Creo Community Challenge August 2023: Archimedes Screw

Written by: Dave Martin

Read Time: 3 min

The inaugural Creo design challenge was for users to create an Archimedes screw.

The Archimedes screw is a water pump that allows water to be raised from a lower to higher elevation. It consists of a central shaft with a helical surface, which itself sits within a cylindrical channel. The challenge was as follows:

  • Design an assembly for the Archimedes screw capable of lifting water to a vertical height of 1.5 meters
  • Create a rendered image of your model
  • (Optional) Create a Kinematic Analysis using the Mechanism Design Extension (MDX) and output a movie of the playback
  • (Optional) Create a rendered animation of the motion using the Design Animation Option (DAO)

The submissions

Six people posted models on the PTC Community. I recommend taking a look at the models for yourself.

The first person to post a model was user kdirth. One of my big questions was how would users model the screw itself? They took an interesting approach: They created a Helical Sweep as a surface that represented one turn of the blade and then thickened it. Fifteen of the blades were placed into an assembly and, interestingly, the user made use of the Weld module to define groove welds to connect them as in the real world. Nice touch. With a couple minor changes, the screw assembly could have been placed with a Pin connection allowing a motor and mechanism analysis to be run. I liked the use of McMaster Carr imported parts for the motor. Additional components for the flywheel and chute were nicely made.

Manuelito modeled the screw with a solid Sweep feature (using the Normal to Projection option for section plane control). The assembly contained a Pin connection, motor, and kinematic analysis that could be run to see the rotation. Manuelito also modeled parts like the cover and crank lever and included the hardware to fasten the components. He created some nice renders including a sandy beach background. Manuelito went the extra step to generate MPEG movies of the mechanism in operation, including a rendered image. 

Ateodorescu (Alexandru) also used a Helical Sweep to model the screw, but in a different way. Each “blade” part was made with six full turns, but four blades were assembled at 90-degree angles to each other, allowing the screw to convey a great deal of water. The frame that holds the screw was developed in the Advanced Framework Extension for weldments. Alexandru also made use of Unite Technology to import a motor made from SolidWorks. To drive the mechanism, he used a motor with a table function to define the position. The assembly contained both kinematic and position analyses. The MPEG movies contain a nice brick appearance applied to the wall. 

Tejas Mahadik submitted an extremely detailed assembly including Advanced Framework Extension weldments, Intelligent Fastener Extension (IFX) hardware, and imported components. There were also components with a high level of definition for bearings, a spider coupling, and a universal joint. I liked the “barrel” chute for diverting the water from the main channel into a lower pipe. The barrel also made use of Multibody modeling. The screw itself was designed with a Helical Sweep, but Tejas patterned it in the shaft part. 

The mechanism motor turns the spider coupling, which in turn spins the universal joint. Very nice. Tejas provided additional zipped files including several beautiful rendered images (I like the reflections and shine) as well as a PDF including a sectioned drawing view. He made full use of the Design Animation Option (DAO), with a rendered animation that included camera moves and the mechanism in operation.

User AS 10152878 submitted a simple assembly (five components). However, the piece parts were either missing or not embedded properly. Hopefully we can see their work one day. They did include a rendered image

The final submission by Tom McGuire demonstrated simplicity by modeling the problem with two components: a pool model and the screw. The pool itself consisted of only 20 features not including the pattern instances. The screw itself was created with a Variable Section Sweep, which quite honestly was the feature I expected more people to use. The sweep used two trajectories and a Relation with the trajpar parameter. The screw itself was only six features. I like this approach in that it shows the problem can be solved with economy. However, the mechanism motor appears to be configured in reverse.

What can we learn?

Just like with the Mathcad Community Challenges, we see that people can take different approaches to the same problem. The core part modeling challenge was the screw itself, and we had three Helical Sweeps, a Constant Section Sweep, and a Variable Section Sweep. Even the Helical Sweep entries reflected different approaches like patterning and manually assembling additional instances.

Submissions included use of the Mechanism Dynamics Extension, Design Animation Option, Intelligent Fastener Extension, Advanced Framework Extension, and the Render Studio. People leveraged models from McMaster Carr, online CAD configurators, and even other CAD packages. This shows the range of capabilities available to users when it comes to assembly design.

And the award goes to...

Normally I’m reluctant to declare a winner, and the submissions reflect ingenuity and effort. However, one entry went above and beyond in terms of creating a highly detailed solution reflecting tremendous input: Tejas Mahadik. I encourage everyone to look at the submissions to see what you can learn.

Join us for the second Creo Challenge, which focuses on isogrids on a curved surface. Check it out and make your submissions now!

Keep Up With Creo

Subscribe to the PTC Express newsletter for the latest tips, insights, and news. Subscribe Now
Tags: CAD Creo

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 He can be reached at

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.