One of the most common questions that we receive when at trade shows or from prospective customers is: How is KeyCreator different from SolidWorks?
A complete answer to this question could go on for many pages, but let me try to make the comparison as simply as possible.
First, how are they the same?
Both KeyCreator and SolidWorks are CAD software programs. You can use either program to document the design of a product or mechanical part. Both can create drawings, both will get the end result completed.
Notice that above I used the phrase "document the design." In SolidWorks, you can indeed design a part, but its best if you already have a design in mind, on a napkin, in a 2D sketch or somewhere else before you begin to describe it in SolidWorks. Conceptual design, the creative process of developing your design, can be done in SolidWorks, but it can be very cumbersome and time consuming, requiring starting new designs from scratch for multiple design iterations.
Why isn't SolidWorks a good conceptual modeler?
The reason is that SolidWorks is a history-based parametric solid modeler1. (See Wikipedia's definition below). In SolidWorks the relationships between the objects and features are programmed into the design. This is called design intent.
And with history-based parametric modeling, objects, features and their relationships are represented in a History Tree. This keeps track of the order, location and relationships that are programmed. Programming the design can be difficult. Determining where to start the design and how to program the relationships requires a lot of skill and practice. If changes are desired while programming of the design, or if modifications are needed in an existing design, then it is necessary search the history tree to find the objects and relationships where the changes would need to take place within the history of the design. In a complex part design, this may mean searching through 100's of features or more.
Partial History Tree in SolidWorks
Once the features are found and if the design was programmed to accommodate the changes, then the system rebuilds the design to the new specifications. Sometimes rebuilding errors occur or the software crashes. Then the change must be made another another way, or it is necessary to reprogram the design from scratch. No programmer is going to be able to anticipate every change that may be required in a design. This is why designs get reprogrammed many times when changes are required.
If designers are working with very mature designs that need few changes and if programmers are very skilled then SolidWork's history-based parametric approach will work fine for the organization.
Why is KeyCreator a good conceptual modeler?
KeyCreator is a Direct CAD Modeler2. (See Wikipedia's explanation below)
What does this mean? It means there is no programming involved. There is no history tree involved in the design. The design is strictly defined by the geometry contained in the design. Relationships are not fixed. They can be changed at any time in the design. This makes KeyCreator an excellent conceptual modeler. There is no rebuilding, because the design is always up to date. This means that a designer can make as many changes and try as many options as their mind can conceive. This inevitably leads to superior designs in less time.
KeyCreator Direct CAD not only allow ease of conceptual design, but it also allows ease of comparison of CAD designs based on the geometry of the design. Comparison tools graphically show differences between to similar models to check for changes in designs - intended or unintended. This allows manufacturers in the supply chain to confidently plan for changes or to communicate suggestions for enhancing the design to improve quality or cost.
KeyCreator's Direct CAD architecture also enhances the ability to optimize designs for machining and tool making. And with KeyCreator's integrated machining package, changing designs in KeyCreator carries through into KeyCreator Machinist. This allows the machinist to try multiple designs and machining strategies in a seamless manner. This leads to better design and better machining strategies.
Lastly, today's leading edge designers are optimizing their designs up front in the design cycle by using CAD simulation. KeyCreators fully integrated KeyCreator Analysis program allows the designer to try many approaches to the design and quickly run multiple analysis without the need of exporting and importing files into another software package.
There are many other differences between KeyCreator Direct CAD and SolidWorks history-based parametric CAD. Feel free to mention some in your comments.
Thank you for reading.
1. Computer-Aided-Design Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-aided_design 3D
parametric solid modeling requires the operator to use what is referred to as "design intent". The objects and features created are adjustable. Any future modifications will be simple, difficult, or nearly impossible, depending on how the original part was created. One must think of this as being a "perfect world" representation of the component. If a feature was intended to be located from the center of the part, the operator needs to locate it from the center of the model, not, perhaps, from a more convenient edge or an arbitrary point, as he could when using "dumb" solids. Parametric solids require the operator to consider the consequences of his actions carefully.
