Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

When Design Intent Bites you in the Mouse, use KeyCreator!

Posted by John Agoglia on Mon, Sep 27, 2010
This post is courtesy of Walt Silva, Pro CAD describe the image

Purveyors of feature-based parametric modelers constantly trumpet their ability to capture “design intent” in a model. (A typical example is “A through hole will always be a through hole.”)

Now after 42 years as a design engineer, I can honestly tell you that design intent will bite you in the mouse as often as it will help you! Why? Well, building design intent into a model presupposes that you know what will be happening in the future to your design.

I’ve got news for you. If you’re that good at predicting the future, you should probably pack up your CAD station and go down to the local track. You’ll make more money betting on the ponies! All kidding aside, let’s look at the typical example illustrated above.
This part was designed in SolidWorks and imported into KeyCreator.

In our Power Play #1 we already looked at how we can quickly modify this part even though it is not native to KeyCreator.
This time let’s up the ante! We can also quickly make a major modification that is a real headache to accomplishPowerPlay2  resized 600 in SolidWorks!

Notice that the rectangular bosses that cross the bottom face of the original part stop short of the cylindrical wall.

In the original design, these bosses were created by sketching centered-rectangles that were then extruded upward from the main body.

The design intent was to create a rectangular boss whose dimensions could be quickly changed using the magic of parametric driving dimensions. (That sounds impressive, doesn’t it?)

PowerPlay2 2 resized 600Of course, when the manufacturing team got involved, their first question was, “Why can’t we just extend the bosses out to the cylindrical wall. (Illustrated to the right.) This is a cleaner, simpler part to fabricate.

Now if you anticipated this change in SolidWorks, you would probably have approached building the part in a different way.

Unfortunately you didn’t. With the current design tree, going for a root canal would probably be a more pleasant experience!

In KeyCreator, however, the change is astoundingly easy! We simple use the Offset Face tool and use Face Logic to PowerPlay2 3 resized 600automatically select a pattern of the four faces. These faces are then extended out past the current cylindrical face. (Four simple mouse clicks!)

The extended sections are then quickly trimmed using the Single Trim Function to get our final part.

The Offset Faces Tool used in this example is part of an extensive set of face manipulation tools that cannot be equaled by any other mid-range CAD solution.

Combined with the power of face logic and pattern/feature recognition, this one set of functions provides over one hundred powerful design manipulation tools!

So the next time design intent bites you in the mouse, think about coming to KeyCreator, where you can always modify your part regardless of your original design concept.

Topics: Direct Dimension editing, 3D Direct Modeling, KeyCreator

Celebrate the Harvest Moon, Steel Day and KeyCreator Enhancements

Posted by John McCullough on Wed, Sep 22, 2010

describe the image You are probably aware that today is a special day - the autumnal equinox. Around 11 p.m. it will be officially fall. In related news, we are also in the middle of Oktoberfest (which you might have known).

Harvest moon resized 600

You may not realize that Thursday is a full moon - which makes it a Full Harvest Moon. So, if you have clear sky, you will get a bit of extra moon shine to finish up your harvest. And that's never a bad thing.

What you are likely not aware of is that Friday is a special day, too, here in America. Friday marks a new annual event – Steel Day.

Many Americans will celebrate this holiday in the usual way. They will buy stuff to help stimulate economic growth. If you are still looking, Amazon has some great gift ideas like this Steel Knife Sharpener and this Stainless Steel Necklace.

Thousands of others will be celebrating Steel Day by participating in networking and educational events organized by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC).

Kubotek is celebrating Steel Day 2010 by announcing that several of the Structural Shapes functions in KeyCreator, which generate beams as solids or profiles, will be enhanced in the upcoming release to include tables of AISC standard sizes. This means no more hunting for ‘k’ values to enter into the parameter fields when you need to create a standard sized I or T beam, channel, or angle.

Structural Shape AISC

This enhancement fulfills a long time request by many users and is certainly worthy of some celebrating so, "Prost!" Translation: this makes a great excuse to raise a glass of beer with friends.

