Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

Direct CAD as Part of the Lean Manufacturing Environment

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Mar 16, 2017

three ways Direct CAD can help streamline your design and engineering to match the rest of your lean manufacturing process

Many manufacturers have embraced the principles of lean manufacturing on the shop floor and in the back office. Unfortunately, many small contract manufacturers have not taken the lean and efficient approach to their engineering and design departments.

Derived from the Japanese manufacturing industry, there are two ways to look at lean manufacturing. First, many typically see lean as the toolset that assists in the ID and continuous elimination of waste. Eliminating waste as quality improves while cutting production time and costs improve overall output and profitability. Secondly, and most famously put forward by Toyota, the focus is on improving the flow or smoothness of work, steadily eliminating mura ("unevenness") through the system and not upon waste reduction. While both take different avenues, both lean theories aim to help manufacturers run more efficiently.

Contract manufacturers are often under the gun to produce quickly to keep their shop floor busy and profitable. Too often, though, broken geometry and designs not ready for the manufacturing process can slow down the works — and time is money. That’s where direct CAD, and KeyCreator — in particular — can help manufacturers run their engineering and design process a bit leaner and more efficiently.

three ways Direct CAD can help streamline your design and engineering to match the rest of your lean manufacturing processHere are three ways Direct CAD can help streamline your design and engineering to match the rest of your lean manufacturing process:

  • With direct CAD you can quickly produce 3D design concepts without constraints. So, if you are working with a customer on developing a prototype of a part or assembly, you can just start creating, even if you’re not sure exactly where you are going. Additionally, Direct editing tools allow you to modify nearly any geometry as if sculpting in clay, without the limitations put on the design process by parametric CAD software. This not only speeds up the initial design phase but eliminates rebuild errors as you are creating geometry in real time.


  • Successful contract manufacturers are dealing with multiple customers using various CAD software such as SolidWorks and AutoCAD. KeyCreator allows manufacturers to easily import CAD models from other software packages and make edits directly to the geometry as if they were created natively in KeyCreator. This eliminates the need for owning multiple software seats and allows manufacturers to get the designs ready for production quickly and easily while saving time and money.


  • Integrated CAD comparison ensures data accuracy, product quality and improves the communication of designs. Identify, organize and communicate changes in the design and manufacturing process with the standard KeyCreator Compare feature. Almost nothing can waste more time than communication problems. KeyCreators’ CAD Comparison technology graphically compares two CAD files and identifies all of the changes in the geometry and/or the Product Manufacturing Information contained in the files. Once changes have been identified, automated PDF reporting makes it easy to communicate changes and value-added work. Save time and money lost due to rework, and reduce the risk of manufacturing errors and the potential for scrap.

Sure, lean manufacturing is still growing. But, by helping to take your CAD design to a leaner place with Direct Hybrid CAD software, you may get a step on the competition, win more bids and produce more while spending less.


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Topics: CAD, Manufacturing, Direct CAD, contract manufacturing, Business Solutions,, Engineering Design, Business Success, CKD, Lean Manufacturing

#TechTipTuesday--Design Libraries Using a CKD File

Posted by John Agoglia on Tue, Feb 14, 2017

Spend about 2 minutes with this #TechTipTuesday video and learn design libraries using a CKD File.





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Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D Direct CAD, 3D CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, 3D CAD Training, CAD Geometry, 3D solid modeling, CAD for Tool design, CAD for Manufacturing, CADKEY, #TechTipTuesday, CKD, 3D CAD Software, 3D CAD System

KeyCreator CAD CKD Format Revealed – More Flexible Than You May Think

Posted by Andy Beaupre on Thu, Jan 05, 2017

It’s worth discussing the flexibility of KeyCreator’s file format. It’s a benefit that may not be all that obvious and requires a little bit of “out of the box” thinking. Let’s start by asking a few Questions:

  • How do you want to design your assemblies? Top Down? Bottom up?
  • Do you need to Design Parts in context with each other?
  • During the design process, before releasing a design, do you ever have a problem finding all the files that are referenced in your assembly?
  • Do you have issues ensuring that you’re using the correct version of pre-release referenced file?

