Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

Using Direct CAD for Detailed Mechanical Design? Yes, you can!

Posted by John Agoglia on Mon, Nov 30, 2015

I have a confession to make.

My desk is usually a complete and utter mess.

To my right, I've got stacks of thoughts and ideas, to-do lists, phone numbers, etc. written on pads of paper and sticky notes. The really important ones get tacked to my wall.  To my left are the stacks of magazines and mail that mysteriously seems to arrive whenever I'm not at my desk. In other words, you can't even see the surface of my work space.

Don't even get me started on the crumbs. 

Periodically, though, the piles get too big, the clutter encroaches and I start to get too self-conscious of my self-made mess.  So, I purge. 

It was during one of these purges that I came across an article in Desktop Engineering that I had saved because at the time, it ticked me off.  And when I read it again after its resurfacing, it still made me no less miffed.  Perfect blog fodder.

(Another thing you should know about me, I tend to carry grudges.)

The article was titled "Onshape Beta Goes Live," by Kenneth Wong & Beth Stackpole.  Both of these authors are well known in the CAD industry.  They both know about us and KeyCreator Direct CAD, have spoken with us and have even written about us and our products in articles and blog posts on their respective site(s).  So, it's not like KeyCreator Direct CAD is completely off their radar.

So, that should give you a small clue about why I wasn't happy.

It's the third paragraph of this short article that did it.  I'll quote it here for you so you don't have to go looking for it:

"The software [Onshape] has some direct-editing tools, but they're limited -- that is, in comparison to software like SpaceClaim, Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology or Autodesk Fusion 360 that operates primarily as a direct-editing program. That's a reasonable compromise, since a parametric program's purpose is usually not quick concept exploration but detailed mechanical design."

Whoa.  So, first point I want to raise:

1. Why don't they mention KeyCreator, a program that existed well BEFORE any of the aforementioned Direct Modeling technologies.

Like I said, it's not like the authors don't know about us. And KeyCreator was doing the Direct CAD Modeling thing before anyone else thought it was cool. Do I sound like I'm whining a little bit?  Good, because I am.  Being ignored can get to you.

But what really stands about the paragraph is what I think is a blatant misconception about what Direct CAD really is:  "...a parametric program's purpose is usually not quick concept exploration but detailed mechanical design."

Is that really saying that Direct CAD is ONLY useful for conceptual design and NOT detailed mechanical design?  'Cause that's what it says to me. And that really presses my buttons.

I know that SpaceClaim touts itself as best for upfront conceptual design, mostly, I gather, because they are lacking depth in their modeling tools.  I give them that because they were also bought by a company that is integrating it into the front end of their FEA Analysis software. (What else it plans to do with the software, I have no clue.  I guess I'll just wait and see like everyone else...)  But just because that's their focus doesn't mean it's true for everyone.

So let's get another point straight:

2. KeyCreator Direct CAD is great not only at conceptual design, but as a full-featured CAD modeling package, it's very, very capable of detailed mechanical design.

In fact, with KeyCreator Direct CAD, you can do:

  • conceptual design
  • CAD comparison & design collaboration
  • full multi-physics FEA analysis (add-on product)
  • 2-3 axis machining (add-on product)
  • photorealistic rendering (very inexpensive add-on product), and
  • detailed mechanical design.

With KeyCreator Direct CAD, you can model in:

  • 2D
  • 3D
  • surfaces
  • solids
  • wireframes
  • fully-associated assemblies and layouts,
  • light-weight assemblies
  • referenced assemblies
  • assemblies in one file
  • multi-level assemblies and files
You can start with a sketch, you can start with primitive shapes, or you can even start with someone else's model, regardless of who or what created it.

You can use KeyCreator to interrogate imported parts and derive your manufacturing and/or tooling models.  Easily create molds, or rapidly de-feature models to prep for downstream applications like the aforementioned NC or FEA, or for packaging or documentation. 

Need to share your designs?  Use a variety of export options, including 3D PDF.

I'm sure I'm missing some things, but I'm running out of breath.

