Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

Questions for the New Kid on the Block

Posted by Andrea Giles on Tue, Feb 02, 2016

This morning, I read a promotional email from the new CAD kids on the block, Onshape.

I usually scan through these types of emails quickly and then move on. This time, however, I actually paid attention. And as I'm reading the information, I found myself asking some questions.

But first, I want to congratulate Onshape for releasing their product. It seems like they did it overnight, but that's just because my sense of time is totally off. Jon Hirschtick (of PTC and Solidworks fortune and fame) has assembled a great team of knowledgeable experts. And it's great they are looking at ways to make design and manufacturing more effective and productive. That's why we're all here, right?

But anyway, back to my story. I found that I had a lot of legitimate questions bouncing around in this noggin of mine. So I wrote them down.

Question 1.

I find this one pretty ironic.  And quite honestly, it's my biggest concern.

If Onshape provides full cloud based modeling on a web browser, what happens if you have poor internet connection? 

The irony in my questions lies in this:  as I'm trying to view their informational video, my internet connection was so poor that the video actually cut-out. I had choppy audio and no visual other than fuzzy lines on a black screen.  No joke.

And since I'm assuming CAD files and modeling are on par with 2 minute marketing videos, how do you cope with poor connection speeds? Do you just have to work at excruciatingly slow speeds? 

Or what happens if your internet connection just suddenly drops?  Do you lose your work?  Or do you only lose the work completed after the last auto-save. (Their video explained that they are constantly saving your work as you go.  I assume this is an auto-save feature, so that's what I'm calling it.)

Internet speeds vary widely across the country (and sometimes across the office). My biggest concern with using a cloud-based modeler is speed and connectivity.

Question 2.

The Onshape information I received says you can " without worrying about overwriting someone else’s work." But can you simply break someone else's work? While you're both working on it? At the same time. I'm imagining rebuilding errors the likes that history-based CAD users experience.

Question 3.

Another huge pet-peeve of mine. I spend a lot of time crafting something. Mulling it over. And when I finally figure out what I want to do and then..."Sorry, your session has timed out due to inactivity." And so you go through the log in process again. Argh. And there goes your great idea. Just curious. Will your sessions ever time out due to inactivity?

Question 4.

I've received two emails from Onshape with the following subjects: Are you frustrated with Desktop CAD and Frustrated with CAD file incompatibility? 

Please explain what you mean by frustrated. Frustrated how and with what exactly? 

And how does Onshape address CAD file incompatibility? I assume you mean that will go away once EVERYONE uses Onshape? Because other than having your entire design team, vendors and customers using the same product, I don't see how Onshape addresses the issues of a multi-CAD environment. I see it as just another CAD tool. Maybe even something similar to Adobe Acrobat.

I know your website says everyone can share your files with anyone, who can then freely view/edit the file, or download it to another format. I'm also reading this to mean everyone has to become proficient with your program to make this scenario work, right?

Question 5.

Onshape mentions over and over how it improved processes over "traditional CAD." I dig that. But maybe I'm reading between the lines. Is Onshape really just cloud-based traditional CAD?  Or history-based CAD with some streamlined features and a different naming scheme? 

With all the new technologies and know-how available today, I hope it's more than just the same old stuff re-purposed and put on the cloud. With the fire power the Onshape team seems to have, that's what I would expect.

Question 6.

If your subscription runs out, do you lose access to your old files? Where do they go? If all your files are stored in the cloud, how do you access them off-line? Or do you? I assume you can save them locally, but you won't be able to do anything to them unless you're connected. Or have files saved-off as another format so you can edit them on a different software.  I'm thinking there are still going to be people and places that just don't have access to the cloud for a variety of reasons.

My two cents.

Onshape is a full cloud based system. They should be able update their product on a frequent basis. Being able to deliver product updates periodically can be very helpful. In my experience, it can often be maddening, too.

I use cloud based systems every day (I can name 4 of them, at least), and I'm used to having new features being introduced suddenly that just totally screw up my productivity. Sometimes things get moved, sometimes features go away completely.

Deep down, I know they are trying to fix things and make them better. However, they just totally screwed my process. It can be frustrating and frankly breeds mixed feelings about the products' companies. Some days I hate them. Other days I love them.

I also know that using cloud-based programs comes with the risk of outages, slowness, madness, etc with the reward of being able to access data from anywhere, on any device. Like I said, I use several cloud-based applications and I use them often. So, perhaps some of my questions to the New Kid come out of my experience and wish-list of what cloud software could/shouldn't do.

If anyone else has received emails from Onshape, or read any articles about them, did you think the same things?