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, KeyCreator, Announcements

What makes a great web Community?

Posted by Mark Parent on Mon, Sep 13, 2010

Lately, I have been thinking about what makes a community great? Before that question can be answered, I must define the word great. Great means; long lasting, able to earn a living, safe, governed by the community, deep relationships are formed.

I think of my home town as an example of a great community.  It has all the criteria and I am very confident that will last for some time.  Now the question becomes; what makes a great WEB community?  There are always smart people out there that figure ways to make money, and I am quite sure deep relationships are formed.  For the most part, we feel safe in these web communities.  But what about Longevity and governed by the community?

How long does something have to live to be considered to have longevity?  I think longevity means that it must be able to live from generation to generation.  Now how is that possible with a web based community? 

Does 64-bit Computing Matter for CAD Users?

Posted by John McCullough on Wed, Sep 08, 2010

john wright mccullough

What’s So Great about 64-bits?

happy intel guy

You’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard that the PC market is in the middle of a transition from 32-bit to 64-bit computing. However it’s very likely you have not heard much about how this change is going to help you. The reality is that it has not delivered much yet. This transition has been happening very slowly because there are three separate 64-bit transition steps which need to occur in series. The first step is the processor and motherboard hardware, second is the operating system and hardware drivers, and last are the programs. The big benefits of the change won’t start to come until all three steps are complete. The good news is, we are just about there.

The advantage of a 64-bit architecture is that it allows the PC to juggle much bigger chucks of data – like real big numbers. If you are not regularly doing math with numbers over 4 billion you might think this is not going to help you. The real advantage for CAD users comes in the area of large memory addresses. 32-bit systems are limited to handling 4 GB of RAM. They just can’t count memory addresses higher than that. 64-bit systems can count so much higher that the ceiling of the amount of RAM possible becomes far out of sight. Back in 1990 when I thought my new 32-bit 486 with 4 MB of RAM was cool I didn’t think I would need a thousand times that much RAM in 20 years. I’m just as sure today that I won’t need a million times as much RAM on my desk in 20 years, but the 64-bit processor architecture will handle it.

The big deal of additional RAM is speed. If you are creating large files or performing complex modeling operations that cause the system to access the hard drive based swap file this is a serious performance bottleneck. If the system has access to enough RAM that it does not need to touch the hard drive operations will complete much faster.  Hardware vendors have been quoted that pulling that first bit out of RAM is 60,000 times faster than pulling it from a hard drive. Secondly, a percentage of CAD users are dealing with very large files (200+ MB) and may have run into a memory ceiling preventing them from increasing the size of a single file. An additional benefit from access to more RAM is that this ceiling can be raised.

There is a possible minor downside to running 64-bit programs. 64-bit versions of programs actually run slightly slower in some cases than 32-bit versions of the same program. Remember that 64-bit is not designed to be faster than 32-bit, it is designed to handle more data. Tasks that are not shuffling large amounts of data are not hitting the 32-bit memory bottleneck and won’t benefit from the change. The largest performance hit I’ve seen benchmarked was 20% and in most simple benchmarks 32-bit to 64-bit performance on the same task was close.


What’s the hold up? 

conductor checking time

64-bit processors were first introduced to the PC market in 2003. Now that we are in mid-2010, you likely have experienced a 64-bit processor. Did you notice any difference?  You probably didn’t. Most of the 64-bit hardware sold continues to run in 32-bit mode. Even though 64-bit Windows operating systems have been available to the mainstream for two years now, today’s most popular PC operating system is still Windows XP, which is estimated to be over 99% 32-bit. Windows Vista has about 15% of the market but is still only at 11% 64-bit. In early July Microsoft announced that the 64-bit version of Windows 7 has now reached 50% of the Windows 7 installs. It is estimated that Windows 7 has recently reached 15% market share. So don’t feel bad if you are not on a 64-bit operating system yet, you are comfortably in the majority.

