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Tubular frame chassis


New member
Hi All,
I'm switching from SolidWorks to Pro/E.
I'm designing tubular frame race car chassis. In Solid Works it was very fast and easy:
You do a solid model (boxes) of chassis desired outer shape.
Than you make a 3D sketch on that solid edges.
Than you apply stuctural members (from weldments database).
Very fast and easy the only drowback is I had to scetch tube sections - another 5 minutes.

I can't believe that there's no similar in terms of easiness way to model such things in Pro/E.

Please help!

Thank you


New member
Hi Ted,

you want to design something like the attached picture?

You should use the module Expert Framework Extension, then it works pretty similar like SolidWorks. You can do a solid model of the outer shape or a curve skeleton. Then you can place the structural members on the edges of the solid or the curves.

I am from the company who develops this module. If you like I can give you an evaluation copy. Just send me an E-mail to [email protected] with some details about your company, then I can give you an eval copy for some time.


View attachment 654


New member
Just an an idea, you could possibly use the piping module:

Create your solid box. Sketch the framework on the box surface then
create pipes (Insert - Advanced - Pipe) between the verticies of your

I think you are limited to circular sections using this method, but it is very fast.


New member
Beside being limited to circular sections, connecting between pipes is also limited to pipe fittings in the piping module.

For structural work, you cannot beat Pro/E's EFX (Expert Framework Extention). If you do this a lot, you should seriously look into it.



New member
You are kidding right?

Buy an additional module to create circular protrusions?

Ugh! I need to find a new line of work...you guys are killing me.


New member
The issue is not creating creating circular protrusions. Of course you can do that with pro/E Foundation.

TudorMiron was asking about easier ways to do it.And he was comparing Pro/E Foundation to how he used to do it in SolidWorks. For people who do a lot of structural work, like TudorMiron, it is worth looking into somespecialized automation (EFX in this case).

It is not unlikepeople using Pro/PIPING. You can do anything that Pro/PIPING does just with Pro/E Foundation if you are willing to spend the time. If you do a lot of piping design, then it makes sense to use it.


New member
Charles is absolutely right. It's all about time spent. If one has plenty than whay not play with protrusions and million of datum planes etc.

Thank you


New member
And...TudorMiron...you are kidding too right? That file would have only 3 datum planes.

But...follow the lead of someonewith only a bitmore experienced than you....buy your new module and have at it.

PTC makes millions off of rookies and people that can't drive Pro with two hands and a road map. They love people like you and chf. New modules all around!



New member
Hi dlongmi,
This is fair enough. I have to agree that this is dissapointing that this sort of functionality (EFX) is not included in core product. It is included in SolidWorks which supposed to be lower level soft.
How ever I'll be happy if you could give me some help on this issue. I mean spendig some of your time to help me learn to do it properly.
Thank you


New member
Is using datum curves, skeletons, sweeps and reference cutouts that much more time than buying another module and learning that.

I not an expert at building chassis' but I did teach a chassis builder at my old company to use the method and it went very well. The chassis was very robust with flexiblility of design.

I'm not trying to knock the EFX but is it that time consuming. I don't know. If anyone could give me more feedback on EFX I'd appreciate it.

Thank you



New member
Hi Moroso,

It took me a while to find it on ptc's website.

Go to www.ptc.com, then go to Products > Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire > Pro/ENGINEER Detailed Design > Pro/ENGINEER Expert Framework (then "Learn and Try" tab has tech info).

I agree with your assessment that it is easy to create with Pro/E Foundation, since the geometry is not challenging at all. But being easy geometry is precisely why specialized automation makes sense. It is easy, but it is repetitive.

A case in point is, for example, making connections between beams. It is easy enough to create the joining machanism/parts, then assemble screws/bolts/etc. then open every beam/gusset/endplate/etc. part and create the correct holes (at the right places). For somebody who does this kind of workevery now and then, I do not see a need or advantages to automation (such as EFX). But if it is a large chunk of what somebody does, then automation makes sense.Just define the joints and EFX does all that automatically.