PS. Given the time, I'm sure I could really dig deep into Onshape information or sign up to get access to their product. But I need to get a few more things done first...

Topics: CAD, CAD Software

The Stuff KeyCreator Advocates Are Made Of

Posted by Andrea Giles on Tue, Dec 22, 2015

adHub-final.jpgWe have a small, yet growing, group of KeyCreator users who actively advocate for Kubotek products. Most of these advocates participate in our exclusive VIP community called Kubotek Champions - a website that gives the group more opportunities to engage with us and each other.

Kubotek Champions can be a lot of fun and provides just enough fodder for that mental break we all need from time to time. But it isn't all fun and games. Sometimes we ask our advocates to give a little more of their time and themselves.

michael-dean-lavelle.jpgEnter Michael Dean, CAD Designer at Lavelle Industries, Inc., in Burlington, WI. Lavelle makes custom rubber and plastic molded parts from consumer goods to automotive applications. The company also has its own line of plumbling related products.

Dean is pretty active in the advocate community and has a lot of insight into the ways in which CAD software is used, not only in his company, but in design and manufacturing in general.

As a member of Kubotek Champions, Dean has happily agreed to help us out in a number of ways, including being a reference for any new-to-KeyCreator customers. He's also referred KeyCreator to other CAD users because he believes so strongly in the product.

What Dean probably wasn't expecting for his efforts was to be asked to write a blog. For that, he truly stepped up his advocacy efforts.

It's one thing to write a blog if you write them all the time. It's another thing to write one when your day-to-day job doesn't require it. So, writing a post, and saying all the things you want to say, can be rather daunting.

Don't feel too sorry for Dean, though, because it turns out he can write some pretty good sh--tuff via email.  And this is just conversational email. Not at all what he was intending for a debut blog. But I liked what he had to say, and darnit, I wanted to use it! And even better for Dean because he doesn't need to suffer needlessly through writing a blog post. Leave the suffering to me!

Why KeyCreator?

At Dean's company, he is the person who works with imported files from customers because they inevitably need someting done to them to make them manufacturable. He'll also suggest/make changes to help customers save money-something for which they are grateful.

Being able to do these things is exactly why he chooses to use KeyCreator Direct CAD.

Nearly all the files Dean receives arrive as STEP files, regardless of what system originally created them. Making necessary edits to the dumb geometry (without having to start over from scratch) is a hallmark of Direct CAD. Says Dean, "I use KeyCreator to make dumb solids smart again."

KeyCreator can also help Dean heal imported native files. He recalls importing parts and seeing things like vertex gaps and missing faces. Dean says, "It’s very rare that KeyCreator won’t heal the model." 

Of course, other modelers can heal parts, but he says it's not always easy. And the more complex the fixes, the harder it becomes, if it isn't impossible without starting over. 

Dean also reported that some engineers ask for his help with imported models when things like an edge blend or corner fillet need to be removed and the parametric modeler they are using can't do it. (Dean doesn't gloat with this happens, but I'm pretty sure I would.)

Speaking of removing blends and fillets, Dean says he occassionally uses KeyCreator to help prep customer part files for finite element analysis (FEA). KeyCreator is extremely good for defeaturing models for downstream operations like FEA or other manufacturing operations. So good on Dean for highlighting that!

What Makes KeyCreator Different?

Dean, of course, has had experience with other modelers, including a popular parametrics based software. (Solidworks, if you really must know.) He finds one sharp contrast in the way KeyCreator works versus parametric modeling - that being Direct CAD has no set formula in how you design. 

With KeyCreator Direct CAD, you design in the manner that's best for you and your team or processes.  As long as there is geometry, the steps used to create it are irrelevant. KeyCreator provides options and freedom of design. It allows you to work quicker, yet with no less accuracy.

Based on his experience, Deans says, "Parametrics sound real slick at first. It’s so easy to just go back into a feature and change the sketch. But if you think about it, there are some serious booby-traps lying in wait."

He explains, "Let's say, for instance, you have a feature that has other features further down the tree constrained to it. If you make a change that alters or breaks that constraint, your model may develop serious errors. You’ll have to go into each of the errors and fix them, one by one. (Only after you finally figure out exactly what the error is in the first place.) Which, when doing so, may cause OTHER constrained features further down the tree to develop errors.

In other words, every fix you make could create new/multiple problems. The more features your model has, the more you risk these kinds of problems. In the end, you may spend more time fixing your model than you did creating it in the first place."

