Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

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

Break Free of the CAD History Tree

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

We’ve heard it time and again from future customers “Rebuild errors are costing us time and money." So have others. Another CAD company recently did a blog about the problem and were even so kind as to show a very broken parametric history tree. In fact, they even demonstrated how the software highlighted the broken geometry. Basically, the history tree is what is broken, and they show it. history tree.jpg

That’s great. But our question is, “Why worry when you don’t have to?”

Direct CAD, such as that used in KeyCreator, eliminates the need to not only worry about rebuild errors. In fact, it removes them altogether. 

When you’re working in a traditional, history-based parametric CAD system, you are held captive by constraints and limitations, so every change — and let’s face it, there are always changes during the design process — needs to be considered and first steps need to be rebuilt to ensure the geometry works.

Typical rebuild errors occur when attempting to edit and continue design on someone else’s model.  You need to fully understand and comprehend the parametric history tree to be able to make modifications without causing rebuild errors. Essentially, if you don’t understand HOW somebody designed the model, you cannot work with it. This can slow down the process and the profits of a company.

When your 3D CAD software is Direct CAD, you are not working on the history tree; you are working on the part directly (see how we did that, you work directly on the model with Direct CAD). That means an 11th-hour change or a quick change during prototyping won’t fail because of a step made weeks earlier not being updated.  Reworking a file to get it ready for production won’t require changing a line in the history tree that is a hundred or thousand steps back because you are changing the model, not the history tree—kind of like working with clay.

And contract manufacturers know the pain of receiving files that are already full of broken geometry that can take even more time to fix.

As with any creative process, everyone has different approaches to design; therefore, wasting a lot of time on restarting models from the ground up due to the inability to work with others’ models. It would be like rebuilding a house because you need to fix the roof. That’s a lot of time and money lost on what is essentially unnecessary rebuilds just because you aren’t sure the development of the foundation was originally done. Thincomputer error.jpgk of it as having to study and perhaps rebuild the electrical system of your house every time you need to change a lightbulb. Sure, you could do it.  But why?

Direct modeling gives you the capability to easily and quickly copy/add/remove/duplicate and edit features without having to design each element individually so your time is spent more usefully designing, manufacturing and obtaining more jobs.

So, while you could still be using a typewriter, carrying a 1,000-page book, and using the Encyclopedia Britannica. You’re not. You use a word processing program, carry 100 books with you in your Kindle, and Google the answers to life’s greatest questions. So, why are you still worrying about rebuild errors?

Maybe you should Google that one.


Learn more about the power of Direct CAD in our Interactive Guide Direct Modeling 101

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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

Why Manufacturing Should Throw Away their History-Based CAD Modeler

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, Jun 03, 2011

History-based modelers: SolidWorks, Inventor, ProE, NX are the wrong CAD tools for manufacturing.

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Products are rarely designed in CAD with manufacturing in mind.Thus models often have to be re-created in Manufacturing.  This not only wastes time but introduces the possibility of more errors in the process of re-creating the model. So what seemed like a logical choice, particularly for the IT department - one system within the entire organization - actually has increased complexity and cost and reduced quality in the organization.

One could argue that history-based modelers are also the wrong tool for design conceptualization or creation, but we will leave that to another blog.

Another major step in the manufacturing process is the creation of new designs to support the manufacturing process. Tools, dies and molds are often one-offs - using a history-based modeler requires you to set up relationships and constraints to build this one-of-a-kind model.  This wastes much time and limits creativity. Many designers currently using a history-based modeler to do this work may will disagree with this.  But, I believe that this is simply because they do not understand the concept and simplicity of Direct Modeling.

History-based modelers do not support sharing and collaboration in the supply chain.  History-based modelers do not import non-native geometry that can be easily edited and changed for manufacturing.  If the geometry is imported, it is generally not very useful.  Once again, manufacturers are ofter forced to recreate models using their own history-based CAD system, wasting time and introducing the possibility of errors.

Direct modelers can import and use geometry as if it were created within their own system.  This allows manufacturers to accept any type of data from anywhere in the supply chain.  This reduces cost, saves time and increases quality

So before getting hoodwinked into tossing out the 2D CAD system that you are now using (to redraw your 3D CAD Models) and buying the history based system that your engineers are using, consider using a Direct Modeler. What?! you have already bought the History-based Modeler for Manufacturing and you are wondering why they are not using it. Throw It Out! and get them a Direct Modeling solution. Not sure about direct modeling? Want to learn more? Download the white paper: Direct Modeling 101 .

Thank you for reading,


photo by Ymmat - Creative Commons

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, History-free CAD, History-based CAD, CAD for Manufacturing

Mummies more productive with Direct CAD over History Based CAD 3 to 1

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, Oct 22, 2010

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In the first ever study of its kind, Engineer Mummies all over the world were given a variety of History Based CAD programs and Direct CAD modelers and were closely observed and asked to give their feedback on which style of CAD was more productive, creative and intuitive for them to work with.  This study was conducted over the course of many years and was kept "mum" and under wraps until today!

The Mummies' activities where monitored to unravel the the facts: which CAD Software is king of the hill or I guess king of the pryamid, Direct or History Based?  This was done both quantitatively and qualitatively. First, they measured the Mummies keystrokes and mouse movement along with the time that they spent on the CAD software programs.  In addition, the CAD models that they created were also studied. Here's a video of a very creative car designed using Direct CAD software by a mummy: Coffin Car

These studies showed that the Mummies spent less time (and used less clicks) creating their models by a factor of 3 to 1.  Additionally, when the judges entered one crypt  several of the computers running the History Based CAD software were shown to still be “Regenerating” the CAD models after changes were made. Judges furthermore witnessed several keyboards and monitors being smashed to little bits that were running the History-based CAD as well.  One mummy was heard to describe the History based CAD as "decrepit" and another called it "rotten."

A panel of judges assembled to review the models that were created using both Direct and History-based CAD modeling found that the Direct CAD models were more creative and more thoroughly designed due to the fact that there were more iterations of the models.  The models were also found to be faster and cheaper to manufacture.

The Mummies were then interviewed about their experiences using both History Based and Direct CAD.  Here were some of their responses:

                “The Direct CAD just slew me man!  I loved it.  It made me feel so creative and Alive.”

                “History based CAD made me wait so long to rebuild models, I could almost die waiting for it, and then boom it crashed and burned!”

“I was able to design an entire new crypt in no time, giving me more time to go out and hit the links!”

Would you like to try some of this "Killer" CAD Software?  Here is a free trial of KeyCreator Direct CAD software . See for yourself if it isn't just "to die for."

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, CAD Software, 3D CAD, Direct Modeling, Zombies CAD, Zombie CAD, History-based CAD