Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

The Folly of One Company CAD / PLM Thinking

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Sun, Jun 13, 2010

My reflections after meeting with 100's of Engineers and Manufacturing/Engineering Management at Spring Tradeshows: 

I like meeting with people at trade shows and learning about what they design and how they get products made. Our Spring trade shows have come to a close and upon reflection I have a few insights based on the 100's of people that I have spoken with.

Living in the CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM world one begins to think that your CAD/PLM is some sort of a religion.  But my thinking on this is changing.   I see many managers and CAD/PLM users very interested in the latest CAD/PLM tools, such as 3D Direct CAD, particularly KeyCreator, because of its translators for native NX, Pro/E, CATIA, Solidworks, Inventor and also for its unified design environment: the ability to work in 2D, solids, surfaces all at the same time in the same workspace.  This makes for a very flexible PLM/CAD tool. These folks are very curious about what is available outside of their protected PLM Environment - sometimes under the watchful eye of the "CAD Mafia."  OK, tell me you haven't heard that term before -or a varient of it? (And if you dont hear from me ever again, you know that they got me!)

The real issue that I see that holds companies back from harnessing their full potential is the incorrect thinking of senior management regarding PLM/CAD tools; The thinking that has been conditioned into their being by the Traditional PLM companies.  This thinking says that you need to have all of your PLM tools from the same vendor.  Well that makes perfect sense if you are the vendor.  But for the designer or manufacturer in the supply chain, its like saying, you need to have all left-handed wrenches.

Supply chains can be very simple or extremely complex.  The design may start from a small company then the files are possibly sent to a large OEM for refinement, then the assembly is broken apart and sourced to the various manufacturing plants both internally and externally.  Then the parts are assembled in various other plant locations and finally shipped for distribution.

Is it possible to have all of the supply chain (internal and external) using the same PLM tools and versions of these tools and to have all of the engineers fully trained on these tools?  Even if this was possible, would you want a fully trained (read expensive) Engineer using CATIA to detail a simple 2D drawing of a fixture?  It just doesn't make (financial) sense.  Yet,this happens in many companies.  Or these very expensive and complex PLM tools are put into the hands of people that for no fault of their own aren't fully trained in all of the complexities of the tools that they are forced to use for the sake of "one company PLM/CAD." (Who could be fully trained in all of the complexities of some of these very complex tools?)

Agile companies on the other hand, put the right tools into the right hands of the properly skilled engineers and techs appropriately to complete the work for optimum results.

Agile companies,agile supply chains that are striving for maximum productivity, can benefit from the plethora of today's new and innovative PLM tools that simply aren't available from the Traditional old PLM companies.

Kubotek KeyCreator and Kubotek Validation Tool are two of these innovative PLM/CAD products that can improve productivity, profitability and quality if senior management is able to shed the "one company PLM" thinking.  

The benefits of embracing new and innovative technology within the supply chain can give your supply chain the sustainable competitive advantage needed in this ultra-competitive global economy.   So shed that One Company CAD/PLM thinking and embrace the new and innovative tools that don't lock you into one way of working or thinking.

Thank you for reading, and I solicit your thoughts!


PS I hope to see many "Enlightened" senior managers at our Fall Shows.

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD, agile manufacturing, Supply Chain PLM

New Manufacturing CAD/CAM/Machining Paradigm - CNN Video

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Mon, Apr 12, 2010

 I was at the gym as usual during my lunch hour and was watching the various TVs as they peaked my interest.

I saw a promo on CNN for their upcoming feature on high tech jobs replacing the old low tech manufacturing jobs.

They featured a South Carolina Machining Company, Adex Machining Technologies. The company focuses on the machinists who are designing fixtures using CAD and developing toolpaths using CAM and they are actually the ones on the floor machining the parts!

The point to the story is that these a well paying jobs and they are skilling jobs and not the dirty, unskilled manufacturing jobs of the past. (CNN called it lean manufacturing.)

The other point is that one person can do all jobs required to get the parts made. There is no division of skilled and less skilled workers. This is the essence of what we have been "preaching" at Kubotek.  That is why our tools are very practical. They are perfect for the manufacturing plants of today and tomorrow, where the traditional design/manufacturing/plant barriers do not exist and where one person or teams can truly do the whole job.  We salute CNN for running the story and ADEX Machining for being the manufacturer of today and of the future.  If you want to watch the clip, I've included it here.  CNN The-new-face-of-blue-collar.

Thank you for reading and I covet your comments.


Topics: Manufacturing, agile manufacturing, retooling, new manufacturing jobs, CAD/CAM

Commentary on 8 reasons Engineers should spend their free time in the Machine Shop

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Mon, Sep 28, 2009

8 Reasons Engineers Should Spend Their Free Time In The Machine Shop

I found this recent post by T. Brian Jones very interesting. We meet with hundreds of engineers every year, maybe more. We hear the "old-timers" lament about the lack of practical skill that many "CAD programmers" have in designing products that are manufacturable.

I think this is closely related to the need for Engineering and Manufacturing to spend more time understanding each other.   It is also closely related to the ability of OEMs and suppliers to collaborate effectively.

