Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

3 things Direct CAD is and parametric history-based CAD isn’t

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, May 31, 2011

Both Direct CAD and parametric history-based CAD systems let you create designs, build 3D models and then create things like BOMs, layouts, and other manufacturing prep sort of things. But there are some things Direct CAD can do for you that you just can’t get with the other CAD software.

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  1. Direct CAD software lets you read in other file format and then work on them as if they were native files.  Are you getting various file formats from your customers? Do you need to export files in your customer’s preferred format?  Do you feel pressure to buy an expensive CAD seat “just in case?”  Direct CAD keeps you independent
  2. Let’s say you’re a designer who uses Direct CAD and you have a brilliant idea for a design.  As you’re visualizing your idea, do you think about the design itself, or do you think about how you need to build your design in your software?  Direct CAD lets you create your designs front-to-back, side-to-side, upside-down and back again.  And you never have to worry that you created your design in the right succession of steps and constraints—all you need is the geometry.  Direct CAD gives you incredible flexibility in the way you design
  3. Direct CAD isn’t “use it or lose it.”  Many other history-based CAD systems are extremely complex, require hours and days of training, and if you don’t use it that often, you’ll spend more time trying to get reacquainted with software than you will on your model.   That must be why so many companies have one dedicated person whose only job is to run the CAD software.  Why spend so much time learning software when all you need is a 3D model?  Direct CAD is easier to learn, easier to use and easier to retain.

So, think about your CAD needs.  If you need a flexible tool that lets you create designs or work on 3D models whenever and however you wish, you should give Direct CAD a try.  It’s certainly more user-friendly and easier on the wallet. 

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD

Nurturing technology with Direct Modeling

Posted by John Agoglia on Mon, May 16, 2011

This article by Tim Hartford: The Airplane That Saved the World-What the RAF's World War II Spitfire can teach us about nurturing innovation and radical ideas. got my imagination working overtime--wondering what these guys looked like, what kind of minds and hearts they had to drive them, and of course, made me wonder what they would be like in today's design settings.

In short, the article discusses how aviation engineers were asked that "Rather than rely on known abandon their orthodoxies and produce something completely new."  The end result was the Spitfire--and probably the saving Grace to England and the allies in WWII. And in some ways, the birth of the Spitfire also indirectly (or directly, depending on how you look at it) lead to the development of the Lockheed Skunk-Works and similar type of innovation teams

The article also discusses the lessons learned by assessing technology-and hoping technology can help solve problems.  The lesson learned?  Don't put all your eggs into one basket--try variations. While not all results will be the next Spitfire, you still need to give space and encourage ideas to grow.

In today's world, would these gents be willing to put up with software constraints as they manically designed their so-called "radical" ideas?   Would they accept a corporate mandate to use only "brand A" CAD because it was sanctioned by the company?   Would they be okay starting from scratch if a design needed to be massaged?  Instead of molding an idea like a block of clay, would they find instead that it felt like molding an idea out of popsicle sticks?  My imagination shouts a resounding "hell no."

I don't seem them being bound by corporate strings, but often butting heads with the higher-ups to get their way--and I bet sometimes just because they could.  And I suspect they would most likely be champions of Direct Modeling.  I think they would like the freedom it gave them to do whatever the hell they pleased, especially if it meant they could focus on the design and not the software that TOLD them how to design.  I think they would like that, in a moment of brilliance, they could dive right into their model and make a change, big or small, and keep the wheels of progress moving forward.  And who cares what anyone else thinks, says or does.

Topics: 3D Direct CAD, Direct Modeling

KeyCreator University Open for Business

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, May 10, 2011

Walt Silva comments on the opening of KeyCreator University.  Walt spearheaded the development and launch of KeyCreator University.  He is also well known in the CAD industry simply as  “Doctor Walt."  Walt has authored eighty-nine books on CAD and associated topics, 11 multimedia CAD training CD’s, founded Doc Walt Online University, and is currently incarnated as Manager of Professional Services at Kubotek USA.

CAD software is one of the most intense applications that Walt Silva resized 600someone can use on a computer. Having documented the use of CAD software for the past twenty-five years, I’ve come to the conclusion that educating the CAD users in the intricacies of any CAD application is one of the most challenging tasks imaginable. And I also think that many customers use less than 10% of the application on their computer. 

Our goal at Kubotek USA is to provide our users with the best possible support and training for KeyCreator, the leading geometry-based direct CAD modeler available in the PC world. While traditional classroom teaching is the ultimate experience in education, many users cannot afford to be absent from the workplace for a typical three day class. Travel distance and total cost of a major trip are other mitigating factors. And this is often compounded by the failure of busy users to acknowledge how much they do not know!

I founded my Doc Walt University several years ago as an answer to this problem. Based on decades of teaching CAD users at all levels of expertise, I structured an online university that customers could use twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, at their convenience. Accessible from anywhere, and covering the entire gamut from basic instruction to advanced surface-solid hybrid modeling, the online courses provided the perfect solution in terms of both price and flexibility for today’s design professional.

Based on my experiences with the Doc Walt University, I am proud to be working with Kubotek's CAD experts and the launch of KeyCreator University. As the preeminent online CAD training resource in the world, KeyCreator University will provide users with a wealth of training material, formulated in many ways. The combination of detailed lessons in PDF format, quick answers to basic questions, live and recorded videos on a multitude of topics, and scheduled web-based and traditional classes will give every KeyCreator user access to training to suit the way they prefer to learn.  KeyCreator University is tuition-free to our Software Maintenance Program customers. That's one more way we are adding value for our loyal users. 

