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CAD Freedom and Precision - Views and News from KubotekUSA

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4 Things to Think About to Help You Work Faster with CAD Models


I’m not an engineer, but I’m surrounded by them at work and at home.  I’ve even been accused of thinking like one—which knowing the context of when it was said, I take as a compliment.  So, with all this immersion into the ways and minds of engineers, I can’t say I surprised when I hear a talented engineer say something like, "I've been using your software for years.  I don't need any training.  I already know all that I need to know." 

Oh, really. I bet you dimes to donuts, you also utter phrases similar to “who was the idiot that designed this?” or “I’ll figure it out as I go,” and "how hard could it be." On top of that, these phrases are more likely to come out when you're in a hurry. And doesn't that seem counter-productive?speeding resized 600

Nearly every engineer in the world today has one thing in common: they are pressed for time.  They need bigger, better, faster and they need it yesterday.  Sound like you?

I don’t care if you’re a manufacturing engineer, design engineer, an R&D engineer, a sales engineer or a domestic engineer.  I’m sure you, like everyone, are looking for ways to improve on the status quo and get things done quicker. 

But sometimes just doing what you're currently doing, only doing it faster isn't the right answer. I guarantee that many, many things (like software) have changed and improved in recent years, all for the betterment of you and your processes.  And if you aren't spending time - even just a little - to keep up, you're really missing out.

What are the things you should realize if you find yourself racing against time?

  1. Know your time is a limited commodity.  You need to find ways to use it wisely.  Have you heard the saying, "sometimes you have to spend time now to make-up time later?" (Probably not because I just made that up.)  But it makes sense, doesn’t it?  You're never going to improve unless you put the time in to make improvements. 
  2. Realize that you don’t know what you don’t know. That even applies to the most talented engineer.  We can’t be an expert in all things. Seek out those who are.  After all, there are some people whose main objective is to know more about CAD software than you do. 
  3. It’s okay to stop and ask for help if you don’t know how to do something.  Sure, you might be able to figure it out on your own.  But you could end up wasting a lot of your time trying to figure it out.  Be honest—you know that if you ask the right source, you’ll likely get an immediate answer.
  4. Take advantage of the resources available to you: technical support, online lessons and training classes, video tutorials, tips & tricks, webinars...I could go on, but the point is, you might already be paying for these things, so use them.  And even if you aren't paying for them, take advantage of what's free.

So, what does this boil down to?  Figure out what fits your schedule and then either do your research, get educated or ask the question. Yes, you might have to spend a little money. And you're certainly going to have to spend some of your time. But you should leverage the resources that are already available to you. (Ahem. Like maybe your CAD software vendor?)  Maybe with any luck, you’ll uncover things you didn’t know and figure out how to use that knowledge to get your job done and get it done fast. 

PS.  So yes.  Kubotek offers a variety of CAD training courses for KeyCreator Direct CAD. Kubotek University is also another place where loads of resources and expertise reside - and it's available for free to customers current on their maintenance contract. Also check out our numerous on-demand webinars, available for free on our website.

Get in there and see if you can uncover ways to use powerful functions, new and old, to get your job done.  It will be time well-spent.

photo credit

KeyCreator Direct CAD is not a key creator. (Friday Office Funnies)


We hear a lot of things when we are speaking with customers, engineers, designers, execs, CAD jockeys, etc. We hear things that make us want to laugh out loud.  We hear things that totally blow our minds. (Who knew you could support yourself and your family by designing and building rat mazes. Because seriously. I met this guy at a show in California last year. Kapow. And you know what, Direct CAD was totally up his alley.)

And then there are times we hear and get asked about things that are just...just...dumbfounding. For instance.  We are makers of KeyCreator Direct CAD.  That means our CAD software is of the history-free, direct modeling variety. If you want to design from scratch, you can do so by simply manipulating shapes and geometry on the screen itself. Sort of like real-time electronic sculpting.  You can also drive changes through dimension driven editing, or, if you need to, you can import a design from any other CAD format and begin editing it.  No worries about who or what orginally created the design.  If there is geometry, we can work with it.

What we don't do is make keys. There. I said it.  Key. Creator.  We've heard it more than once.  (However, if you want to design something fancy, then of course you can use Direct CAD software to make all sorts of funky shaped keys).

Share our pain and laugh with us in this short video:


KeyCreator 4D is here!


Here at Kubotek, we’re constantly working on giving you the best Direct CAD software we can. That's why we are proud to announce the launch of KeyCreator 4D! Step aside 3D CAD. Your time is over 2D CAD.  Make way for the future. Yes, that's right. Make way for 4D CAD.

KeyCreator 4D will be the world’s first ever 4D CAD solution, and it will be the last 4D CAD you’ll ever need.