You can automate a lot of this stuff with UDFs, but you still have to put the right UDF in the right part, and you can have a lot of mismatches. Then when you do any changes, you will have to manually revisit all your parts/features, since there is no understanding at the assembly level what these parts or features are doing.

When you take a 10-hour task and shrink it to 1/2 hour, it is only a matter of how many of these 10-hour task opportunities can you find before you can justify the addtional module.

I have not seen EFX for a couple of years now, but even then it was very fast and simple to use.

My take on it!


New member
Thanks Charles,

Great information, really looks like a great module.

Your exactly correct about doing these type of jobs every once and a while vs. an everyday event.

How much does theis module go for, just curious ... not looking to buy, I'm a mold Designer now

thanks again Charles for the great info. I also saw a few other items in there that caught my eye



New member
Sorry Moroso,

I do not know how much it costs. I tried to check it on PTC's website, but they seem to have removed the online bying tool they had.



New member
Modules are mostly to make the job easier and faster. I use Pro manufacturing and we also do a lot of large assemblies. It would be nice to have expert machinist and or advanced assembly but we do it without these "extra" modules. We could save a lot of time with those extra modules if we used them enough. We also do castings and it would be nice to have "pro casting" as well. Our company is less than 100 people and we do not do enough of these things to pay the extra money for an extra module. People who would use the modules orare in bigger companies and canuse the extra modules to save timecan justify the cost of them. Smaller compines orcontract people like the post sbefore the were saying the extra modules are awaste of time either cannot afford these modules or justify the cost. If thesemodules help save on the bottom line then they are worth their weight in gold, it just depends on what your need and cost are.



New member
I know I said I was out of this one but I can't let this go without saying something. I need to get a good night's rest tonight.

All this is PTC BS and propaganda that has tainted many people.

For SAG, I looked through the EFX documentaion on the PTC website relative to EFX and found the same sh*t I ahve seen for years.

I quote...

EFX Key Benefits.

"Automated design functions deliver a 10:1 productivity gain"Totally marketingBS.

"Flexible design environment provides a 40:1 productivity gain when making design changes"Again...Total marketingBS.

"Easy translation to 2-D" Duh! make an IGES or a DXF file.

"Comprehensive and customizable library of profiles, connectors and equipment promoting reuse and saving hours" REALLY? When was the last time any of you plagerized someone else's designs and called them your own. OR....better yet when is the last time someone else's design worked "exactly" the way you needed in your new multi-million dollar machine? C'mon...how much time will you use making yourself comfortable with the data you have copied?

"Designs are easily analyzed in Pro/ENGINEER Structural and Thermal Simulation or third party applications with a BLAH BLAH BLAH" Same agrument that started me off...BUY ANOTHER MODULE and life is grand.

DON'T YOU ALL GET IT? PTC marketing has to kept onshuffling the deck for 15 plus years to make us "think" we need all this "new crap" to make our days easier. Listen people...I know I already sound like I am the old codger..bitching and moaning all the time...but I have been on PTC software for over 15 years, I've sold it,I've trained itand have seen just about every cheap move they can throw out. The argument that EFX or ISDX or Pro/MOLD or whatever makes life better is just not true. Stop getting lead around like little stupid lambs to the slaughter. You do not need to spend an extra 5K on this and 6K on that to do your jobs

If you can't tell...I love Pro/E. I think it is, hands down the BEST MCAD solution on the market. I just cannot let the propaganda take root and spread without saying something. I'm tired...maybe I should move to Jamaica.

Night all..............


New member
As hard as I tried, I could not stop myself away from answering dlongmi. But it is OK; it is all very civil.

