Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

Questions for the New Kid on the Block

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Feb 02, 2016

This morning, I read a promotional email from the new CAD kids on the block, Onshape.

I usually scan through these types of emails quickly and then move on. This time, however, I actually paid attention. And as I'm reading the information, I found myself asking some questions.

But first, I want to congratulate Onshape for releasing their product. It seems like they did it overnight, but that's just because my sense of time is totally off. Jon Hirschtick (of PTC and Solidworks fortune and fame) has assembled a great team of knowledgeable experts. And it's great they are looking at ways to make design and manufacturing more effective and productive. That's why we're all here, right?

But anyway, back to my story. I found that I had a lot of legitimate questions bouncing around in this noggin of mine. So I wrote them down.

Question 1.

I find this one pretty ironic.  And quite honestly, it's my biggest concern.

If Onshape provides full cloud based modeling on a web browser, what happens if you have poor internet connection? 

The irony in my questions lies in this:  as I'm trying to view their informational video, my internet connection was so poor that the video actually cut-out. I had choppy audio and no visual other than fuzzy lines on a black screen.  No joke.

And since I'm assuming CAD files and modeling are on par with 2 minute marketing videos, how do you cope with poor connection speeds? Do you just have to work at excruciatingly slow speeds? 

Or what happens if your internet connection just suddenly drops?  Do you lose your work?  Or do you only lose the work completed after the last auto-save. (Their video explained that they are constantly saving your work as you go.  I assume this is an auto-save feature, so that's what I'm calling it.)

Internet speeds vary widely across the country (and sometimes across the office). My biggest concern with using a cloud-based modeler is speed and connectivity.

Question 2.

The Onshape information I received says you can " without worrying about overwriting someone else’s work." But can you simply break someone else's work? While you're both working on it? At the same time. I'm imagining rebuilding errors the likes that history-based CAD users experience.

Question 3.

Another huge pet-peeve of mine. I spend a lot of time crafting something. Mulling it over. And when I finally figure out what I want to do and then..."Sorry, your session has timed out due to inactivity." And so you go through the log in process again. Argh. And there goes your great idea. Just curious. Will your sessions ever time out due to inactivity?

Question 4.

I've received two emails from Onshape with the following subjects: Are you frustrated with Desktop CAD and Frustrated with CAD file incompatibility? 

Please explain what you mean by frustrated. Frustrated how and with what exactly? 

And how does Onshape address CAD file incompatibility? I assume you mean that will go away once EVERYONE uses Onshape? Because other than having your entire design team, vendors and customers using the same product, I don't see how Onshape addresses the issues of a multi-CAD environment. I see it as just another CAD tool. Maybe even something similar to Adobe Acrobat.

I know your website says everyone can share your files with anyone, who can then freely view/edit the file, or download it to another format. I'm also reading this to mean everyone has to become proficient with your program to make this scenario work, right?

Question 5.

Onshape mentions over and over how it improved processes over "traditional CAD." I dig that. But maybe I'm reading between the lines. Is Onshape really just cloud-based traditional CAD?  Or history-based CAD with some streamlined features and a different naming scheme? 

With all the new technologies and know-how available today, I hope it's more than just the same old stuff re-purposed and put on the cloud. With the fire power the Onshape team seems to have, that's what I would expect.

Question 6.

If your subscription runs out, do you lose access to your old files? Where do they go? If all your files are stored in the cloud, how do you access them off-line? Or do you? I assume you can save them locally, but you won't be able to do anything to them unless you're connected. Or have files saved-off as another format so you can edit them on a different software.  I'm thinking there are still going to be people and places that just don't have access to the cloud for a variety of reasons.

My two cents.

Onshape is a full cloud based system. They should be able update their product on a frequent basis. Being able to deliver product updates periodically can be very helpful. In my experience, it can often be maddening, too.

I use cloud based systems every day (I can name 4 of them, at least), and I'm used to having new features being introduced suddenly that just totally screw up my productivity. Sometimes things get moved, sometimes features go away completely.

