Increasing Product Innovation by Exploring More Design Alternatives

If you work as a designer or engineer, your job is to identify problems and then apply your expertise and creativity to solve them. In short, you’re an idea person. Got a rib that weighs too much? A can opener that no longer sells? You can find a solution. In fact, with your training, you can probably come up with many solutions. And that’s when the trouble begins.

Let’s go back to that overweight rib. How would you address it?

You could use a thinner profile, remove material, redesign the overall assembly so it doesn’t need that particular support, use a different material, or even a different manufacturing process. I’ll leave it to you to decide what works best. But note that we’ve introduced five ideas for modifying the part. And if you wanted to try combinations of those solutions—a thinner profile and a different material, for example—you would have even more alternatives to explore.

Traditionally, for every different idea, you would have to modify the part and save it as a new 3D CAD file. Then, load that version with the thinner profile and save it again with a new material specified for yet another design file. You can see how too many ideas begin to work against you—costing you time and resources you may not have. Worst of all, if ideas are too much trouble; you may stop exploring before you even reach the best solution for your design challenge.

Developing Design Alternatives with PTC Creo DEX

That’s why we developed the PTC Creo Design Exploration Extension (DEX). With this add-on for your 3D CAD software, you can explore all the alternatives without the headaches of saving them all as separate files.

Here’s how it works: Launch PTC Creo DEX from within PTC Creo. Then, bookmark your model. Now, modify it (for example, make the rib thinner) and bookmark it again. Go back to the original bookmark and try another modification (mill a hole through the rib), and bookmark that too. You can even revisit the model with the thinner rib and modify it (change the material to carbon fiber), and save that as a separate bookmark too.

In PTC Creo DEX, you essentially create branches and nodes of parallel models, capturing all your ideas in once place. No separate files needed, and the alternatives stay with the product data. And note, while your modifications reside in the same file as the source model, they don’t impact the original model unless you tell them to.

Reviewing Design Alternatives with PTC Creo DEX

When all your ideas are captured in their own separate files, taking them to design review meetings can be a headache. You certainly don’t want stakeholders waiting while you launch one file after another in front of them. In fact, most people prefer to screen capture their alternatives in PowerPoint before a review meeting.

But creating presentations is a chore too.

When you use PTC Creo DEX for reviews, you don’t have to prepare slides. Plus, you can adapt feedback as it arises. That’s because you launch just one file and click through your various bookmarks to discuss and compare design alternatives. Because you’re working directly in the PTC Creo environment, you can even make changes on the fly to quickly show team members how their ideas would impact the model.

A Place for the Runner-Ups

They say there’s no such thing as a bad idea. So what happens to all your alternatives that don’t make the cut? If your runner-ups sit in separate files and PowerPoint presentations, they could easily be forgotten—only to rise again with new designers in future release cycles. In PTC Creo DEX, the “also rans” stay with the model as part of your concept design stage, so future developers can build on your work, rather than replicate it.

As for the winning ideas? With a push of a button, they become integrated into the live PTC Creo model for the detailed design work. That way, you don’t have to go through the 3D design steps again.

How to Make Your Ideas Work for You

If you’ve ever hesitated to capture an alternative because it was simply too much work, learn more about PTC Creo DEX. With this new extension, new ideas never add undue overhead. Design, capture, present, and save your best work, all from one easy app. With PTC Creo DEX, you can explore more design alternatives than ever, ensuring that your ideas never hold you back again but free you to find the best solutions to whatever design challenges present themselves.

Ed – over the next weeks we’ll be taking a closer look at this new extension, including free tutorials, live webcasts, and opportunities to ask PTC experts your questions about the PTC Creo Design Exploration Extension.