So, what is 4D CAD?  It's quite simple, really. KeyCreator 4D takes all of the elements of KeyCreator 3D Direct CAD and adds the ability to travel in time.  Easily create eternal, timeless structures whenever you want.  Dynamic and dimension driven editing are very powerful design tools, but imagine the power your designs will have with the free, fully integrated fourth dimension of time. Thanks to true direct modeling technology, our software has always been a time saver. But now you can literally save all the time you need! That's because with KeyCreator 4D, there are no deadlines. You can use 4D editing on a timeline stretching back to the beginning of…well, time itself.

Have you ever heard of the Colosseum in Rome? We have a team who created that so it will be able to stand for more than 2000 years!  The Pyramids?  That's us too, thanks to KeyCreator 4D and a brand new 4D printer.

One of our beta testers said, “I was just playing with the 4D interface, and trying out some basic shapes. I didn’t have a particular design in mind, so I just made a few and scattered them around.  Later that day I was hearing about this thing called ‘Stonehenge.’ Apparently my design became a big deal. Thank you KeyCreator 4D!”

One fallback of 4D CAD is that in ten years from now, some of the history-based CAD software will begin dabbling in 4D as well.  Unfortunately these companies still can’t get their history timeline to run without rebuild errors. The result? The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Lost City of Atlantis. And because they cannot read native CAD file formats, the Inca Empire will still not exist.

It’s alright though, thanks to KeyCreator 4D’s translators we can easily import and fix those problems before they even happen.  Because really. Everyone knows that towers shouldn't lean.  And how do you lose an entire city (unless it wasn't built right in the first place)?  By the way, Atlantis really is the best aquatic city in the world.  We take all of our employees there for our yearly retreat, and it’s glorious.

Check out this new KeyCreator 4D video now!

Naming your KeyCreator License - New Video Posted


Many customers don't realize they can personalize their KeyCreator Direct CAD license name.  It makes it a lot easier to keep track of who has what.  We put together this quick video to show you how it's done. 

Want to buy KeyCreator Direct CAD online? Now you can!


We kind of slipped one past everyone a few weeks ago.  Did you notice? Kubotek Webstore

If you make a habit of checking out our website, you probably already figured out we officially launched our new webstore.  On it, you can purchase several of our available software products including our ever popular Spectrum CAD Viewer, as well as our flagship offering, KeyCreator Direct CAD.  Current customers can also use the webstore to renew their Kubotek Software Maintenance. 

The webstore is great for anyone who wants as little human interaction as possible. (You know who you are.) You can simply go to the store, and in a few clicks, make your purchase.

In fact, there a lot of good things about our new webstore.  The list prices are available for everyone to see.  You can quickly use your credit card to make a purchase. (Or use PayPal® - absolutely your choice.) You avoid having to play phone and/or email tag with anyone.  You get the satisfaction that only on-line purchasing can bring.

So what’s bad about our webstore?  We can’t deliver your product via a drone. Total bummer, I know.  In some cases, you might have to wait a business day to receive the proper licensing from our system. (Soon you will receive your purchases instantly.  Be patient.)  Not all our product offerings can be purchased on the webstore. If you’re looking to buy any KeyCreator Direct CAD add-on modules, you need to pick up the phone (1-800-372-3872) or email us

By no means is the webstore meant to replace our stellar sales and support team.  We just wanted to give our customers another way to interact with us.  We also hope that offering this mode of e-commerce simplifies some of the business transactions we make with our Direct CAD brethren.

Moral to the story:  Check our website often. You never know what we might slip in there.

Free CAD Viewer Downloads - Think Before You Click


Problem:  You need to view a CAD file. 

More problems:  You need to view various CAD files. 

Problem magnified:  You need to view various CAD files day in and day out, but you can’t remember which program views which file. You have several to choose from, one for each file type. 

Okay, we get it. Most of those viewer programs you have were free downloads.  Everyone likes free, me included. Even Kubotek offers a free viewer called Spectrum Lite. In fact, our Spectrum Lite download page has been viewed 42,225 times in the last couple of years. It gets downloaded close to 3,500 times a year. In the last six weeks alone, it’s been downloaded 422 times.

What those numbers tell me is that a lot of people are looking for CAD file viewers.  It also tells me a lot of people are looking for a bargain - something cheap, preferably free.  But even though you aren’t spending money, you are spending something else just as valuable: time. While you might get your KeyCreator/CADKEY viewer for free (because that’s all Spectrum Lite will view), I have to make the assumption that you’re also searching for, and downloading, CAD viewers for all the other files that cross your desktop. Hour glass on computer keyboard

Using the hunt and peck strategy to find the appropriate CAD viewer can be disruptive to your productivity mojo. You have to shift gears from the work you were currently focused on to search for, download, install and then run your free CAD viewer software. By the time that was all done, good luck figuring out why you needed the viewer in the first place.