I wonder if Dean has read an eBook available on our website that talks about the time engineers waste each week fixing broken geometry? His experience matches up with the findings of The 3D Collaboration and Interoperabilitiy Study. If you're curious, you can read the eBook here.

KeyCreator Advocates Are...

Dean's email conversations were actually a lot longer than this blog post. I learned some interesting things about KeyCreator vs. parametric-based modeling. I also learned Dean likes the Green Bay Packers and is an aviation buff. He also enjoys long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Just kidding! I made that last part up.

But overall, I learned that our KeyCreator advocates feel strongly about their CAD software because of all that it allows them to accomplish. Could they accomplish the same things with other software? Sure, but it would probably take them longer and cause unnecessary stress and rework. 

To me, KeyCreator advocates are the kind of no-nonsense, no-frills, get sh-tuff done kind of people. They are also all kinds of nice and made of sugar and spice and heaps of CAD and product design knowledge. It's a good thing, too, because otherwise, you wouldn't have a blog post to read.



Topics: CAD, CAD Software, FEA, KeyCreator, Kubotek, Direct CAD, CAD users, CAD reuse

Using Direct CAD for Detailed Mechanical Design? Yes, you can!

Posted by Andrea Giles on Mon, Nov 30, 2015

I have a confession to make.

My desk is usually a complete and utter mess.

To my right, I've got stacks of thoughts and ideas, to-do lists, phone numbers, etc. written on pads of paper and sticky notes. The really important ones get tacked to my wall.  To my left are the stacks of magazines and mail that mysteriously seems to arrive whenever I'm not at my desk. In other words, you can't even see the surface of my work space.

Don't even get me started on the crumbs. 

Periodically, though, the piles get too big, the clutter encroaches and I start to get too self-conscious of my self-made mess.  So, I purge. 

It was during one of these purges that I came across an article in Desktop Engineering that I had saved because at the time, it ticked me off.  And when I read it again after its resurfacing, it still made me no less miffed.  Perfect blog fodder.

(Another thing you should know about me, I tend to carry grudges.)

The article was titled "Onshape Beta Goes Live," by Kenneth Wong & Beth Stackpole.  Both of these authors are well known in the CAD industry.  They both know about us and KeyCreator Direct CAD, have spoken with us and have even written about us and our products in articles and blog posts on their respective site(s).  So, it's not like KeyCreator Direct CAD is completely off their radar.

So, that should give you a small clue about why I wasn't happy.

It's the third paragraph of this short article that did it.  I'll quote it here for you so you don't have to go looking for it:

"The software [Onshape] has some direct-editing tools, but they're limited -- that is, in comparison to software like SpaceClaim, Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology or Autodesk Fusion 360 that operates primarily as a direct-editing program. That's a reasonable compromise, since a parametric program's purpose is usually not quick concept exploration but detailed mechanical design."

Whoa.  So, first point I want to raise:

1. Why don't they mention KeyCreator, a program that existed well BEFORE any of the aforementioned Direct Modeling technologies.

Like I said, it's not like the authors don't know about us. And KeyCreator was doing the Direct CAD Modeling thing before anyone else thought it was cool. Do I sound like I'm whining a little bit?  Good, because I am.  Being ignored can get to you.

But what really stands about the paragraph is what I think is a blatant misconception about what Direct CAD really is:  "...a parametric program's purpose is usually not quick concept exploration but detailed mechanical design."

Is that really saying that Direct CAD is ONLY useful for conceptual design and NOT detailed mechanical design?  'Cause that's what it says to me. And that really presses my buttons.

I know that SpaceClaim touts itself as best for upfront conceptual design, mostly, I gather, because they are lacking depth in their modeling tools.  I give them that because they were also bought by a company that is integrating it into the front end of their FEA Analysis software. (What else it plans to do with the software, I have no clue.  I guess I'll just wait and see like everyone else...)  But just because that's their focus doesn't mean it's true for everyone.

So let's get another point straight:

2. KeyCreator Direct CAD is great not only at conceptual design, but as a full-featured CAD modeling package, it's very, very capable of detailed mechanical design.

In fact, with KeyCreator Direct CAD, you can do:

  • conceptual design
  • CAD comparison & design collaboration
  • full multi-physics FEA analysis (add-on product)
  • 2-3 axis machining (add-on product)
  • photorealistic rendering (very inexpensive add-on product), and
  • detailed mechanical design.

With KeyCreator Direct CAD, you can model in:

  • 2D
  • 3D
  • surfaces
  • solids
  • wireframes
  • fully-associated assemblies and layouts,
  • light-weight assemblies
  • referenced assemblies
  • assemblies in one file
  • multi-level assemblies and files
You can start with a sketch, you can start with primitive shapes, or you can even start with someone else's model, regardless of who or what created it.

