Altium CoDesigner is an interface for transferring printed circuit board designs between the ECAD and MCAD design domains. Once the CoDesigner add-in has been added to your MCAD software, CoDesigner can pass design changes back and forth. Design changes are passed through an Altium Workspace, which acts as a bridge between the ECAD and MCAD domains.
To access the Altium CoDesigner panel in PTC Creo® Parametric™ you must install an Add-In (Plugin), as detailed below. You can download the MCAD CoDesigner plugin from the Altium website download page.
Installing and Configuring CoDesigner in PTC Creo
To interface from PTC Creo® to Altium Designer you need to install the Altium CoDesigner for PTC Creo Add-In.
Install and enable the Add-In to access CoDesigner in your MCAD software.
Launch PTC Creo, the application Ribbon will include an Altium section with a CoDesigner button, click this to show/hide the Altium CoDesigner panel. All collaboration activities are performed through this panel.
Displaying the Altium CoDesigner Panel
CoDesigner is accessed through a PTC Creo panel.
If the Altium CoDesigner panel does not appear in PTC Creo:
Click the CoDesigner button in the Altium section of the Ribbon, as shown above.
The Altium CoDesigner panel will display, click the button a second time to hide the panel.
PTC Creo collaborates with Altium Designer through your Workspace, which you must sign in to the first time you use it.
When you are not signed in, the Altium CoDesigner panel will include sign-in fields, as shown below. There are two sign-in modes, one for signing into an Altium 365 Workspace, the other for signing in to a Workspace on an on-site Altium Server, such as Concord Pro or NEXUS Server.
Connecting to an Altium 365 Workspace
Signing in to an Altium 365 Workspace.
Select the Altium Account option in the Altium CoDesigner panel.
Enter the email address you use to sign in to Altium Live as your Email, and your Altium Live Password.
Enable the Remember Me option to retain the details (including the password) and automatically connect to your Altium 365 Workspace each time PTC Creo is started.
Click the Sign In button to connect.
Multiple Workspaces are supported - open the CoDesigner menu and select the required Workspace.
Connecting to a Workspace Hosted on Concord Pro
Signing in to an on-site Altium Server Workspace.
Select the Use Custom Server option in the Altium CoDesigner panel.
The first time you sign in you must specify the Server address (URL) to connect to you on-site Altium Server. The address will be provided by your system administrator.
Enter your User Name and Password, these will also be provided by the system administrator.
Enable the Remember Me option to retain the details (including the password) and automatically connect to your Workspace each time PTC Creo is started.
Once you have signed in, you are ready to start collaborating through Altium CoDesigner.
CoDesigner has been installed and is ready to use.
Configuring the PTC Creo Collaboration Settings
Once you have signed in, CoDesigner settings can be configured in the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog, opened via the Settings menu entry in the CoDesigner menu (show image).
Use the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog to configure the CoDesigner options.
Common folder for storing models that are coming from ECAD - All component models created by CoDesigner are stored in this location, regardless of the project they belong to (note that the board part and board assembly are created by CoDesigner in the project folder specified during the initial pull into PTC Creo). If no location is specified, all component models will be created in the project folder and will be unavailable for reuse in other projects.
Build 3D geometry for Copper and Solder Mask - Top and bottom layer copper layers are always represented as decals on surfaces of the board part. When this option is enabled, CoDesigner will also create extruded features to represent all copper layers, as well as thruhole pads. Note that enabling this option can create a large amount of data that can significantly impact performance. ► Note that this option is not available on a Standard Subscription plan.
Build Vias - enable this option to also include the Via barrels. (Build Vias option added in CoDesigner 2.2.0) ► Note that this option is not available on a Standard Subscription plan.
