Mechanical product development complexity continues to rise. In order to manage the complexity of today’s smart, connected products, mechanical engineers need new tools and capabilities in their computer-aided design (CAD) solutions. Creo 9, the latest release of PTC’s flagship enterprise CAD solution, boasts several new features that can aid design engineers as they continue to navigate expanded requirements and increased design complexity.
New Challenges in Mechanical Design
Designing new products has always had its fair share of challenges. Traditionally, mechanical engineers have been tasked with getting designs to market faster, reducing the costs involved with physical prototyping, creating aesthetically pleasing products, and testing for manufacturability.
But, today, there are even more challenges to manage. Consumer concern about climate change is growing. Consumers are now seeking more sustainable products. In addition, with advances in technology, consumers are interested in smart, connected options. Finally, it’s important to consider safety challenges, too. Today’s mechanical engineers need to clear more and more regulatory hurdles before products can hit the market.
This post highlights some of the new capabilities in PTC’s latest version of Creo that can support engineers as they deal with these increasingly complex requirements.
ECAD Enhancements for Designing Smart, Connected Products
The evolution of traditional mechanical products into smart, connected ones means designs must incorporate more electronics than ever before. This requires tighter integration of electronic CAD (ECAD) and mechanical CAD (MCAD). Any changes to the electronic design must also be reflected in the mechanical design so mechanical designers can determine what adjustments are needed on their end. Typically, such changes might involve edits to the housing design, changes to the routing of different cables and wires, and or adjustments to the cooling system design.
In the past, mechanical engineers could bring electronic board designs into Creo using the standard .IDX file format. In the latest release of Creo, Creo 9, engineers can also bring the silkscreen layer and solder mask layer from electronic design automation (EDA) tools into the platform as well.
The advantages are evident. The silkscreen layer provides a visual representation of all aspects of an electronic component, allowing the mechanical engineer to understand the actual dimensions of a heat sink on a chip. An engineer could also use this layer to easily locate pin numbers and their locations when viewing the entire design model with electronics inside Creo.
The ability to bring in the solder mask layer enables engineers to see all the solder areas when they view the design inside Creo. Such features promote better collaboration between mechanical engineers and electronics engineers as they work together to design smart, connected products. They also help the entire design team avoid costly mistakes that often arise from changes during the design process.
Generative Design Enhancements Leading to Better Sustainability
Electronics are not the only thing complicating design these days. Today’s mechanical engineers also need to address sustainability in their designs. Manufacturing organizations across the globe are seeking ways to make their products more environmentally friendly by using more sustainable materials for components, reducing the number of components in certain products, and making products lighter and more energy-efficient.
Progressive organizations already know that shifting left on simulation and using generative design technology can help them meet and exceed their sustainability goals. Creo users already have access to generative design tools powered by physics-based simulation, which they use to create novel products with an eye toward sustainability.
Creo 9 builds on these capabilities with a number of new enhancements. Generative design users can now target particular safety factors for parts and define sustainability objectives like minimizing a component’s mass. Engineers can also target natural frequencies to optimize their designs. The algorithm then automatically generates the optimal design with the correct material that meets all manufacturing and operating constraints.
Generative design is a powerful technology that many of the most progressive engineers rely on to design critical components. The resulting lightweight components can greatly improve a product’s energy efficiency, and allow the use of sustainable materials. Engineers with strong generative design capabilities are in a much better position to create more sustainable products.
Additive Manufacturing Enhancements
The increased use of generative design tools in today’s product design can also be attributed to one particular critical technology enabler: additive manufacturing, or the construction of 3D objects from CAD models. Without additive technology, engineers would not be able to manufacture the lightweight products they created using generative design tools. Creo 9 includes many enhancements to both conventional and additive manufacturing capabilities, but this section will focus on the latter.
Engineers who use 3D printed parts know the importance of designing robust support structures that can aid the 3D printing process. Creo has tools that automatically build optimal support structures. But experienced engineers already know what sort of support is optimal based on their part design and material choice. They can manually design and build these essential support structures using the geometry creation tools in Creo. Creo users can save these custom support structures and assign different print parameters. Creating custom support structures and assigning them a different print material from the central part is crucial for engineers looking to leverage their expertise in additive manufacturing and save time bringing new designs to life using 3D printing.
Creo 9, PTC’s latest version of their popular enterprise CAD platform, has a variety of new enhancements to help manage the challenges involved with designing more complex products that meet stringent sustainability and safety requirements. These new features, which address integrated mechanical-electronics design, generative design, and additive manufacturing, provide today’s engineers with a robust design toolkit. When put together with existing functionalities in these areas, mechanical engineers will have a strong collection of tools and features inside a single platform to better support the design of smart, connected products today and into the future.