Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

Tech Tip Tuesday--Animation: X-Y Compound Travel Using a Ghost Body

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Jul 19, 2016

This #TechTipTuesday highlights Animation: X-Y Compound Travel Using a Ghost Body



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Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3D solid modeling, CAD for Manufacturing, CADKEY, Tech Tip Tuesday

Manufacturers and CAD Designers Can Do More With Less

Posted by John Agoglia on Fri, Jul 15, 2016

I read the U.S. jobs and unemployment numbers every month — it’s the old business journalist in me. There is a lot of ID-10044536.jpginformation buried amid the numbers. In fact, the most recent report, which I read in the Wall Street Journal, showed that Manufacturing grew by 14,000 jobs in June. Pretty good; that’s lots of people getting hired in manufacturing. However, a deeper look shows that there were 16,000 cut a month earlier, and overall manufacturing jobs are down by 42,000 since the beginning of the year. That’s a lot of unfilled jobs.

Conversely, data shows that the ISM Manufacturing Index, which tracks U.S. manufacturing activity, climbed for the second straight month in June, hitting its highest level since February 2015. Great, that’s a positive trend for business.

Then I got to thinking, which I do on occasion. If work is up and jobs are down overall, it sounds like there is much room for growth of staff. It also sounds like there are many people absorbing the work of those unfilled jobs. It also sounds like manufacturing productivity may be less than optimal. Then I got to thinking about the people we talk to the most and it makes sense that part of that slack comes from the engineering design department, especially with contract manufacturers. Often, smaller job shops and CAD designers are asked to do more with less. Less time, less help and less money.

So, the question is, how can you and your designers do more with less? Here are four ways to get your job [and let’s face it, maybe the job of a couple of others] done with the resources you have:


More done in Less Time

Product development is constantly under a time squeeze. Shortened timelines often force engineers to pull the trigger on their first design to ensure they hit a deadline. This can lead to bad designs, or at the very least, lead to lost opportunities. The faster CAD designers can make and tweak designs on the fly, the shorter the design process is and the faster they can deliver top-notch models. This is where using Direct CAD to push, pull and drag geometry directly can help cut time and hit deadlines, rather than wasting it dealing with a history tree in traditional parametric modelers.


Simulation for Success

CAD simulation allows engineers to set up and run analysis independently. The advantage here is the ability to set up and execute simulations that provide direction for common design decisions and alternatives. Virtually testing product performance for supporting design decisions and exploring design alternatives is a time and money saver, allowing you to do more with less.


Printing Prototypes

Sure, you may add virtual simulation, but there is still something about being able to test something more tangible. The ability to test a product virtually doesn’t mean engineers can’t also improve how they build and test physical prototypes and build functional parts. As product designs become more intricate—and expensive to produce—the traditional build-and-break prototype process may prove too risky in today’s manufacturing environment. Additionally, organizations are moving away from traditional subtractive manufacturing and moving toward additive manufacturing to save time and costs [read more in our blog on 3D printing]. The idea is to build smaller scale partial prototypes more frequently to check performance progressively. 3D printing allows engineers to print parts and even assemble them into subsystems, within hours, depending on the complexity and printer. This dramatically cuts the time and costs of taking testing from your desktop computer to your actual desktop.


Cut Time Fixing Broken Geometry

Findings of Lifecycle Insights in our eBook:  Working with 3D Models: The Contract Manufacturer's Key to Profitable Growth showed that in general, 66 percent of engineers say they spend at least 4 hours a week fixing broken geometry. That’s a lot of wasted time for understaffed and overworked designers. This long-standing time drain is still a big issue for many contract manufacturers and independent CAD designers that work with files from different clients, each using different software. By utilizing Direct CAD to push, pull and drag geometry to make the necessary changes, many find that they are spending less time fixing and more time creating.

In contrast, a look at the results of the first ever weekly poll on our website [there’s one on the home page now, give it a try] showed that our poll respondents spent less time working on fixing broken CAD geometry then the industry average [could it be the KeyCreator Direct CAD factor?].


How many hours a week do you spend fixing 3D Models?

  • Less than 4 hours a week—55%
  • Between 4 and 8 hours a week – 41%
  • Between 8 and 24 hours a week – 0%
  • More than 24 hours a week – 3%


There are never enough hours in the day, especially when you are understaffed. However, using the right tools and tactics that can cut time and costs from your manufacturing design and production process can make the hours you have more profitable.


How has the economy impacted staffing at your company?


If you'd like to take KeyCreator Direct CAD for a test drive and see how it can help you do more with less, click the button below. 

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Image by jscreationzs at

Topics: CAD, Manufacturing, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, contract manufacturing, 3d Printer

Tech Tip Tuesday--Animation: Using Collision with a Multiple Link Mechanism

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Jul 12, 2016

Ever wonder why your animation doesn’t always stop when it should? This #TechTipTuesday highlights Animation using the collision detection feature to make sure your parts don’t collide.








