MBD vs MBE: What’s the Difference?

Written by: Dave Martin

Read Time: 4 min

If you work in product development, you have probably heard the terms model-based definition (MBD) and model-based enterprise (MBE) a lot over the past few years. Even if you are familiar with the basics of MBD, you might not know the difference between MBD and MBE. Are they the same? Are they different? Are they just buzzwords?

Model-based definition is, according to ASME Y14.47, an annotated 3D model that contains all the information needed to manufacture and inspect a product. In MBD, you capture the dimensions, tolerances, notes, symbols, surface finishes, and other information that define components and products in the model, as opposed to a traditional 2D drawing. MBD is a deliverable.

A model-based enterprise is a product development organization that has achieved process efficiency, lower costs, and faster time-to-market by extending MBD beyond engineering into manufacturing, the internal and external supply chain, and beyond.

Let’s explore the difference between MBD and MBE in more detail.

What Is Model-Based Definition?

To explain MBD, let’s talk some history. Prior to the invention of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools, people created 2D drawings of products to explain how to build and inspect them. Think of these like blueprints.

With CAD tools, you can create 3D models. But people still create 2D drawings for manufacturing because they’re convenient. You can print them out, mail them, and carry them easily.

But going from 3D to 2D is always a step backwards.

MBD is a 3D model with the product and manufacturing Information (PMI) necessary to manufacture and inspect parts, assemblies, and products. While you create the same kinds of annotations that appear in a traditional drawing, the process tends to be faster and easier. Many people have found that MBD does not have all the fastidious rules that 2D drawings do.

Rather than sharing a drawing, you can share the model, either in its native format or a neutral STEP format. This is how you start on a path to becoming a model-based enterprise.

What Is a Model-Based Enterprise?

Prior to MBD, engineers would share 2D drawings with the people who fabricate your parts. Then the models are recreated in whatever Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software they use.

Even when companies create and deliver MBD, those 3D models often stay within the engineering organization. When that happens, they fail to realize the advantages of MBD. The true benefit comes when the models are used downstream.

First, you want to integrate your manufacturing to use MBD. The STEP AP242 file format supports semantic annotations. That means that CAM and inspection software can understand the 3D annotations in the native CAD model as well as the geometry in the model that those 3D annotations refer to.

However, it’s even better when you can get manufacturing to use the CAD model in its native format. Eventually, you want to develop an electronic Technical Data Package (TDP) as your downstream deliverable.

The Department of Defense Engineering Drawing Modeling Working Group developed a capability matrix that product development organizations can use to assess their MBE journey:

  • Level 0: You are drawing-centric.
  • Level 1: You switch to model-centric, using a neutral file for manufacturing.
  • Level 2: You use native CAD models in manufacturing.
  • Level 3: You are now an MBD organization, using the annotated model and a lightweight viewable as your deliverable.
  • Level 4: Manufacturing is fully integrated into the process.
  • Level 5: You are considered a model-based enterprise as the internal enterprise becomes integrated.
  • Level 6: Your manufacturing, internal enterprise, and external enterprise (supply chain and customers) are integrated. Your deliverables are a TDP accessed via the web.

It’s important to note that MBE is a journey, not a destination.

How to Get Started

Fortunately, starting your MBD and MBE journey in Creo is easy. Engineers and designers who know how to create drawings can make the leap easily and learn the fundamental tools in a matter of minutes. If you teach someone about Annotation Planes and Combination States, they can create and manage 3D Annotations. Creo also has additional tools to help ensure compliance with the latest ASME and ISO standards, including Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T).

Are you interested in learning how you can experience the benefits of MBD and MBE for cost and schedule? Explore Creo's MBD capabilities today!

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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.