Engineering firms looking to stay at the forefront of innovation must constantly update their processes and methodologies to stay competitive. While using CAD software has been the standard for many years, modern solutions and new techniques can increase productivity and ultimately lead to better product development. That’s where top down engineering comes in.

Implementing a top down engineering approach can significantly increase productivity.

Top Down Engineering Basics

What Is Top Down Engineering?

According to Techopedia, top down design is the “decomposition of a system into smaller parts in order to comprehend its compositional sub-systems.” Essentially, this means that the end goal or product is established and then the sub-steps and designs are created from there. In the case of CAD, it’s a methodology used to simplify the development of products by using complex interdependencies and relationships between different components.

How Does Top Down Engineering Work?

Top down engineering works best with a primary goal or product in mind. From there, teams can work on individuals’ parts within the product separately. With CAD, the design process starts with a basic sketch that sits on top of a model tree, then more complexity is added over time. This generates the initial skeleton that includes all the base components necessary to communicate design intent and provides the framework for the other geometries. The process typically goes as follows:

  1. Conceptual design
  2. Preliminary product structure
  3. Capture design intent
  4. Communicate design intent
  5. Manage interdependencies
  6. Populate assembly

What Are the Benefits of Top Down Engineering?

Overall, using a top down engineering approach makes designing complex products simpler. As minor changes are made to sub-parts and components, updates are automatically made to the skeleton. This automation means changes don’t get lost in the shuffle and can quickly be communicated across disparate teams.

There are three main benefits to leveraging skeletons in a top down engineering approach:

  • Skeletons store all the important geometries and design information, while dimensions and calculations are stored in a separate engineering notebook.
  • This data is shared with all the individual components, as well as their features, throughout the design.
  • The relationships between components and features are all managed automatically—so changes are implemented across projects.

Ultimately, automated design changes drive significant time and money savings.

When Should I Use a Top Down Engineering Approach?

While the top down engineering approach does provide numerous benefits, it isn’t necessarily the best choice for every engineering project. In general, this approach is best used when the following components are involved:

  • Tight budgets: Top down engineering can help engineering teams maximize savings by planning and allocating budgets at the beginning of the design process.
  • Building complex machines: Top down engineering helps break down larger project components into smaller components that are easier to plan for (and work around if problems arise).

Taking a Top Down Engineering Approach with Creo

Creo, PTC’s CAD solution, comes with incredible top down engineering tools designed to help you and your team work smarter, not harder. The Creo platform includes both skeletons and motion skeletons combined with data sharing features to create associative copies of components to share data between skeletons and different models. This makes it easy for teams to work on a project concurrently and communicate design data easily and quickly, with full confidence that all components will fit seamlessly into the final product.

Ready to try top down engineering with Creo? Contact us.