June 15, 2009
Overview/First Look: Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0
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| 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
www.MCADCafe.com 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.
A new dynamic feature edit is accessible via Pro/E’s RMB in the model tree or graphics window. With it you see real time feature updating and regeneration. You can also use it to modify sketch and feature dimensions by select sketch entities or drag handles. By using dynamic change and not manual iterations, you can tweak features for purposes of aesthetics or function.
Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 is the first release that really shows significant sharing of features and capabilities from CoCreate. This is only the beginning, so expect to see this trend continue going forward. Campbell said that the Wildfire and CoCreate development teams report to the same people, so there is cooperation and each product team is able to leverage features of both products. How this works exactly is still a mystery, but it seems to be working, at least for now.
As I said at the outset, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 doesn’t appear to be a “blockbuster” release bloated with new features, capabilities, and bells and whistles. It does, however, seem to offer many things that will make users and their workflows more efficient. It's also more adaptable and this is important because even within an organization with design rules and methods, no two users are the same. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 demonstrates that PTC is committed to releasing its products with a release strategy and schedule that should benefit its customers going forward.
In this regard, PTC is saying that Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 will be shipping in late July or early August. Campbell said that while that is a realistic and expected timeframe target, the software will be released when it fully meets the company’s quality criteria.
Once the software ships, we are hoping to take a close and detailed look at the new release and see how it stacks up with PTC’s claims, previous releases, and the competition.
The Week’s Top 5
At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.
PTC announced that Volvo Group, has, in a directional decision, selected PTC as a strategic partner for the Volvo Group PLM solution. “Our Windchill solution is a key strategic enabler for product development and manufacturing processes. By creating an environment that fosters internal, external and group-wide collaboration, PTC can help companies to drive competitive advantage,” said C. Richard Harrison, chairman and CEO, PTC. “We know that the selection of a single strategic partner for such an important PLM solution is not an easy decision. Volvo Group has performed a comprehensive and extensive selection process and benchmark of leading PLM vendors and solutions.
We are very satisfied that PTC in the end came up with the most convincing solution that best serves Volvo Group’s business needs. This selection underscores PTC’s strength in the product development industry and we look forward to continuing a long-term strategic partnership with the Volvo Group,” said James Heppelmann, president and chief operating officer, PTC.
Aras announced download availability of the latest release of the Aras Innovator suite of PLM software solutions. The download with complete access for unlimited users is available at:
. According to the company, with the new Aras release customers have more usable functionality from the initial installation than with PTC’s Windchill, Oracle’s Agile PLM, or any other PLM system on the market. New features and enhancements include:
ECO / MCO online change workflows for fast & easy engineering and supply chain changes
New Redline revision compare for BOMs, suppliers, documents, and more for easy, visual identification of changes
Modular process planner for reuse of groups of manufacturing operations or workcells in Process Flow Definition, FMEAs, and inspection and test Control Plans
Updated Web browser screens
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 [MOSS] standard integration
Graphical Web services “builder” in Solution Studio for even easier integrations
Single system, multi-language internationalization for global collaboration
Siemens PLM Software announced that Kunming Shipbuilding Equipment Co. (KSEC) selected Solid Edge and Teamcenter to upgrade its digital design and product data management solutions, respectively. KSEC, a major machinery and automated logistic systems manufacturer and exporter, expects end-to-end PLM solutions to add value to its business by automating the design, engineering and customization of its innovative products. KSEC also expects to reduce its product time to market cycle and enhance its competitive strength in today’s challenging economic conditions. KSEC’s quest for a PLM solution was driven by the company’s need to enhance efficiency while boosting its
capability to design machinery. Solid Edge allows KSEC to migrate from 2D to a 3D design platform, and Teamcenter helps simplify and accelerate implementations, enhance productivity, streamline collaboration, and expand control of the entire product lifecycle process.
It used to take Ulysse Nardin, one of the world's premier makers of fine mechanical watches, four years to develop the complex insides of a new watch that can contain as many as 400 moving parts. According to the company, the process has been cut in half using Autodesk Inventor. Autodesk named Ulysse Nardin as its Inventor of the Month for May 2009 for bringing its innovative and artistic watches to market. Few products pack so much mechanical complexity into such a small area as fine watches. Working with a 3D model in Inventor, Ulysse Nardin designers can visualize how the gears and springs fit with other components as they design. This capability makes it much easier to identify
and fix interferences early in the design process. Designers can also optimize the position of mechanical parts that integrate with external portions of the watch, such as the case or the watchband, which are initially drawn in 2D by a conceptual designer. To help refine its watch cases, Ulysse Nardin designers also use Autodesk Showcase to create accurate, photorealistic images of digital prototypes created in Inventor, enabling more efficient decision making. For example, design teams can visually explore a wide range of decorative and watchband options without having to produce a single physical prototype.
Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks announced a new version of its SolidWorks Education Edition 3D CAD software that features a 65 percent performance boost and new resources that help educators use the software as an effective tool for teaching math, science, and technical concepts. SolidWorks Education Edition 2009 also streamlines licensing procedures to give learning institutions easy access to the software and supporting materials. A Web-based licensing system, the Student Access Module, enables schools to more easily acquire and manage large numbers of SolidWorks software licenses to meet their students’ needs. Once they have the software, new training and curriculum help
educators teach academic subjects and engineering skills students need in the professional world. In addition to the performance boost, Education Edition 2009 includes 260 technical improvements. Among the most significant are:
Support for Windows Vista 32 and 64-bit applications.
The PhotoView 360 rendering tool, based on SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology (SWIFT), which lets students render a photorealistic scene while they’re working on it. Most software forces users to wait until scenes are complete.
A Simulation Advisor for finding hidden flaws by guiding users through every stage of analysis.
Simulation Sensors that alert users when parts and assemblies deviate from user-defined limits. Users set goals such as allowable stress, displacement, part weight, measurement, and interference, and the sensors react when users exceed the limits, providing a competitive advantage for FSAE, Formula Student, and robot teams.
Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of
and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
Email Contact or 408.850.9230.
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.