I found the 3rd reason very applicable:

3. You can draw a lot of things in Pro/E and SolidWorks that you can’t make in the real world.

Kubotek software - KeyCreator CAD, our Validation Tool our Spectrum Viewers are designed for ease of creation/editing, comparing, validating and viewing of 3D/2D models, drawings and PMI.  Our KeyCreator CAD direct modeling software allows you to work using solid, surface, and wirefame, as your workflow dictates. This allows engineering, manufacturing and quality the flexibility and precision necessary to make decisions and collaborate to make manufacturable and cost effective designs and products.

Do you have stories about receiving manufacturable designs from manufacturing, we'd love to hear them.

Nice list T. Brian Jones!

Thank you for you insights.



Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, agile manufacturing, 3D CAD, Job Shop, Manufacturing CAD, 3D solid modeling

Manufacturing Outlook - Are you ready?

Posted by Mark Parent on Fri, Sep 11, 2009


Most recent news coming out about manufacturing points toward the fact that the economy is at its bottom. This tells me that we are probably on our way up, since current news is usually about the recent past. I'll ask the question again; has your company improved itself to handle the business that will be available in the near future. Are your engineers armed with the best software CAD tools? Have you checked out how powerful KeyCreator is as a CAD tool?
The manufacturing sector should begin to rebound in 2010, with MAPI forecasting 14 of 24 industries to show gains, led by housing starts with a 59% rebound from historically low levels. The turnaround should continue in 2011 with growth likely in all 24 industries, including seven by double digits, led by housing starts at 40% and industrial machinery at 25%.





Topics: Flexible CAD, Manufacturing, agile manufacturing, 3D CAD, Job Shop, Manufacturing CAD

Recognizing Features

Posted by John McCullough on Wed, Aug 12, 2009
Someone pointed out to me today a list of academic papers on feature recognition dating from 1988 ( It is interesting to consider the early work done with geometric models and other directions mainstream modeling might have gone if more interest was paid to these ideas back then. It seems that most of this work with feature recognition was in the context of automating the creation of or feeding parameterized construction history trees which was the popular trend in 3D design at that time. Secondly feature recognition was widely seen as a benefit for generating parameterized machining operation lists.
To me a central part of Kubotek's novel idea that has sparked the CAD industry's recent trend toward geometry-based modeling is that the largest benefit of feature recognition is not in the automation of design. Like other projects from the late 80s and early 90s, Kubotek's software can find patterns of geometric faces and in appropriate cases create parameterized features from them. What is different is that Kubotek software knows that one view of the features is only useful for some of the users of the geometry. Whether original construction steps or recognized from geometry, features are not the central definition of the model, they are always disposable.
This outlook on features prevents Kubotek software from locking designs down to just one user's view of the features. This translates into valuable design freedom and agility. There certainly are occasions in which design can be locked down and automated but more often difficult problems require constant adaptation to insights gained as the project progresses. Besides does locked down and automated sound like any fun to you?

Topics: agile manufacturing, 3D CAD, Feature recognition, geometry-based modeling

Retooling Manufacturing Business in Downturn and Upturn

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Mon, Aug 10, 2009
So there was good news on the job front today, sort of, in the US, not as many jobs were lost this month and the numbers for the last 2 months were revised on the positive side. It looks like we may have hit the bottom and we are on the way back up again. On the down side, many are still out of work and it may take years to get them back to work again.

Companies in times like these spend time figuring out how to do more with less. They get lean and implement agile strategies. As spending goes up and people get back to work we sometimes get lax and stop focusing on the things that increased our profits and productivity.

I encourage all of our partners, customers and friends to continue to look at lean and agile strategies and also strategies for increasing revenues, becoming more vertical, and expanding offerings to your present and potential customers.

Some value-added services I have seen companies working on include:

* adding the ability to do FEA, finite element analysis, for customer's product designs
* adding translation capabilities to their software to improve their ability to quote, collaborate and edit customer files
* improve marketing and collaboration with the addition of photo-realistic rendering
* remove paper from the manufacturing floor and replace it with computers and viewers to eliminate costly errors
* adding the capability to geometrically compare and validate CAD files to reduce waste and scrap
* train engineers in the latest features of their software, thereby speeding design and editing from 20% to 10x
* add low cost integrated NC capabilities to the CAD software to replace high-cost complex NC software.

These are all great strategies for improving productivity and increasing revenues and profits. Which strategies would provide you with the most immediate and substantial positive net results? Be sure to determine that and work them into your plans for the remainder of the year.
As the economy makes a comeback, remember to continue your continuous improvement programs and prepare yourself for both the upturns and the next downturn.

I'd like to hear other strategies you are using to improve your sales, profits, reduce costs and waste.

If you'd like to know more about the above strategies, please call, email or tweet us and we can share more with you.

Here's to an improving economy and improving our businesses.

Thank you for reading and commenting,


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Topics: CAD, CAD training, Manufacturing, Optimize, agile manufacturing, 3D Software, retooling, 3D CAD, FEA