliability of their data management.

Alas, how can an engineering organization differentiate which PxM technology to buy and invest their time and money in? More detail about various implementations and my assessment of them will be forthcoming in future blogs.

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Ray Kurland — I have returned to consulting and analyzing systems for TechniCom, from an early and erstwhile retirement.

References:

Onshape: I have seen it and it is good!

21 Jan 2015

I cannot yet discuss Onshape details, having agreed, as did all others who viewed the product, to an all-encompassing non-disclosure agreement.

But surely, others must have noticed the recent activity from Onshape. After more than two years of secrecy, their executives and others in the company are finally reaching out to the public. Just last week I had three calls from Onshape execs, all wanting to make sure I was aware of their product beta. Within the past two weeks they have started a blog, which now has two posts. See it at www.onshape.com. The first posted just two weeks ago was from Jon Hirschtick, Founder and Chairman of the Board at Onshape. A second blog post from Dave Corcoran, Co-Founder and the Vice President of Research and Development at Onshape reveals some new faces among the development staff along with a remark about the company’s cloud centric approach.

I must admit being somewhat skeptical when I heard the new company was founded. After all, after being around the CAD business for more than 25 years, what could possibly be new? Yet I was still frustrated after these many years with some CAD software systems general fundamentals: the software was hard to use, PDM was a pain in the butt to use, the software was still too costly and often unreliable, all vendors still wanted to lock in their users and multi-CAD usage was rare, new releases became more and more difficult to install because existing data needed to be “migrated”, PDM’s big brother (PLM) promised the moon but seldom delivered without great expense and manpower, the benefits of cloud computing was relegated to special cases because the software was designed for interactive desktop computing.

Does Onshape solve all these BIG problems? I can’t divulge any details yet, but some are being directly addressed. You can get a few clues if you carefully read Dave’s blog; there you will find some hints about where Onshape is heading.

With all this recent activity my guess is that Onshape is getting ready for a public announcement.

More to follow.

What’s up with Belmont Technology?

9 Sep 2013: Last week Siemens PLM Software announced that “Belmont Technology, a venture backed software start-up founded by CAD industry veterans, has licensed Siemens’ Parasolid® software and D-Cubed™ software components to be the foundation of a new generation of cloud-based applications for the computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE) market. The Belmont team, which includes Founder and Chairman, Jon Hirschtick, and CEO John McEleney, will use Parasolid and D-Cubed components to provide the solid modeling and geometric constraint solving capabilities that are fundamental to modern CAD/CAM/CAE applications. Parasolid and D-Cubed components are developed by Siemens’ PLM software business unit.”

So that’s news. We have not heard from Belmont in some time. Note this verbiage: “a new generation of cloud-based applications for the computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE) market.

As I recall, this mirrors the way SolidWorks started – a long time development followed by a brilliant piece of software, delivered at the right time and making the best use of existing and soon to be future computing technology. The company, in its early stages also was brilliantly managed and established new ways to market along with a close customer-vendor relationship. Today, SolidWorks – the company, for many reasons no longer has the many of these characteristics.

So, I am speculating about the possible new product. Perhaps my 20+ years in the CAD/CAM market allow me some perspective on what might be coming. Also, I think I have a pretty good understanding of what the sticking points are in existing products. So here goes:

  • Cloud based
  • Much easier to use
    • Model building guidance that encompasses user methodology
    • Speech recognition for commands
    • Automatic initiation of model veracity as you build
    • Real time collaboration with other designers
  • Automatic management of major topology changes
  • Fully integrated with PLM from the start
  • Easy upward migration from existing CAD systems and data formats
  • Built-in simulation and analysis software
  • Real time, full time shading and visualization
  • A flexible pricing structure
  • Combines both history and non-history based modeling
  • Easier use of vendor libraries
  • A new collaboration schema among internal and external designers
  • More flexible modeling allowing easier to redesign models
  • Incorporation of requirements at the early stages of design

Even if Belmont incorporated all of these, would it be enough to convince users to move or even migrate to a new system? After all, today’s CAD systems work and pretty much can design anything. Let’s take a quick look at the past.

