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.


Learn more by requesting a free demo today!

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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

Contract Manufacturers Are Still Wasting Time With Broken Geometry

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, May 26, 2016


Today's contract manufacturers are spending (wasting?) a lot of time redrawing their customers' data and fixing broken geometty. This cuts into your ability to dive profits and grow your business. Take a look at these sobering stats, and click on the picture to download an eBook on how to take this negative and turn it into a positve. 






Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, Manufacturing, 3D CAD, parametric modeling, Manufacturing CAD, Direct CAD, Engineering Design Changes, contract manufacturing

Why settle for dead bodies; use KeyCreator to avoid dumb solids

Posted by John Agoglia on Thu, Sep 02, 2010
This post is courtesy of Walt Silva, Pro CAD describe the image

Users of feature-based parametric modelers are constantly frustrated by the fact that imported models often are treated as “dumb solids” by the CAD package since the features cannot be recognized by the application.

describe the imageA more accurate description would be “Dead Body” since you are usually faced with rebuilding the model from scratch to get a workable model that you can modify or use for creation of tooling bodies, etc. So much for all the fancy bells and whistles!

When you use KeyCreator, you don’t have this problem, since any imported model is treated like a native model.
Here’s the same part illustrated above created in SolidWorks.
You can see the extensive feature tree documenting the steps required to build it.

Udescribe the imagesing KeyCreator’s Direct SolidWorks translator, we can quickly import the model into our system.

You’ll notice the wealth of other translation options that are also available.

The model is imported and is ready for modifications.
We don’t have the SolidWorks feature tree but we don’t need it!

We could quickly add 0.25 thickness to the three top surfaces to beef up the wall around the large horizontal bore in the part using KeyCreators powerful Offset Face tool and the Smooth Face Logic Option.

This is actually much easier to do in KeyCreator than in the native SolidWorks File!

The Offset Face tool is one of several dozen powerful face describe the imagemodification tools that are unique to KeyCreator.

We could also quickly modify the four simple through holes in the part to be countersunk holes by using the powerful Edit Hole Function and Face Logic to instantly identify the pattern.

Note that the original holes were created in SolidWorks using the Cut Function, not the Hole Wizard.

And we did not import the Circular Pattern Information from SolidWorks to identify the pattern!

Why? Because we don’t need to! KeyCreator’s powerful algorithms instantly identify the hole pattern and assign a feature status to the holes so that they can be quickly modified using our Smart Edit Hole Technology!

Are you tired of doing your work twice?
Come to KeyCreator today and discover the joys of 3D Direct Modeling!

Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, parametric modeling

Direct Versus History Based Modeling

Posted by Scott Sweeney on Fri, Nov 06, 2009

 This is an article written by John Groener of Edge Data.  He is a reseller of both AutoDesk and Kubotek CAD software.  I hope you enjoy his perspective and find it informative and educational.  His contact information follows.

Direct Versus History-Based Modeling

In 1985 History-Based Modeling was implemented in Pro/Engineer® and quickly imitated by several "Me-Too" CAD products such as CATIA®, SDRC IDEAS®, and UniGraphics®. Then came the "Mini-Me-Toos" such as SolidEdge®, SolidWorks®, IronCAD®, and Inventor®.

History-Based modelers require the CAD user to define parameters and constraints when designing a part. The parameters provide relationships to other features in the 3D part, and constraints allow that part to be constructed unambigously.These parameters, features, and constraints are stored in the order they were built in the history tree and must be accessed through that tree to be changed.

History-Based Modelers have shortcomings.

 •    Engineering changes can be a difficult, painful process. A new user has to decipher and untangle the history tree so that he can make changes.

 •    Each CAD software package has its own proprietary file format so parts are not easily interchangeable.

 •    Assemblies can be time consuming to set up and manipulate.

  • There is no stand-alone 2D drawing capability.
  • Surface models are not easily interchanged with solids.

KeyCreator uses Direct Modeling to create and edit 3D Models. NO user-defined history tree is needed. Why? Because KeyCreator creates the feature tree and KeyCreator allows direct dimension driven editing.  In other words parametric, feature-based editing of all geometry.

KeyCreator has Comprehensive 2D drafting. KeyCreator produces complete 2D drawing sheets associated to the 3D model. KeyCreator uses levels (aka layers) to manage 2D information, so 2D drafting can be standaone if desired.

KeyCreator Reads Native CAD Files from other CAD software like Pro/E, Solidworks, Unigraphics, CATIA, Parasolids, ACIS, STEP, IGES. No fixing, no healing, just read it in, edit, and GO!   Wait ... how about the parametrics? That's KeyCreator's job. No need to use the import as reference geometry and re-parameterize it. Just go to work.

KeyCreator incorporates surface modeling. With KeyCreator you can create a free-form surface model and then convert it to a solid model to facilitate operations like shelling and fillets. Excellent healing tools insure that the part is completely contiguous and accurate. KeyCreator is therefore a TRUE Hybrid Modeler (a hybrid of solid and surface models).

KeyCreator's assembly modeling features can manage all data in a single file. It does this by using level management - that same invaluable 2D tool which is noticeably absent in the other Solid Modelers. For very large assemblies, KeyCreator can export parts in the assembly to multiple part files and then reference those parts as entities.

KeyCreator is a complete Mechanical CAD solution with a unique ability to read any CAD data format and then easily manipulate geometry, making it an invaluable resource for any engineering design and manufacturing application.

KeyCreator and Edge Data

Did you know that ...

... KeyCreator®, formerly known as CADKey®,  was introduced in 1984 as a CAD Package with 3D Digitizing capabilities.

... Kubotek Corporation purchased CADKey in 2003, renamed the software KeyCreator, invested heavily in R&D, added advanced 3D, CAM, and universal CAD translation.

 ... Edge Data, one of the first AutoCAD dealers in the country, has been providing New England with CAD products and training since 1983?

...Today Edge Data is an Authorized Kubotek Service Center, and provides CAD training for KeyCreator and other software.

Best Regards,

John Groener

Edge Data Corp.


Topics: 3D Direct Modeling, 3D CAD, Kubotek, Explicit CAD, parametric modeling