You can use KeyCreator to interrogate imported parts and derive your manufacturing and/or tooling models.  Easily create molds, or rapidly de-feature models to prep for downstream applications like the aforementioned NC or FEA, or for packaging or documentation. 

Need to share your designs?  Use a variety of export options, including 3D PDF.

I'm sure I'm missing some things, but I'm running out of breath.

So, please. Tell me.  What is it about KeyCreator Direct CAD or Direct Modeling in general that can't be used for detailed mechanical design? Hmm?  Someone please tell me. Because whatever B.S. has been fed to you that says Direct Modeling can't be used for this type of work is clearly just that.  Just ask our customers who are doing all these things and more.





Topics: CAD, FEA

Risks & Rewards in Life and Direct CAD

Posted by Andrea Giles on Tue, Nov 17, 2015

I took a risk last week, taking my 8 year old daughter to see a concert in Boston. And in doing so, we saw more than we bargained for.

The show was a Tuesday night. A school night. I really wanted to see both the opener and headliner. I bought the tickets back in July when they were first available. At the time, I planned to drag my husband along. Fast forward four months, and of course, schedules changed and he effectively bailed on me.

That left me with two tickets and three possible options: don't go; find a sitter and go by myself; or take my daughter with me.  (As a side note, I'll add that most of my friends aren't fans of "my" music.)

So, back to my options and I'm not ashamed to say I used bribery and the vague hope of a day off of school on Wednesday to rope my daughter in as my sidekick.  Did I mention, I really wanted to see these bands?

But sometimes, you get more than you were expecting.

We are on our way to the show. Two blocks away from the theatre, we roll up to a stop light.  At that light, a car is stopped with doors ajar and people on cell phones.  I don't immediately grasp what's going on until I see the man laying face down in the road.


I can't tell you exactly what happened, but the "event" clearly had happened minutes before and help was on the way.

I recall thinking that maybe my daughter wouldn't notice. (Yeah, right.) Just as I manuever to get around the stopped cars and out of the way, the man lifts his head, exposing that he's indeed bloodied up.

"Mom, is that man laying in the road?" My answer is interrupted by, "Mom, he has a bloody nose! Did he trip and fall? Did he get hit by a car? Is he hurt? Could he have been killed? What happened?"  I'm sure there were other questions I missed in the barrage that was thrown at me.

The little mom voice in my head (the one that I thought I left at home) tells me to be truthful and use it as a teachable moment.  I tell her that he likely did get hit by a car and that help was on the way.  And that's why we need to be very careful when crossing the street in the city.

Vivian with Trisha Gene Brady of The Black Lillies
Vivian with Trisha Gene Brady of The Black Lillies

I looked at the night as a way of exposing her to some awesome live music and talented artists. I think music is something that's just as beneficial as getting a good night's sleep or spending a day at school.  Maybe more, because I also think seeing musicians at work provides a love of music that will last a lifetime. That's a huge reward in my view.

So yeah, I was a little worried about keeping my daughter up late on a school night. I'm sure I got plenty of looks (that I ignored). Was I expecting a life lesson on why you should be careful crossing the street? Nope, not at all.  I just knew that no matter what, we'd be glad we went and would recall a fun night.

Sometimes you gotta face some risks, even unknown ones, if you want to reap the rewards. That's true in life and even when it comes to adopting a new, Direct CAD software.

If you're considering adding Direct CAD, be prepared for:

  1. The unexpected. It happens, even with the best planning. Something is going to crop up that you can't ignore and you're going to need to address it. It could be part of the learning curve.  It could be an install gone awry. It could be your users throwing a tantrum or asking a thousand questions. No matter what it is, I can assure you that our Support Team will be there to help you through it.
  2. Funny looks.  When you tell people that you're ignoring the "popular" CAD (or music) in favor of something a little less mainstream, I give you permission to ignore the looks, the jokes and other heard-it-all-before comments that are sure to come.  What matters is that the software (or music) is what floats your boat, not theirs.
  3. Loosing a little sleep. Anything that requires some planning might cause you some worry. And there might be some late nights as you make the switch, but I know it won't be long until you can share some of your success stories with the naysayers.
  4. The rewarding sigh of relief when you know, deep down, you made the right choice for you and your business.

To paraphrase some of our Kubotek Champions (aka KeyCreator Advocates), they've clearly owned up to the fact that they used other CAD software. Some were even dismayed to be forced to move to KeyCreator. But now?  They love Direct CAD and the ease of use and freedom it affords.  They have also noted that some contrary coworkers are using KeyCreator more and more, even though they might not openly admit it (yet). 

