What the Composite Design Features in Creo 10 Can Do for Your Business

Written by: Dave Martin

Read Time: 4 min.

With Creo 10, PTC has introduced a brand-new module for composite design. The new module provides design and manufacturing capabilities for product development organizations in all industry verticals. Let’s look at what composite materials can do for you and how Creo’s solution works.

Benefits of composite materials

“Are those wings carbon fiber? That would explain the rigidity–flexibility ratio which, I gotta say, that’s awesome.” – Spider Man to Falcon in “Captain America: Civil War”

Companies have incorporated design of composite materials into their products for decades because of their advantages, including (but not limited to):

  • Strength-to-weight ratios, meaning composites can withstand more stress compared to the same weight of steel or aluminum.
  • Strength where you need it. Composites can be designed for strength in specific directions based on the operating environment of the product.
  • Composites can be designed for resistance to corrosion, rust, moisture, and electrical conduction. 
  • Like Additive Manufacturing, composites can reduce part counts in assemblies compared to traditional subtractive manufacturing like CNC machining and casting.
  • Since composite materials can be designed for a greater variety of shapes and forms, the resulting products can be more aerodynamic, ergonomic, and aesthetically pleasing than metals.

Composite materials do have some disadvantages. They can be expensive to fabricate, but costs have been decreasing. Also, developing parts made from composite materials in Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools has been challenging. Let’s look at how Creo 10 better facilitates design, simulation, and manufacturing of your products.

Composites design

Creo 10’s composite design functionality is integrated directly into the part modeling environment. Creo 10 supports the following functionality for composite part design:

  • Setup including materials, rosettes (coordinate systems that define the reference directions for ply and core orientations), and default drop-off values between plies
  • Creation of cores and laminate plies, including transitions to shorten or extend ply boundaries, and splices between plies
  • Generation of solid geometry for the end result

During the design process, you can create a laminate section that displays the stack up of the core and plies with representative thickness. This gives your engineering team the confidence that your parts will look the way they want.

Composites simulation

Analysis and simulation tools are built right into the Composite feature, empowering you to check your results as you’re modeling.

Draping Simulation: One of the most important parts of Creo’s composite design solution is its Draping Simulation tool, which allows you to calculate the amount of shear in the plies during layup. It also displays the longitudinal and transverse angles as well as the ply thickness. Creo’s simulation differs from other CAD products because it understands the effect of underlying plies. This results in more accurate draping simulations and flat patterns.

Structural and Thermal Analysis: Creo’s composite models are fully integrated with Creo Simulate, so you can perform your structural and thermal analysis within one integrated environment. If you use another simulation package, the model can be exported to NASTRAN or the HDF5 (Hierarchical Data Format) open-source file format.

Mass Properties: In Creo, mass properties calculations are ply-based. This means you can calculate and monitor your composite design weights before any solids are generated. Just like with draping simulation, understanding the underlying plies makes the mass properties calculations both smarter and more accurate.

Composites manufacturing

As with any design efforts, one of the most important steps is generating the deliverables so that manufacturing can fabricate your parts with confidence that they will be built right the first time. Two common deliverables are the Flat Pattern and the Ply-Book Drawing.

Flat Pattern: Manufacturing needs a flat pattern for each ply so they can cut material. Creo’s flat patterns are generated from the Draping Simulation. The flat patterns can be exported to industry-standard DWG and DXF file formats. Each ply can be exported to a separate file, or all plies can be exported to the same file. If using the latter, plies can be placed on top of each other, offset from each other, or on a separate sheet, depending on the preferences of your manufacturing team.

Ply-Book Drawing: Creo’s drawing templates have been updated to support the creation of Ply Views and Flat Ply Views. This means users can automate generation of an entire Ply-Book Drawing with a sheet documenting each ply with a few mouse clicks. Information for each flat ply includes:

  • Seed point and rosette
  • Draping direction, fixed warp lines, and weft fiber lines
  • Constituent fiber angle lines
  • Width, length, and area data 

With these deliverables, your engineering team can quickly and easily generate everything your supply chain needs for composite manufacturing.

Where to go from here

The debut of Creo 10’s native composites design functionality represents an exciting opportunity for product development organizations in a wide variety of fields, including wind energy, aerospace, sports/recreation, automotive injection molding, pressure vessels, medical, and consumer electronics. Creo 10 provides a complete solution for the design, analysis, and manufacturing of your parts with composite materials.

Learn more about composites in Creo 10

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About the Author

Dave Martin

Dave Martin is a Creo, Windchill, and PTC Mathcad instructor and consultant. He is the author of the books “Top Down Design in Creo Parametric,” “Design Intent in Creo Parametric,” and “Configuring Creo Parametric,” all available at amazon.com. He can be reached at dmartin@creowindchill.com.

Dave currently works as the configuration manager for Elroy Air, which develops autonomous aerial vehicles for middle-mile delivery. Previous employers include Blue Origin, Amazon Prime Air, Amazon Lab126, and PTC. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and is a former armor officer in the United States Army Reserves.