2.Computer-Aided-Design Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-aided_design 3D
Some software packages provide the ability to edit parametric and non-parametric geometry without the need to understand or undo the design intent history of the geometry by use of direct modeling functionality. This ability may also include the additional ability to infer the correct relationships between selected geometry (e.g., tangency, concentricity) which makes the editing process less time and labor intensive while still freeing the engineer from the burden of understanding the models. These kind of non-history based systems are called Explicit Modellers or Direct CAD Modelers.
Linked-in has a couple of interesting articles today on manufacturing and corporate responsibility, the first was by Jeff Inmelt CEO of GE entitled Why We're Betting on Manufacturing
Inmelt's article discusses the drivers to turn the slow American recovery into a long and sustainable boom:
1. The rich reserves of shale oil - this can be sped up with a North American Pipeline.
2. Applying social media to the industrial world and creating a social internet for manufacturing.
3. Speed and simplification
4. The evolution of Advanced Manufacturing
As part of this evolution of Manufacturing, he mentions using new technologies like 3D printing of jet engine parts and the rise of analytics and software.
I couldn't agree more fully with the CEO and Chairman. One of the driving forces of our company is to increase the productivity and knowledge of the manufacturing workforce. This is one reason that we worked with our software partner, AMPS Technologies and developed KeyCreator Analysis. Our product, KeyCreator Analysis simplifies the complexity that has long prevented the use of CAD analysis in the initial design process. We are training engineers through no cost webinars to perform simple analysis early in the design stage. This will save time and money and provide a competitive advantage to the companies that are taking advantage of this technology.
In addition to the introduction of KeyCreator Analysis, we have also embarked on a program that provides an educational version of CAD software to students free of charge.
The Manufacturing internet that the GEO CEO mentions exists in bits and pieces all over the internet today and its power is becoming more real with the advent of crowd-sourcing. You can see this power in sites like Linked-in and the site GrabCAD in which designers share their designs for free. A manufacturing community that interconnects the supply chain with all stakeholders in manufacturing is a powerful idea. It will be interesting to see how this manufacturing internet could develop.
The other Linked-in article featured today was by Hiroshi Mikitani entitled Your Brand is Your Flag .
In his article he argues that soon countries will become subordinate to companies, so companies have a great responsibility to society. This may seem like radical thinking, but international companies have a lot of influence and power today. And with this great power they need to assume responsibility for the type of society that they want to foster.
At Kubotek, we often think of our role in the world of manufacturing and society. We see our software and products as having the ability to democratize manufacturing. By offering simple and powerful CAD software and simple engineering tools, like KeyCreator Analysis, we are enabling one person or a small very company to both design and manufacture their own products. This ability will free the creativity of the individual and it will have a very dramatic impact on society. We are coming closer and closer to this reality.
Combining the thoughts of these two articles provides an interesting outlook into the future. Large and small companies can take advantage of the democratization of technology, with easier to use and simplified software. New technologies such as 3D printing and the new energy independence of America can be combined with higher skilled manufacturers--both big and small. Utilizing the power of social media and the internet can create a rebirth and transformation of manufacturing in America, as well as create the next big boom in the American and world economy. The companies and individuals that choose to play in this new manufacturing world will reap great rewards and have great responsibilities. We chose to play and embrace the future.
Thank you for reading,
Kubotek Creation Engineering Division
Today I received an email from our infamous head of training at Kubotek - "Doc Walt." He recently completed the building of his house on the Jersey Shore. He feels fortunate that his house survived and chalks it up to both providence and designing the house in KeyCreator to withstand such a storm.
Here is the story in his own words and unedited:
Neighbors House doesnt withstand Sandy's fury
There are literally hundreds of houses like this or much worse on my street and the surrounding streets at the shore.
Over half of the homes were damaged or suffered serious water and wind damage.
In some places the house is partially collapsed into the ground like this but still there.
In other cases there is debris on the lot where the house once stood.
In the worse cases even the lot and part of the street are gone with water from the bay and ocean filling the location.
So we were unbelievably lucky. I’m still a little dazed.
