CAD/CAM/CAE Reviews and Tutorials

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Pro/ENGINEER splash screen
Developer: Parametric Technology Corporation
Latest release: Wildfire 3.0
OS: Unix-like/Windows
Genre: CAD software

Pro/ENGINEER (commonly referred to as Pro/E or ProE) is a 3D CAD parametric feature solid modeling software created by Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC). Its direct competitor's software are SolidWorks, Inventor, SolidEdge, Unigraphics, and CATIA. It runs on Microsoft Windows and provides solid modeling, assembly modelling and drafting functionality for mechanical engineers.


Pro/ENGINEER is a mechanical engineering and design CAD tool capable of creating complex 3D models, assemblies, and 2D measured drawings; it does not support architectural or civil engineering practices. It originally caused a major change in the CAD industry when first released by introducing the concept of Parametric Modeling. Rather than models being constructed like a mound of clay with pieces being added or removed to make changes, the user constructs the model as a list of features, which are stored by the program and can be used to change the model by modifying, reordering, or removing them. Pro/ENGINEER is considered a part of the 'High End' 3d CAD modeling packages.

Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0 screenshot
Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0 screenshot

Pro/ENGINEER outputs consist of solid model data for tooling and rapid prototyping, CNC manufacturing, and finite element analysis. A product and its entire Bill of Materials can be modeled accurately with fully associative engineering drawings, and revision control information. It is compatible with Unix-variants, Windows and Linux operating systems. All data is interchangeable between these platforms without conversion.

PTC have also released a version of the program called Pro/DESKTOP that is marketed towards small businesses and schools who want to incorporate a low-cost CAD package to their curriculum.


A typical Pro/ENGINEER software package is made up of different modules, customizable to the customer's specific needs. In the past years some of the modules like Pro/SURFACE and Pro/SHEETMETAL have been integrated into the basic Pro/E offerings. For example, if a company specialized in the design of wire harnesses for the automotive industry, they would want to purchase the Pro/CABLING and Pro/HARNESS-MFG modules. A product development company or more specifically engineers working with industrial designers would want to purchase the ISDX module for free form surfacing.

[edit] Foundation modules

  • Pro/ASSEMBLY (Basic)
  • Pro/DETAIL
  • Pro/ECAD
  • Pro/LEGACY

Advanced modules

Pro/ENGINEER WF2.0 created using the ISDX - free form surfacing extension module.
Pro/ENGINEER WF2.0 created using the ISDX - free form surfacing extension module.
  • Basic Hull
    • Structural Hull
  • Behavioral Modeler
  • Design Animation
  • Expert Machinist
  • Import Data Doctor
  • Mechanism Design
  • ModelCHECK
  • Pro/ASSEMBLY (Advanced)
  • Pro/CABLE
  • Pro/CMM
  • Pro/NC
  • Pro/PIPING (Specification-Driven Design Mode)
  • Pro/PIPING (Non Specification-Driven Design Mode)
  • Pro/PROCESS for Assemblies
  • Pro/PROCESS for MFG
  • Pro/REVIEW
  • Restyle - reverse engineering module
  • ISDX (Interactive Surfacing Design eXtension) n Many industrial designers found ISDX combined with Pro/E Wildfire a great tool


Pro/ENGINEER has many options a user can configure that are set and stored in a text file named The configuration file is read from the following three locations, in order:

  1. The text subdirectory of the Pro/ENGINEER $LOADPOINT (e.g. C:\ptc\proe2001\text\)
  2. The user's $HOME directory
  3. Startup directory or default working directory

A file can be placed in any or all the locations. If, for example, there is a$LOADPOINT directory and one in the user's $HOME directory, options in the $HOME\ file would supersede the latter if the same option was listed in both files. Companies that wish to maintain specific standards throughout their organization (e.g. units of measurement) will place a in the $LOADPOINT and allow their employees to create a custom in their $HOME directories. Another method is to create a config.sup file in the $LOADPOINT that contains options end users can not override. A config.sup file is identical to a file in content, but its options can not be modifyed by a, no matter where it is located. in the

An example of a typical file that changes the default display of datum planes, datum points, axes, and coordinate systems on startup would look like:


When a user changes an option from the default, the option and the new setting are saved to the file. The file can be edited with any text editor or within Pro/ENGINEER itself, allowing the user to change settings without rebooting the software. The Pro/ENGINEER online documentation lists all the configuration options with the choice of settings. A searchable format can be found at Olaf Corten's Option Search Utility.


Pro/ENGINEER 2001 screenshot.
Pro/ENGINEER 2001 screenshot.

In 2002, a new revision of Pro/ENGINEER called Wildfire was released that dramatically changed the software's Graphical user interface. This has been a recurring theme since the release of revision 20 in the late 1990s when the software interface was changed from a nested text-based menu to one that incorporated graphical icons and pull-down menus. The response among users regarding these updates had been mixed. Some argue the improvements made the program easier to use and more efficient while others complain that re-learning basic operations and new menu layouts took more time than the improvements save. By 2003 however most advanced users realized significant time savings (10 to 25 percent) after three weeks of use. Training companies reported new users can move through significantly more material using Wildfire than the same class using the older interface of previous versions of Pro/E.

List of revisions:

  • Pro/ENGINEER 1 - 19 1988 thru 1997
  • Pro/ENGINEER 1 - 1987 (Autofact 1987 premier)
  • Pro/ENGINEER 8.0 - 1991
  • Pro/ENGINEER 9.0 - 1992
  • Pro/ENGINEER 10.0 - 1993
  • Pro/ENGINEER 11.0 - 1993
  • Pro/ENGINEER 12.0 - 1993
  • Pro/ENGINEER 13.0 - 1994
  • Pro/ENGINEER 14.0 - 1994
  • Pro/ENGINEER 15.0 - 1995
  • Pro/ENGINEER 16.0 - 1996
  • Pro/ENGINEER 17.0 - 1997
  • Pro/ENGINEER 18.0 - 1997
  • Pro/ENGINEER 19.0 - 1998
  • Pro/ENGINEER 20.0 - 1998
  • Pro/ENGINEER 2000i - 1999
  • Pro/ENGINEER 2000i2
  • Pro/ENGINEER 2001
  • Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 1.0
  • Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0
  • Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0

Online community

Many online groups exist for Pro/ENGINEER users that provide assistance with learning the software, along with insider tips and tricks like hidden commands or work-arounds not documented in the software manuals. One large online community is, an outgrowth of the fifteen year-old Pro/E: The Magazine trade journal, now published as an online community. Another large online community is PTC/USER (formerly Pro/USER), which provides individual email list groups for each of the main modules available for Pro/ENGINEER. For instance, if a user did not understand how to create a rip relief using Pro/SHEETMETAL, they could join the PTC/USER "smetal" group and find other like-minded users to help answer their question.

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