A 64-bit operating system is not complete without the drivers to run all of your hardware. This has been a large part of the delay in getting users moved over to 64-bit operating systems. With Windows 7 64-bit most of those driver issues have been resolved (or the hardware has gotten old enough to forget about). If you have special hardware or utility programs you may need to do some hunting for 64-bit versions or replacements before you can use a 64-bit operating system.

Once you have a 64-bit processor and a 64-bit operating system now you are ready to start running 64-bit programs. However, you don’t need to. Just like 64-bit processors are mostly still running 32-bit versions of Windows, 64-bit Windows versions available today can still run 32-bit programs without much trouble. The Windows 7 64-bit has proven itself reliable and can run 32-bit programs very well. For most users buying a new machine, there is no reason not to go with the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Even if you do stay with a 32-bit program in 64-bit Windows there is a significant RAM benefit. By default 32-bit operating systems limit programs (each process) to access a maximum of 2 GB of RAM. Some users with the maximum 4GB of RAM on 32-bit operating systems have been using a special setting that will allow individual program processes up to 3GB. This same setting in 64-bit versions of Windows now allows processes from 32-bit programs access to the full 4GB of RAM that they can handle.



64-bit computing has arrived to the PC market. If you are working with large CAD files (over 20 MB) or performing complex modeling operations you are likely to benefit from speed improvements gained by the access to more RAM which a 64-bit architecture allows. This is a benefit you can begin to realize even with 32-bit programs running in 64-bit Windows. Full 64-bit computing (processor, operating system, and program) will allow access to huge amounts or RAM and eliminate the architecture-based memory ceiling problem with very large files.

The next release of KeyCreator will be available in two versions, 32-bit and 64-bit. The 32-bit version will be the right version for most users since they are still running a 32-bit version of Windows. The 64-bit version can only be used in 64-bit Windows. If you are running 64-bit Windows and have over 3-4 GB of RAM, you should consider installing the 64-bit version. Over the next several months Kubotek will be conducting 32-bit vs. 64-bit performance testing on a workstation with 12 GB RAM. These results will be published around the time of the release and make the advantages of the 64-bit version clear.

Topics: CAD, CAD files, 64-bit, RAM, large files

Why settle for dead bodies; use KeyCreator to avoid dumb solids

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Sep 02, 2010
This post is courtesy of Walt Silva, Pro CAD describe the image

Users of feature-based parametric modelers are constantly frustrated by the fact that imported models often are treated as “dumb solids” by the CAD package since the features cannot be recognized by the application.

describe the imageA more accurate description would be “Dead Body” since you are usually faced with rebuilding the model from scratch to get a workable model that you can modify or use for creation of tooling bodies, etc. So much for all the fancy bells and whistles!

When you use KeyCreator, you don’t have this problem, since any imported model is treated like a native model.
Here’s the same part illustrated above created in SolidWorks.
You can see the extensive feature tree documenting the steps required to build it.

Udescribe the imagesing KeyCreator’s Direct SolidWorks translator, we can quickly import the model into our system.

You’ll notice the wealth of other translation options that are also available.

The model is imported and is ready for modifications.
We don’t have the SolidWorks feature tree but we don’t need it!

We could quickly add 0.25 thickness to the three top surfaces to beef up the wall around the large horizontal bore in the part using KeyCreators powerful Offset Face tool and the Smooth Face Logic Option.

This is actually much easier to do in KeyCreator than in the native SolidWorks File!

The Offset Face tool is one of several dozen powerful face describe the imagemodification tools that are unique to KeyCreator.

We could also quickly modify the four simple through holes in the part to be countersunk holes by using the powerful Edit Hole Function and Face Logic to instantly identify the pattern.

Note that the original holes were created in SolidWorks using the Cut Function, not the Hole Wizard.

And we did not import the Circular Pattern Information from SolidWorks to identify the pattern!

Why? Because we don’t need to! KeyCreator’s powerful algorithms instantly identify the hole pattern and assign a feature status to the holes so that they can be quickly modified using our Smart Edit Hole Technology!

Are you tired of doing your work twice?
Come to KeyCreator today and discover the joys of 3D Direct Modeling!

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, parametric modeling