So, please. Tell me.  What is it about KeyCreator Direct CAD or Direct Modeling in general that can't be used for detailed mechanical design? Hmm?  Someone please tell me. Because whatever B.S. has been fed to you that says Direct Modeling can't be used for this type of work is clearly just that.  Just ask our customers who are doing all these things and more.





Topics: CAD, FEA

Risks & Rewards in Life and Direct CAD

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Nov 17, 2015

I took a risk last week, taking my 8 year old daughter to see a concert in Boston. And in doing so, we saw more than we bargained for.

The show was a Tuesday night. A school night. I really wanted to see both the opener and headliner. I bought the tickets back in July when they were first available. At the time, I planned to drag my husband along. Fast forward four months, and of course, schedules changed and he effectively bailed on me.

That left me with two tickets and three possible options: don't go; find a sitter and go by myself; or take my daughter with me.  (As a side note, I'll add that most of my friends aren't fans of "my" music.)

So, back to my options and I'm not ashamed to say I used bribery and the vague hope of a day off of school on Wednesday to rope my daughter in as my sidekick.  Did I mention, I really wanted to see these bands?

But sometimes, you get more than you were expecting.

We are on our way to the show. Two blocks away from the theatre, we roll up to a stop light.  At that light, a car is stopped with doors ajar and people on cell phones.  I don't immediately grasp what's going on until I see the man laying face down in the road.


I can't tell you exactly what happened, but the "event" clearly had happened minutes before and help was on the way.

I recall thinking that maybe my daughter wouldn't notice. (Yeah, right.) Just as I manuever to get around the stopped cars and out of the way, the man lifts his head, exposing that he's indeed bloodied up.

"Mom, is that man laying in the road?" My answer is interrupted by, "Mom, he has a bloody nose! Did he trip and fall? Did he get hit by a car? Is he hurt? Could he have been killed? What happened?"  I'm sure there were other questions I missed in the barrage that was thrown at me.

The little mom voice in my head (the one that I thought I left at home) tells me to be truthful and use it as a teachable moment.  I tell her that he likely did get hit by a car and that help was on the way.  And that's why we need to be very careful when crossing the street in the city.

Vivian with Trisha Gene Brady of The Black Lillies
Vivian with Trisha Gene Brady of The Black Lillies

I looked at the night as a way of exposing her to some awesome live music and talented artists. I think music is something that's just as beneficial as getting a good night's sleep or spending a day at school.  Maybe more, because I also think seeing musicians at work provides a love of music that will last a lifetime. That's a huge reward in my view.

So yeah, I was a little worried about keeping my daughter up late on a school night. I'm sure I got plenty of looks (that I ignored). Was I expecting a life lesson on why you should be careful crossing the street? Nope, not at all.  I just knew that no matter what, we'd be glad we went and would recall a fun night.

Sometimes you gotta face some risks, even unknown ones, if you want to reap the rewards. That's true in life and even when it comes to adopting a new, Direct CAD software.

If you're considering adding Direct CAD, be prepared for:

  1. The unexpected. It happens, even with the best planning. Something is going to crop up that you can't ignore and you're going to need to address it. It could be part of the learning curve.  It could be an install gone awry. It could be your users throwing a tantrum or asking a thousand questions. No matter what it is, I can assure you that our Support Team will be there to help you through it.
  2. Funny looks.  When you tell people that you're ignoring the "popular" CAD (or music) in favor of something a little less mainstream, I give you permission to ignore the looks, the jokes and other heard-it-all-before comments that are sure to come.  What matters is that the software (or music) is what floats your boat, not theirs.
  3. Loosing a little sleep. Anything that requires some planning might cause you some worry. And there might be some late nights as you make the switch, but I know it won't be long until you can share some of your success stories with the naysayers.
  4. The rewarding sigh of relief when you know, deep down, you made the right choice for you and your business.

To paraphrase some of our Kubotek Champions (aka KeyCreator Advocates), they've clearly owned up to the fact that they used other CAD software. Some were even dismayed to be forced to move to KeyCreator. But now?  They love Direct CAD and the ease of use and freedom it affords.  They have also noted that some contrary coworkers are using KeyCreator more and more, even though they might not openly admit it (yet). 