What convinced new customers to migrate to SolidWorks at its introduction, was its new use of variable driven modeling and history based design. The logic was that if you correctly designed the model, than changing a few variables could change the resulting design, possibly resulting in a massive savings of design engineering. Many users bought into this, including me.

Unknown to us at the time, were the inherent drawbacks to such designs. The primary one being that this only worked for MINOR changes in the variables: one that caused few topology changes. There was no way to account for major topology changes without extensive programming, an undesirable way to manage the problem. Many confusing workarounds were built to significant CAD systems that are in use today.

Another problem was how to “unwind” the history and variables when changes are desired that cannot be handled parametrically. Thus, design re-use became only marginally workable. SpaceClaim solved this by totally eliminating design history, sacrificing much of its power, yet allowing users to manage deigns more easily.

Conclusions

Belmont Technology needs to hit a home run in making mechanical design engineering and re-design engineering better than today’s systems by orders of magnitudes.

Let’s see where we stand today with major mechanical CAD software:

  • Siemens PLM Software with NX, Solid Edge and Teamcenter.
  • Dassault Systemes with CATIA, SolidWorks and Enovia
  • PTC with Creo and Windchill
  • Autodesk with AutoCAD, Inventor and Autodesk PLM 360

Each has strong offerings and are large well funded companies with global sales and marketing, large well-funded development teams, and many customers. Can a newcomer easily overturn them? It has certainly been done in the past and certainly some are more vulnerable than others. All but Autodesk have made only limited accommodations for cloud based computing, while Autodesk has gone “whole hog.” Just today, Autodesk announced monthly pricing for its entire design suite, a big change from past pricing models.

IMHO, all of these vendors MAY be vulnerable to a fundamental change in technology. But it will have to be huge or promise to be huge, while at the same time require a unique difficult to copy technology.

I look forward to hearing more.

What are your thoughts?

SolidWorks founders start new company

11/01/12: You heard it first here! Earlier today I received a call from John McEleney, the former CEO of SolidWorks. John explained that he and five of the original founders of SolidWorks started a new company that will explore and develop solutions for the product development space. He shared with me that this includes: Jon Hirschtick, Dave Corcoran, Scott Harris, and Tommy Li.

Hirschtick, Harris, and Li were among the original founders of SoldWorks. McEleney joined a few years later. Corcoran led product development, while Harris was a key architect. In the early years, I was most impressed with the way the entire team was focused on a single perspective and all pulled together to accomplish their common goal. Since then I have seen many a company flounder, not because their product was flawed, but because the team was unable to work cohesively together.

McEleney further explained that the company has just been initiated today. They are obviously, in the super early stages of development. John would not discuss their products. He said they are still exploring many alternatives.

He went on to say that he was contacting many of the people in the CAD and product development space who will be able to promote the fact that their company was beginning its development. People like myself.

With a team like this, I don’t doubt that they can be successful. Hmmm, but what will they turn out? Keep tuned for further information.

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Autodesk 360 and Nexus – PLM 1.0: not perfect – but a great start

3 Dec 2011: Errata. I was incorrect in stating that Buzzsaw was a local PDM vault for AEC/BIM. Several people have written me about this, one being Stephen Bodnar of Autodesk. Bodnar stated that “Vault is the on-premise DM solution for both industries, whereas Buzzsaw is cloud-based and is also built on Autodesk’s Cloud, and is intended for design file collaboration between partners/suppliers and other users and does, in fact, have bi-directional push/synchronization with Vault)”

1 Dec 2011: I am on my way back from Las Vegas, where AU 2011 was held. The highlight of the event, at least for me, was the announcement of what I am calling Autodesk PLM 1.0. The announcement was not a well-kept secret, but the content of the announcement was closely held.

