In February 2003, Parametric Technology Corporation began U.S. deliveries of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, a version of the popular 3D CAD program that has an improved and simplified user interface. On April 13, 2004, PTC announced the second release of Wildfire for delivery in the second quarter of 2004.
The new release brings the Wildfire style of user controls to parts of the program that didn’t previously have them. It also supports the ASME standard for 3D annotations, improves the ability to employ other CAD formats in Pro/E assemblies, simplifies installation and setup, and adds new modeling and diagnostic capabilities.
Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0 extends the Wildfire user-interface conventions to the assembly, sheet metal, and simulation tasks in Pro/ENGINEER. The Wildfire user controls are characterized by the replacement of Pro/E’s cascading menus with a control panel at the bottom of the graphics window called a dashboard.
Wildfire 2.0 has new tools to simulate the effects of creating offset surfaces. In this example, users can see that the desired offset intersects itself, a condition that must be avoided.
Reflectance plots (also called Zebra Stripes) help Wildfire 2.0 users spot discontinuities in surface curvature.
The Wildfire software also lets designers select an object to be modified and then apply the desired command, or vice versa. Pro/ENGINEER 2001 and earlier versions required designers to first choose the operation from the menus and then select the geometry to be affected by it.
Wildfire 2.0 brings more of Microsoft’s user-interface conventions to Pro/ENGINEER. For example, it is now possible to copy and paste text, sketch geometry, and features using either the copy and paste buttons or the control-c and control-v keyboard shortcuts. Wildfire also allows multiple applications of the undo button and enables it in more portions of the program.
Not all of Wildfire 2.0 conforms to the new conventions, however. Cascading menus are no longer used to place views on drawings. Instead Wildfire 2.0 employs a pop-up dialog box. PTC decided not to overhaul the drawing-annotation functions of Wildfire in this release. According to Mike Campbell, vice president of product management for Pro/ENGINEER, customers didn’t believe that the dashboard controls would be the best model for drafters. Consequently, PTC is attempting to develop a new user-interface model for putting notes, dimensions, symbols, and tolerances on drawings.
Improved design functions
PTC has simplified the creation of axial or radial patterns. Rounds have been improved to handle short edges and enable all edges of a part to be selected for rounding in a single operation, if desired. A redesigned troubleshooting aid helps designers diagnose feature failures.
Sketched datum curves that are created independently of a feature now become associated with any features that incorporate the sketch. Previously, Wildfire made a copy of independent sketches when they were used in features. When the sketch changed, the features did not change with it. The behavior of Wildfire 2.0 more closely resembles that of other feature-based systems such as SolidWorks, Solid Edge, and Autodesk Inventor.
For designers of consumer products, tools for analyzing curves and surfaces have been simplified. Wildfire 2.0 also adds new tools for examining offset surfaces and generating reflectance plots.
Wildfire 2.0 supports 3D annotations in accordance with ASME standard Y14.41. This capability could potentially let designers eliminate two-D drawings and instead send annotated models to manufacturing departments and suppliers. Few competitors have anything like it yet.