PTC Creo Collaboration

Created: September 26, 2019 | Updated: September 27, 2019
This documentation page references Altium NEXUS/NEXUS Client (part of the deployed NEXUS solution), which has been discontinued. All your PCB design, data management and collaboration needs can now be delivered by Altium Designer (with Altium Designer Enterprise Subscription) and a connected Altium 365 Workspace. Check out the FAQs page for more information.

Design collaboration between Altium NEXUS and PTC Creo® is enabled by the central capabilities the Altium NEXUS Server, where collaborative data is bridged by the NEXUS Collaboration panel and a specialized Altium software addition for Creo – the PTC Creo CoDesigner add-in.


  • Altium NEXUS Client
  • Altium NEXUS Server with Firebird database
  • PTC Creo® 3M50
  • PTC Creo CoDesigner add-in

PTC Creo to Altium NEXUS Collaboration installation

Altium NEXUS side:

The Collaboration panel is installed by default in Altium NEXUS and can be opened from the  button, or by selecting Views » Panels » Collaboration.

Note that the MCAD Collaboration panel is available only when a PCB document is active.

No additional licenses are required on the Altium NEXUS side

PTC Creo side:

It is assumed that a licensed installation of PTC Creo 5.0 or later is on the test machine.

  1. Download the PTC Creo CoDesigner plugin from the Altium Download page.
  2. Run the installer; AltiumCoDesignerPtcCreo_Installer.exe.
  3. Complete each page of the installation Wizard.

The Collaboration plugin is now installed, automatically un-locked and registered in the PTC Creo installation. The Creo application Ribbon will include an Altium section with a CoDesigner button, click this to show / hide the Altium Collaboration panel. All collaboration activities are performed through this panel.


Altium NEXUS side:

  • Login to a Collaboration server (NEXUS server).
    Learn more about logging in to a server
  • (optional) Specify a 3D Model search path: see the PCB Editor – Models page in the Preferences dialog.

PTC Creo side:

  • Sign in to a Collaboration server (NEXUS server). If you are not signed in, the Altium CoDesigner panel will automatically display sign in fields after clicking the CoDesigner button on the Ribbon. The NEXUS server URL (Server Address) will be supplied by your IT department.

  • (optional) Specify a local storage of exported 3D Models. Collaboration panel » cogwheel icon » Models Library Folder.
NEXUS Server Users must have admin rights to use a Collaboration tool.

Getting started with Creo to NEXUS Collaboration

  1. Create new collaboration project

To create a new collaboration project on the PTC Creo side, open the Collaboration panel and click New Board Assembly.

The Select Project dialog will open, click the New Project button to open the Create New Server Project dialog.  Specify a project name, include an optional description and click OK.

A new project will be created on the collaboration server, the last step is to check out a working copy. The Checkout Project dialog will open, confirm the settings and click Checkout.

A new board assembly with the default board size will be created in Creo.

A first synchronization with Altium NEXUS to transfer the board thickness and MCAD origin is highly recommended at this step.
  1. First synchronization of Altium NEXUS PCB document with Creo board assembly

To synchronize the ECAD design side with the newly created Creo assembly:

  • Open Collaboration panel on the Creo side, click the Push button,  add a comment if needed and click Post. Now all collaboration data are downloaded to the collaboration server.
  • Then go to Altium NEXUS and sign in to the Collaboration server. Select  File » Open Managed Project,  choose an appropriate project and open it. Next, add a new PCB document to the project and save it, open the Collaboration panel and click Pull. A table with list of changes between the Altium PCB design and Creo board assembly will be displayed in the Collaboration panel.
  • To accept a change, check it in the Accept column and click Accept. A new board outline will be applied to the PCB Board in the main PCB Editor.

Define a Board Layer Stack at this step.

It is necessary to define a Layer Stack for the Collaboration design before placing 3D Models and mounting holes on the Creo side. This is because a changed board thickness can affect clearances between 3D Models and a board assembly.
  1. First synchronization of Creo board assembly with the Altium NEXUS PCB document

The CoDesign process allows the board design to proceed in parallel in both Creo and Altium NEXUS, with the two being bought into synchronization through CoDesigner. Typically the board X-Y shape and size will be defined in Creo, while the layer properties (which define the board thickness) are defined in Altium NEXUS. The Push and Pull commands store and retrieve design changes in the Collaboration server, not the entire board design. That means a board design/assembly must be created in both Creo and Altium NEXUS before they can be synchronized.

To synchronize the Creo board assembly with the ECAD design:

  • With the board open in Altium NEXUS, open the Collaboration panel and click the Push button, add a comment if needed and click Post. Design collaboration data are transferred to the Collaboration server.
  • In Creo, open the Altium CoDesigner collaboration panel, it will display a message indicating that there are design changes pending. When you click Pull details of all of the changes will be listed.

  • Click Apply to accept these changes and synchronize the board thickness and layer changes between Altium NEXUS and Creo.

The MCAD designer can begin to define the board shape, and then Push that to Altium NEXUS.

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