Comment: PTC’s Tech trends predictions for 2021

MBDSimulation, designing with Artificial Intelligence, and Model-based Definition (MBD) are three trends that will gain significance in 2021, says Brian S. Thompson, DVP and GM, CAD segment, PTC.


In 2021, PTC predicts the industry will realise that simulation capabilities are a necessity, not a luxury.  Manufacturers will view simulation as something they must do, not only for the obvious reasons of cost and efficiency, but because innovation drives positive business results. Innovation is more likely to occur when simulation results are available early in the design process instead of at the end.  Additionally, the pandemic is keeping engineers out of their product labs, which further underscores the urgency of using simulation in 2021.

The iteration generation: a new age of design

PTC partnered with Ansys, the world-leader in simulation, and integrated the Ansys solvers directly into our Creo solution to ensure that every design engineer has the benefit of simulation in his CAD environment. The product designer should not have to flip between windows, use another software package, or click and wait.

Designers that use real-time simulation within their engineering tool can test basic scenarios, rapidly iterate, and advance their models enabling analysts to spend more time on issues that merit their expertise.  This impacts the economics of product development efforts and makes room for innovation because the designer can explore more ideas to a higher standard, fewer decisions have to be reworked, and a higher-quality product gets to market faster.

Designing with Artificial Intelligence

Generative design is the new technology everyone is talking about and I predict use to further expand in 2021. At its heart, generative design is about co-designing with artificial intelligence, building on generative studies, and encoding company approaches to design.

The idea behind generative design is that early concept development leading to final designs is faster, more efficient and more complete.  Based on design constraints, loads, and materials, the system provides optimised solutions that lead to better, higher-quality designs with efficient material usage, which has an impact on Cost of Goods Sold (COGS).

When the generative design tool uses the cloud, has a world-class engine, and is closely integrated into the CAD tool, the expanded compute power allows for multiple studies simultaneously.  PTC has just released Creo Generative Design Extension that does just that.

Model-based Definition (MBD)

I predict this approach becoming more pervasive than ever for the important strategic reason that a digital model of a product can be used throughout the enterprise – from manufacturing to marketing, to service and more.

I believe companies will begin sharpening their focus on 3D for a variety of reasons.  First, it is important to avoid 2D in order to sidestep the inefficiency of creating duplicative content. The risks of error when the 3D and the 2D designs get out of sync is great and the consequences can be severe.  Additionally, 2D drawings can provide instructions or commentary that’s not reflected in the 3D design, which leads to confusion and delays.

Second, most modern manufacturing equipment can work directly with 3D.  3D models are perfect, so errors are minimised when manufacturing works directly from the 3D model. 3D documentation provides clear indications of quality requirements that are harder to interpret in 2D.  It’s also noteworthy that many other activities like simulation, manufacturing process development, service instruction development, etc. are all best done in 3D by today’s standards.  The design process should be focused on 3D, so everyone is working with exactly the same information the design engineer intended.

Third, a geometrical product specification will deliver higher quality, greater collaboration between professionals of all types in the enterprise, and greater efficiency.  Remember, all changes to a model ripple to all parts of the company.

Increasingly we’ll see MBD as being a cornerstone of digital transformation.  At PTC, we call it ‘getting your digital house in order’.  I work with customers who may have engaged with us because they know we lead in IoT and AR, but when we get into a discussion, they see that the first step in realising value from these technologies is making sure they have rich, full-fidelity 3D data from engineering.  MBD is absolutely part of that and it’s why our CAD business has done so well during the pandemic.

Brian S. Thompson, DVP and GM, CAD segment, PTC