Direct CAD News & Views from Kubotek USA

Job Shops are Losing Money Using the Wrong CAD

Posted by Nicole Curtin on Wed, Aug 05, 2015

benjamin franklin $100 bill

You’ve heard the expression, “Time is money.” It’s credited to Ben Franklin, and it couldn’t be more true. You can’t get time back, no matter how hard you try.

So…if 52% of the respondents of the 3D Collaboration and Interoperability Study spend between 4-24 hours a week fixing geometry, that loss of time is costing contract manufacturers money, plain and simple. This even happens when the files are in the same CAD application. The complexity of that file can make it impossible to make modifications—and let’s face it—modifications are the norm. This is why direct modeling is becoming more and more important for the future of job shops. And organizations that rely on Direct Modeling have a competitive advantage since they can open it in native formats and dramatically reduce the time spent fixing broken geometry.

We may not be a polymath like Ben Franklin—but you can focus in and solve the problems you see in your shop. Don’t let your design engineers waste time recreating models!  Learn more about saving time and money with the eBook: Working with 3D Models: The Contract Manufacturer’s Key to Profitable Growth


Topics: Manufacturing Design, CAD, 3D CAD, Job Shop, Direct Modeling, CAD for Manufacturing

Contract Manufacturing Adopts Direct CAD?

Posted by Matt Carr on Mon, Apr 07, 2014

Are contract manufacturers adopting Direct CAD?  You bet your boots they are.  And that means good things, especially for companies that need to gain speed and agility to remain competitive. Longtime users of history-based CAD are no longer willing to accept complex, inefficient and inflexible software.   Sticking with the status quo just isn’t cutting it anymore...

But why?

There are many factors that drive company and user decisions: comfort in the popular names, comfort in numbers, fear of dropping the status quo, basic fear of change, etc.  Even though we are 2nd and 3rd generation users, perhaps we simply cannot imagine there is a better way to do things.  After all, the tools are being produced by the financially successful vendors – how could it be wrong? But no matter, the collective blinders of the past are coming down – and users are changing in spite of the 25 years (talk about history!) of being sold variations of the same approach over and over.

Pain & Relief…Pink Piggy Bank

While they may have not realized it, many customers are in pain, sometime seriously so, and it is affecting their bottom line and viability.  For these users, particularly in the ranks of manufacturing, there is a clear frustration with the status quo, and rising concerns about stability, poor performance, lack of support, and perhaps most important - difficulty, or inability to reuse product data from customers, or even legacy files!  Thus, the motivation to seek alternatives continues to grow.   And what they are finding is there are new tools – ones that dramatically improve their overall performance!  So as they test the waters of Direct CAD more they are finding relief and the word is spreading…

Due to ever increasing competitive pressures, contract manufacturers are showing more resilience and willingness to seek alternatives.  When they evaluate solutions like KeyCreator Direct CAD, and assess the tasks they truly need to perform, they see the simplicity of Direct CAD in a new light.  They are starting to recognize how flexible direct, non-history methods are compared to tools of the past…

Making it meaningful

There are many issues all CAD developers face when they try to switch paradigms to address both direct and history methods well.  A key issue is that they simply are resisting unlocking the strangle-holds they have on their customers.  Instead of solving the data openness and usability issues many customers need, they give lip service or disguise their motives with schemes such as ‘members only’ cloud communities.   

Mature products also are larger programs with more complex code.  Their stability and overall reliability become rarer commodities.  Another issue with mature CAD products is the loss of focus on core competency; trying to ‘do it all’ often leads to average, less productive solutions over time… the bells and whistles become both smaller and less loud– and certainly less meaningful! 

The relatively recent progress of the simpler, less complex CAD products such as KeyCreator Direct CAD are proving to be a boon to certain industries - especially resourceful contract manufacturers..  Smaller CAD companies  understand the benefits of this approach, meaning they are making their design tools more accessible, not less so, which means users aren’t stuck with unnecessary complex operations (that truly only benefit software companies). 

