By Jeffrey Rowe
To survive and thrive in the competitive world of product manufacturing, organizations need to adopt flexible engineering strategies. To that end, PTC (formerly Parametric Technology Corp.) has developed Pro/Engineer 2000i2 Foundation, a major software release that supports the company's flexible engineering strategy of tools built on responsiveness, innovation, and connectivity.
So, what exactly is Pro/Engineer 2000i2 Foundation? First, although it is less expensive and somewhat easier to use than Pro/ Engineer 2000i, it's not just Pro/E "Lite." It's a tool that can design parts and assemblies as well as create drawings, and it's compatible with PTC's extensive line of complementary Pro/E products.
Although the 2000i2 package I reviewed ran under Windows NT, it had a definite Unix look and feel, especially in the Part and Assembly modes. This is primarily because the package was originally developed (and is still available) for many flavors of Unix, the legacy operating system of PTC.
I installed 2000i2 on a standalone basis-admittedly, something few users would do, as networked machines comprise the vast majority of installations. I wouldn't say installing 2000i2 is a mindless task, but it's not as difficult as rumored. You must, however, pay attention to what you're doing and install license management software beforehand. Also, to obtain your licensing codes from PTC before installing and using the product, you must disclose some facts about your hardware, such as your computer's CPU and NIC ID.
Before you begin a design session, you'll want to set up the Design Environment. This is easy to do, and you can make it display only the features and capabilities needed for your type and style of work. I like the fact that many session settings-such as what mode your model will be displayed in and how your design files will be saved-are always visible if you want them to be. You can display as much of this information as you want by increasing or decreasing the size of the design window. Also, as you work with the package, informative prompts help you understand where you are and what to do next.
In addition to the typical new file types you can create, such as sketch, drawing, part, and assembly, other 2000i2 modules let you choose and create manufacturing assemblies as well as diagram, lay out, and mark up files.
|From the Hole dialog box you can completely define the parameters of straight, standard, and sketched holes. The work flow for creating holes also has changed: First you select the type of hole you want, then enter its dimensions, then place it on your pa|
2000i2's Sketcher is where most users will begin designing, and this is good because it's the product's most user-friendly mode in terms of interface, customization, design logic, and efficiency. Probably the most difficult aspect of the Part and Assembly modes is the Menu Manager interface-too many words, too "Unixy," and not graphical. It is, however, relatively easy to create assemblies from existing and new parts. New part creation also can be partially automated through mirroring, merging, cutting/pasting, or patterning existing component parts. In Assembly mode, you can represent bulk items such as adhesives, lubricants, and coatings/paints as components of assemblies. This is a nice feature for accurately estimating and tracking the total cost of assemblies.
Few designs are perfect the first time around, and the ability to effect quick changes is often as important as creating the designs in the first place. As previously stated, modifying dimensions is an easy task. You can either click directly on dimensions you want to change and enter new values, or you can use the Modify Dimensions feature, where you can enter a new dimension value or "move" a digital thumbwheel to increase or decrease the dimension.
Finally, because few large-scale designs are conceived and executed in a homogeneous environment, data exchange to and from 2000i2 is an issue that PTC has addressed with translators and its Associative Bus Technology (ATB). The software automates the exchange of geometry as well as design intent, as it maintains associativity between different CAD/CAM systems by providing shared data representations with linked and mapped geometry references. At this time, the ATB found in 2000i2 is interoperable with Pro/Mechanica, Pro/Desktop, Cadds 5, CDRS, and Catia (through an additional module).
Pro/Engineer 2000i2 Foundation provides users with a good entry-level opportunity for entering the Pro/E arena in terms of utility and affordability. Even with its significant strides in ease of use, however, 2000i2 remains a design package for well-trained technical-design engineers.
Jeffrey Rowe is the principal of Cairowest Group, a design consulting firm. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Minimum system requirements:
Pentium-based processor; 64MB of RAM; 400MB of disk space (for installation); 128MB swap space