Deep down, I know they are trying to fix things and make them better. However, they just totally screwed my process. It can be frustrating and frankly breeds mixed feelings about the products' companies. Some days I hate them. Other days I love them.

I also know that using cloud-based programs comes with the risk of outages, slowness, madness, etc with the reward of being able to access data from anywhere, on any device. Like I said, I use several cloud-based applications and I use them often. So, perhaps some of my questions to the New Kid come out of my experience and wish-list of what cloud software could/shouldn't do.

If anyone else has received emails from Onshape, or read any articles about them, did you think the same things?

PS. Given the time, I'm sure I could really dig deep into Onshape information or sign up to get access to their product. But I need to get a few more things done first...

Topics: CAD, CAD Software

The Stuff KeyCreator Advocates Are Made Of

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Dec 22, 2015

adHub-final.jpgWe have a small, yet growing, group of KeyCreator users who actively advocate for Kubotek products. Most of these advocates participate in our exclusive VIP community called Kubotek Champions - a website that gives the group more opportunities to engage with us and each other.

Kubotek Champions can be a lot of fun and provides just enough fodder for that mental break we all need from time to time. But it isn't all fun and games. Sometimes we ask our advocates to give a little more of their time and themselves.

michael-dean-lavelle.jpgEnter Michael Dean, CAD Designer at Lavelle Industries, Inc., in Burlington, WI. Lavelle makes custom rubber and plastic molded parts from consumer goods to automotive applications. The company also has its own line of plumbling related products.

Dean is pretty active in the advocate community and has a lot of insight into the ways in which CAD software is used, not only in his company, but in design and manufacturing in general.

As a member of Kubotek Champions, Dean has happily agreed to help us out in a number of ways, including being a reference for any new-to-KeyCreator customers. He's also referred KeyCreator to other CAD users because he believes so strongly in the product.

What Dean probably wasn't expecting for his efforts was to be asked to write a blog. For that, he truly stepped up his advocacy efforts.

It's one thing to write a blog if you write them all the time. It's another thing to write one when your day-to-day job doesn't require it. So, writing a post, and saying all the things you want to say, can be rather daunting.

Don't feel too sorry for Dean, though, because it turns out he can write some pretty good sh--tuff via email.  And this is just conversational email. Not at all what he was intending for a debut blog. But I liked what he had to say, and darnit, I wanted to use it! And even better for Dean because he doesn't need to suffer needlessly through writing a blog post. Leave the suffering to me!

Why KeyCreator?

At Dean's company, he is the person who works with imported files from customers because they inevitably need someting done to them to make them manufacturable. He'll also suggest/make changes to help customers save money-something for which they are grateful.

Being able to do these things is exactly why he chooses to use KeyCreator Direct CAD.

Nearly all the files Dean receives arrive as STEP files, regardless of what system originally created them. Making necessary edits to the dumb geometry (without having to start over from scratch) is a hallmark of Direct CAD. Says Dean, "I use KeyCreator to make dumb solids smart again."

KeyCreator can also help Dean heal imported native files. He recalls importing parts and seeing things like vertex gaps and missing faces. Dean says, "It’s very rare that KeyCreator won’t heal the model." 

Of course, other modelers can heal parts, but he says it's not always easy. And the more complex the fixes, the harder it becomes, if it isn't impossible without starting over. 

Dean also reported that some engineers ask for his help with imported models when things like an edge blend or corner fillet need to be removed and the parametric modeler they are using can't do it. (Dean doesn't gloat with this happens, but I'm pretty sure I would.)

Speaking of removing blends and fillets, Dean says he occassionally uses KeyCreator to help prep customer part files for finite element analysis (FEA). KeyCreator is extremely good for defeaturing models for downstream operations like FEA or other manufacturing operations. So good on Dean for highlighting that!

What Makes KeyCreator Different?

