Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

Parametric is Restrictive

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Thu, Jun 25, 2009

Autodesk is making announcements this week about their new Fusion technology. So far it sounds like what Siemens is doing. I'm interested to see more details. Overall its fun to watch all of these large CAD companies waking up to the benefits of history-free modeling. It will be a while before any of them actually drop the bloated history/parametric code out of a product all-together. I predict they will eventually figure that out.

Once they really open their minds to this approach they will see that besides being a poor format for storing designs, parametric 3D modeling is a poor tool for most design challenges. It frequently has the effect of turning the designer’s early thoughts and understanding about a part or system into a rigid machine formula. This approach can be useful in situations which involve standardized parts or process limitations with well-established relationships and naturally rigid variables. However, most new design does not fit this description. In most new design parametric modeling requires the discipline to throw away possibly several rounds of draft models which were built on assumptions which have been violated by knowledge gained naturally as the design matures. That equals a lot of wasted time.

American Manufacturing - America's Youth

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Wed, Jun 17, 2009

American manufacturing is eager and enthusiastic about competing on an international level, but how is it possible with such overwhelming obstacles.
Part 1 continued: America’s Youth in Manufacturing
I find it hard to move on from Part 1 to the next topic. My reasoning…the future is nothing without making this better. (The word part sounds more appropriate than the word series).
Since I wrote the last blog, I have been thinking heavily about the question I posed. Can you sleep at night knowing that your kids and grand kids may be living in a society that has few opportunities to succeed? I proved my answer to be yes, because I can’t stop thinking about it. I must start now to better prepare the next generation to look after the backbone of our economy…manufacturing. We must bring back passion and innovation to manufacturing.
Kubotek USA is soon starting a nationwide program for any and all students to participate in a design contest. All students that sign up for the contest will receive a student copy of KeyCreator for free and access to our monthly on-line training. More details to follow.
If you are interested in pre-registering please; send me an email, blog me, tweet me, or call me.
Okay, so maybe I will sleep a little tonight, but that’s probably it. My quest has begun…stay tuned.

CAD in the days of Lotus 1-2-3?

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, Jun 12, 2009

I remember starting my career in Finance. Personal computers were just beginning to be used and we had many programs that we accessed in order to get work done.

Most of the time we spent on our personal computers was to create spreadsheets, in Lotus 1-2-3. In order to print a spreadsheet, we had to give it commands regarding the paper size, something like /027[4w is what I remember it looked like. Basically, you were programming the computer with code.

We also had report writing software for the mainframe. We created reports in COBOL, common business language or something like that.

PC's had many operating languages at the time. There were several popular ones of course for PC's, DOS was becoming the most common.

Today, the tools people use for finance are very easy to use. You click the print ICON and you magically get a copy of your spreadsheet on your favorite printer. You can even have the spreadsheet automatically shrink-to-fit your paper. This was true progress.

This reminds me of where we are with CAD software. Today, most popular CAD programs, require you to do most of the work to create your design. You must tell the computer what the underlying sketches are and then how you are extruding them into solids. It's much like an electronic drawing board. Most CAD software looks the same when you get to the main screen. Because there is so much invested in this underlying structure, most CAD companies have decided that its more important to manage all of the complicated CAD data rather than to continue to improve the usability of their CAD program.

I am now seeing more demand from users for ease of use, flexibility and open design based on Explicit Modeling; to make not only the interface easier, but also to make the whole work flow easier. Some of this demand for usability and simplicity is also driven by management. It costs real time and money to be stuck in the past - designing like we did in the 80's. To remain competitive and to gain advantage in design and manufacturing - speed and cost reductions are paramount.

Paying high priced CAD programmers to use excessively complex and expensive CAD software hurts the competitiveness of the organizations. Expert designers are truly worth their weight in the organization not if they can learn a complex system, but if they can design products that are innovative and take advantage of manufacturing technology that will allow them to be produced quickly and for less money.

Our goal is to help our fellow manufacturers and OEMs to gain this productivity and to free the minds of the designers to create truly innovative designs without the worry of programming the CAD program to create the sketches and extrusions and then worry about the order of how the whole thing is built in the computer program. Designers can concentrate on the mechanical design and functionality of their products and how to design them for manufacturability when they are freed from the history tree and rebuilding process of today's most popular history-based parametric modelers.

The future is going to be an interesting place for companies that are designing and manufacturing products. We hope to help these companies to reach their potential capabilities quicker and to gain competitive advantage.

I'm interested in your thoughts.

Scott