NASA relies on watermarks from PTC Creo View MCAD

Written by: Geoff Hedges | Published:
Geoff Hedges, marketing director at PTC

One of NASA’s most exciting projects is the journey to Mars. Beginning in 2018, NASA’s powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will enable ‘proving ground’ missions to test necessary launch capabilities. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft will start deep space exploration in the 2020s. And human missions to Mars in the 2030s will rely on Orion and an evolved version of the SLS.

For projects like SLS, NASA Design Engineering teams manage copious design document, drawing, and model files. For a recent critical design review, the SLS design team released hundreds of design and development files for the initial 77-ton payload SLS Block 1 rocket. It was the first review for a NASA exploration-class vehicle since the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Needless to say, the nature of design technology has changed significantly since the time of the Apollo missions. Effectively managing all of the document, drawing, model, and other content files is critical to a project’s success today. Little things like release status and embedded version information are important details that internal and external stakeholders rely on.

NASA’s Design Engineering team at the Kennedy Space Centre wanted an effective way to communicate the status of its design content files. This information included a document name/number, file iteration number, and release status (In-Work, Completed, or Released).

The team first tried to programmatically place information into files using text and symbols, which was not reliable. They also had issues with showing the status of drawings when the document was released. And there was the chicken and egg problem of iterating a document to make a release mark show correctly, which then modified the released document.

What turned out to be a better solution? It was something they had already. Because they were using PTC Creo View MCAD for visualisation and PTC Windchill for product data management processes, NASA had a robust watermark tool to try.

Designers can use the PTC Creo View MCAD watermark editor to create different watermark files for different types of information or release states. The watermark can contain text, images, and dynamic information, like a PTC Windchill property name.

Plus, the watermark can be set to appear in PTC Creo View MCAD for specific view types, such as MCAD or 3D. It can also be set to appear when a file is printed.

After editing and saving a watermark in a PTC Creo View MCAD user profile, a few tweaks allow the designer to deploy the watermark files (INI and XML) into a PTC Windchill project. Then it’s reliably managed from the PTC Windchill server.

NASA’s Design Engineering team has successfully implemented watermarks for a simple, streamlined way to communicate important information about their design files. And watermarks are great for identifying intellectual property when sharing content with third parties, too.


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