Depending on the CAD system that you’re using, all of these tasks can pose challenges.

Flexible File Format

KeyCreator’s (.CKD) file format has some unique features that make all of these scenarios possible and easy to manage. With the CKD file format, you have a choice on how you manage your CAD data plus you don’t need to commit to a single strategy. You can change your file management scheme at any time then finalize the strategy before releasing the design.

Let’s take a look at the Anatomy of a CKD file and a few potential design management strategies.

Single Part or Drawing Strategy

In its most basic form, the CKD file contains a 2D drawing or a 3D part with an associated drawing.

 single part drawing 1.png Pic 5D.png

The first benefits of the CKD become apparent immediately. Different Geometry types (2D, Solids, Surfaces) all reside within the same modeling environment in a CKD file. Sketches do not exist. All geometry maintains its purest form allowing all geometry to be treated as if created natively, even if it was imported from another file format.  Additionally, a 3D part design and its associated 2D drawing can be contained within the same file. This eliminates the process of hunting for an associated drawing not saved where you thought it was or trying to figure out if an associated drawing even exists. Once a design is released, you have options as it can remain in the same file as the model or saved as in a drawing only file.


Single File Assemblies or Projects


Consider another design management strategy. What if you needed to design an assembly and wanted to save all of the parts within the same “project” file? The CKD format was designed to do this very efficiently. The key to this is that multi-body files are the norm for KeyCreator as opposed to being a specialized design technique (used in other CAD systems). The format was design to handle multi-body level managed designs (non-referenced assemblies). Similar to the single part strategy, a CKD can contain a complete assembly with an associated drawing.

Pic 5.png

Using this approach there are no referenced files, so file management is simple. There’s no better way to do in-context top-down assembly design. There’s no dependency between parts designed in context, so it’s easy to save off parts to their own files as needed; there is no commitment to a single design management strategy. An assembly design using this strategy is also easy to share since it consists of a single file. Another not so obvious fact is that with this strategy, detailed associated drawings of each part can also be contained within the same file.

The next management strategy is unique to KeyCreator. The CKD file can Pic 2.pngcontain multiple independent parts, each within their own separate modeling environment and with an associated drawing.



The next management strategy is unique to KeyCreator. The CKD file can contain multiple independent parts, each within their own separate modeling environment and with an associated drawing.Pic 3.png

The application of this strategy may not be as mainstream as the others but offers some compelling benefits of its’ own. Consider a scenario where you’d like to keep a library of commonly used 2D profiles that you could import into a design and use to generate extrusions, pockets or cuts. You could save time by reusing profiles instead of re-creating them for each design. The multi-part CKD strategy would be perfect for this application. All of your profiles would be saved in a single, time-saving, shareable CKD file. 






Referenced Parts

When your design process requires you to have separate files for each part in an assembly (like many mainstream CAD systems work), that’s not a problem for the CKD format. The CKD format is built for bottom-up assembly design as well. CKD files can be referenced in other CKD files which facilitates the creation of designs using file-referenced lightweight assemblies.                        

With this strategy, each file can be released and revisioned independently. Don’t forget that a referenced assembly can easily be converted to a single file assembly. You’re never restricted to a single design management scheme. KeyCreator along with the CKD file format was designed to ensure maximum flexibility regardless of your file management needs.

We’ve discussed a few of the design management strategies that KeyCreator and the CKD format have to offer but the possibilities are endless.


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Topics: CAD, Manufacturing, KeyCreator, parametric modeling, Direct CAD, Direct CAD vs Parametric CAD, History-based CAD, history based modeling, history tree, contract manufacturing, CADKEY, Business Solutions,, Engineering Design, IMTS, Business Success, CKD