As Stella and I walked down the street, climbing around sinkholes and mounds of debris we met neighbors staring in disbelief at the remains of their lives.
It was like being for real in the middle of one of those disaster films.
There was also a capricious twist to the scene. Often a house would be standing intact with the ones on either side destroyed.
By a combination of unbelievably good fortune and a well-built structure our house came through without a single shingle misplaced, no siding or window damage, no structural damage.
Walt's House - Unscathed by Sandy
For reference, if you ever build a house at the seashore do what I did when I built this one: (Even some of my family and friends shook their heads at my extra precautions.)
- I designed the house in KeyCreator, evaluating each construction step.
- I added almost three tons of additional concreate cribbing and several hundred feet of ½ inch reinforcing steel bars in the cribbing to completely encircle the house piers.
- This prevented erosion of the sand around the foundation.
- All siding was installed with nails every 8 inches instead of the typical 30 inch spacing used.
- Roof shingles had 6 nails to the shingle instead of four with special drip edges along rakes and soffits.
- I added over five hundred special steel structural straps tying all rood rafters and joists to wall farming and created special truss walls in the attic to react to extreme wind loads.
- Every joist to wall tie had both Florida hurricane straps and California earthquake slip plates installed. All the extra steel only cost a few hundred dollars and three weekends of extra labor.
- So design your house with KeyCreator, spend some extra time adding reinforcements, and say a prayer.
I provide the above information with a sense of gratitude, hoping that anyone else contemplating a building project take the time to add a little extra in their efforts to prevent a future catastrophe.
Once you finish off a house structure it is virtually impossible to add these extra goodies
Our first floor is 7 feet 5 inches above mean tide level and the water surge reached exactly 7 feet, 5 inches.
We know that because when we opened the front door there was the equivalent of about three gallons of water that had just started to seep through the door sweep onto the tile floor.
I have to remove and replace the waterlogged insulation batts in the floor joist spaces of the first floor but that is a simple job compared to what could have been.
Best regards and thanks for your concern during this crisis.
Your Highness much prefers Direct Modeling to that history-based blather.
I'm planning to Tea and crumpets with that lovely Lady Sefea. She's such a smart cookie!
God Save the Queen, someone made my DynaHandle even more functional.
Yes! It is proper to design using KeyCreator with your pinky extended!
Pip Pip Cherrio! A complete direct Modeler with CAM, Comparison and Analysis, I never thought I'd live to see the day!
Whoo! Did you see that royal fly-over? I am glad that they Validated those fighter jet designs using Kubotek Validation Tool.
Let them eat cake, indeed? Give them KeyCreator 2012 and let them invent!
Bully! Look at all of those pretty colors on the stress analysis! And I did it myself!
Plastic parts, parting lines, core cavity splits, KeyCreator makes it easy, And XMD automates waterlines and other features - taking the royal pain out of mold deisgn!
Using KeyCreator Direct CAD is almost as fun as a Diamond Jubilee.
Sefea (pronounced SeFEE'ah) is smart, quick and complex. She is a set of super secret equations that the not-so-evil Dr Ted Lin devised to simplify and speed the CAD Analysis process.
What does Sefea do?
She tee's up the simulation problem for the solver. So that the solver can process the simulation results more quickly and do so with less data.
How does she do it. We'll never tell, but she is the newest member in a league of new solving technology called Strain Enriched FEA (Finite Element Analysis.)
Sefea is young, only several years old in fact. You see she is much younger and more vibrant that other algorithms used by the largest and most popular analysis systems. Those algorithms are decades old and honestly could use a little work done.
And Sefea isn't haughty. She doesn't require a large and dense mesh in order to get results. In fact, she's real happy with a TET4 mesh (versus 10) and she will provide just as accurate results as those older gals, but in lightning speed.
And Sefea is frugal, she won't hog your precious memory from your workstation or laptop. So she'll give you results when those grannies have used up every last bit of memory and your laptop is gasping and choking.
Get to know Sefea, I think you might just fall in love.
Sefea - she's young, smart and fast and will get results when other's can't and she's what you will find in KeyCreator Analysis.
