CAD (or computer aided design) is an essential component of the digital workflow of additive manufacturing. As the name implies, it involves the use of computer software to create, modify, or analyze a design before it is ready to be 3D printed. Once CAD has been used, the file is ready to go through the slicing process and can go straight to the printer from then on. This article will focus on CAD, as a high-quality CAD/CAM program makes it easy to create high-quality products for prototyping or end use. An example of such a program is Creo. Creo is a 3D CAD solution that is part of PTC, a digital software company that offers CAD solutions along with other digital products. Creo is used for discrete manufacturing (the production of different items).
How does it work?
Creo runs on Microsoft Office and is used for additive manufacturing as it can speed product innovation for complex designs. Advanced technologies such as generative design and real-time simulation are combined with traditional CAD software. Creo allows the user to design, optimize, run, and validate a print check in one environment, reducing the risk of error. Lattices can be used to reduce weight, and products can be printed in polymer or metal. In order to print your finished design, you must download the PTC Creo 3D printing application, with which you can print directly to a Windows 10 compatible 3D printer. First, click ‘prepare for 3D printing’. You can then customize the resolution of the STL file using the STL Parameter Settings panel. Then you cut; once the layer formation is successful, you can export the file. Creo also allows the user to see the inside of the model and the necessary supports before printing; just click Crop. All this process is integrated and direct. You can see how the latest software works below:
Technical details of the latest version
The first edition of Creo was released in January 2011 and the latest software, Creo 9.0, came out in May 2022. The latter is known for its customer-driven usability and productivity improvements that can make work easier. In terms of technical updates, digital product definition tools help improve model-based designs and use symbols and semantic PMIs that comply with international standards to avoid confusion for design users. New weld symbols and drawing hatch patterns are also present in Creo 9, making it easier to produce fine details. Overall, Creo 9 has great user and intermediate user clarity of designs. In terms of visualization, Creo Ansys Simulation and Creo Flow Analysis have been improved; Creo Simulation Live allows you to test the design with multiphysics analysis to see the performance and structure of the design.
All of these features are important to additive manufacturing, as they can be used to produce quality, detailed designs that can be tested before printing, saving time and resources. According to Brian Thomson, division manager and general manager of Creo at PTC, the ninth edition “is a major release, and feedback from our customers played a big part in making it happen.”
Creo is available in a range of different packages tailored to the user. Cost starts at $2780 and all packages include: 3D part design and assembly, management and performance, 2D drawing creation, direct modeling, additive manufacturing, and more. The company offers a 30-day free trial for users to try the software before purchasing. As for how Creo is used, the PTC website lists numerous prestigious industrial uses for the software, from designing helicopters to motorcycles. The software has been used with Volvo, KTM and more. Creo’s CAD software faces stiff competition from the rest of the industry, as other major players like Solidworks offer a similar product, but Creo stands out with its well-developed packages that offer simulation, augmented reality, and more.
What do Creo users think?
Reviews suggest that Creo 9.0 is a useful tool, citing its success and functionality as key highlights. They also suggest that Creo is useful for large files and has useful features. However, some users have indicated a steep learning curve with usability and some suggest that the automation is limited as it follows fewer programming integrations. They also say that the user interface is a weak point compared to other software.
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*Cover photo credit: PTC
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