Dean, of course, has had experience with other modelers, including a popular parametrics based software. (Solidworks, if you really must know.) He finds one sharp contrast in the way KeyCreator works versus parametric modeling - that being Direct CAD has no set formula in how you design. 

With KeyCreator Direct CAD, you design in the manner that's best for you and your team or processes.  As long as there is geometry, the steps used to create it are irrelevant. KeyCreator provides options and freedom of design. It allows you to work quicker, yet with no less accuracy.

Based on his experience, Deans says, "Parametrics sound real slick at first. It’s so easy to just go back into a feature and change the sketch. But if you think about it, there are some serious booby-traps lying in wait."

He explains, "Let's say, for instance, you have a feature that has other features further down the tree constrained to it. If you make a change that alters or breaks that constraint, your model may develop serious errors. You’ll have to go into each of the errors and fix them, one by one. (Only after you finally figure out exactly what the error is in the first place.) Which, when doing so, may cause OTHER constrained features further down the tree to develop errors.

In other words, every fix you make could create new/multiple problems. The more features your model has, the more you risk these kinds of problems. In the end, you may spend more time fixing your model than you did creating it in the first place."

I wonder if Dean has read an eBook available on our website that talks about the time engineers waste each week fixing broken geometry? His experience matches up with the findings of The 3D Collaboration and Interoperabilitiy Study. If you're curious, you can read the eBook here.

KeyCreator Advocates Are...

Dean's email conversations were actually a lot longer than this blog post. I learned some interesting things about KeyCreator vs. parametric-based modeling. I also learned Dean likes the Green Bay Packers and is an aviation buff. He also enjoys long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Just kidding! I made that last part up.

But overall, I learned that our KeyCreator advocates feel strongly about their CAD software because of all that it allows them to accomplish. Could they accomplish the same things with other software? Sure, but it would probably take them longer and cause unnecessary stress and rework. 

To me, KeyCreator advocates are the kind of no-nonsense, no-frills, get sh-tuff done kind of people. They are also all kinds of nice and made of sugar and spice and heaps of CAD and product design knowledge. It's a good thing, too, because otherwise, you wouldn't have a blog post to read.



Topics: CAD, CAD Software, FEA, KeyCreator, Kubotek, Direct CAD, CAD users, CAD reuse

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

KeyCreator 4D is here!

Posted by Michael Cole on Wed, Apr 01, 2015

Here at Kubotek, we’re constantly working on giving you the best Direct CAD software we can. That's why we are proud to announce the launch of KeyCreator 4D! Step aside 3D CAD. Your time is over 2D CAD.  Make way for the future. Yes, that's right. Make way for 4D CAD.

KeyCreator 4D will be the world’s first ever 4D CAD solution, and it will be the last 4D CAD you’ll ever need.

So, what is 4D CAD?  It's quite simple, really. KeyCreator 4D takes all of the elements of KeyCreator 3D Direct CAD and adds the ability to travel in time.  Easily create eternal, timeless structures whenever you want.  Dynamic and dimension driven editing are very powerful design tools, but imagine the power your designs will have with the free, fully integrated fourth dimension of time. Thanks to true direct modeling technology, our software has always been a time saver. But now you can literally save all the time you need! That's because with KeyCreator 4D, there are no deadlines. You can use 4D editing on a timeline stretching back to the beginning of…well, time itself.

Have you ever heard of the Colosseum in Rome? We have a team who created that so it will be able to stand for more than 2000 years!  The Pyramids?  That's us too, thanks to KeyCreator 4D and a brand new 4D printer.

One of our beta testers said, “I was just playing with the 4D interface, and trying out some basic shapes. I didn’t have a particular design in mind, so I just made a few and scattered them around.  Later that day I was hearing about this thing called ‘Stonehenge.’ Apparently my design became a big deal. Thank you KeyCreator 4D!”

