June 15, 2009
Overview/First Look: Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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PTC announced Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0, the next major release of its integrated 3D CAD/CAM/CAE software and a key component of the PTC Product Development System (PDS). Pro/ENGINEER, the world’s first parametric CAD solution, delivers new capabilities to help customers eliminate traditional design barriers to achieve faster, more efficient and more innovative product development. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 is scheduled to be available during calendar Q4 FY2009.

“Global competition, environmental sustainability, and demographic change are the major factors affecting manufacturers today. These translate into multidisciplinary design, design for lifecycle, and social networking for innovation as top priorities for manufacturers to deliver winning products,” said Marc Halpern, research director at information technology research firm Gartner.

In today’s complex environment, product development teams often face a number of barriers that can impact productivity. These include the difficulty of making design changes, the length of time to productivity, dealing with heterogeneous CAD data, working with a multitude of disconnected point solutions, and identifying resources and leveraging collective knowledge when needed. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 will offer new capabilities and over 330 enhancements that improve productivity, enrich the user experience and provide the freedom to design without barriers.

Highlights of the new release include:
  • The ability to make design changes faster and easier. Real-time, dynamic editing and disruption-free design will help users overcome the traditional barriers to design modification.
  • Accelerate productivity by up to 10X.
  • User Experience enhancements such as graphical browsing, intuitive UI enhancements, streamlined tasks and faster performance improve design efficiency and reduce time-to-market from concept through production. Create simplified sub-assemblies, place forms and create molded parts up to 80% faster. You can also analyze weldments up to 10x faster and create facing toolpaths 5X faster.
  • The Pro/ENGINEER Advanced Rendering Extension will now include high performance rendering technology from mental images. This new integration provides ease of use through quality material presets and real-world illumination models.
  • “Mental images is committed to providing industry-leading, high performance rendering software,” said Rolf Herken, CEO and CTO of mental images, “We are pleased to announce our new strategic partnership with PTC for uniting Pro/ENGINEER and mental ray, to deliver state of the art visualization capabilities to product development teams worldwide.”
  • Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 sets the standard for CAD interoperability. With increased native support for other CAD systems and non-geometric data exchange designers can address the time-consuming and error-prone challenges of working with CAD data from multiple systems.
  • Leverage new, seamlessly integrated Pro/ENGINEER applications. Pro/ENGINEER continues to redefine how we work in today’s highly coupled, multi-disciplinary design environment. New with Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0, Pro/ENGINEER Spark Analysis Extension is the only commercially available product that helps analyze and optimize the electromechanical clearance and creepage properties of designs.
  • Continued technology leadership and enhancements to industry leading modules such as digital rights management, ECAD-MCAD collaboration, and the newly introduced digital human modeling solution will enable users to save significant time and costs associated with wasteful physical prototyping, production rework and field failures.
  • The integration of all of these capabilities into Pro/ENGINEER will help to reduce errors, time and costs from using too many disparate/disconnected tools.
  • Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0, the first CAD solution enabled for social product development, will help users remove the communication barriers preventing them from finding the right people and resources at the right time. The seamless integration between Pro/ENGINEER and Windchill ProductPoint, which is built on Microsoft SharePoint social computing technologies, will help users find and reuse their design community’s collective knowledge and improve process productivity.
  • "Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 offers a broad range of enhancements that will help engineers at Exmark Manufacturing continue to develop long lasting, cutting edge, commercial turf equipment,” said Brian York, Engineering Process Improvement Specialist, Exmark Manufacturing, a division of The Toro Company. “Enhancements such as dynamic feature editing, disruption free design, weldment design, assembly enhancements and other user experience enhancements will continue to allow us to design industry leading, highly innovative products such as our Next Lazer Z."

    “Particularly during challenging economic times, customers demand and expect technology leaders like PTC to provide solutions that will help them to address barriers to productivity that can inhibit them from efficiently creating great products,” said Brian Shepherd, executive vice president, product development, PTC. “Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 demonstrates PTC’s ongoing emphasis on quality and commitment to deliver capabilities that enable our customers to develop winning products and bring them to market faster and at lower costs.”

    Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 is scheduled to be available during calendar Q4 FY2009.

    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    I just returned from the 20th annual PTC/USER conference in Orlando, Florida as a sponsored guest of PTC. I was impressed with a number of the presentations on the company’s new products and its evolving philosophy where social computing meets product development for what the company has termed Social Product Development. (See my new blog at
    for a discussion of PTC’s Social Product Development initiative).

    We’ll cover what’s new with the various product lines (including Windchill, Mathcad, and Arbortext) over the next few weeks, but this time around I want to focus on what we learned about Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0. I actually learned quite a bit about what’s coming in general conference sessions, a brief hands-on workshop, and a chat with Mike Campbell, PTC’s senior vice president of product management of desktop products.

    I had my first exposure to Pro/ENGINEER in 1994. On the one hand, I was impressed with what it could do, but on the other, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and the strict rules that you had to follow when designing anything. At that time, you were forced to adapt to the design tool, and not the other way around. I wondered if Pro/ENGINEER would ever become a truly usable design tool to the “common man.” Now known as Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, it certainly has had its ups and downs over the years. Though far from perfect, it has come a long way in terms of approachability and usability.

    The newest version of PTC's flagship design application, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0, is a refreshing continuation of 4.0 Instead of again just piling on an additional zillion new features and capabilities that relatively few designers use, PTC (like some of its competitors) chose to improve Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 in other ways that matter to most customers, namely, software stability, better consistency across modeling functions, and promotion of more efficient workflows. Although these areas of enhancement may not exactly contribute to a so-called “blockbuster” release, they will definitely prove beneficial to most users in terms of ease of use and productivity. For
    Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0, probably the takeaway theme for the release is productivity gains.

    Although there are, indeed, several new features and capabilities, with Wildfire 5.0 PTC continues to listen to its customers and has focused on the core product. The user interface, for example, continues to get more consistent and Windows-compliant than it's ever been across functions, making these tasks easier and more efficient to accomplish. Many of these tasks are admittedly routine, but tasks that are performed by the vast majority of users. Doing it this way, however, provides a higher return on investment for everybody - customers are more satisfied so vendors feel their development dollars are better spent. PTC says its R&D budget has actually increased 5% in the past
    year, even as new Pro/E license revenue dropped, and Windchill drove the company’s growth.

    In the past one of the most daunting aspects of learning and using Pro/ENGINEER was its multiple layers of cascading menus. In addition, one of the biggest obstacles that confronts users new to a CAD product is, "Where do I begin?" These issues continue to be been addressed and resolved through Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire’s user interface, which continues to improve with each release. Users will notice that Pro/E Wildfire 5.0’s biggest UI change will be in the drawing/detailing environment. In the drawing UI, there is now a ribbon that has reorganized commands that promotes a context sensitive workflow. Campbell said the ribbon interface will definitely extend into other
    environments, such as sketching, etc. in future releases.

    The new feature failure mode is interesting because with it the often-frustrating “resolve mode” is no longer an issue. It allows you to deal with failures as/when they occur or later. Failed features not regenerated, and neither are child of failed and topology children. Failed features are highlighted in the model tree and can be edited, redefined, suppressed, deleted, or you can ignore and continue modeling – addressing the feature failure later. Feature failure also works when dealing with assemblies, because if you choose to, it lets you ignore missing components on assembly retrieval.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.

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