And for all you smart guys that want to get deep into the theory driving her, there is a White Paper thoroughly explaining all her ways.
Check it out here: Sefea White Paper.
Thank you for reading and I covet your comments.
1. It's Direct CAD Software - You don't need to fight with the history tree to create and edit your model. KeyCreator is a lover, not a fighter.
2. It can open and edit almost ANY CAD file. Some CAD software products can't even accurately open a file from previous version of software. But we can and in some cases we open their files more accurately than their newer versions open them! (What's not to love?)
3. KeyCreator CAD software has really cool and functional viewing capabilities. You can use planes to cut right through the model and dynamically move the plane through the model and see whatever you want, heck, you can even cut a section and save it if you like.
4. Detailing layouts: You have more tools in detailing than Carter has little liver pills (whatever those are). But seriously, if you want to create layouts that look like little Picasso's, KeyCreator is the tool for you!
5. Freedom. It's your data. If you love something, set it free. No complicated file structures, no PLM system to lock you in and keep your data. You can freely move your data as you wish.
6. Dynamics - The DynaHandle lets you push, pull and drag geometry and arrays of geometry to your heart's content.
7. Flexibility - You can create geometry using 3D wire frames, solid modeling, surfaces, and 2D geometry all in the same workspace. Creating and editing geometry has never been easier.
8. Compare - KeyCreator Compare automates the CAD comparison process. Graphically see the exact changes right on the screen. Useful in new product design, quoting and manufacturing.
9. Low cost machining. 2- or 3-axis milling is a cinch. KeyCreator's got that too.
10. Support - KeyCreator has the best support in the world. Call us, chat us up, email us. We'll get right back to you with the right answer with a smile.
11. Price - KeyCreator has a lower initial price and cost of ownership than all all of the major 3D CAD vendors. When you add up all of the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining your software, the savings are significant.
12. Ease of Learning & Ease of Use. (Is that 2 reasons? OK it's a Baker's dozen.) It doesn't takes weeks to learn all of the various commands and features of the software. You can get going in a matter of hours. In fact our initial training is just that - hours long, not days, not weeks. You get productive right away!
Blogger's note - there are 3 links to blogs about Kubotek's new CAD comparison software KeyCreator Compare, below.
You know what's really fun?
Getting a new CAD model with revisions from your customer when you are already starting to manufacture the tool/mold/die or the product itself.
Yeah, that is really fun.
Especially when it comes on a Friday afternoon, say around 2:45 PM and you need to determine what the changes are and make sure that the evening and weekend shifts are making the right product.
Yeah, that's really a blast!
And if the CAD model is in Step or IGES and yours in is some other format, that makes it even better.
And let's say its in inches and you modeled in millimeters.
I love translating files... and then trying to figure out if the translation changed anything...
That's the bomb.
Then once your done figuring all that out... (Sorry guys I can't go out for a beer after work...eh, I'm trying to get rid of the beer gut anyway.)
And then trying to figure out if they actually told you about all of the changes. CAD Comparison, manual process...Fun!
Let's color the old CAD file Red (pretty, but Red is dead, they say) and then make the new CAD file Blue! (Blue New! - how poetic!)
Now comes the very most fun part! All the stuff that is the same is, you know, Purple. But what about the red and blue areas? Did you catch them all? This is even better than playing Where's Waldo!
(Guess I'll be late for dinner again- but this is so worth it!)
And what about Product Manufacturing Instructions? You know - those kind of important things about how to make the part and the tolerances stuff? Those aren't going to be purple or blue or red are they? That's the real challenge...
That's what I live for, that's why I spent all of this time in school, learning to design and manufacture things, to enjoy hours comparing one old CAD file to another, just so we don't screw up and lose money on the job. Yeah way cool!
OK, by now I am sure you get it. Manually comparing CAD files is about as much fun as taking an ice pick and jabbing it into your eye.
But, you don't have to do that anymore, there is a better way.
Kubotek just came our with some really cool CAD Comparison technology. The Kubotek Comparison suite.