Monday’s media day preceded the conference. The actual PLM announcement came late Tuesday morning. Carl Bass retracted his oft quoted remark about PLM not being something customers worried about; instead, it was revised to mean “until the technology was right.” I couldn’t agree more with his reasoning. Most of Autodesk’s competitors PLM systems offer expensive, difficult to use, and almost impossible to install PLM systems, that rarely have met expectations. Even then, it is often at the cost of massive consulting assistance, rarely meeting anticipated timeframes, AND generally involves the implementation of substantially revised business processes.

Different than my analyst peers I have always been skeptical of such large and costly projects. Not being on the implementation side, I could afford to be skeptical. Many such projects, aside from basic PDM, seldom actually get implemented. Most stall. Autodesk estimates that most deliver only PDM. To test this thesis, I tweeted my followers and asked what they had accomplished. With just a few responses, this is hardly scientific. Several stated that did not yet have even PDM fully implemented!

So what was actually announced? The system is being called Autodesk 360. It is based on having locally installed PDM. For mechanical and for AEC this is Vault. Buzzsaw, a cloud based application provides design file collaboration for AEC teams. The third, and new software piece is called Nexus. The dictionary describes the word nexus as a “connector.,” and is a good description of what the software aims to do. In the following discussion I concentrate solely on mechanical PLM. For information on Buzzsaw and how it uses Nexus readers will have to go elsewhere. Try here.

Nexus is cloud based, and comes with 140 or apps. Each app looks like a series of specialized templates, along with customizable (by the user) workflow logic. Delivery is expected by the end of March 2012. No pricing was announced, however, the implications were that it would be modest. It will be sold on a per user subscription basis. All Nexus data and apps will be run in the cloud, using an ordinary browser. The mass of data will remain locally hosted using Vault. Having and maintaining Vault locally solves the issue of loading very large cloud based data while still maintaing some degree of interactivity.

How will it interface with Vault and other PDM systems? Very well with Vault. No connectors were announced to integrate with other PDM systems. Autodesk hinted that this is a good opportunity for third party developers and VARs. Connections with Nexus could be implemented via as yet unannounced APIs.

Today, the connection between Vault and Nexus is one way. CAD data cannot be sent from Nexus to Vault. Nor is it synchronized among Vaults, as is done among Apple’s iCloud apps. However, Vault data is automatically synced up to Nexus. Expect bi-directional sync in the future.

Is it easy to install and operate?

Keep in mind that my total exposure to Autodesk 360 Nexus comes from a 30 minute, main stage presentation, followed by a 60 minute working session where about 20 people per workstation watched a very capable Autodesk developer demo and responded to questions, often by showing us how Nexus would solve the proposed question.

Nexus appears to be an out of the box system. Nexus comes with predefined templates and workflows. Yet they can easily be added to and/or modified. Fields within templates (apps) can be defined on the fly and their characteristics (such as numeric, values, dates, etc.) as well. A Visio like graphic interface defines workflows. Many are offered in the starter system. A typical administration system allows assigning users to tasks and roles. Somehow, data fields can be interconnected, allowing visibility to see what drives or is driven by what.

So. There you have it. I imagine Autodesk will soon, if not already, have many seminars and pre-recorded AVI’s showing the software. Try here: http://usa.autodesk.com/360-lifecycle-management-software/

My conclusions

I think the product is outstanding. Being cloud based resolves many operating issues. Some users might question the security aspects of hosting much of the data remotely, and would do well to satisfy themselves that either this is not an issue, or otherwise. I think, that perhaps except for very special circumstances, the cloud-based security might even be vastly superior to what they could do locally. I think this is a non-issue.

Cost wise, I think this will prove to be much less expensive, long term, than most of today’s solutions. Again, this is a non-issue. Just take a look at the slide Stephen Bodnar of Autodesk, VP of Data Management, presented below that compares some costs for a 200 user deployment.

For collaboration, data can be uploaded, either in summary format, or detailed CAD files. Nexus has controls over what user sees what data.