I'm sure some of our newer users can relate to the risks vs. rewards they faced when getting up and running with KeyCreator.  I'd love to hear from you about your experiences in the comments section. 

Has anyone else faced similar risks vs. rewards decisions in life?  Did you get more than you bargained for? What was the end result?

PS. We did have a great night, got home late, went to school/work the next day, a little groggy, but with a few stories to tell, no doubt. And my 8 year old, music loving sidekick? She officially turned 9 today.  Happy Birthday!




Topics: CAD, CAD Software, Direct CAD

Here's How Photorealistic Rendering Can Make You Shine

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Nov 10, 2015

Wheel Rims Rendered with KeyCreator ArtisanKeyCreator Artisan is a photorealistic rendering add-on product that is fully integrated with KeyCreator Direct CAD. That means you can use KeyCreator Artisan to easily make any model created in, or imported into KeyCreator, look real before it even exists. 

Simply place the rendered image into a realistic environment and have a blast changing the design’s colors or materials, lighting, or even scenery options. The result is a high quality, realistic mage that you can use in a multitude of ways.

That sounds fun, doesn’t it? Good, because it is.

But besides being fun, photorealistic rendering can also be very useful to you and your business. Here are several ways photorealistic rendering can help you keep costs under control while at the same time, impressing your customers so you can make more money.

In other words, photorealistic rendering can really make you shine... a shiny new set of wheels!

For instance, rendering can:

Shorten Your Design to Manufacture Cycle

Use a photorealistic rendering as part of your design review process. Team members (you, your customer and/or your employees) can see exactly what the end-product will look like. The design review team can then offer feedback on the design itself, colors, materials, etc.—long before production or physical prototyping. In this stage of the design to manufacture cycle, it’s easier to make changes that affect the look and feel of a product. With multiple options or iterations to consider, decisions made earlier result in the product getting finished faster and without incurring unnecessary production costs—which brings us to the next reason in which photorealistic rendering can be useful.

Reduce Costs

Adding a photorealistic snapshot to the design review documentation makes it easier to visualize products and consider material options and related costs as part of your design review process. The rendered image can be placed in environments for size perspective and imagery. A photorealistic image can easily reveal the need to make changes to the design for aesthetics or for better manufacturing efficiency. Making changes to CAD files and photorealistic renderings is much cheaper –and easier—than making changes once physical prototyping or production begins.

In addition, photorealistic rendering means your marketing department isn’t paying a graphic designer to recreate images of the finished product or spending time with expensive photoshoots—leading us to yet another reason to consider photorealistic rendering.

Attract and Win More Business

Your website, digital media and printed brochures say a lot about you. Draw attention to yourself with attractive, rendered product images so you stand out from the crowd. You can easily show products in different colors, materials, or in various environments – the possibilities are endless. You can also use the rendered images to sell products that you have not yet produced, saving up-front costs, expenses and inventory.

Plus, by using rendering, you can showcase your expertise with stunning visual clarity. Including real looking products and designs in your proposals shows your prospective customer you have the design and/or manufacturing know-how that will earn you credibility and trust. Winning just one bid will easily pay for your investment in photorealistic rendering.

Okay, so now you see how rendering can help in your day-to-day process. Why choose KeyCreator Artisan?

Time savings

It’s integrated into KeyCreator Direct CAD. Don’t waste time exporting files to another system every time you want to create a rendering. The integration means any changes in your CAD model will automatically flow to KeyCreator Artisan, saving you even more time.

Quick to learn

Most people don’t have a lot of time to learn complicated software. Although this is a full-featured photorealistic rendering package, it is easy to learn and easy to use. You won’t spend days trying to figure out how to use it.

Save money

KeyCreator Artisan has a list price of only $495. Competing rendering packages can cost $1,000 or more. KeyCreator Artisan is the only package you need to create real looking product images. When you think about the time and money you can save up front in your design to manufacturing process, as well as money spent from using professional quality marketing images, adding photorealistic rendering to your CAD system is probably the easiest decision you’ll make all day.

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Topics: CAD, Photorealistic Rendering