Implementing Model-Based Definition for Your Organization

Written by: Dave Martin

Read Time: 3 min

Implementing model-based definition (MBD) offers incredible advantages for product development organizations. A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) showed that MBD reduces the design – manufacturing – inspection workflow by a massive 72%. Furthermore, most users don’t enjoy creating traditional 2D production drawings. Why wouldn’t you want to adopt a practice that will increase efficiency while reducing tasks people don’t want to perform?

The path to MBD isn’t as hard as you think. Here are four steps for implementing MBD for your organization.

1. Adopt the Right Mindset

Anytime you want to introduce change, you’re going to encounter resistance. People in your organization and supply chain will insist that “the drawing is the contract” and you can’t build, inspect, or receive without a 2D print – and not a PDF either, but an old-fashioned print. This thinking is antiquated and puts you at a competitive disadvantage.

I was the second person on Amazon Prime Air’s Vehicle Design Team after the team leader. My boss had previously worked at Boeing where they delivered an entire passenger airplane using MBD. My first day on the program, he told me, “My goal is to never produce a drawing on this program.”

I thought to myself “Hallelujah.” We didn’t achieve that, but we were able to move much faster being model-centric instead of drawing-centric. MBD is not going “drawingless”; it’s about making the models your primary deliverables and sources of product and manufacturing information (PMI).

Furthermore, MBD is not replicating the drawing in the 3D model. MBD is capturing the necessary information in a manner that can be used in downstream processes more efficiently.

2. Prepare Your Infrastructure

Before you roll out MBD to your end users, you have to prepare your CAD and PLM infrastructure. These steps include:

  • Updating your recipe files for publishing viewables and STEP files.
  • Setting the correct configuration options and model detail settings in Creo Parametric. Configuration options control the Creo session environment, like displaying tabs for your combination states at the bottom of your screen. The model detail settings configure your annotations, like text height, arrow display, and tolerances settings.
  • Creating model templates with the “schema,” or structured organization of combination states, saved views, exploded states, and so on for MBD. MIL-STD-31000 is a great resource for information.

3. Coordinate with Supply Chain

Some suppliers won’t be ready for MBD. One time we prepared to bring one supplier on board with MBD, and quite simply, they didn’t get it. After many phone calls, we finally agreed that we would provide the models and relevant additional PMI, and then they would create 2D drawings on their side. Oh well.

MBD does little good if your internal- and external- manufacturers and vendors can’t support it. You’ll have to get buy in, and this requires persuasion. Explain the benefits and assist them with their implementation.

You have to provide them with a means of accessing your models. If you’re in a Windchill environment, ProjectLink can serve as your bridge. And make sure they have access to visualization tools like Creo View.

4. Train Your End Users

Finally, we get to the mechanics of actually providing your end users with the skills to generate models with PMI. Here’s the good news: it's not hard to teach the picks and clicks. It essentially comes down to combination states, annotation planes, and 3D annotations. You can find more about these MBD training steps in another article.

Having assisted with the transition toward MBD with multiple organizations, I can tell you it’s not as hard as you think, and it will make you a better and happier product development organization.

Download the Model-Based Definition eBook.

Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices

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.