PTC Reveals Project Lightning as Creo

Company promises to redefine the mechanical CAD market.

Today, with production values rivaling a Hollywood studio set, PTC revealed its strategy to “define the mechanical CAD market for the next 20 years” by unveiling the Creo product suite, formerly known as “Project Lightning.” The announcement began by rounding up “prisoners” (people dressed in orange jumpsuits) who were locked away as heavy music blared, and then released as a metaphor for unlocking the potential of CAD. The presentation took a more traditional turn as new PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann took the stage (after releasing the prisoners) to explain why the company thinks CAD needs to improve.

Creo is being designed as a scalable suite of interoperable, open, and easy-to-use product design apps, according to PTC.

The company says there are still big problems to solve in CAD, citing users who are frustrated when making changes to CAD designs created by others, modeling complicated products with multiple configurations, and using data from multiple CAD systems, among others.

“Because of the lack of interoperability between modeling paradigms, and because there is a need for all of the participants in the design process to share data, many companies seek to standardize on a single system and paradigm,” PTC wrote in a strategy statement describing Project Lightning. “This is a ‘compromise’ approach that often provides many users with more capabilities (and more complexity) than they really need.”

The company said Creo will eliminate the need for a company to mandate a single paradigm, such as 2D, 3D direct or 3D parametric, by providing a common platform with a set of tools that will allow users to decide what paradigm works best for a particular task. Different users see different user interfaces based on their needs. The company also promises Creo will create a PLM backbone to drive CAD modeling of complicated products with hundreds of configurations, and treat data from other programs as native in Creo.

Watch PTC’s video announcement:

“Historically companies have made significant investments in CAD applications that bind them into inflexible business processes and design practices dictated by the specific visual authoring or simulation application that they pick. PTC’s game-changing vision to release a highly flexible CAD application in a new code base, while sticking to existing file formats under the Creo portfolio, is expected to rejuvenate the mature CAD market and open up a path for non-PTC CAD users to move easily on a flexible visual design platform,” said Sanjeev Pal, research manager, IDC, in a PTC press statement.

Creo is designed to be open from the ground up, according to the company. Four “breakthrough” technologies from the Creo application suite were demonstrated at the event:

1. AnyRole Apps allow different users to only see the tools they need in the user interface, which could help simplify CAD.

2. AnyMode Modeling allows users to access data in 2D or 3D, depending on what they need. Users can switch from 2D to 3D and back again, or from parametric to direct and back again. Because Creo has common data model, all the changes one user makes (whether in 2D or 3D) appear to other users and can be accepted or rejected.

3. AnyData Adoption allows data created in other CAD applications to be used in Creo as if it were native data, according to PTC.

4. AnyBOM Assembly, which is designed to facilitate management of large, configurable assemblies by tying Windchill kernel to the design.

Watch PTC’s AnyRole Apps introduction:

PTC and its partners will be creating additional apps.

“We believe Creo could be significant and a positive advance in PTC’s product offerings,” said Mike Galbraith in a PTC press statement. Galbraith is with Global Engineering Systems & Services, Tyco Electronics. “Creo could allow the teams involved in designing new products and bringing them to market…across different functions, different locations, etc… to productively use the same toolset throughout the product life-cycle process. We’re looking forward to working with PTC and their other partners in shaping these new capabilities.”

A beta of Creo is expected to be released this spring. Creo Version 1.0 will be released this summer with version 2.0 available “a few months later,” according to Heppelmann.

The company has rebranded its existing Pro/ENGINEER, CoCreate and ProductView products as Creo Elements/Pro, Creo elements/Direct and Creo Elements/View, respectively.

Previous coverage:

PTC World User Event: Lightning to Reinvigorate CAD and PLM

Check it Out: PTC’s Project Lightning

PTC to Name James E. Heppelmann as CEO

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Jamie Gooch

Jamie Gooch is the former editorial director of Digital Engineering.

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