One fallback of 4D CAD is that in ten years from now, some of the history-based CAD software will begin dabbling in 4D as well.  Unfortunately these companies still can’t get their history timeline to run without rebuild errors. The result? The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Lost City of Atlantis. And because they cannot read native CAD file formats, the Inca Empire will still not exist.

It’s alright though, thanks to KeyCreator 4D’s translators we can easily import and fix those problems before they even happen.  Because really. Everyone knows that towers shouldn't lean.  And how do you lose an entire city (unless it wasn't built right in the first place)?  By the way, Atlantis really is the best aquatic city in the world.  We take all of our employees there for our yearly retreat, and it’s glorious.

Check out this new KeyCreator 4D video now!

Topics: CAD Software, CAD Software Revolution

A Dozen Reasons to LOVE KeyCreator CAD software

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Tue, Feb 14, 2012

I love KeyCreator Heart with Arrow

1. It's Direct CAD Software - You don't need to fight with the history tree to create and edit your model.  KeyCreator is a lover, not a fighter.

2. It can open and edit almost ANY CAD file.  Some CAD software products can't even accurately open a file from previous version of software.  But we can and in some cases we open their files more accurately than their newer versions open them! (What's not to love?)

3. KeyCreator CAD software has really cool and functional viewing capabilities.  You can use planes to cut right through the model and dynamically move the plane through the model and see whatever you want, heck, you can even cut a section and save it if you like.

4. Detailing layouts:  You have more tools in detailing than Carter has little liver pills  (whatever those are). But seriously, if you want to create layouts that look like little Picasso's, KeyCreator is the tool for you!

5. Freedom.  It's your data.  If you love something, set it free.  No complicated file structures, no PLM system to lock you in and keep your data.  You can freely move your data as you wish.

6. Dynamics - The DynaHandle lets you push, pull and drag geometry and arrays of geometry to your heart's content.

7. Flexibility - You can create geometry using 3D wire frames,  solid modeling, surfaces, and 2D geometry all in the same workspace.  Creating and editing geometry has never been easier.

8. Compare - KeyCreator Compare automates the CAD comparison process.  Graphically see the exact changes right on the screen.  Useful in new product design, quoting and manufacturing.

9. Low cost machining. 2- or 3-axis milling is a cinch.  KeyCreator's got that too.

10. Support - KeyCreator has the best support in the world.  Call us, chat us up, email us. We'll get right back to you with the right answer with a smile.

11. Price - KeyCreator has a lower initial price and cost of ownership than all all of the major 3D CAD vendors.  When you add up all of the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining your software, the savings are significant.

12. Ease of Learning & Ease of Use. (Is that 2 reasons? OK it's a Baker's dozen.)  It doesn't takes weeks to learn all of the various commands and features of the software.  You can get going in a matter of hours.  In fact our initial training is just that - hours long, not days, not weeks. You get productive right away!

Topics: 3D Direct CAD, CAD Software, 3D CAD

The Joy of CAD Comparison

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Thu, Feb 02, 2012

Blogger's note - there are 3 links to blogs about Kubotek's new CAD comparison software KeyCreator Compare, below.

You know what's really fun?

Getting a new CAD model with revisions from your customer when you are already starting to manufacture the tool/mold/die or the product itself.

Yeah, that is really fun.

Especially when it comes on a Friday afternoon, say around 2:45 PM and you need to determine what the changes are and make sure that the evening and weekend shifts are making the right product.

Yeah, that's really a blast!

And if the CAD model is in Step or IGES and yours in is some other format, that makes it even better.

And let's say its in inches and you modeled in millimeters. 

Especially killer.

I love translating files... and then trying to figure out if the translation changed anything...

That's the bomb.

Then once your done figuring all that out...   (Sorry guys I can't go out for a beer after, I'm trying to get rid of the beer gut anyway.)

And then trying to figure out if they actually told you about all of the changes.  CAD Comparison, manual process...Fun!

Let's color the old CAD file Red (pretty, but Red is dead, they say) and then make the new CAD file Blue! (Blue New! - how poetic!)

