The engineering tech stack has come a long way from the early days of CAD. But the more tools there are out there, the harder it is to keep up with them all. And nobody wants to waste precious time and brainspace looking into a tool, downloading it, opening it, and starting to play around with it—only to find it doesn’t live up to its promises.

So we asked Mark Morreale, our product manager and an experienced professional engineer, what tools he’d consider seriously useful for PTC Creo users.

Here are Mark’s top 5 recommendations for tools you can use along with Creo.

1. CETOL 6σ (Sigmetrix)

Pricing: Paid tool, requires getting a quote from sales team

What it does: Complex tolerance analysis

How they describe it: “CETOL 6σ is a comprehensive 3-D model-based tolerance analysis solution that works directly with the CAD definition to help companies build better products through variation management… CETOL 6σ provides product development teams with the insight required to confidently release designs to manufacturing... Utilizing advanced mathematical solutions, CETOL 6σ accelerates tolerance optimization to achieve robust designs ready for manufacturing.”

Why Mark recommends it: “CETOL 6σ is high-powered tolerance analysis software that integrates directly into your CAD environment, rather than separate spreadsheets. Costly manufacturing errors or rework due to incorrect tolerances can be minimized by integrating tolerance analysis early and upfront in the design process.”

2. DFMPro (HCL Technologies)

Pricing : Paid tool, requires submitting demo request or contact form

What it does: DFM checks and optimization

How they describe it: “DFMPro, a CAD-integrated design for manufacturing software helps you identify and correct downstream issues early in the design stage, leading to reduction of cycle time and, in turn, resulting in high-quality products with lower product development costs... DFMPro enables design engineers to make informed design decisions and identify and address downstream manufacturability, assembly, quality and serviceability (DFx) related issues during early design stage.”

Why Mark recommends it: “DFMPro lets you analyze your designs for manufacturability based on process—letting you analyze your design according to Design-for-Manufacturing rule sets built around common manufacturing processes like machining, injection molding, sheet metal, casting, and assembly. By getting instant feedback on potential manufacturability issues early, design and manufacturing engineers can reduce scrap and rework as well as schedule overruns.”

3. Blockpad

: Freemium model with three tiers (free, individual/small team, and enterprise plans)

What it does: Calculations

How they describe it: “Easy calculation software, like Excel and Mathcad together... Blockpad works with Excel files, PDF files, and more. You can also create and share files over the web... In conventional spreadsheets, you can reference cells in one sheet from another sheet. You can do this in Blockpad too, but a ‘sheet’ can be a word processor, spreadsheet, or drawing... A math and engineering program where calculations are straightforward and clear, but also powerful and flexible.”

Why Mark recommends it: “Blockpad takes the best features of spreadsheets and calculation notebooks (like Mathcad) and merges them into a single tool, purpose-built for engineers. Using math notation that presents calculations in an easy-to-read format—combined with spreadsheet-like tables that allow for fast and easy data handling—Blockpad produces engineering documentation that is easy to read, understand, and work with.”

4. SF Freetools (Software Factory)

Pricing : Free, requires giving your email address to request the tool

What it does: Five different tools available, each with specific functions

How they describe it

  • SF FeatureCount—“Calculates the feature types and the number of features of the active part or assembly. It allows you to get a quick overview of all feature types in an assembly and calculates the surface area created by each type making it possible to estimate how much material is added by a certain feature making the calculation of manufacturing costs easier.”
  • SF UnhideDims—“Helps you by correcting entire modules. The tool detects hidden dimensions and product information in 3D parts and allows an automated correction at the push of a button.”
  • SF ISOTOL—“Generates ISO tolerance tables without fussing about ISO. The application looks for ISO tolerances in Creo drafts, which will be listed subsequently in a table.”
  • SF GEN2PRT— “A module for automatically disjointing family tables. At the push of a button all instances of a family table can be exported to a configurable directory as independent Creo parts. GEN2PRT can be run in part mode on single- and multi-level family tables.”
  • SF PARAM— “A module for the simplified and standardized handling of user-defined parameters. PARAM for Creo can be applied in part-, assembly- and drawing mode. It supports you in ensuring a unified placing of parameter values throughout your company. Via configuration files, a set of predefined values can be defined for each parameter. For each parameter you can define also if only the predefined values are valid or if a free user input is allowed.”

Why Mark recommends it: “SF Freetools is a set of Creo tools developed by Software Factory that, while specialized in purpose, make certain repetitive tasks much faster—such as finding hidden dimensions and toggling their visibility (SF UnhideDims), automatically generating custom ISO tolerance tables based on any ISO fits specified in a drawing (SF ISOTOL), and standardizing user-defined parameters (SF PARAM).”


Pricing: Fully free

What it does: Design layouts

How they describe it: “Deepnest is an open source nesting application, great for laser cutters, plasma cutters, and other CNC machines. Deepnest packs your parts into a compact area to save material and time. It automatically merges common lines so the laser doesn't cut the same path twice. This not only saves time but improves part quality by avoiding heat warping from multiple laser passes. Deepnest employs a state of the art part layout engine with part-in-part placement and the ability to nest bitmap images for laser engraving.”

Why Mark recommends it: “ is free, open-source auto nesting software that lets you nest flat DXF files onto a sheet using genetic algorithm based heuristics. Save time and material when laser cutting by letting Deepnest find optimum configurations!”


Thanks for joining our newsletter.
Oops! Something went wrong.
Thanks for joining our newsletter.
Oops! Something went wrong.
Thanks for joining our newsletter.
Oops! Something went wrong.

Of course, CoLab is also seriously useful for Creo users. Want to know how?

Let’s Talk
May 13, 2021

More from 



View All