PTC Brings Artificial Intelligence to Engineers

Dec. 14, 2018
The company’s latest acquisition adds generative design software to the PTC CAD portfolio.

Simulation is a big part of validating product designs, but it typically happens at the end of the process which can result in a significant amount of rework. PTC’s announcement of a partnership with ANSYS earlier this year marked the company’s effort to integrate simulation into each design change so that engineers can see real time results during the modeling process.

And, with last month’s $70 million acquisition of engineering software provider Frustum Inc., the company is also adding artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into its Creo 3D CAD portfolio that can guide the discovery of high-performance, next-generation product designs.

PTC is pushing the boundaries of innovation with this acquisition,” said PTC president and CEO Jim Heppelmann. The ANSYS technology, which builds simulation into each design change and validates parts hundreds of times is a huge breakthrough for users, he said. “Better yet is if the software didn’t just follow engineers through iterations, but engaged them earlier to generate design use as a starting point for a series of approaches. That is called generative design, and that is what Frustum does.”

Frustum complements PTC’s strategic relationship with ANSYS by bringing analysis upstream to the start of the design process, enabling Creo to recommend design approaches and guide the user. Specifically, engineers provide the design description of space, materials, manufacturing processes, etc., as well as non-engineering parameters related to the supply chain, cost or quality data, for example.The Frustum AI engine takes that information and uses high performance computing technology to deliver a range of design alternatives for engineers to select from. Once the preferred approach is selected, the software moves to the iterative phase where it moves through changes collected from a collaboration of numerous stakeholders.

The Frustum AI technology learns, evolves and performs key tasks, such as providing feedback early in the design phase, optimizing designs for multiple objectives simultaneously and offering design alternatives, modifying designs to manage multiple requirements and constraints, and automating testing of the outcomes of the design with other enterprise information.

Looking back at PTC’s LiveWorx conference in June, when PTC announced the ANSYS partnership, the two companies demonstrated real time simulation inside Creo that allowed a user to see design flaws in a product. After a implementing a manual change to fix the flaw, the ANSYS software re-simulated the part and immediately showed the results. Now, by combining the real time generative design from Frustum and the real time simulation from ANSYS, “it allows a single engineer to do the work of many,” Heppelmann said.

In order for this to work, however, the Frustum software must be built-in to Creo, rather than used as a standalone product next to Creo, so that integration is underway. For use in many different industrial applications where performance is paramount, the goal is create a flawless product fast—allowing designers to reach beyond the limits of their personal experiences. “You’ll get designs that look like mother nature built them rather than an engineer,” said Heppelmann.

About the Author

Stephanie Neil | Editor-in-Chief, OEM Magazine

Stephanie Neil has been reporting on business and technology for over 25 years and was named Editor-in-Chief of OEM magazine in 2018. She began her journalism career as a beat reporter for eWeek, a technology newspaper, later joining Managing Automation, a monthly B2B manufacturing magazine, as senior editor. During that time, Neil was also a correspondent for The Boston Globe, covering local news. She joined PMMI Media Group in 2015 as a senior editor for Automation World and continues to write for both AW and OEM, covering manufacturing news, technology trends, and workforce issues.

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