July, 2001

SMUG Heads Down South
by Jim Hole

july2001imageIt had been many years since the last time SMUG met in Kalamazoo, but the Stryker Medical folks welcomed us back by hosting the July 11 SMUG meeting.

About Stryker
Gary Morton and Dennis Clutter familiarized SMUG with Stryker. Stryker is a 2.5 billion-dollar company with 11 divisions located all over the world. Their products include hospital beds, medical hand tools, even replacement joints for hips and the like. They have been using Pro/E since 1991 and now have around 180 seats in use. All products developed at Stryker within the last ten years have been designed using Pro/E.

Gear Creation & Feature Re-Creation
Keith Wilkinson of Eaton Corporation started off the presentations with Gear Creation and Feature Re-Creation. The problem Keith was faced with is how to quickly create complex gears with accuracy, and how to show those gears in various stages of manufacture. He has automated the gear creation by incorporating an external C program into a Pro/E menu that will create an .ibl file (an import blend feature). After the product model had been created, Keith showed how he uses assemblies, the copy geom feature, surface copies, and cuts using quilts to produce the process part in various stages of manufacture. This allows manufacturing engineers to create process parts, while product engineers still maintain control of the geometry.

PTCís Ben Wang & Mitch DeJong were up next to show the Interactive Surface Design Extension (ISDX). This new functionality has unique free form curve and surface modeling capabilities with increased levels of interaction and flexibility. I have seen this demo before with another example and have been impressed both times. Not only does it have a new, more graphical interface with lots of drag & drop style manipulation, but it also groups all relevant features of a surface into one feature that PTC is now referring to as a "super feature". The extension allows on-the-fly analysis of a surface, as well as working in a 4 view window display. I have yet to work with this extension, but my gut feel from the demos is that it will be pretty easy to learn. It will certainly be better than the old "advanced surface by boundaries" with multiple options method.

Stamping Die Design
After the break, Steven Pikaart of Gill Industries presented Stamping Die Design; large, complex assemblies in 3-5 weeks. Steveís presentation touched on many subjects, including maximizing family tables, top down design, concurrent engineering, relations, Pro/PROGRAM, and Pro/DETAIL, to streamline design processes and produce large complex tooling designs quickly. Due to time constraints and hardware limitations, Steve could not cover all of his material.

It is clear that getting large assemblies designed and fully documented for manufacturing in short lead times takes forethought, streamlining, and automation - and through the selective application of the different modules in Pro/E, Gill has done just that.

Automation Gateway
Automation GATEWAY was demonstrated next by Rob Brnjac of RAND. Automation GATEWAY enables users to automate specific Pro/ENGINEER tasks, create custom user interfaces or to fully automate design systems. Automation GATEWAY allows any application that supports ActiveX to be configured to communicate directly to Pro/ENGINEER. Using Visual Basic, standard Microsoft Office products such as Word, Excel and Explorer can be utilized to exchange data with Pro/ENGINEER objects. Users with basic Visual Basic programming skills can create custom applications to automate common tasks in Pro/ENGINEER. Automation GATEWAY makes it easy to automate tasks such as managing Pro/ENGINEER parameters, creating family tables and changing dimensions with a graphic user interface of your own design. The above text is all RANDís verbiage - to me what all this means is "Pro/TOOLKIT for Dummies". In my department there are many spreadsheets used as "help sheets" and "product calculators". Previously, integrating these various files seemed a long shot. With this product Iím beginning to think it may be possible - way cool stuff!

Awards & Door Prizes
The SMUG meeting was closed in typical fashion - GIVEAWAYS! A grilling tool set, PTC logo wear & accessories, official SMUG logo shirts, Pro/USER Virtual Odyssey water bottles, and Pro/USER conference bags all found new homes with a happy SMUG member.

What I learned this time at SMUG... the software is getting better, the presentations are getting better, the SMUG team is getting better (look for some slight changes in the meeting format next time), and always check the map before getting in the car. YES, you lady SMUG members, I actually did stop and ask directions.