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Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3D solid modeling, CAD for Manufacturing, CADKEY, Tech Tip Tuesday

Tech Tip Tuesday--Animation: Using Ghost Blocks and Ghost Cylinders to Control and Move Sliders

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Jul 05, 2016

This #TechTipTuesday highlights Animation using Ghost Blocks and Ghost Cylinders to control and move sliders. 





 Learn more great tips and tricks by signing up for our monthly online KeyCreator Essentials training classes. 

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Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3D solid modeling, CAD for Manufacturing, CADKEY, Tech Tip Tuesday

Do you know what to look for when hiring a CAD designer?

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

I’ve hired a lot of people over the years. I’ve hired journalists and editors. I’ve hired personal trainers. I’ve hired salesDesign_help_1.jpg
people. I’ve hired commercial housekeeping staffers and I’ve hired independent contractors for various jobs professionally and personally. I’ve always tried to live by the adage of you hire for character (attitude, personality, etc.) and teach skill. The same can go for hiring a designer for your manufacturing process.

In fact, one of the worst reasons to hire a CAD drafter is because he or she has a technical skill or because they know a specific tool – like SolidWorks, for instance. That would be like me hiring a writer because she knew how to use MS Word (or a typewriter in the old days) or a housekeeper because he uses a specific vacuum. The job is more than using a certain tool.

I’m not saying designers can get away with no skill. They, of course, need to know geometry, basics of design, be comfortable with technology and a few other things, but they don’t need to be proficient in your business, they just have to be willing to learn (one of the traits I’ve always hired for).

So, what should a manufacturer look for when hiring a designer? Just rememberCALCULUS with these 8 traits that can help you pick the right designer for the job and it sure is easier than:

  1. Curiosity. The best CAD designers are curious. They want to know what works. Why it works. And maybe, most importantly, what would work better.
  2. Advocacy. Sure, you want a CAD designer to listen and adapt to your needs. But, he or she is also good at what he or she does (or should be, if you are going to make the hire). This means she may have an idea about how to do something better and will advocate for it. He may think of a way that is cheaper when it comes to production but will uphold the standards you set. Either way, you don’t want a wallflower or yes person if you want the best quality end result.
  3. Listening. A good CAD designer is able to check their ego (and some certainly have egos, as do all talented people). Good designers are able to listen to wants and make sure that a product delivers what is needed to put out the best results.
  4. Contextual. A good designer will understand how to integrate his idea with various technologies and aspects of a solution into a product. If you are working on one piece of a product or assembly, the designer has to understand what needs to be done and how his or her work needs to fit within the finished product.
  5. Utility. Leading mechanical designers (or those that will be) have a desire to take what they know and work to improve upon it. They are truly adaptible to changes in technology, design and other skills associated with the profession. They are also willing to work with manufacturers to make changes to the design to meet the needs of the project.
  6. Learner. Every job comes with a learning curve. Someone who is dedicated to continual growth in their job is more often than not, the right person for the job.  They should always be staying on top of new technology and learning more about work, whether that is designing for the Internet of Things (IoT), getting and learning updates to the new software releases or learning new technique for design for manufacturing (DFM). There is nothing that a good learner cannot be taught, especially by a manager or owner that is willing to take the time.
  7. Unbound. Designers need to understand the that there are limiting factors due to technology, the manufacturing process, marketing and the needs of the client. However, a real problem-solver is not handcuffed by these limitations. They find a way to work within them. He or she is unbound by what has come before and is willing to chart a new course.
  8. Solver. CAD designers are responsible for finding solutions. All the observation, listening, adapting (well, you get the point) would be a waste of time and effort if it didn't lead to a design solution. It is vital that the designer is willing to not only learn the problem you are trying to fix, but is able to take action to help produce a part or product that works for the needs of you, your customers and the end-user.

In the end, there is no perfect manufacturing CAD designer. Heck, there is no perfect employee. However, by looking for the foundation of a really good designer and taking the time to develop the technical and other company- and job-specific skills, you’ll be on your way to having someone that is pretty darn close.

So what do you look for in a CAD designer? Let us know in the comments below.



Topics: 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3d Printer

Tech Tip Tuesday--Importing & Exporting Using KeyCreator Files as Pattern Files - 3D

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

Unlike CADKEY, KeyCreator can access any file as a pattern. Learn how to do this quickly in our latest #TechTipTuesday





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Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3D solid modeling, CAD for Manufacturing, CADKEY

Power Combo of 3D Printers & Direct CAD Saves Manufacturers Time & Money

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

If you’re not using a 3D printer in your manufacturing process yet, odds are you soon will be.  

According to the  Semiannual 3D Printing Spending Guide released earlier this year, the 3D printing industry is going to expand rapidly in the next three years. 