I'm sure some of our newer users can relate to the risks vs. rewards they faced when getting up and running with KeyCreator.  I'd love to hear from you about your experiences in the comments section. 

Has anyone else faced similar risks vs. rewards decisions in life?  Did you get more than you bargained for? What was the end result?

PS. We did have a great night, got home late, went to school/work the next day, a little groggy, but with a few stories to tell, no doubt. And my 8 year old, music loving sidekick? She officially turned 9 today.  Happy Birthday!




Topics: CAD, CAD Software, Direct CAD

Here's How Photorealistic Rendering Can Make You Shine

Posted by Andrea Giles on Tue, Nov 10, 2015

Wheel Rims Rendered with KeyCreator ArtisanKeyCreator Artisan is a photorealistic rendering add-on product that is fully integrated with KeyCreator Direct CAD. That means you can use KeyCreator Artisan to easily make any model created in, or imported into KeyCreator, look real before it even exists. 

Simply place the rendered image into a realistic environment and have a blast changing the design’s colors or materials, lighting, or even scenery options. The result is a high quality, realistic mage that you can use in a multitude of ways.

That sounds fun, doesn’t it? Good, because it is.

But besides being fun, photorealistic rendering can also be very useful to you and your business. Here are several ways photorealistic rendering can help you keep costs under control while at the same time, impressing your customers so you can make more money.

In other words, photorealistic rendering can really make you shine... a shiny new set of wheels!

For instance, rendering can:

Shorten Your Design to Manufacture Cycle

Use a photorealistic rendering as part of your design review process. Team members (you, your customer and/or your employees) can see exactly what the end-product will look like. The design review team can then offer feedback on the design itself, colors, materials, etc.—long before production or physical prototyping. In this stage of the design to manufacture cycle, it’s easier to make changes that affect the look and feel of a product. With multiple options or iterations to consider, decisions made earlier result in the product getting finished faster and without incurring unnecessary production costs—which brings us to the next reason in which photorealistic rendering can be useful.

Reduce Costs

Adding a photorealistic snapshot to the design review documentation makes it easier to visualize products and consider material options and related costs as part of your design review process. The rendered image can be placed in environments for size perspective and imagery. A photorealistic image can easily reveal the need to make changes to the design for aesthetics or for better manufacturing efficiency. Making changes to CAD files and photorealistic renderings is much cheaper –and easier—than making changes once physical prototyping or production begins.

In addition, photorealistic rendering means your marketing department isn’t paying a graphic designer to recreate images of the finished product or spending time with expensive photoshoots—leading us to yet another reason to consider photorealistic rendering.

Attract and Win More Business

Your website, digital media and printed brochures say a lot about you. Draw attention to yourself with attractive, rendered product images so you stand out from the crowd. You can easily show products in different colors, materials, or in various environments – the possibilities are endless. You can also use the rendered images to sell products that you have not yet produced, saving up-front costs, expenses and inventory.

Plus, by using rendering, you can showcase your expertise with stunning visual clarity. Including real looking products and designs in your proposals shows your prospective customer you have the design and/or manufacturing know-how that will earn you credibility and trust. Winning just one bid will easily pay for your investment in photorealistic rendering.

Okay, so now you see how rendering can help in your day-to-day process. Why choose KeyCreator Artisan?

Time savings

It’s integrated into KeyCreator Direct CAD. Don’t waste time exporting files to another system every time you want to create a rendering. The integration means any changes in your CAD model will automatically flow to KeyCreator Artisan, saving you even more time.

Quick to learn

Most people don’t have a lot of time to learn complicated software. Although this is a full-featured photorealistic rendering package, it is easy to learn and easy to use. You won’t spend days trying to figure out how to use it.

Save money

KeyCreator Artisan has a list price of only $495. Competing rendering packages can cost $1,000 or more. KeyCreator Artisan is the only package you need to create real looking product images. When you think about the time and money you can save up front in your design to manufacturing process, as well as money spent from using professional quality marketing images, adding photorealistic rendering to your CAD system is probably the easiest decision you’ll make all day.

Request a free trial »

Topics: CAD, Photorealistic Rendering

Considering Direct CAD from an IT Point of View

Posted by Andrea Giles on Tue, Oct 27, 2015

Direct CAD has many advantages (namely, it's not a history-based modeler).

For people considering KeyCreator Direct CAD, here are a few other ways in which our brand of Direct CAD can be beneficial to you, especially when it comes to the IT area of your business.

