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“Today, 3D printing integration with design tools is similar to CNC machining integration with design tools that happened 20 years ago”
Brian Thompson

Production Planning & Control “Making sure manufacturing has no ambiguity at all…”

Feb 1, 2016

…says Brian Thompson, Senior Vice President—CAD Segment, PTC, in this interaction with Maria Jerin, while discussing new enhancements on model-based design enterprise in Creo 4.0. He also highlights the recent developments in the CAD industry and areas of research at PTC. Excerpts…

Can you brief us on the long history of PTC’s CAD platform since the transition from Pro/E to Creo?

PTC released Pro/Engineer in 1985 that was considered first to market as a commercially viable parametric modeling software package. It took the world by storm and over the years, we have added several capabilities to handle more of the electro-mechanical product development process. But in the late-2000s, we started noticing that CAD revenues across the entire industry were becoming stagnant and we felt like some opportunities in the market place would not be entrapped because we had a single monolithic application.

How has the CAD/CAM industry evolved over the years globally? What are the recent developments and areas of research at PTC?

PTC and its competitors have done a pretty good job over the years by addressing the edges of product development process. All CAD vendors have improvised in helping mechanical engineers collaborate with electrical engineers. We also got better at supporting more complex manufacturing like 5-axis machining and head synchronisation. We are helping customers use different modeling methods that are more tuned to the concept phase. PTC has an added advantage of a single CAD format that serves both the users at very low end of market, and the enterprise users at high end of market.

The term ‘Design for Manufacturability’ is a buzzword in CAD/CAM industry today. What are your thought on this?

There are much process specific ‘Design for Manufacturability’ perspectives like design for turning, injection moulding, milling, etc. There are also certain aspects of design for principles that are easier to detect, for instance, design for mouldability. Largely, the finite element analysis decides whether you are able to do this. PTC has a good extension that supports this functionality. But processes like Design for Manufacturability for CNC machining is about what machine you are working with, using the software that builds up with NC sequence for that, and estimating the required timing. The CAD industry has to improve on this. Understanding the machining of parts well in advance is a challenge. The more you narrow down the manufacturing process, the easier it is to do the calculation.

What are your views on the limitations in the CAD software for Additive Manufacturing? What are the additional enhancements in PTC Creo 3.0 for such challenges?

Customers are demanding parts with the same function that comes out from traditional manufacturing, but in a much lighter package with optimised structures like lattices. The challenge is that they have to leave the design environment for doing this. Today, 3D printing integration with design tools is similar to CNC machining integration with design tools that happened 20 years ago. We want to make sure that the design engineers can design the part for 3D printing right inside Creo environment. When he hits the print button to print the part on the 3D printer, he knows exactly how much material is going to use, and how the proposed structure looks like. He is then able to design special structures like lattices, topology optimised designs, without ever leaving the Creo environment.

How are you viewing the demand trends for your products across the world, and in India? What are your future plans for the Indian market?

There are certainly industry specific demand trends. For instance, we get enquiries on mould design from customers in India and China, but not from USA & Central Europe as there are many mould & die shops in India & China. At the same time, we have minor aerospace & defense business here, but a lot from USA and Europe.

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