The Guide predicts that 3D printing will expand globally at a 27% compound annual growth rate and that the nearly $11 billion industry in 2015 will balloon to $26.7 billion by 2019. (Source: IDC)  

The continuing growth of this technology is helping contract manufacturers with something that is very near and dear to our hearts: speeding the process of prototyping and designing — and, in the case of 3D printing, increasingly production. 

Even with prices trending down, if you are going to invest in an industrial-grade 3D printer, it’s sti3D_printer.jpgll going to cost you a pretty penny. So, what are the real benefits of using a 3D printer in your job shop? 

Here’s a look at some: 

  1. Save Time: 3D printing allows ideas to develop faster than ever. Being able to 3D print a design the day you came up with it — or made a significant change — can cut your overall development time way down and helps you stay a step ahead of the competition. 

  2. Save Money: The costs of prototyping production runs and injection molds are prohibitive. The 3D printing process allows you to create parts and assemblies through additive manufacturing for far less than traditional machining.  

  3. Reduce Risk: On paper (well on screen) a design seems sound. Of course, until it’s an actual prototype or product you never know. Being able to verify a design before spending on production can make a difference to your bottom line. Moreover, if it isn’t quite right the first time, you can fix the geometry and print another prototype far more cheaply than altering an existing mold. Direct CAD allows you to easily make new iterations to your model and reprint, working well with additive manufacturing. History-based models, on the other hand, may need so much rework to get it right you might have to model all over again. 

  4. Clear Communications: Describing the product you are going to deliver to your customer leaves a lot to the imagination and may be misinterpreted. A 3D design is better than using your imagination, allowing them to hold the tangible product-to-be not only makes it more “real,” it reduces ambiguity when discussing design and changes. 

  5. Reduce Constraints: The limitations of standard machining have constrained product design for years, and as you know we hate constraints and other factors that limit your design. With the improvements in additive manufacturing, the possibilities are endless. Today’s additive manufacturing is much more tolerant of creative geometry than in years past. Direct modeling has no constraints other than the fact that if it’s impossible to build the model geometrically, it won’t let you do it. Some history based modelers will allow you to build models on the screen that physically cannot be made. 

  6. You’ll Fail Better: If you’ve ever played with a 3D model, you know how important getting the construction geometry correct is. If your construction geometry isn’t sound your model may look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But the truth is your designs don’t always work. Don’t feel bad, we all have issues that need to be reworked when creating something. In fact, his blog has been reworked multiple times. Being able to see what doesn’t work quickly and cheaply with a 3D printer allows you to hit fewer dead-ends and make more breakthroughs earlier in the process.  

There you have it, a few benefits of using a 3D printer in your manufacturing process, many of which fit well with Direct CAD for designing.  

Of course, though, no technology is without pitfalls. Manufacturers run into them all the time with 3D printing. From choosing the right materials to designing with additive manufacturing in mind, manufacturers are learning something new every day to make the most of 3D printing. In fact, we’ll be hosting a webinar next month that will show you hacks to overcome some of the most common 3D printer obstacles manufacturers face today.  

For more information and to register, click the button below.

Sign Me Up!   

Topics: 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3d Printer

Tech Tip Tuesday--Modeling Trick: Gang Drilling & Cutting Using Boolean Combine

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Jun 21, 2016

In our latest Tech Tip Tuesday post, we give you a time-saving Direct CAD modeling trick for using the Boolean Combine function for gang drilling and cutting to ensure you get your model right the first time.



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Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3D solid modeling, CAD for Manufacturing

Tuesday Tech Tip--Animation: 3D CAD Modeling A Hoist With Gravity

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Jun 14, 2016

Today marks the first of our new weekly Tuesday Tech Tips. Every Tuesday, we’ll post a video that will help you save time when designing in KeyCreator. Today we’ll look using animation for modeling a hoist with gravity.





Topics: Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, CAD Animation, Simulation technology

[Infographic] A Quick Look at Improving Your DPD Audit Process

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Jun 02, 2016


Boeing was one of the aerospace leaders to define Digital Product Definition (DPD) standards for suppliers. Today Boeing is not alone as other OEMs such as Gulfstream, Lockheed, etc., offer DPD guideline. Even suppliers themselves have taken the lead using DPD standards to validate their CAD process from model translation assurance to revision control to order changes and archiving and storage.

Still, though, just like cramming for a test [come on, we've all done it] passing a DPD audit is a struggle as along the way there are many steps that can be overlooked and turned into missteps if you aren't prepared. Jose Covarrubias of 3Dataflow told a full-house webinar crowd last month, "improving your internal processes and systems can make a big difference to your bottom line."

Take a look at the infographic below for some of the benefits of getting your DPD process in order. To hear the whole story from Jose, be sure to check out the on-demand replay of the webinar here




Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, Aerospace Design, CAD Validation, Manufacturing, 3D CAD, Manufacturing CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, Boeing, DPD, DPD Audit