Stop juggling. One call does it all.


1. You need to maintain only one CAD software package.

Direct CAD relies on a model's geometry to build and edit designs. If there's geometry, a product like KeyCreator Direct CAD can work with it.  It doesn't matter who or what created a CAD model.  Nearly any native CAD file format, along with industry standard neutral formats can be imported into KeyCreator.  From there, you can work on and edit the file just as if it originated within KeyCreator itself.  With Direct CAD, you only need to maintain one software package, not multiple ones that do the same CAD type things (only those other programs do there thing for only a very specific file type).  That means less products that need installing, updating, licensing and troubleshooting.

2. Import master settings file for all users

Need to keep several users up to date?  Simply create a master settings file from your previous installations of KeyCreator. Then, when users need to update to a newer version of KeyCreator, you can import the master settings file to speed the process.  No need to select settings repeatedly for each user. 

3. You deal with us directly.

KeyCreator Direct CAD is direct in every sense of the word, including that you work with us directly.  Want to buy a new seat of software for a new employee? You call us. Have questions about the software, you call our technical support team, located just steps away from our Account Managers and Development staff.  The point is, there are no middle men to go through, watering down your questions or requests before they get into the hands of the people who can actually make things happen.

4. Access to a fantastic Technical Support team 

Speaking of the technical support team you work with, one word describes them best: FANTASTIC.  Have a question about the product? Need installation and licensing assistance? Have an idea to improve the product? No matter what the issue, our technical support team nails it on a daily basis. (Except when they hog the office microwave, but I digress.)  And our customers aren't too shy to tell us they think good things about our support team, too. 

In fact, using their words, they tell us we have "great customer service."  (Thank you, by the way.)

What else do you say about our team? How about that our technical support team is: "...a great asset to your company as I have never been able to pose a problem that [they] can't fix or explain..."

You also say things like: "good product, good support"  (Apparently, this guy doesn't get overly excited.) Or, "outstanding service and knowledge." And,  "my questions to support have almost always been answered within a day. When not, I was told upfront that some research was required. Support communicates well."

Our team can work with you via telephone, online chat, email, Skype, social media and we're still testing out telepathy (the results have been mixed so far).

Do you have any good things to add?  Please tell us!

In conclusion, if you're thinking about Direct CAD from an IT angle, you have 4 reasons to help in your consideration of (and by consideration, I mean you should acquire) Direct CAD.



Software Subscriptions and Customer Interaction?

Posted by Andrea Giles on Tue, Oct 13, 2015
By now, anyone who uses a mechanical CAD application knows that Autodesk is changing its software licensing policy. The change that has everyone buzzing? Software subscriptions. That means you'll be renting the software, instead of relying on a perpetual license (buy it once, use it forever). customer-service-cube

Robert Green over at Cadalyst Magazine authored some interesting articles about this coming change.  He even posted an interview with an Autodesk VP where the VP explains some of the reason behind the switch.

I see where this new policy might have its advantages for people who don't have a lot of money for the upfront costs. Or for those who want up-to-the-minute software updates.  However, I see the disadvantages, too.  And while change is good, it's also very hard for some to accept.

Quite frankly, I could rehash all the arguments FOR subscriptions and AGAINST the policy.  But I think those have been written about before, both from our point of view and everyone else's. 

What's our point of view? KeyCreator Direct CAD and other Kubotek products are sold as perpetual licenses. And we think that once you buy a product, it's yours to keep. Just like the designs you make with them are yours to keep. We aren't about to try to lock you into a product just so you can access your designs down the road.

Anyway, in reading interview, something struck me.  Autodesk claims "With the perpetual license policy, we only interact with the customer when they purchase a new license. With the new rental policy, the customer has the freedom to not renew every year, so we must interact with and listen to the customer more."

Okaayy. But near the beginning of the article, Autodesk also states "Our most loyal long-term customers are our maintenance customers..."

Does anyone else see something a little off?  If your most loyal, long-term customers are paying maintenance, shouldn't you already be speaking to them on a regular basis anyway? 

Are they forcing this licensing change just to gain more customer interaction? Drive more money? Cull the Autodesk herd?  Your opinion is as good as mine. But I will say this:

There's always room for improvement, but at Kubotek, we strive to interact with our customers as much as we can. After all, its our users who will tell us if something is broken. They'll tell us what they wish they could do with our software. (Much of the time, they can do it, they just don't realize ir or know how!)

