What makes a software product powerful? It all depends on who you ask.
Ask Andreas Vlahinos, principal of engineering consulting firm Advanced Engineering Solutions, what he thinks is the best feature of Pro/ ENGINEER and he answers in an instant: Behavioral modeling capabilities, he says.
"If you want to build high-quality products, you have to use Pro/ENGINEER's behavioral modeling feature because its attribute-driven capabilities give you a good comfort level of product behavior before you build the product."
On the other hand, ask Ron Wilson, senior engineer for the advanced engineering group of medical-equipment manufacturer Steris Corp., and he is likely to tell you it's the combination of several things, including cost, features, performance with large assemblies, and scalability.
Vlahinos, who has a PhD in engineering mechanics, says he has plenty of reasons to like behavioral modeling. It has helped him assist companies, as varied as Albany, NY-based fuel-cell manufacturer Plug Power, and Ford Motor Company, to solve design problems. At Ford, for example, he used behavioral modeling in the design of a new all-electric vehicle that went from paper napkin to production in 13 weeks.
For that project, the Think Vehicle, the car maker gave him a stiffness target and he used the attribute-driven power of the behavior modeling analysis feature, which exists inside the model data, to hit the target. "I sized a beam automatically and the software gave me the minimum weight," he says. Half way through the project, they changed the target and I was able to regenerate and reoptimize the model easily because the optimization is part of the model itself." It would have been much harder in a dimension-driven package, he says, because he wouldn't have known what dimension to pick.
The project also included firm cost targets and aesthetics requirements. Ribs were to be a maximum of 2 mm thick. "We let the behavioral modeling feature figure out the number of ribs, where they would be, and their weight," he says.
Steris Corp.'s Wilson his company converted to Pro/ENGINEER's Foundation Advantage after having problems with their previous software packages in handling large assemblies and integrating tools for analysis. The company benchmarked four different software packages before deciding on Pro/ENGINEER. For features, cost, and return on investment, Pro/ENGINEER was the clear winner, he says.
Vlahinos, the former University of Colorado professor (he taught engineering mechanics) has used several different software packages in his career. For solid modeling, they're all good, he says, "but behavioral modeling sets Pro/ENGINEER apart." He calls it optimization on the fly.
Of course, there are other features of the product he likes. For example, the collaboration tools in Wildfire make his life much easier. Vlahinos lives in Colorado, but his customers are all across the country. The collaboration features allow him to work remotely, collaborating in real time on design models.
And, he likes the software's integration of CAD with simulation. In fact, he says, it was that integration that put Pro/ENGINEER ahead of other software packages in a major benchmark test he conducted for one client.
"The people at PTC are great visionaries," he says.†
†Pro/ENGINEER made design of this bike fast and easy.