In June 2001 TechniCom journeyed
to PTC's new headquarters in Needham, MA to view the latest release
of Pro/ENGINEER - 2001. We had the opportunity to meet with key
product management involved with Pro/ENGINEER, Granite, and ProjectLink.
A number of innovative changes
improve the ease of use of Pro/E 2001, which shipped to the masses
earlier this month. These include click and drag for rounds, extrusion
depth, and revolve angles used in features. Feature agility has
been improved - inheritance from features allow for process variants;
a streamlined UI has fewer picks and an improved workflow; a graphical
comparison of models helps compares two models (see image 28.5);
and an interactive surface design extension (ISDX) provides impressive
surfacing within Pro/E (costing only $3995 plus the ASX extension).
Most impressive is the improvement of behavioral modeling by allowing
the persistence of behaviors by storing optimization as a feature.
To get a feeling for the improvements
in Pro/E 2001 we viewed a demonstration of the modification required
to a wheel on the "world car", a project that PTC funded
and completed, requiring 3 design teams simultaneously developing
a world racing car in less than 7 days. The first fourteen images
depict the changes being made during this discussion.
We were able to view all of
the components of the automobile using a shrink wrap representation,
and were easily able to rotate and the spin the entire model to
view it. The entire model contains more then 2500 parts. By selecting
the wheel from within this simplified assembly structure, the
wheel opened up with its detailed Pro/ENGINEER history, including
all features. Our objective is to change the spokes on the wheel
and the wheel hub to become more stylish. During this process
we investigated whether there was any interference between the
wheel and other pre- selected components. In this case, the component
were interested in was a brake caliber. By visual inspection we
observed that the brake caliber was interfering with one of the
spokes. Putting the interference problem aside until later, we
decided to modify the spokes to the new design. Interestingly,
many of Pro/E 's new commands do not require menu selections -
once we selected the spoke, the right mouse button and opened
a relatively short menu. One of the options on this menu was "modify."
When we selected "modify," the parameter controlling
the number of spokes was simply changed the number from 6 to 5.
To develop the new spoke design, we changed the geometry definition
for the spoke by manipulating the curves generating the spokes
surface and its interaction with the wheel. The spoke was defined
as a style feature, a new feature delivered with interactive surface
design (ISDX). This Style Feature is new for 2001.
Using Direct Modeling we were
able to push and pull on the curves and the surface geometry to
capture the same exact design that we were looking for. During
the process we were also manipulating the curves on the spoke
to avoid the interference with the brake caliber that we detected
a look at images 9, 10, and 11. Note that after making the
change, the behavior of the wheel changed and we were now automatically
notified not only that it was unbalanced, but why -- very nice!
We also modified the hexagonal
extrusion of the wheel hub for the purpose of changing just the
shape - not any structural changes. We deleted the section that
drove the feature and built a new section. When we were happy
with the new cross section, the new feature recalculated itself.
BUT, the new extruded solid kept the draft angle and rounds
that were originally the children of the extrusion. See
images 14 through 19. We do not believe that this is possible
in any other system. Somehow, Pro/E 2001 was smart enough to transfer
the parent from the old extrusion to the new one, even with the
topology change of the hex to the star shape. The star inherited
all of the rounds and draft angles associated with the original
hexagonal shape. Intent referencing was actually introduced in
an earlier release, but is well integrated in this version. During
this brief demo the instances of design changes for which this
inheritance would work and where it would not. We hope to clarify
this with PTC and will report on it in a later issue.
Next, we ran ModelCHECK. ModelCHECK
automatically compared this part to other parts of similar geometric
shape and indicated that we were missing a few other items that
we needed on the model before it would be allowed to check in.
By knowing which other models had similar geometry, we were able
to find features on another model which we needed to mount the
wheel onto the chassis. We were able to copy and paste this group
of features into the new design by selecting a cylinder which
this group of features would automatically attach itself to. Images
20 through 26 depict the sequence. This combination of ModelCHECK
and feature inheritance allowed us to easily add a complex set
of features into our design, saving lots of design time.
The next step was to check that
the center of gravity of the new design was at the center of gravity
that was previously specified in order to correctly meet the suspension
requirements. We activated behavior modeling. The objective that
had been predefined was - a zero distance between the two centers
of gravity. To bring the wheel back into alignment, the system
had previously defined three parameters that were allowed to be
changed. These included a balancing ribs diameter and thickness
and the thickness of a rear plate. In just a few minutes, ProE's
behavioral modeling had correctly altered the model so that the
CG's were concurrent. This optimization could also be included
as a feature so that it would be automatically included when the
model was regenerated. Images
28 through 30 depict this sequence.
Design models are fine, but
the real power of modeling is making downstream applications,
such as manufacturing, easier. Pro/ENGINEER 2001 insures that
downstream models are easily connected to design models by using
associative derived models. A derived model uses uses inherited
features from the primary model to create a one way associative
model. Here is how it worked for us. We opened the derived model
which was connected to the design model upon which we had been
working. After regeneration, we observed that the changes that
we had made were brought into the new derived model. Some of the
features were missing, as planned, because they had been removed
when the derived model was built. This included the features and
rounds on the front hub. See
image 31. A surface model comparison between the two derived
models returned the results in less than a minute, and allowed
us to see precisely the surfaces that were deleted or changed.
We also had the opportunity to suppress additional features that
we had already added to the model so that we could use the derived
model more effectively. We are also able to make local changes
to this derived model. Since it's was associative, it preserves
the original design model. The utility of something like this
would be in a readily apparent for a casting, which might have
many fewer features which are later machined to make the final
All in all we were quite impressed
with the progress made in Pro/ENGINEER 2001! PTC's very unique
behavioral modeling continues to evolve, making its capabilities
easier to use and incorporate directly into the design process.
The ease of use has been improved tremendously, not only because
of the UI, but also with the integration of surfacing, feature
inheritance, and derived models. Very large models also are much
more easily manipulated due to the evolving use of shrink wrap.
Bringing all this together with PTC's breadth of applications
signals a real re-awakening of the technology advances we used
to get from PTC! CAD designers should be most pleased with this
Granite and Windchill ProjectLink
will be discussed in the next issue.