PTC Creo – Creative assistance for innovative companies
Company: Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIPBB)
Topics: Product development, Design & Development, Computation & Simulation, Virtual Reality (VR), 3D rendering (CGI)
Industry: Engineering and Design Services
Innovation Park Biel supports - among other tasks - companies and startups in the implementation of innovative ideas from design and development to concept maturity. The engineering team works with CREO, the CAD solution from PTC, and is supported by INNEO.
Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIPBB) is a private Swiss non-profit organization that conducts and supports industry-related and primarily applied research and development. As part of the national and international network of the Switzerland Innovation Foundation, SIPBB's goal is to generate research investment from abroad, promote Swiss innovation performance and start-ups, and accelerate the translation of research results into marketable products.
SIPBB's core services include the provision of offices and other space, research and development services, and technology equipment. In addition, it supports companies and start-ups in implementing innovative ideas and helps identify suitable research partners. Other tasks include assistance in the acquisition of research funds and quality assurance of innovation projects.
SIPBB's engineering team currently comprises 16 employees, including six design engineers, who have a great deal of experience in a wide range of projects. Therefore, they are able to help companies in the concept phase in a sustainable way and also support further design and development. In the interaction of concept development and simulation, a large concept maturity is therefore achieved quite quickly.
One of SIPBB's customers is Bozzio AG, originally a spin-off of the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH. Bozzio AG produces steering systems for vehicles that enable people with physical disabilities to drive vehicles independently. Meanwhile, Bozzio also offers systems for autonomous driving vehicles. The developers of the patented "drive-by-wire" technology have a high level of expertise in hardware and software, but no in-house mechanical designers. This is where the engineers at SIPBB could help. The prototypes they design are then often printed on the metal 3D printers at the in-house Advanced Manufacturing Center. In addition, Bozzio has rented space in SIPBB's facilities.
"Our focus is on the early development phase, but we always have an eye on later production," says Björn Olbricht, head of engineering, describing his department's orientation. "For example, the targeted quantities play an important role in deciding which manufacturing technologies we use."
And which CAD is used for design? In 2016, SIPBB engineers contacted INNEO to introduce PTC's Creo CAD system. The German specialists for the PTC product line maintain a branch office in Brüttisellen, from which SIPBB is also serviced. Development engineer Wolfgang Rieder recalls: "Based on many years of experience with PTC Creo, the decision in favor of this system was very easy for us. One of the most important reasons is the integrated simulation functions, which allow us to test virtual prototypes quickly and inexpensively."
The engineering department is constantly growing, with six employees currently working with four Creo licenses. Creo "Simulate" is used to simulate components and entire products; it is not only in projects with the internal Swiss Smart Factory in the Industry 4.0 environment that the engineers live the idea of the digital twin. And the Creo "AM Extension" helps to exploit the advantages of 3D printing, for example by integrating grid structures to save material. Additive manufacturing processes play a major role overall; for example, the engineering department uses the 3D printers available in the Fablab to quickly create functional prototypes or illustrative models.
For visualisation, the SIPBB developers use "KeyShot", also distributed by INNEO. This software can import Creo models directly and very quickly calculate realistic images and animations, which in turn can be used in customer meetings. The "Startup TOOLS", a collection of useful tools for Creo from INNEO, simplify administration and make work much easier. At Switzerland Innovation, the additional functions for creating drawings, the standard parts library and a function for cleaning up the filing system are particularly useful; the latter especially when switching from one project to another.
"Creo has never let us down," says Sacha Felder, a technical employee in mechanical development. "Especially for parts with ergonomic shapes, the specifications of designers and customers can be implemented in a target-oriented manner. Even complex free-form surfaces pose no obstacle." The engineering specialists also enjoy a close and good working relationship with the supporting system house INNEO. "INNEO offers very good support," says Olbricht. "Also important for us are the information events that are held regularly, such as T-Days and in-house exhibitions."
For SIPBB specialists, contact with INNEO is also rewarding beyond the pure CAD world. "As the number of employees increases, a management system now also becomes interesting," says Wolfgang Rieder. "The risk of overwriting each other's data increases with the number of colleagues working on a project. We exchange information intensively with INNEO to evaluate the effort and our requirements. Here, too, the accumulated knowledge of INNEO employees helps us. I am sure that together we will find an optimal solution - as we have always done in recent years. INNEO is simply the ideal, reliable partner for us."
Switzerland Innovation Park in Biel/Bienne
The SIPBB has four focal points: The Swiss Smart Factory works on Industry 4.0 topics in manufacturing with its own test and demonstration factory. The Swiss Battery Technology Center has set its sights on the development and implementation of energy sources, while the Swiss MedTech Center is active in medical technology. Finally, the Swiss Advanced Manufacturing Center is researching additive manufacturing solutions in metal 3D printing.
These research centres draw on various innovation services. In addition to engineering, which has its own mechanical workshop, there is a marketing department and an event department, which organises internal and external events, workshops and guided tours on its own premises. There is also access to a well-equipped fab lab with 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser cutters and other machines. Furthermore, laboratory, office and clean rooms are provided where startups can emerge and grow.