In summary, we are seeing more and more ‘users embracing a simpler, more efficient and direct way to get this done.  By using Direct CAD to accomplish their tasks,   I hope users continue to drive all software vendors to rethink how (or if) they can better serve the end users while still being successful.  Sound too altruistic?   Perhaps, but you have to have a dream…

Topics: 3D Direct CAD, Job Shop, CAD for Manufacturing, contract manufacturing

Direct CAD an essential tool for the Job Shop

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Mon, Sep 24, 2012

As I reflect on the people we met at IMTS a little over a week ago.  I am amazed at the number of job shops and smaller manufactures that struggle needlessly with problems of CAD interoperability, spending excessive amounts of money supporting multiple CAD and CAM systems that could be easily solved by incorporating Direct CAD into their workflow.  This blog is dedicated to helping to educate and and make our manufacturers more efficient and competitive by incorporating Direct CAD technology throughout their workflow.

How often has a client brought in a CAD design in a format that was incompatible with your current CAD system?

CAD models compared in Direct CAD

How will your shop service the client? If an issue related to manufacturability of the model is spotted at the shop, how easily can the design be changed? With Direct CAD, these issues become a thing of the past. CAD format issues can be accommodated, as can design changes.

Traditional CAD is complex with a steep learning curve.  Moreover, traditional CAD designs cannot be shared easily in the supply chain if everyone is using different CAD software, which adds further complication to incompatibility issues. And editing the files can be problematic, if not entirely impossible. Traditional parametric, and even blended CAD systems, require staff to be dedicated to running only a single CAD program because in order to be used effectivily, these complex systems require intense training, requiring lots of time and money. 

Professional CAD systems can also be very expensive to purchase and maintain (besides the training required). Many shops still run multiple programs in order to ensure interoperability with the majority of their customers. And each of these system requires maintenance to stay current, running upwards of $1,000 per license per year or more. With new updates comes new features, and again, constant training is required training to ensure shop personnel are current on the latest features and know-how.

Quoting a project based off a CAD file can be time consuming and expensive as the shop must ensure the operator is thoroughly trained on whatever system was used originally. With a Direct CAD system, quoting can be accomplished by a non-CAD trained person who is able to open, analyze, and quote the job for the client without having to rely on highly paid and busy CAD jockey to manipulate and analyze the file. By reducing the need to translate or re-draw, shops can significantly lower their costs, charge less, and ultimately ensure client retention.

By utilizing direct CAD modeling in the shop, true collaboration and modification can take place without the need to re-draw the project from scratch. Direct CAD modeling allows designs to be shared, opened, and edited as though everyone was using the same system. Direct CAD modeling brings the design process to the individual. Designs can be modified and improved by anyone without the need to send the project back to the original designer. 

Further benefits for many manufacturers is that Direct CAD can be used to prepare any CAD models for machining and for analysis. This simplification allows the shop to prepare work instructions, design tooling and make changes to designs easily and quickly giving them a competitive advantage over manufacturers without this capability.

As the auto industry in North America rebounds, manufacturers struggle to keep up with the demands of increased production.  And until open positions can be filling, having the proper tools to increase efficiency and reduce costs are essential to a manufacturers success.  Those tools now include Direct CAD technology within the manufacturers workflow.

What interoperability and design incompatibility do you face on a day-to-day basis?  How does training, or lack thereof, affect your workflow?

Topics: 3D Direct CAD, Manufacturing Design, Job Shop, Manufacturing CAD, Direct CAD

Manufacturing is changing in the United States

Posted by Mark Parent on Wed, Dec 02, 2009

We all know that recessions can be devastating to companies and more so to the people, but there are some good things that come out of it as well.

  • Businesses become more creative and efficient
  • People become more creative and efficient
  • New opportunities appear
  • Survival mode kicks in and we make it past the tough times

Manufacturing in the United States has seen plenty of devastating events during this recession, but I see some hope.  There are new companies sprouting up in the manufacturing world that are taking advantage of our strengths.  Much like the wave of micro brewers, we are seeing micro manufacturing companies.  Check out this company (, they have the right idea.  Of course, I think they should use our KeyCreator 3D Direct CAD software and other engineering tools, but that's not my point.

