Are you having trouble sorting through the hype as it relates to the debate over feature-based or parametric CAD systems vs. dynamic or direct modeling?
PTC, who many point to as the originator of the parametric CAD approach, made an aggressive case for both approaches today at a media event where among other things, it shed light on its strategy behind its acquisition of CoCreate Software. Jim Heppelmann, PTC’s executive vice president and chief product officer, provided some pretty specific guidelines that point to when parametric technology makes sense and when direct or what PTC is calling, “explicit” modeling is the better approach.
As Hepplemann laid out the roadmap, he admitted to the audience of international press and analysts that “he didn’t ever envision standing here saying there was a role for an explicit modeling tool.” But today, he’s convinced there is, in part because of what he learned from CoCreate customers as they pursued the acquisition. CoCreate customers and others who embrace direct modeling aren’t interested in trading the ease-of-use and flexibility of the explicit approach for rigor and oftentimes, complexity of history-based modelers, despite the benefits they can offer, Hepplemann said. Parametric modeling, as he explained it, is a more engineering-oriented approach best suited for industries like aerospace & defense and automotive where the need to repeat precise processes and reuse modeling data is critical to companies’ ability to create families and platforms of highly complex and engineered products. History-based is also the way to go for companies where design cycles have the luxury of taking months or longer.
Conversely, the explicit or “just do it” approach is a more flexible tactic for companies creating new products from scratch, which are more styled and not highly engineered. As a result, they don’t stand to truly benefit from the work that goes into creating a history tree. The explicit approach also is best served for companies like cell phone manufacturers where the requirement for new design cycles is weeks, not months, he explained.
Even though PTC believes there’s room for both CAD approaches, the company has no plans to merge the two products into a single CAD tool. Rather, PTC has and will deliver explicit modeling functionality within ProEngineer and maintain the CoCreate products as a separate offering.
In fact, PTC is so gung-ho on explicit modeling capabilities, it claims the CoCreate acquisition gives it 80% market share in this category. Who knew?