Now comes the very most fun part!  All the stuff that is the same is, you know, Purple. But what about the red and blue areas?  Did you catch them all? This is even better than playing Where's Waldo! 

(Guess I'll be late for dinner again- but this is so worth it!)

 And what about Product Manufacturing Instructions?  You know - those kind of important things about how to make the part and the tolerances stuff?   Those aren't going to be purple or blue or red are they?   That's the real challenge...

That's what I live for, that's why I spent all of this time in school, learning to design and manufacture things, to enjoy hours comparing one old CAD file to another, just so we don't screw up and lose money on the job.  Yeah way cool!

OK, by now I am sure you get it. Manually comparing CAD files is about as much fun as taking an ice pick and jabbing it into your eye.

But, you don't have to do that anymore, there is a better way.

Yes, really.

Kubotek just came our with some really cool CAD Comparison technology.  The Kubotek Comparison suite.

KeyCreator Compare Is/Was comparision

And some really smart people (let's call them CAD Guru's) are getting their hands on it and telling you how useful and easy it is.

Don't take my word for it.

Read what these CAD gurus wrote about KeyCreator Compare:

Ralph Grabowski - KeyCreator Compare

John Evans review KeyCreator Compare

Matt Lombard review - KeyCreator Compare CAD software

Just think - no more time wasted making sure that the CAD file revisions were communicated properly and no more getting yelled at for missing a change and no more Friday afternoons missing beers with the guys (well, we can't promise that!)

Thanks for reading.

And we would love to hear from you.

 Click me



Topics: CAD Software, CAD comparison, CAD Validation, KeyCreator Compare Reivews

Aberdeen Study: Your CAD system should import other's Native files

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, Feb 11, 2011

Did you see the latest multi-CAD research from Aberdeen group?

It says that the most productive companies, Best in Cbest in class trophylass performers, the ones that are kicking their competitor's butts, use CAD software that supports working with multiple Native CAD formats as their primary CAD modeler. 

This just published study says that says Multi-CAD is a fact - 82% of companies are using more than 3 different CAD systems to get their jobs done, but Best-in-class companies primary CAD solution is Mutli-CAD friendly.

So next time your friendly CAD rep tells you to just standardize on their system, if the system doesn't play nice with other vendor's native file formats - you may want to go looking for a solution that does!

What result do Best in class companies produce?

  • 90% of their projects are completed on time.
  • 91% are meeting quality targets.
  • Plus, they are reducing costs and man hours on their projects.

Impressive huh?

Furthermore - the more successful companies use a CAD tool that  will recognize geometry from the imported data - a hole is recognized as a hole.

Multi-CAD import of native geometry that also has the inteligence to recognize the features in the model allows companies to truly reuse data.  Whether a design firm is collaborating with their customers, or a manufacturing company is receiving revisions of an assembly this mutli-CAD capability saves time in having to remodel from scratch.  This abity to reuse, is the key to the Best-in-class companies performace gains over other companies

Click here to  download the report, but do it soon, it can only be downloaded for free until March 4th.

Thanks for reading -

Kubotek USA - Masters of Geometry


image courtesy of Suat Eman /

Topics: CAD Software, CAD data reuse, Multi-CAD, Aberdeen CAD report, CAD reuse, CAD Geometry

10 signs that your CAD Software is Wrong for your organization

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Wed, Dec 08, 2010

describe the imageCAD Software is a critical tool for manufacturers and product design companies.   Many companies have decided to standardize on a particular CAD Software tool or tools because it’s the most popular or because that is what they have used in the past.  In the past, 3D CAD meant history-based CAD.  With the evolution of Direct CAD modeling and other newer CAD viewing and Validation tools, your CAD environment can be more productive and help you to leverage the time, skills, and creativity of your organization - paying great business dividends.  Review these signs that your CAD tools aren’t up to snuff and see if it might be time for you to consider a CAD upgrade.