I am the last person to be defending PTC "BS and propaganda", but I had to take on the points raised:

Points 1 and 2 - Productivity gains: I have been on Pro/E since release 5, so Iam not a newbie. I have seen EFX a couple of years ago, and I certainly believe the productivity gain claims. It is a product build for that specific purpose. Pro/E isa general modelingtool, and the best CAD system around, but it does not know an I-beam from a stick. EFX makes it know what structural components are and automates all the required tasks around it. The productivity is more pronounced when you have to change a design (for example a beam) and therefore all your connections and attchments must change at the same time to make the new design work. This all happens automatically. I do not see what is so difficult about this concept. You can spend3 hours, or 5 minutes. For dlongmi (also me), structural design is not something we do all the time, and therefore, a specialized structural design module does not make sense to either of us. But if it was something I do a lot, then you cannot pay me enough to spend my day extruding I-beams and connecting them in Pro/E. We all (I hope) use UDFs and Pro/PROGRAM(even mapkeys)to automate things that we use all the time. I do not see why it is such a stretch that other areas (if not possible with existing base tools) should not warrant the same need for automation.

Point 3 - 2D:I had to go to the PTC datasheetto see what they are talking about here. They are not talking about translation to 2D, but rather easy transition from 2D CAD systems. This is an easy one. A lot of structural design has traditionally been done in AutoCAD 2D drawings. EFX is pretty much a pick and place UI with 2D and X-section views of components.

Point 4 - Library:Since when didmaking libraries becomeplagiarizing?I have a better question: when was the last time you needed an I-beam (or an extruded aluminum element, or a bolt, etc), and you went ahead and designed one from scratch. These things have suppliers and standardized sizing, so it only makes sense to pull them from libraries. It is even better if the system kept track of what was used, and automatically made all your cut lists for you. Of course, a library of designs does not make much sense, but a library of standard components makes tons of sense.

Point5 - Analysis:I do notknow how to answer this one. Is the argument here that there is never a need for analysis software? Some analysis problems are beyondpen, paper and your trusted Casio.

The last 15 years, I, too, have seen PTC push out the door a lot of "new crap", but some of it (not all) was actually pretty well done. And, they had to do that, if they wanted Pro/E to move out beyond the market niches where it started. In trying to expand its market appeal, they had to add other capabilities.

I have no boubt that dlongmi knows Pro/E extremely well, because he can do almost anything with base Pro/E. For example, he knows that you can extract mold inserts without needing Pro/MOLD. But, anybody using Pro/MOLD to make inserts will never give it up. It is just economically not feasible to do so (time = money).

I do not know ISDX, so I cannot make the same argument for it, but I am sure it has its constituency.

This post ended up longer than what I wanted. Back to work now.

Edited by: chf65


New member

Two things to preface my post. Yesterday was Valentine's day and well...I have a wife that I took out for a nice dinner and...well that red wine was pretty darn good. So my post was..e'hem...influenced by a little essence of grape, so to speak. I hope the tone was not too over the top. Although as I re-read it now it seems so....

Second..it's nice to talk with someone that has been on Pro longer than I have been drinking this here Pepsi.

You know as well as I that PTC has not really come up with anything "new" for quite some time. They have had to re-bundle, re-package, re-configure, re-re-re-everything over the past ten years to stay fresh. For example, Pro/MOLD was a bust and still is considered, by many,a POS for thepeople driving it. Sure there have been fixes and revisions and updates but still it can't be called a success in grand fashion. I agree some of the modules, like SheetMetal has come ALONG way. Howver, I know this thread is not about Pro/MOLD orSheetmetal, it is about the situation many drivers find themselves. They give up before digging into the functionality right in front of them. Plain old Foundation can do some awesome stuff right out of the box. Add a surface module and it's unstoppable in 99.9% of situations. It's an engineering tool that happens to design products very well.

I get a charge out of anyone claiming Pro/E can't do something. When in fact I have done it or know someone that has done it. I get fired up when somebody says...well you can't create a mold with Pro/MOLD or Pro/E can't do class A surface work...Bah! It's all there...as Jamie Foxx explains what Ray Charles said to him...it's all right there under your fingers, you just need to know where to place your fingers.

