Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

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

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

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,


PS - If you are enjoying our blog please subscribe using the subscribe link and don't miss a post.

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