Your CAD software may be wrong for your organization if:

  1. What should be simple changes to designs sometimes take a day or week because they clash with the potential changes anticipated when the model was created.
  2. Your customer sent you a new CAD model and you can’t determine where the changes are without overlaying one drawing over another and changing their colors. And then you still aren’t sure that you found all of the changes.
  3. You support one CAD package for 3D and one for drawings and you pay for maintenance and education on both.
  4. You are still designing in 2D because 3D is too hard to learn.
  5. Your software is so old that it won’t run properly on  Windows 7. 
  6. In order to run a simulation someone needs to start from scratch and remodel the product to simplify it.
  7. Large files are crashing your system.
  8. When you walk by your designer’s computer it usually says “rebuilding.”  (And the designer is at the coffee machine.)
  9. You are losing jobs to the competition because you need a CAD operator to open a customer’s files in order to create quotations.
  10. You bought the most popular CAD package because “everyone is using it”, but your productivity plummeted and your CAD vendor tells you it’s because you need “more training.”

Does one or more of the situations above pertain to you?  Kubotek USA may have the CAD Software, Multi-CAD Viewer or CAD validation/comparison tool to boost your productivity in 2011.  Check out all of our products or request free trials today at .

Topics: CAD Software, 3D CAD, CAD software analysis, CAD Software issues

One Step Assembly Configurations with KeyCreator

Posted by John Agoglia on Mon, Dec 06, 2010
Content of this Blog provided by  describe the image

This KeyCreator Power Play provides a powerful example  of why in many assembly design situations KeyCreator is a better solution than the super-sophisticated feature based modelers like SolidWorks.

We’ve all seen demos of configurator files built in SolidWorks that allow a user to create entire families of parts. They are certainly impressive but they do require a large investment in developing link variables and driving spreadsheets to make them work. Unfortunately, all of this background work seriously interrupts the normal creative design flow and in many cases has to be substantially redone as the design goes through successive iterations. (No one likes to talk about the big bear in the room when you are using a feature-based modeler: That is, in many cases substantial design changes result in a feature tree that will not regenerate without errors. This then necessitates a partial or complete reconstruction of the model.)


Users of feature-based parametric modelers love to demonstrate how they can create an assembly like the stainless steel workstation at right and then develop a driving spreadsheet that allows them to make a family of products. (In this case, benches are different widths.)

Now seeing a canned demo of this is really impressive. All you need is a box of popcorn and you sit back and watch as multiple versions of the product appear!

The problem is that for any decent assembly, you have to spend a substantial amount of time creating the spreadsheet, checking the relationships, and testing to make sure that everything works. That’s why you always see this as a canned demo. You would finish the popcorn and fall asleep if you had to wait while the spreadsheet was built!

There are 32 components in the basic assembly illustrated above. In order to build a product configurator in Solid Works (That’s what they call it. It sounds impressive so you feel like you got something for all the money you spent!) you would need to control the dimensions and positions on all of these components. That makes the process tedious and creates a lot of room for errors.Using KeyCreator for One Step Assembly Configuration

More importantly, creating the spreadsheet requires the designer to break the creative train in the design process. I can tell you from experience that that’s the last thing you want to do when you are on a creative binge.

In addition, more often than not, you will wind up making iterative changes in the design several times between the beginning of the project and release to production. Every time, you’ll need to update the spreadsheet to make the magic happen. If this is starting to seem like you’re a hamster, running on a wheel, you get the picture!

In KeyCreator, you can instantly configure any number of bench sizes without creating a spreadsheet or interrupting your creative flow in any way! Let’s say we want to add 9 inches to each side of the 24 inch wide bench to make a 42 inch wide bench.

You simply switch to an elevation view. (In this case the Front View.)

Then, using the powerful Xform Box-Move Function, you drag a describe the imagebox around the left side of the entire assembly. Then type –9 for the x value.

