Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

What do bananas and solid models have in common?

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, May 29, 2009

You might not think Bananas and solid models have much in common. To me, bananas come in just three main types, green, yellow, and black. Everyone knows they are perishable - yellow can go to black overnight. Solid models come in lots of colors, but not many people realize they are perishable.

While solid models do not rot, each year that goes by reduces the ease of accessibility to the data. We are not talking about bits getting flipped. Using appropriate RAID storage and backups those types of losses can be prevented. The root of the trouble is that solids are a complex technology which is being evolved forward by several competing teams. Because the technology is so complex, solid model definitions are highly linked to the math algorithms used to define and edit them. This means as the technology of solids math algorithms is improved, the definitions used to store the solids need to be updated to match the new more powerful algorithms.

The end result of this progression is two-fold. In most cases 3D CAD software with solids algorithms that are just a few years old will not read solids from the latest version of the same software. At the same time it is common that some solid definitions from 5 or more years ago will not be readable by the latest version of the same software. The nature of this technology is that the software version and the models produced by it are permanently paired together. Many larger companies keep old versions of software available to read old files. Of course the old software is not designed for new operating systems and hardware so a computer must be frozen like a time capsule in order to truly preserve access to the old solid models (don’t try this with bananas).

As bad as all of the above sounds, the history-based modeling approach to solids construction actually makes these problems many times worse. History-based systems (like Pro/E and SolidWorks) don’t store their models as geometry but instead as a step-by-step construction recipe used to build the model. With this approach playing back solid model construction steps in serial can have a different result when paired with a different set of algorithms than was used to originally record it. The more time that has gone by between the recording of the solid into the file and the publishing of the solids algorithms in the software will increase the odds that the file has ‘spoiled’. The playback of the steps in serial might simple fail one step and the model is lost, or a model that does not exactly match the original could be produced.

History-free CAD programs (like Co-Create and KeyCreator) store solids using explicit geometric definitions. When history-free programs read solid models from old files they do not re-interpret the model and they read each piece of the model (faces, edges, vertices, etc.) in parallel. Total failures and solids that don’t exactly match the original are rare.

Due to the present nature of solids technology models are perishable, as are bananas. When you buy bananas you know that they need to get consumed in a matter of days. If you are managing CAD data you need to think about how many years your company is going to need access to its solid models. For long-term storage explicit geometric definitions and history-free software that can access them effectively are the practical solution.

America’s Youth in Manufacturing

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Thu, May 21, 2009

American manufacturing is eager and enthusiastic about competing on an international level, but how is it possible with such overwhelming obstacles.I will be writing a series of blogs, discussing some of these obstacles.

Series 1: America’s Youth in Manufacturing

I remember back in middle school, my parents and the school system pushed me to think about going to college to get a desk job some day.My guidance councilor tried to convince me to think about picking up a trade or learning the manufacturing business.I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so the councilor tried to steer me down these paths.I wanted nothing to do with any trade or manufacturing.Why should I go work in a place and get dirty, risk getting laid off during the normal recessions that come along, get paid low wages, and have a no glamor profession.No way was I going to head down such a bad path.


Now I am older and much wiser, and I hope wiser after every day.My sons and daughter are now in middle school and I have tried (and will always try) to guide them as best I can.I talk to them about the manufacturing world, and how it could be a great profession.Their response is exactly what my response was a few (many actually) years back.This tells me that nothing has changed in 30 years, and if we don’t change things now, manufacturing in America will continue down this path of steady decline.Don’t forget, manufacturing in America directly and indirectly impacts about 25% of the entire gross domestic product in America, and it is the backbone of any healthy economy.


All of us must encourage the youth of America to look at manufacturing as a viable career path.Kubotek USA is very concerned about this and we are working with organizations such as; Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership.Check them out at (www.massmep.org).Jack Healy and Ted Bauer are making tremendous strides in the New England area, not only helping businesses improve but helping the youth of today be excited about the manufacturing industry.Kubotek USA feels that it is our social responsibility to work to strengthen manufacturing in America. In fact, our flagship CAD product, KeyCreator, is our biggest contribution to this cause, and we will continue down this path.


I’m excited about what our great country can do, but nothing will change if we don’t get involved.Ask yourself this question: Can you sleep at night knowing that your kids and grand kids may be living in a society that has few opportunities to succeed?Without the strength of a strong manufacturing economy, it’s just a matter of time!


But it’s not too late.Stay tuned…

Now is the time

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, May 15, 2009

I must say I am quite excited to be back at KubotekUSA. My time in the 3D printing and prototype world is still an interest of mine, but being presented with the opportunity to take on the role as VP of Sales and Marketing couldn't happen at a better time. The discussions and advancements of explicit modelers has started to get the attention of serious CAD users to take another look at the advantages being offered in this environment. Kubotek has been in this arena for quite some time and has brought much of the break through technology that we see today to market very early on.

We are unique in the fact that we provide a true hybrid/explicit modeling environment. This allows us to work with any geometry and topology that we create or import. In the chaotic, open world of data moving down stream for various applications, many companies can not predict what their needs will be and what information or data they will need to extract or manipulate. This is a great example of why manufactures and suppliers find our technology to be of great value. We solve problems that are not always planned. One of my mentors when talking about rapid manufacturing would say that in traditional manufacturing it is common to sacrifice time for efficiency, but in a rapid manufacturing environment it is efficiency that is sacrificed to save time. We feel we provide the tools that bring control to this rapid environment. I am hopeful that we at Kubotek can deliver our message and get people as excited about our products as we are. We have never swayed away from the direct modeling approach for over 20 years and are very happy to see people follow in our tracks. This validates our direction and commitment to solving problems.

One last thought. It is often difficult to get users to take a look at an alternative approach for creating and editing CAD geometry, mainly because they feel their solution meets their needs. In many instances this is the case, but if you are not aware that there is a better approach to solving a problem, is it perceived as a problem that needs to be solved?

If you are not convinced the old paradigm is the answer, we are ready to show you the way. I look forward to speaking with you more on this and on other CAD and manufacturing related subjects.

The "Masters of Geometry" Welcome you to the Kubotek Blog Site

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, May 08, 2009

Hi:

This is the new Kubotek USA blog site. Here you will find information and perspectives about Software that helps Engineers and Manufacturers and specifically the CAD/CAM/CAE world. We are experts in the world of direct editing and working with other people's data. Some might call us "Masters of Geometry."

There will be a number of different people Blogging from KubotekUSA. They will be senior management and technical people involved in decisions regarding our Engineering technology and products.

We hope that you will enjoy reading and commenting on our blogs.

Thank for reading and commenting,

Scott Sweeney