Included are project management capabilities that allow rolling up from completed sub-tasks automatically. Defining projects involves defining sub-projects with easily configurable tasks and reporting procedures. If you have already implemented workflow as part of Vault, then is should be redone using Nexus. It allows more flexibility and better visibility.

If you want visibility by projects, by project managers and contributors, with flexibility to change workflows and processes to meet how you do business, it’s all there. My only question is how soon can I get it?

Ray with his skeptical face during AU2011 —-

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Here are a few slides from the presentation to give you an idea of what Autodesk presented. Sorry for the quality – I used my phone.

The overall concept of Autodesk 360.

Stephen Bodnar discussing their view of PLM:

Why is it called 360? Showing how the Vault and Buzzsaw make up local PDM systems:

Brenda Discher discussing why users don’t like competitive PDM systems.

What Autodesk is doing about it with Nexus.

Inforbix – a new approach to cloud based PDM

18 Nov 2011: Oleg Shilovitsky, one of the more prolific bloggers in the PLM industry recently announced his new venture – Inforbix LLC.

Last week I had the chance to speak with Oleg, the CEO, and his partner, Vic Sanchez, about what their new offering was all about. Of course, I suspected that the new company, with Oleg’s background as a development manager of PLM systems, might be about PDM or PLM. Of course I was right. But, I wanted to find out what the product was all about, who founded the new company, what its objective was, a little bit about the technology, and who might use it and what it might cost.

Oleg and Vic were most accommodating in helping me understand and ferret out answers to the above questions.

Background

Inforbix began development on its product in early 2010. The product was officially launched in last October, 2011, and has been in Beta since last April. Shilovitsky teamed with a Russian development team to bring the product to fruition.

About the product

In a nutshell, here is what I learned. Inforbix, today, consists of a product data crawler app that is installed onto the target system or local network containing the product data to be indexed. After user customization of the crawler app, which basically tells it where to find the data to be indexed, the app goes to work finding relevant product data, exploring the metadata stored within the data files, and indexing the data. No actual data files are uploaded to the cloud, only metadata and where the files are located. What makes this exciting is that the crawler can crawl through many data types and vaults, and decode the inherent metadata and product structure.

Targeted at small and medium sized CAD companies, the object of Inforbix is to “help people find, reuse, and share product data.”

Both the crawler app and the cloud based search environment are optimized for manufacturing and design companies. I like that non–vaulted data such as Word docs and pdfs can be “related” back the products.

The system today supports crawling CAD and PLM data from Autodesk, PTC, SolidWorks, and Siemens. More will be coming in the future. Also supported are pdf, Word, and Excel files.

A few niceties

It is secure since no files are changed, moved or uploaded. Being cloud based, little maintenance or local support is needed. It is affordable and seems to be priced right – the first 20K files are free. Each 20K files after that cost $600 per year. Sanchez estimated that a typical medium sized company with 100 people and 30 engineers might spend $10K to $15K per year, a seemingly small cost considering that no hardware and no support staff is needed for the service. Also, it immediately allows accessing the data worldwide using a browser. Asked about what happens if indexed data moves, Shilovitsky said that the crawler monitors and tracks the new location, and updates the cloud.

Inforbix offers many ways to present the data to make sense of the product connections. These include Excel like tables and filters.

I see a few drawbacks and improvements needed

The original data still needs to be maintained along with support and local data backups. A local PDM system might still be needed to support applications that depend upon understanding the product data structure. Further discussions are needed as to how the system allows role-based access to the data. For instance, how can suppliers access the data? Data being relocated might have a delay before the indexes are updated on the cloud.

Conclusions

I really like the concept and the possibilities for extending the concept to other areas of a company. It seems that it would be relatively straightforward to have different crawlers looking for different data types. Think of it as a private Google for the data in your entire company or how to get organized without the fuss. If you are a company without a PDM system (and some 75% of companies are), then this is a perfect way to get started.

