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.


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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

Are Manufacturers Safe Connecting to the IoT?

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Oct 27, 2016

The October 21, 2016, DNS attack which shut down websites across the country including Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, Etsy, and Spotify, was reportedly delivered by hackers through devAs more industries and manufacturers connect to the IoT to increase productivity, they may be opening themselves up to security risks. ices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) leading some manufacturers to question security surrounding the booming technology.

And with worldwide spending on IoT technology expected to increase from $699 billion in 2015 to $1.3 trillion in 2019, according to IDC, you can see why security is such a pressing concern. In fact, in the United States, IoT spending is expected to grow to $357 billion in 2019. That’s a lot of money being spent, and a lot of opportunities for cybercriminals to take advantage of security holes.

Today’s connected factory is primarily a secure environment, where communication is confined within the plant rather than the outside world. But with the growth of the IoT and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) gaining momentum, that limited world may be expanding, increasing the security threats to manufacturers.

The move to the Internet is tempting as it will allow managers, executives and others to check machines, productivity, design and other aspects of the process remotely and with increased precision as it will be the devices themselves with which they will be communicating.

But with that access, comes risks. Cybercrimals are a threat to manufacturers connected to the Internet of Things (IoT)

In fact, in this article, cybersecurity researcher, Craig Young, says that even as devices from sprinklers to machines on the job shop floor are increasingly connecting to the IoT developers are dropping the ball in securing the software.

“These companies sometimes have the intention of fixing a vulnerability like that through a firmware upgrade, but then never get around to it because they don’t want to disrupt the user base,” explained Young in the article.

Additionally, an  article from Sam Solutions points out that manufacturers themselves may be adding to the vulnerability as they strive to gather data from IoT devices with the “potential to create significant revenue streams, impact product development, streamline manufacturing and improve user experiences.”

The potential of the IoT and the IIoT for manufacturing is undeniable. It can help speed up processes, improve communications and in the end add to the bottom line. All stuff we totally believe in, just ask any KeyCreator Direct CAD user. But, if you are going to make a move to the IoT in your job shop –either slowly or all in – just be sure to take the time to make sure your security is lined up as well.


Have you taken the IoT plunge? Are you concerned about security? Let us know in the comments below.

Topics: CAD, Manufacturing, KeyCreator, Direct CAD, contract manufacturing, CADKEY, Business Solutions,, Engineering Design, IMTS, Business Success, Hacker, IoT, DNS Attack, Internet of Things, Cybercrime, security

7 Things to Do in Chicago During the IMTS Show

Posted by John Agoglia on Mon, Sep 12, 2016


Let’s face it. Often the most exciting part of tradeshows is what goes on around the tradeshow. That’s not to say we aren’t excited to head to IMTS this week because we are. But, we may be just a tad bit more excited to head to Chicago and experience some of the best things the Second City has to offer to visitors from across the globe.

But, like most travelers, we hadn’t a clue as to what to do this week. So, we did a bit of digging –OK, we asked Siri and she did a Google search. Here are a few of the great activities and attractions we found while visiting Chicago.



 adler_pl.jpgAdler PlanetariumNo science fan’s trip to Chicago would be complete without virtual-reality trips through time and space in the Sky Theater. 





360 Tilt.jpgChicagoIf you haven’t been to the Windy City in a while, the name may not be familiar, but the building will be. Formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, 360 Chicago offers dining, sights and Tilt, which offers unique, downward facing views from 1,000 feet above the bustling Magnificent Mile. 



LP_Zoo.jpg Lincoln Park ZooSome 1,200 animals from apes to zebras call this free zoo [one of the oldest remaining] home.


Millennium_Park.jpg Millennium ParkIf you want to get your walking outside the show hall, or just get a bit of nature, this park features 24.5 acres of artwork, wildlife and flower gardens.

other-free-navy-pier-and.jpg Navy PierThe 100-year-old tourist hot spot features shops, restaurants, an IMAX cinema and a boatload [yup, that’s a pun] of sightseeing boat tours in addition to the 150-foot-high Ferris wheel it is famous for.

Shedd_aquarium.jpg Shedd AquariumFeaturing species from the Amazon to the Caribbean, this 75-year-old institution [which is younger than the Australian lungfish that calls it home] provides sea life lovers a break from walking the show floor.

Wrigley.jpg Wrigley FieldThese aren’t your dad’s Cubbies. The team is leading the league and expected to compete for the championship. They play the Brewers Thurs. – Sun.


There you have it. Of course, there is plenty to do at the show and, while walking the show floor, feel free to drop by booth E-3027 and visit us and see how KeyCreator Direct CAD can help you Improve Productivity, Reduce Costs, and Deliver More.

If you, can't make it to the show, you can still learn more by checking out our Interactive Guide to Direct Modeling by clicking the button below. 

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Topics: CAD, Manufacturing, KeyCreator, Direct CAD, contract manufacturing, CADKEY, Business Solutions,, Engineering Design, IMTS, 3d Printer, Business Success