Best Approach to 3D Modeling? Parametric, Direct, or All of the Above
Written By: Cat McClintock

Four ways companies win when they use both approaches

The most innovative manufacturing companies today use a combination of parametric and direct 3D modeling to maximize innovation while at the same time ensuring speed, flexibility, and faster time-to-market.

Companies like motorsports manufacturer KTM Motorcycles are living proof of the benefits of 3D CAD software that provides both parametric and direct modeling capabilities in one common environment.

With both direct and parametric “everyone can take existing designs and make modifications to improve performance,” says Olaf Seger, a company designer at KTM. That’s important because the innovation machine needs to stay revved all the time to keep KTM competitive. “Every model that we release integrates the best of our engineering when we release it.”

Product design teams are often forced to compromise when it comes to using CAD software, with most using just one modeling approach. In recent years, CAD vendors have begun offering both direct and parametric functionality. But too often, those tools require users to switch between modes or using two different data models, rather than seamlessly integrating both modeling approaches in one design.

But with Creo, designers can choose the right modeling approach for the design task at hand, and it’s all in one environment. In addition to powerful parametric modeling, Creo  gives users the flexibility to directly edit geometry without worrying about feature constraints and relationships, while maintaining all design intent. This is especially handy when the designer isn’t very familiar with a particular model, or when design changes need to be quickly incorporated.

There’s no shortage of design scenarios that call for a combined parametric and direct approach. Here’s a look at some situations where the option to use direct modeling technology can add significant value, even if you’re using a purely parametric strategy today:

When making late-stage or unexpected design changes

Anyone familiar with the design processes knows that sometimes radical design changes are needed late in the game. With the ability to directly edit parametric models, users can implement late-stage or unexpected changes quickly, and avoid any design intent that might limit those changes.

During concept design

Concept design is a time to generate as many product ideas or concepts as possible. A combination of direct and parametric approaches allows you to build on existing designs or create new ones with speed and agility. And with Creo, all changes are tracked so that they stay synced up with the parametric model.

When working with legacy CAD data

Legacy data can be difficult to maintain, edit, and repurpose because traditional CAD solutions often treat non-native data as unimportant “dumb” data. But introduce direct modeling into the mix and those problems disappear. Direct modeling gives users the power to easily modify and reuse legacy data for new purposes.

When improving simulation workflows

Digital prototypes need to be frequently analyzed as the design evolves–a process that usually requires engineers to simplify the model by removing features, so that the analysis can be completed quickly. Direct Modeling supports designers and analysts in removing features such holes, faces, features, blends, and other geometry. These capabilities let users prepare parametric models for analysis without requiring a high level of experience with the parametric modeling capabilities.

Find out more about Creo

Creo makes the switch from parametric to direct modeling (and back again) easy. But that’s just one reason to try Creo, the industry’s leading 3D CAD software. To find out more, download our free e-book, Top 7 Reasons to Design with Creo.

Tags: CAD
About the Author Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.