And some really smart people (let's call them CAD Guru's) are getting their hands on it and telling you how useful and easy it is.
Don't take my word for it.
Read what these CAD gurus wrote about KeyCreator Compare:
Ralph Grabowski - KeyCreator Compare
John Evans review KeyCreator Compare
Matt Lombard review - KeyCreator Compare CAD software
Just think - no more time wasted making sure that the CAD file revisions were communicated properly and no more getting yelled at for missing a change and no more Friday afternoons missing beers with the guys (well, we can't promise that!)
Thanks for reading.
And we would love to hear from you.
There will be an encore presentation of our KeyCreator Direct CAD and new KeyCreator Compare demonstration on December 29th at 2 EST. There are so many reasons for why you should attend. But let's look at all the excuses you may have for NOT attending.
Here are the top five reasons why YOU shouldn't attend:
- It's fun looking for changes in two complex CAD files to make sure you make the model correctly.
- Scrap! - Who cares? - We have plenty of Titanium!
- My OEM always tells me about all of the changes in the new revision - no need to check.
- I love working late on Friday nights to fix mistakes that could have been caught!
- Quoting revisions is much more fun manually!
If any of these excuses sound like you, then by all means, don't attend. But if you really MUST attend, we'll save you a seat. All you need to do is register for the KeyCreator & KeyCreator Compare Demonstration
The only tree that will bring you cheer at this time of year is a Christmas tree.
Let's be honest. The parametric feature tree on a history based CAD Modeler doesn't exude the same allure as the voluptuous fir, spruce or cypress varieties that you place in your cozy home each season.
One common denominator between your Christmas tree and a parametric feature tree is sap - A STICKY MESS AND NO FUN TO CLEAN UP.
You may inadvertently touch the stuff as you prune the bottom branches of your tree, or as you adjust the tree skirt, or as you hang your breakable ornaments precariously on those bottom branches that Sir Fido and Madame Fluffy will no doubt knock off... then it takes hours (dare I say days?) to rid yourself of the sticky stuff that seems to have roots.
Allow me to be corny and equate this experience to that of using a feature tree. Those rebuild errors that are a disaster and take hours to clean up after. The red X's beside those inconsolable features and sketches that you are starting to see in your sleep. Can't seem to get out of your rebuild mess, can you? This is something that Goo-Be-Gone cannot solve.
KeyCreator does not impose such sticky complications and restrictions, as it does not use a feature/history tree. KeyCreator does not prevent you from moving forward with your design just because you make a change to something. KeyCreator will not waste your time by making you wait for it to catch up.
In summation - Perhaps try two things this year: KeyCreator's tree-less Direct modeling software.... and one of Martha Stewart's lovely pre-lit faux trees from Home Depot. I have done both in the past 12 months and am better off for it. That being said, I still buy the pine tree spray so my living room smells like 'vague forest'. Small price to pay, my friends.
Happy Holidays from Kubotek...
Did you know that there is a free training resource available on the KubotekUSA website?
About midway through last year, Kubotek USA purchased the resources of Doc Walt University, and hired the President of the school itself, none other than the infamous Doc Walt.
We renamed the University KeyCreator University and soon it will be renamed again Kubotek University to reflect the ever expanding set of training materials in the university, covering not only KeyCreator but also KeyMachinist for KeyCreator, Kubotek ECO Manager, Validation Tool and our expanding set of engineering design and PLM tools.
Many sections of the University are completely open and free of charge to anyone with an internet connection. Other portions of the university require a Kubotek Software Maintenance Agreement in order to access the materials.
There are step by step PDFs covering practical how to design instructions as well as video instructions and previously recorded webinars covering a wide variety of topics.
Yesterday we made over a dozen recent additions to the KeyCreator University, including these:
Tips & Tricks: 2 Tools to create hole tables
KeyLessons: Creating a Cast Wishbone Linkage (Maintenance customers can access)
So, for all of you current KeyCreator users and even previous CADKEY users, please take advantage of this extensive 3D direct CAD training resource.
As usual, thank you for reading and your feedback is highly valued.