Customers also tell us what they love about KeyCreator (or other products) so we can keep doing more of the same.  And just listening to how customers use our product, day in and day out, gives our development team more insight into how we can produce even more industry leading Direct Modeling tools. 

I should also point out, that as a Direct CAD software, we strive to do EVERYTHING directly.  You deal with us when you want to purchase the software or speak with technical support. There is no middle man who you have to work with to get new purchases, upgrade old products (because yes, we do offer upgrades and will continue to do so, unlike Autodesk), need support or want additional training or use other product resources. And sometimes we just pick up the phone and say “Hey, its Kubotek how is everything going?” Simple and direct.

So, software subscriptions might have advantages for Autodesk to learn more about their customers, but by being a Direct CAD software in all senses of the word, we are already doing that.

P.S. If you read the interview, read the comments posted at the end of the article.  Whoa. There are points of view there that I hadn't even considered prior to reading the article!  I'll let them speak for themselves...

Also, speaking of upgrades.  And buying new licenses.  Now through November 30, 2015, we're offering great upgrade pricing to customers who have old (perpetual) software that they want to make current.  And if you want to buy any new software licenses, you can also contact us (directly) about our 20% off savings also good through November 30.

Find out more

To the moon! (With KeyCreator Direct CAD)

Posted by Andrea Giles on Mon, Sep 21, 2015

Space travel and fitness.  They go together, right?

Sure, it's just like that recurring dream you have where you're trying to run to catch the school bus, only you're moving like you're running in space.  (Or is that just me?)

Fitness and space travel, however, do have something else in common. That something is KeyCreator Direct CAD.

The Honeymooners
KeyCreator, Baby. You're the greatest.

I told you we recently signed on some new and interesting customers. Any guesses about who these cool customers might be? If you guessed SpaceX and Fitbit, you're absolutely right (and you should be playing the horses).

SpaceX is using KeyCreator for work during early stages of design.  The main user from SpaceX actually learned about KeyCreator through work at a previous company. You may of heard of them. General Atomics?  Small company. I'm told they used CADKEY (KeyCreator's forerunner) to design the Predator drone.

(According to Wikipedia, The Predator is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that has seen use since the 1990's.  Primary users include the US Air Force and CIA for reconnaissance-type missions. It has also been used for a wide range of civilian related work, too.)

Anyway, back to my story. I poked around in the Account Manager's notes. The Mechanical Design Engineer likes the benefits of using 2D computer drafting versus using hand drawings and 3D models for preliminary work.  And what's great about KeyCreator is that no matter if you want to design using 2D, 3D, wireframes, solids, surfaces or even test the waters with assembly modeling, you can do it all within the basic version of the software. You can use the design environment that's right for your project. You know, like building a space rocket.

Also, this Mechanical Design Engineer knows he can use KeyCreator to easily build out his 3D models from his 2D designs once the concept is ready to launch. (Sorry. Lame pun, but I had to use it.) And he obviously gets that being able to reuse design data is a huge time saver. Why spend all that time trying to get to the final design, only to have to start over from scratch to build it into a 3D model?  Oh, and having fully associated layouts and 3D models in KeyCreator is pretty helpful, too. Once you have a drawing and model that are related to each other, any updates you make in one file will automatically carry over to the other.

Fitbit came to us via another long-time user who has been using KeyCreator for many years. According to our Account Manager's notes (see, I'm totally nosy), the engineer uses KeyCreator for quick design changes and for conceptual proposals.  In addition, she uses KeyCreator to help communicate with tooling vendors.

It's obvious she knows the ease-of-use Direct CAD offers. She doesn't waste time trying to fight with CAD software and a model's parametric constraints when she wants to do something simple, like make a quick edit.

And as for communicating with others, KeyCreator gives you many options to communicate your design, including extensive file import/export capabilities. Someone sends you a native file format, simply pop it into KeyCreator to review, regardless of who or what software created it. Plus, being able to export screen shots, 2D/3D PDFs, as well as prints/layouts are extremely helpful with communication. You can even use integrated CAD Comparison to communicate design revisions. And by the way, all these tools are built in to KeyCreator that require no additional add-on purchases.

The point is, if you want to communicate quickly and accurately, KeyCreator Direct CAD gives you plenty of tools to do just that.

For things that require a little more heavy lifting, like conceptual design, Direct CAD makes it easier because you can let you mind wander to all the possibilities your design could be. You aren't weighed down with building the part to account for any - at this point, likely unforeseen - changes as the design progresses.  And as we all know, conceptual designs can quickly develop into something completely different from where it started. When you want to show several concepts, you'll never find yourself having to start over from scratch to make a variation.  Using Direct CAD to propose design changes and alternate designs makes total sense.