Try it out

With a free entry price, it makes sense to give this a try.

A few ways to learn more

The company: www.inforbix.com

The latest press release: http://www.inforbix.com/inforbix-launch-press-release/

Oleg shows how to start using Inforbix in 20 min: http://www.inforbix.com/how-to-start-using-inforbix-in-20-min/

PlanetPTC 2011: Its all about Creo and MKS

Earlier this week I attended PlanetPTC. I attended some of the keynote speeches in the main event and PTC held special events for the media and press. We had the opportunity to rub elbows and hold private meetings with some of the executives from PTC. I found them to be open and earnest in their plans for the future.

It all starts with Jim Heppelmann, CEO and President. Jim described a strategy meeting he held with his executives to plot the resurgence of the CAD offering. He honestly said, several times, that development lagged for the product during the last decade and they found themselves adding more and more complex features to the already existing, difficult to use Pro/ENGINEER. [A situation many of their competitors are in also] The architecture was antiquated and all agreed a new approach was needed — one that might serve PTC well for the next decade or two. Thus was born Creo!

One might ask the question, as one did at a media Q&A event with PTC executives: “Why rebrand the product line? Why not use the famous Pro/E brand and go on from there?” Replied Rob Gremley, EVP of Marketing, “because it is not Pro/E, because customers said that it was far different, and to call it Pro/E would be a mistake. Thus, we needed a new brand, even though it might confuse people at first.” My reaction, they are right, even though I sometimes struggle to properly name the new software products. For example, changing the name of CoCreate to Creo Elements Direct is enough to confuse anyone.

The rebranding and new product rollout was not without risk. In fact it was very risky for PTC. Oftentimes companies are reluctant to change their cash cows. This is clearly spelled out in the book “The Innovators Dilemma.” Such a strategy often leads to a company’s demise, with their refusal to take risks. Heppelmann should be applauded for taking this very large step. Further, Heppelmann was emphatic that existing customers would not be hurt; they would not have to buy new software to support their installations; any upgrades would be painless. Apparently, the customers bought into this and the promises for Creo futures. In the last few quarters, PTC experienced its highest revenue growth (12%) in more than 10 years, with Creo Elements Pro up 40% in license revenue. CoCreate and View also saw substantial revenue gains.

As an aside, the sessions, both main and media sessions, focused on Creo and the MKS acquisition, with little attention being paid to Windchill – the best kind of focus for a modeling dude like me.

While PTC spent a great deal of time on Creo, there was very little depth — at most a few 5 minute AVI’s. So I am using these short videos and some conversations to form my opinion. PTC promised me a more in-depth look later at the products, and of course most of the new apps are shipping now. The primary apps, Creo Elements Pro and Creo Elements Direct, aside from UI improvements are pretty much the same as they were with Pro/E and CoCreate, the exception being the new apps that extend Elements Pro. These new apps show the promise of where Creo is heading. And it’s exciting.

Architecture

Here are 2 slides from Mike Campbell’s (DVP, Creo Product Development) presentation:

  • Evolve existing, monolithic products into
    • –A scalable suite, of
    • –right-sized, interoperable, integrated design apps,
    • –spanning the entire spectrum of product envelopment
  • Built upon a common data model, managed by a common PLM backbone, and delivered with a common user experience
  • Protect existing customer investments
    • –Commercial software licenses, and packages
    • –Existing Product Development (CAD) data
    • –Capabilities, best practices, working methods
  • Extended by a broad range of complimentary 3rd party apps
    • –Strategically selected partners,
    • –Reflected in our Product Strategy

Here is a summary of the Creo Products delivered in Creo 1.

1. Creo Parametric, the successor to Pro/E. A full-featured parametric modeling application.


2. Creo Direct, a new application.  Delivering a direct modeling experience. This app provides an intuitive way to easily modify parametric models.


3. Creo Sketch, a new app for sketching. This allows artists in the organization to capture their early thoughts about the way product should look, oriented towards industrial design of products.