I see a great future for manufacturing in this country, but we need to work real hard to get there.  Let's fight our way outside the normal business habits of today and inspire new and better ways of doing things.  Here's a hint, think about humanity and not about profits, and a better world will follow.

Don't forget to come visit us at and we'll show you some engineering software that will blow you away!

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, Manufacturing, Job Shop, Manufacturing CAD

Commentary on 8 reasons Engineers should spend their free time in the Machine Shop

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Mon, Sep 28, 2009

8 Reasons Engineers Should Spend Their Free Time In The Machine Shop

I found this recent post by T. Brian Jones very interesting. We meet with hundreds of engineers every year, maybe more. We hear the "old-timers" lament about the lack of practical skill that many "CAD programmers" have in designing products that are manufacturable.

I think this is closely related to the need for Engineering and Manufacturing to spend more time understanding each other.   It is also closely related to the ability of OEMs and suppliers to collaborate effectively.

I found the 3rd reason very applicable:

3. You can draw a lot of things in Pro/E and SolidWorks that you can’t make in the real world.

Kubotek software - KeyCreator CAD, our Validation Tool our Spectrum Viewers are designed for ease of creation/editing, comparing, validating and viewing of 3D/2D models, drawings and PMI.  Our KeyCreator CAD direct modeling software allows you to work using solid, surface, and wirefame, as your workflow dictates. This allows engineering, manufacturing and quality the flexibility and precision necessary to make decisions and collaborate to make manufacturable and cost effective designs and products.

Do you have stories about receiving manufacturable designs from manufacturing, we'd love to hear them.

Nice list T. Brian Jones!

Thank you for you insights.



Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, agile manufacturing, 3D CAD, Job Shop, Manufacturing CAD, 3D solid modeling

Manufacturing Outlook - Are you ready?

Posted by Mark Parent on Fri, Sep 11, 2009


Most recent news coming out about manufacturing points toward the fact that the economy is at its bottom. This tells me that we are probably on our way up, since current news is usually about the recent past. I'll ask the question again; has your company improved itself to handle the business that will be available in the near future. Are your engineers armed with the best software CAD tools? Have you checked out how powerful KeyCreator is as a CAD tool?
The manufacturing sector should begin to rebound in 2010, with MAPI forecasting 14 of 24 industries to show gains, led by housing starts with a 59% rebound from historically low levels. The turnaround should continue in 2011 with growth likely in all 24 industries, including seven by double digits, led by housing starts at 40% and industrial machinery at 25%.





Topics: Flexible CAD, Manufacturing, agile manufacturing, 3D CAD, Job Shop, Manufacturing CAD

Manufacturing Productivity Tip - Multi-CAD Viewers for Manufacturing

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Thu, Sep 03, 2009

It's 5 O'clock and the deadline has passed for the RFQ that you have buried under a pile of papers on your desk.

Missed another deadline.

You've got capacity on the manufacturing floor.  You could really use more orders, but you can't afford to buy and get people trained on many expensive CAD packages.  And the CAD jocks you have are busy, getting jobs out the door. So they don't have time to stop and open the OEM's CAD files or even draw up a model to be included in the quote.

How can you increase the number or quotes you are completing on time without utilizing your valuable CAD resources.

One essential tool for today's contract manufacturers and job shops to do quoting and estimating is a Multi-CAD viewer.  Inexpensive CAD viewers are available that allow you to open, view, measure, get mass properties and print. These are easy to use - no need to bother your valuable engineers.

This is a two prong boost to your productivity.  You can complete more quotes, more quickly and for more customers and you can increase the amount of time that your engineers stay focused on your current projects. This easy to implement, low cost CAD tool will add to your top line and bottom line simultaneously.  For more easy ideas on how to reduce wasted time and to increase your profits download the following White Paper:

5 Easy Ways Manufacturers can turn Wasted CAD Activity into Profits



Topics: Manufacturing, Job Shop, Manufacturing CAD, CAD Viewer