Ignore components smaller than <Value><Units> in height - Smaller components can be excluded from the synchronization process. Configure this option to exclude components less than <Value><Units> when a Pull is performed. Note that the component height is defined in ECAD as a property of the component (footprint), it is not the height of the 3D model placed on the footprint. ► Learn more about configuring CoDesigner to ignore smaller components
Type of accuracy to use while building PCB - Creo supports two types of accuracy, Absolute and Relative. Select the accuracy as required. Learn more about part accuracy in PTC Creo.
Custom coordinate system used for the placement of MCAD components - if the Creo components use a custom coordinate system, enter the name here. Note that on the ECAD side, the models used in the footprints of the corresponding components should be built on the same coordinate system (origin and orientation). If you are exporting the model from Creo to use in ECAD, enable the Customize Export option during export and select the correct Coordinate system. (show image)
Participate in the product improvement program - enable this option to automatically share technical information with Altium about your use of CoDesigner. ► Learn more about the product improvement program.
Use a common folder for storing models if you work with multiple PCB designs with a percentage of reused components, as it will save time and storage space when loading a new project.
If a component is fixed or constrained in MCAD, it becomes locked in ECAD (regardless of if that constraint allows any movements within the PCB assembly or not). If a component is locked in ECAD, it becomes fixed in MCAD unless it is already constrained there. Changes in the locked/fixed state are synchronized between MCAD and ECAD.
Working in PTC Creo
If the CoDesigner Panel does not appear in Creo
There are certain situations when the button that is used to display/hide the CoDesigner panel does not appear in Creo. Use the following steps to resolve this.
Check if the CoDesigner panel Display Button is Hidden
The visibility of the button that you click on to display the CoDesigner panel is configured in the Creo Parametric Options dialog. The dialog can be accessed by right-clicking on the Ribbon in Creo and selecting the Customize the Ribbon command from the context menu.
Confirm that the Altium (Custom) option is enabled, as shown below.
Confirm that the Altium (Custom) option is enabled.
If the Altium (Custom) option is enabled and the CoDesigner button is still not visible in the Creo Ribbon, click the Reset button in the dialog and run the Reset only selected Ribbon tab command, as shown above.
Add-In has Failed to Initialize
If the CoDesigner Add-In does not appear in the Creo Parametric Options dialog, it may have failed to initialize. The best way to resolve this is to reinstall the Add-In.
Add-In has Failed to Load
If the Add-In does not appear after completing the steps just described, it may have failed to register correctly in Creo. In this situation:
Open the Auxilary Applications dialog, as shown below.
CoDesigner installs as an Auxiliary Application, it may not have loaded correctly.
Click the Info button in the dialog to display an information window, which will include Altium CoDesigner if it has successfully loaded.
Check if Altium CoDesigner has successfully loaded.
If Altium CoDesigner is not listed, close the information dialog and click the Register button in the Auxilary Applications dialog.
The Register Auxiliary Applications dialog will appear, navigate to the location where the Add-In installation files are located for your version of Creo. The image below shows this for Creo 5.0.
CoDesigner is registered through the Altium.dat file.
Select the Altium.dat file and click Open. If the Add-In has already been sucessfully registered the following dialog will appear:
A message will appear to let you know if CoDesigner has registered successfully.
If none of these steps have resolved the issue, contact Altium support.
Controlling the Display of Decals
If the CoDesigner option to Build 3D Geometry for Copper and Solder Mask is disabled in Creo, then CoDesigner loads a top-side decal and a bottom-side decal for these layers instead (the top-side decal combines the top copper, top solder mask and top overlay, and the bottom-side decal combines the bottom copper, bottom solder mask and bottom overlay).
In Creo, there is a global control for the display of decals, textures and bump maps. Toggle the Show textures on shaded model option in the Model Display page of the Creo Parametric Options dialog to hide/display these decals.
The display of the top-side and bottom-side copper+soldermask+silkscreen decals can be toggled in the Options dialog.
Where to Next?
Now that CoDesigner is installed in your MCAD software and connected to your Workspace, the next step is configure the relevant Workspace settings.