March 15, 2010
PTC Extends Explicit Modeling Technology with CoCreate 17.0
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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PTC announced CoCreate 17.0, the next major release of its explicit modeling 3D CAD software. CoCreate, the world's first and most robust explicit modeling solution, continues to extend its market leading position by helping companies achieve short design cycles and create one-off product designs quickly. CoCreate 17.0 is scheduled to be available during Q2 CY 2010.*

Many companies today are burdened to meet design and production goals with fewer resources than ever. Targeting this challenge, PTC delivers breakthrough productivity increases with CoCreate 17.0 by leveraging concepts and techniques familiar in 2D to make its 3D solution very easy to understand and use.

Performance benchmarks by users around the world verified significant productivity gains with CoCreate 17.0 as compared to CoCreate 16.0:
  • Accelerated design productivity by up to 2x
  • Reduced time spent creating 2D profiles by 40%
  • Models modified up to 2x faster
  • Models modified with the new push and pull design paradigm 3x faster
  • Reduced the time spent creating and modifying advanced 3D patterns by 60%
  • With CoCreate 17.0, over 560 enhancements across the CoCreate family are being introduced, including interactive, intuitive ways of working with 2D profiles and 3D models:
  • Real-time explicit modeling and rendering
  • Context-sensitive mini-toolbars
  • New interaction paradigms and tools to minimize need for traditional UI
  • Intelligent 3D dimension drive change for complex modifications
  • Leverage of model geometry in the 2D workplane, automatic projection and catch
  • Intelligent feature recognition, including recognition on imported models
  • Cross-part and assembly model modification, plus simultaneous modification across imported and native models
  • With this launch, PTC again raises the bar for CAD interoperability. CoCreate and Pro/ENGINEER now work together to allow companies using both tools, either themselves or through suppliers, seamless product development collaboration.

    CoCreate and Pro/ENGINEER compatibility allows:
  • High quality import of Pro/ENGINEER parts and assemblies into CoCreate Modeling
  • High quality GRANITE-based export of parts and assemblies from CoCreate Modeling
  • Maintained associativity with Pro/ENGINEER and exported geometry
  • Leveraged part and assembly associativity via the Pro/ENGINEER associative topology bus (ATB)
  • “When working with CoCreate 17.0, up to 90% of the time I'm using the new context sensitive mini-toolbars, and directly working on the model,” said Stefan Kolb, design engineer. “That means I'm much faster, with a lot less mouse clicks and mouse travel. I very rarely use the traditional main task bars and menus anymore.”

    “CoCreate Modeling 17.0 increases everyday design productivity by delivering key new capabilities for faster design,” said Brian Shepherd, executive vice president of product development at PTC. “Many new capabilities were developed in cooperation with global machinery and high-tech electronics customers that rely upon the industry's leading explicit 3D CAD system for 3D product design. The majority of the concepts in CoCreate 17.0 parallel those found in the 2D CAD world, making adoption easier than ever before.”

    *The timing of any product release, including any features or functionality, is subject to change at PTC's discretion.

    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    CoCreate has been around long enough (first as an HP company, now a PTC company) that it is favored by most of the world's printer, copier, and multifunction printer manufacturers. It also has some of the world's biggest production machine manufacturers as major customers. That customer base alone is testimony that CoCreate is doing a lot right, even in the face of ever-increasing competition for MCAD dollars. Although CoCreate has had its ups and downs over the years, it continues to deliver comprehensive and cohesive products that fit and work well together with PTC's flagship product, Pro/ENGINEER.

    It's hard to believe that less than three years ago we learned that CoCreate was in play and PTC ultimately was the suitor. This acquisition reinforced the consolidation of the MCAD industry that continues to march on today. Was it necessarily a good or bad thing? Like most mergers and acquisitions, it depends on how you look at it. Sometimes it's not necessarily strictly one or the other, and often proves to be a bit of both, and that's been the situation with CoCreate. With the acquisition, PTC actually acquired the CoCreate OneSpace suite consisting of the core 3D modeling application, a PDM application, and a Web-based application for collaborative project workspace.

    It's still ironic that PTC, with its strong legacy in parametrics, would acquire a company whose design philosophy in some respects goes counter to PTC's, although it does illustrate a major trend occurring in the MCAD industry that is increasingly developing non-history-based methodologies and direct geometry editing, something that CoCreate called Dynamic Modeling, but is now termed Explicit modeling by PTC.

    While CoCreate's non-history-based modeling approach, is unique, it is by no means is the only company offering it. Model history, of course has its place, but a history-based approach to 3D modeling is not always the best way to go, and CoCreate's customer base proves this. However, as previously mentioned, the non-history-based approach is not exclusive to CoCreate OneSpace Modeling, because Kubotek's KeyCreator, Siemens' NX and Solid Edge, and IronCAD also employ it, although they employ slightly different methods, but the results are largely the same. A history-based approach is what most parametric modelers (such as Pro/ENGINEER) employ, but it's not always the best method or
    approach, especially for changes made to a model late in the design process. This is because history-based systems use a history tree to track and replay 2D profiles and modeling steps for generating and modifying 3D geometry. The main drawback is that each step in the history is dependent upon the profile and modeling step that came before it. The further along you get in the design process, the more complicated the design and its associated history become.

    On the other hand, a non-history based approach is well-suited for manufacturers that change designs late in the design process, so they are not bound by the constraints and complications that a history tree can impose. Also, a non-history-based system can make data import easier because you don't have to worry about the overhead of dealing with a history tree from a different system. Neutral file formats, such as IGES and STEP, are for all intents and purposes, native data to CoCreate OneSpace Modeling and other non-history based MCAD applications. This eliminates the burden of legacy data originating from another system.

    This latest announcement for CoCreate 17.0, like several other recent MCAD release announcements is not exactly what I would call another in a series of blockbusters, but rather, making a good product more stable and reliable - as opposed to just continuing to pile on new features and capabilities. This is, of course, the third major release of CoCreate Modeling software since the company was acquired by PTC, and this release is relatively modest and conservative in what it offers in the way of truly new features and capabilities, although the closer pairing with Pro/ENGINEER opens up new possibilities (and potential customers).

    CoCreate does a number of things a little differently than its competition, and it does most things very well. Because it performs several functions differently, the biggest issue influencing the decision to choose CoCreate Modeling is how it would benefit your specific workflow and organization. In other words, is CoCreate's nonhistory-based, explicit-modeling approach best, or is a parametric history-based method best? That equation has a lot of variables, and I would strongly recommend that you carefully examine both approaches before making a buying decision.

    However, if you work in a highly collaborative environment that imports a lot of disparate MCAD data from several sources and you are predisposed to making a lot of changes to assemblies late in the product development cycle, CoCreate Modeling could be well suited to fulfilling your needs.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.

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