For the month of May, we'll be hosting a KeyCreator University Open House.  That means anyone can access the reference information in KeyCreator University free of charge.  So get in there and take a look around.

I'd like to personally welcome you to KeyCreator University.

We’ll be looking for you on Campus!

Walt Silva

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, KeyCreator University

IGES files open faster in KeyCreator than in SolidWorks

Posted by John McCullough on Fri, May 06, 2011


Everyone in the CAD industry has let their IGES tKeyCreator 2011echnology stagnate over the last 10-15 years.  And even though no one has been working on it, it is still widely used, maybe as much or more than STEP. 

We thought this would be a great opportunity to use our expertise to make a useful format even better. Now granted, some market studies are saying that people are moving away from IGES, but when we surveyed our customers, it ranked as one of the most popular format used among them.  If it's going away, it's still going to take some time.  And in the meantime, customers will still be relying on the IGES format.

At any rate, here's what I can tell you about IGES performance testing I conducted:

I tested 9 mid-sized to large IGES files using KeyCreator 2011 V10.0. I tested the same files on the same Win 7 x64 workstation with KeyCreator V9.0.3, and SolidWorks 2011. KeyCreator V9 was faster than SolidWorks in 7 out of the 9 cases, but KeyCreator 2011 was the champ – faster than both other programs in every case. KC 2011 is generally noticeably faster at opening large IGES files than SolidWorks 2011.



KC 903

KC 10

SWX 2011

% faster

4.9 MB

214 surfaces





4.6 MB

274 surfaces





4.4 MB

198 surfaces





4.5 MB

14 solids





230 MB

23,000 surfaces


11min 30s



68.8 MB

400 surfaces and 26 references

5min 40s

3min 49s

6min 56s


15.8 MB

50,000+ polylines



14min 34s


20.8 MB

48 solids and 176 refs

4min 29s

3min 10s

3min 51s


48.6 MB

47 solids and 166 surfaces

1min 19s


4min 41s


Besides speed of opening files, I also saw that SolidWorks did not handle some IGES data types useful for efficient storage of mechanical CAD data (primitive solids).

I'll make the claim that KeyCreator has numerous other advantages over SolidWorks in working with the pure geometry from IGES files, overall making KeyCreator superior to SolidWorks for working with IGES files.

*image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

Topics: KeyCreator, IGES, SolidWorks

A good day of Direct Modeling is like a good day of Fishing.

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, May 03, 2011

And we all know a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.  So that leads me to conclude that a day with Direct Modeling can beat the snot out of a bad day at work.  Are you following me?  Good. 

If you've stopped by and chatted with us at any of our recently Kubotek KeyCreator 3D Direct CADattended tradeshows (or seen our emails inviting you to get out of your office and visit us), you have likely noticed some sort of contraption displayed on our booth graphic.  Not only can you see a larger than life image of this thing, but the actual "thing" is displayed in person at the show, right there for you to man-handle to your heart's content.  So what is it, exactly?  And furthermore, how does it relate to direct modeling? That, my friend, is why I'm writing this...

First of all, that "thing" is a Rapid Release® quick-release fishing rod holder, designed and manufactured by KeyCreator customer Damon Weaver of XCentric Mold. The product is fully designed using KeyCreator.  We even use bits and pieces of it as part of our test drive guide - a PDF you can download to help walk you through the functionality of KeyCreator Direct Modeling.

So, of all the "things" we could have displayed on the KeyCreator Direct CAD booth, or used as part of our test drive guide, why did we pick a fishing rod holder?  Is it because Damon is a really cool dude and a long-time KeyCreator user - and he likes the added publicity for both XCentric Mold and the Rapid Release.  Sure.  But that's not the only reason.   

Think about it.  Kubotek customers span a gamut of industries and professions.  Our customers design and/or produce all kinds of goods like jets and aerospace products (too big to carry with us), outdoor power equipment, medical needles (squeamish factor), all sorts of tooling, die, molds and sheet metal products (hard to narrow it down), even flying cars and boats.  Out of everything out there, what could a majority of our customers relate to (okay, besides an ice cold brewski)?

Fishing.  The sport of drowning worms.  It appeals to young and old (I would know, the Easter Bunny brought a Barbie fishing pole to our house this year - and it's been a hit).  Everyone from novices to experienced outdoorsman knows the basics of fishing.  You can go solo or with a group.  You can pick up your pole at any point in the day, or near any body of water and get right to it. I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone out there who has never cast a line.  Or pretended to.  Or for that matter, played a rousing game of Go Fish.

To me, that sounds like Direct Modeling.  Doesn't matter who uses it - experienced CAD jocks or the occasional user.  It can work anywhere in the design-to-manufacture process, in companies large and small or by individuals and hobbyists.  You can be up to your hips in CAD projects all day, or you might simply only dabble in CAD from time to time.   Just grab a mouse and make changes on a model quickly and easily.  No worries.

A good day of fishing also means you didn't get your line all tangled up in the nearest tree or get hooked into your buddy's arm.  Same sentiment is applied to direct modeling; it won't produce a tangle of parametric steps that only cause headaches.  If you're not able to respond to nibbles quickly enough, direct modeling will make you agile and flexible enough to speed time-to-market to land the big fish--I mean accounts.   And nothing is worse than having to drop everything and rebuild a model from scratch (or drop everything for a visit to urgent care to get that hook removed).  Direct modeling won't do either of those to you.

So, Why not give direct modeling a try?  Once you've tried direct modeling, we're sure you'll be hooked by all it has to offer. 

Topics: Direct Modeling