Granted this thread is not about what Pro can and can't do as well. It was, and is,about productivity. What fired me up in the first place was the fact someone asked about creating a tubular frame. It was from someone new to Pro soit all valid.Buta new module was suggested as a method without suggesting it was there already. My demon is I have NEVER wanted to give PTC any more $$$ than was absolutely required to do my job. Parametric relationships, joints, automatic updates of geometry, robustness, engineering calcs, section properties for any section and loads more is already in there...waiting to be found for those who search. But sadly many look for the easy way out. Not implying you suggested that. I have seen it many times though.

I can't believe it has taken this much writing to get to the point

1 and 2. I am all for productivity. Yes, I use Pro/Program, mapkeys, re-use parts and sketches to make my job faster. I do not do the same things over and over. I am a New Product Development person tasked with finding and designing new things in different disciplines, materials, processes etc...I agreethat if I did do a repetetive type job then a canned suite of features would make life easier.

3. Fair enough.

4. I have found that in order to create the robust models I do I need to constrain my sections in an appropriate manner. I have not found many sections (parts)that worked for the application as supplied. I know I would spend more time verifying the integrity of a sketch and tweaking it's behaviour within sketcher than it would for me to do one up. So I am not convinced that it makes sense in all cases.

5. This one may very well be the only point given that has merit. IF the EFX module has the ability to give in-depth section properties that are parametric in nature AND can be directly linked to FEA then sure it might be of benefit. But I assume if it were the Mac-Daddy then PTC would have been falling all over themselves letting us know. So, the jury is still out for me.

Chf65...let's talk some more.


New member
Hi dlongmi,

I never wanted to imply anything was wrong with your tone. I thought it was quite a valid and interesting conversation for this thread.

For me, with a bit of wine, I couldn't write that much!

I must learn to use more of these Emoticons

I agree with your assessment that people are too quick to claim that "Pro/E cannot do this or that". I too have not found much that Pro/E cannot do.

The start of the thread was that somebody moving from SW to Pro/Ewas used to an easy and fast way of building structural framework (SW has that in a module called SW Toolbox). He could not believe that he is expected to build everything using basic geometry. The answer is that Pro/E has a module that is even much better than SW Toolbox. Not only is it a library of drag and drop components, it also knows what to do with the connections and how to deal with changes (by changing connections when designs change). Plus other stuff....

This is not for everybody, but in certain cases it make sense. A few thousands $$ is peanuts if it is core to what you do. You will save that, not only on faster turaround and manpower, but in hard dollars on the first hole mismatch that you prevent.Repetitive work by a human being, by its nature, cannot but lead to missed things. People are better suited to make contextual decisions, not to carry out details.

I think we are in violent agreement about most points though.

For EFX, it is not a general product for everybody, just for those doing a lot of structural design.

To your last point whether it is the Mac-Daddy then PTC will be falling all over themselves (I like the wayyou put it ). It is too narrow scoped for them to know how to sell these things. Even during PTC's good times past (where they had a lot of successful salespeople), I did not know many people there whounderstood how to sell or position anything other than a general design tool (I worked at PTC for many years during the good times). PTC is simply notindustry savvy, whether in their marketing or in their sales. And, for such a narrow market segment as EFX, only very few PTC people will ever know where to apply it. It is too much on the periphery for them.


New member
Nice thread it is :) Never expected it to be.
I just thought I would clarify some things.

In SW it structural frame work is done like this - you crate a 3d sketch (what ever way you like) than you just assign structural elements (from your own made library) to scetch lines. Program will notch the tubes at connection points and you have all the tubes as separate part as well - with perfect fishmouths etc. This is not a separate module like toolbox. It's free. Main point it's VERY fast.

EFX is not a PTC product. They just sell it and make some little money. One can buy it directly from developer company and save 1500Euro.