The entire bench is stretched 9 inches to the left. Parts that lie completely within the selection box like the left legs, left horizontal beams, left drawer slides and rollers simply move 9 inches to the left. Parts that are partially in the selection window like the counter, shelf, and drawer front are stretched 9 inches in length.

Repeat the process by dragging a selection window around the right side and moving it 9 inches to the right and you have a 42 inch wide bench.

If you use the SaveAs Function to make a copy of the file before each configuration change, you’ll have a family of benches created in no time at all.

And remember that all of the associated layouts for the model will also instantly update as you stretch the assembly.

Now, I’ve used a workstation table with a drawer as an example but this approach works equally well with conveyors (Change a 12 inch wide conveyor to an 18 inch wide one) or any other assembly where a series of discreet sizes is needed. describe the image

So when you need to configure multiple assemblies fast- - -

Come to KeyCreator where the solution is just a Box-Move away!

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, CAD Software, KeyCreator, Direct Modeling

CAD Software Revolution of 2010

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, Dec 03, 2010

describe the imageEvents in the world of CAD as of the last 2 months or so indicates that the world of CAD software is in the midst of a revolution!

Pro/E no longer exists

AutoDesk Fusion is going after the DIY market

Detroit Automakers are making news with big changes with their CAD systems.

For a long while there didn't seem to be a lot happening in the CAD world.  Everyone was busy with Lifecyle Management, Product Data Management and everything other than the basic design/drafting tool.  It seemed that companies and suppliers had given up on innovation in design tools. 

About 5 years ago, Kubotek USA, makers of the CAD Software KeyCreator started a new paradigm.  The ability to change geometry with ease - using dimensions or push-pull tools, without the need to create history, and with the ability to edit any model regardless of which system authored it.  All of a sudden, CAD designers and companies had CAD freedom.

Not long after sharing the concept with some well known CAD industry analysts and veterans, another company started, Spaceclaim - waiving the new banner - no more history-based design.  Obviously their investors also believe in the message and continue to pour money into the venture.

The concept started to blur some and become a bit muddled, SolidWorks claimed, "we have direct modeling" within our history-based system, but in fact this "direct editing" is no more than a technique inside a history-based system that continues to handcuff the user by the design thus reducing its usefulness as a design tool.  The history-based modelers are merely 3D drafting systems - once the design has been "locked down," the drawings that they create are simply ways of communicating the design throughout the company and supply chain.

Next came a bold move by Siemens PLM.  They clearly stated that history-based modeling would be replaced by their new vision ST - synchronous technology design.  It has taken some time for Siemens to achieve this vision, but it is their clearly stated direction.

Last came the bomb-shell: PTC, completely obliterating their trademarked and beloved Pro/E - ProEngineer.  What a terrific name for a CAD Software Package.  Shouldn't a professional engineer be using a tool called ProEngineer - a brand that is clearly worth billions!  But as they say, in order to fully commit to a new path ,it is best to burn the bridge behind you so that you cannot go back.  So PTC announces a new way with new tools - Direct CAD Software Tools (and I believe history-based too - once again to lock down the design and communicate it) and they call them CREO.   WOW!  Gutsy move PTC!

So what is next - what will be the end result of all of these changes and what is Kubotek doing?

We quietly continue to invest in our world class 3D CAD software tools.  We are solving tough geometry problems for our customers and helping them to get their jobs done everyday with robust, 3D Direct CAD Software and tools. 

Back in January, I posted a short commentary about one of Paul Hamilton's Blog (from CoCreate - now Creo) I titled it 2010 the Year of Direct Modeling.

I believe that prophesy has come true - almost all of the major CAD software vendors with the exception of one,  have stated their intention to develop 3D Direct CAD.

What's in the wind for Kubotek for 2011? Keep an eye out for new developments, not just our latest version of KeyCreator : KeyCreator 2011, but exciting new developments in our technology as we keep pushing the envelope and leading the way of change in CAD software modeling, visualization and geometry management tools.

Thanks for reading,


Topics: 3D Direct CAD, CAD Software, CAD Software Revolution