Creo Sketch enables simple “freehand” drawing of ideas and design concepts in 2D

4. Creo Illustrate. a new app for use by the service organization to capture the service procedures such as assembly and disassembly in an intuitive way using Creo 3-D models.

With Creo Illustrate, users can easily create 3D technical illustrations by importing design data from all of the major CAD systems

5. Creo schematics, an app for schematics capture.

Creo Schematics users can create 2D routed systems diagrams for piping and cabling designs

6. Creo Simulate. An app for the analyst. Allows the professional analyst to analyze structural and thermal characteristics of models, created within Creo or external models.

7. Creo View MCAD

8. Creo View ECAD. Continuing the theme of openness are two more applications–Creo view MCAD and Creo view ECAD. These apps are used for viewing, markup and measuring data from either Creo or other CAD applications.

Visualization of both the 3D model and the ECAD PCB Layout inside of Creo View

9. Creo Layout, an application designed for the early conceptualization of the product.

What about deliveries? Creo 1 is shipping now. An update will add some apps later this year. Creo 2 will ship in March 2012, Creo 3 in March 2013.

Other thoughts

So, overall, what do I think about Creo? It’s innovative, I like how Creo Direct works to add features that change the model directly; the UI looks much easier and mimics that of Microsoft Office apps.

Some additional thoughts:

  • While PTC is working hard on importing any CAD system’s data into Creo, interoperability is a one-way street. Data is brought into Creo, but plans are murky to allow exporting data.
  • A user from Systems Spa, described how they planned to switch from parametric modeling to direct modeling now that they had a real choice and still stay within the same software architecture. After testing they concluded that direct modeling offered a greater that 30% productivity gain. I found this very interesting and wonder how many other users bought into parametric modeling because it was essentially, the only game in town. Now that’s changed.
  • Eventually Creo Elements Direct will merge completely into Creo Direct. On the subject of Creo direct, I cornered Mike Campbell in a hall and asked how Creo Flexible Modeling, a Creo Parametric extension can add direct modeling to a parametric model. For instance, what if a parametric feature disappeared after direct changes? His concise answer was that they never change the parametric model; direct modeling just adds features that change the model. Huh? Removing a pocket fills in the pocket with a new feature. Changing a face angle adds a feature that does that. He indicated there were special commands added that perform functions like this.
  • Future plans call for Creo 1.1 due Nov 2011, Creo 2.0 due March 2012, and Creo 3.0 due Mar 2013.
  • Creo Freestyle, discussed only briefly, and included with Creo Parametric and Creo Direct, allows morphing the surfaces of a solid into quite a complex shape. Instead of operating on curves, as does Alias Design, Freestyle operates directly on the solid model. Very impressive, but I am have little information about what it can really do.
  • Relex will be rebranded into Windchill Quality Solutions
  • PTC briefly discussed the ability to perform selective data reading from other CAD systems, With the advancements in AnyData it appears to be capable of isolating specialized modeling functions (such as body-in-white?) from other CAD systems. Could this be an opening for PTC to capture large OEM’s?
  • MKS’ Integrity software, now specialized for software, especially embedded software, offers leading edge capabilities for testing and the application of requirements, thus opening the door to advanced systems engineering. Stay tuned here. The PTC executives were very excited about the possibilities.

Pricing and packaging

Getting this information from PTC was like pulling teeth. It hurt, but they eventually relented. The packaging is divided into Creo Applications (such as Creo Direct and Creo Simulate), Creo Extensions (to an App, such as Creo Advanced Simulation Extension), and packages which combine Apps and Extensions (such as Creo Engineer). Shown below are some examples. There are many more.

Creo Parametric is similar to Pro/E, where Pro/E Foundation starts at $4995, US pricing for quantity of one. Creo Direct is $3500. Creo Simulate is $7995 without the non-linear extension. Other prices are available for PTC. Prices may be different outside the US. Creo Parametric with Flexible Modeling, really desirable offering is $5995.

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