Both of these new customers came to us with some KeyCreator knowledge under their belts.  It just goes to show that the power of Direct CAD has long term and lasting value. 

Topics: Direct CAD, KeyCreator Direct CAD, design communication

What Your Boss Doesn't Know About Meeting Deadlines

Posted by Andrea Giles on Thu, Sep 03, 2015

Every business manager knows that you need to meet your deadlines if you want to make money.

Every CAD user knows that in order to meet your deadlines, you need to get to an error-free model as quickly as possible so real work can begin.  That might be easier said than done in some cases.

And I'm sad to say that time spent making CAD usable isn't helping your business. And it sure isn't helping you meet deadlines.fixing files lci ebook

According to the 2013 3D Collaboration and Interoperability Study, 52% of engineers spend between 4 and 24 hours a week fixing geometry. That's fixing the file.  It's not time spent designing tooling, estimating costs, preparing job bids or doing other value-add work.  There's no other way to put it: that's just time wasted. Thrown away. Lost forever. Gone for good. Good and gone.

I'm sure some of you are saying, "Well, duh. Of course CAD plays a major role in meeting deadlines."  You build design time into your proposal anyway.  Fair point. 

But what happens if you don't build in enough time? What happens when you get a file that needs, for lack of a better word, work?  How often does this happen?  And how does that affect the manufacturing workflow and meeting deadlines?

This lost time also starts to creep into other aspects of your work, making it harder to get work done correctly, on time, the first time.  Many shops report they order incorrect parts (27%), need to perform extra rounds of prototyping (23%) and miss project milestones (25%).  All of this because a CAD file needs "work?"  What is wrong with this world?

If you're perplexed like me, you should check out a new eBook from Chad Jackson over at LifeCycle Insights. The eBook details not only how too few companies actually work well with 3D models, but how 3D models can negatively impact other areas of your business.  The eBook isn't all doom and gloom. The good news in all of this is that 3D models really are the key to meeting your deadlines, and in turn, achieving profitable growth - something all businesses want. You'll find out more... (you guessed it!) in the eBook.  

Read more now!


Has KeyCreator Direct CAD Gone to the Dogs?

Posted by Andrea Giles on Fri, Aug 14, 2015

gracie harrierRest assured, KeyCreator Direct CAD hasn't gone to the dogs.  We have, however, signed on some new customers recently that I wanted to tell you about.  Because, doggone it, they are pretty cool!

One of our Regional Account Managers, Brett Castellano, reported that he signed on Dog-ON-It-Parks out of Everett, Washington.  As you can probably deduce, they make dog park equipment and other pet friendly products. Their mission is to " communities become more pet-friendly by providing solutions for dog parks, off-leash areas and everywhere else dogs are welcome."  Can anyone say "bring your dog to work day?"

And being the kind of person that I am (nosy), I had to ask Brett about them and why they chose KeyCreator Direct CAD.

According to Brett, their primary designer was using a highly customized version of another CAD software package intended for designing playgrounds, but it just wasn't making his tail wag.

He wanted to use something that would allow them to more easily create custom designed pieces and work better with organic shapes (think dog bone shaped bench seats or faux log tunnels for starters). So, given his prior experience with KeyCreator Direct CAD, he gave us a whistle.

So now, Dog-ON-It-Parks uses KeyCreator to customize their designs however they want (or their customers want), and still be able to access and reuse their library of files from their old CAD software - two things KeyCreator is legendary for.

As many of you already know, KeyCreator Direct CAD lets you import and edit nearly any native CAD file format intelligently. Already have a design that is kind of similar to a new design you want to create? No problem, import that file and start making modifications.  There's no worry as to which order design features were created or what changes may or may not be allowed. KeyCreator Direct CAD gives you tools to make as many dynamic variations, modifications and corrections as you want - without ever having to start over from scratch. 

Additionally, designers want to be off-leash when it comes to having the flexibility to create shapes without restrictions. KeyCreator offers a complete solution for shape design. Whether you want to work in 2D drafting, 3D solids, surfacing or even wireframe, KeyCreator seamlessly integrates all of these into one easy-to-use design environment.

KeyCreator Direct CAD lets you, as the designer, concentrate on the design rather than the software. And treats. Lots and lots of treats.

What about you? Do you have any cool applications you use KeyCreator Direct CAD for? (Anyone make cat parks?)

PS.  That's a picture of our dog Gracie. She's a Harrier.  She is NOT a Beagle on steroids.

Topics: Direct CAD, CAD data reuse