And you know what? This all gets compounded when new file versions are released. Need to view the latest format? Start your CAD viewer hunt all over again. 

It’s also true that not all CAD software vendors even offer a viewer for their file formats. I’m not going to name names (CATIA, UG/NX, etc.), but your searching just got a whole lot more complicated if you want to view some formats for free.

Oh wait. Lest we forget!  Are other members of your team also using CAD viewers for quoting or planning purposes?  Boom – that time-suck just drained more of your resources. 

Let me point out a solution to this rapidly expanding problem. Why not own a single CAD viewer that can view, manipulate and print the most popular 2D and 3D CAD formats like SolidWorks, AutoCAD, NX, CATIA, Pro/E, IGES, STEP and many others? Think of the time and sanity you’ll save if you have a single go-to product to do all your CAD viewing dirty work, including the ability to measure and calculate mass properties. 

The pros of owning a single premier CAD Viewer are evident. So what are the cons? I can think of two.  One, you’re going to have to spend a little bit of money - but not a lot.  When you add up the cost of those hours spent looking for free software, you break even pretty quickly.

Depending on your file viewing workload, you are looking at $199 - $599. These are the costs for Kubotek Spectrum CAD viewer. The difference in cost is based purely on your need to view CATIA V5 files. The Spectrum CAD viewer with CATIA V5 read abilities retails at $599, while the base viewer product that views everything else under the sun will only set you back $199.

The second con? When file formats are updated/added, you need to repurchase the software. That isn’t so bad when you consider that file formats typically only get updated once a year. Plus, you only have to update one software product, not ten.   

Spectrum CAD Viewer does its job like no other —and it does it for a very reasonable cost. Consider Kubotek Spectrum CAD viewer for all your CAD file viewing needs. Spend a little now, save a lot later.


Phantom Steel is not a super-hero! (CAD Animation might be, though.)


Phantom Steel is not a new breed of super hero. If anything, it’s more like a villain. super hero bending steel resized 600

Phantom Steel is that area in a mold design where the lifter clears the plastic part, but hits the steel of the mold. It’s sneaky. It doesn’t show up when looking at a static image of the mold in either starting or traveled position.

So how do you know it’s even there?

You could have super-hero-like vision and see Phantom Steel without actually watching a mold travel.

Or, you could use your spidey-sense to tell you that Phantom Steel is about to happen and it needs to be stopped.

Or, you could use CAD animation to catch the caper before it causes chaos. You know, the fallout that comes from spending too much time and money creating a mold, only to find out you need to make it again to account for that itsy-bitsy problem called Phantom Steel.

Or use CAD animation to foil any other number of problems you can’t see unless you animate your CAD design.

Mold design takes many skills and talents, but being a super hero isn’t one of them.

You don’t need superhuman strength to reduce mold repair and redesign costs. You don’t need a sixth sense to get rid of manufacturing delays. And you certainly don’t need an alter-ego to stop embarrassing results at customer try-outs. Just do it right the first time and save time and money by making CAD animation part of your mold design process. 

Want to see other ways CAD animation can help with your mold design process? Check out this recorded webinar for useful hints and tips

Need a reason to upgrade to KeyCreator 2015? We got 11 of 'em.


Generous upgrade discounts are available to anyone using an old version of KeyCreator (or even CADKEY). So what are you waiting for?

Maybe saving some moolah isn't enough of a reason to upgrade you old version of KeyCreator Direct CAD? Maybe you need a few more reasons?  Like, maybe 11 of them?  We got it covered! Check it out below.  It's my debut vlog (video blog).  The good part about the vlog?  You don't have to read.  The bad part?  My cover is blown.

Some of thee reason are:

  1. Up-to-date translators
  2. CAD Compare technology (view the highlight clip)
  3. You migrated from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8
  4. to discover more!

All you really need to know about Direct CAD you learned in kindergarten.


I’m going to borrow a few ideas from Robert Fulghum’s book.  That’s because I think these words of wisdom apply not only to how you live your life, but are quite appropriate for the users of Direct CAD software. kindergarten crayons resized 600

  1. Share everything.  Direct CAD users aren’t stingy, and they expect others to share with them.   That’s why Direct CAD uses a bevy of file translators to import, and export, design geometry and manufacturing data.  Direct CAD programs aren’t out to collect the most users, get them locked in to a single system/format and then never let them go.  Nope.  They want to stay open and let everyone share whatever it is they got.

  2. Play fair.  CAD isn’t an exclusive club that only lets card-carrying members join the fun.  Or, at least it shouldn’t be.  Don’t exclude someone just because they aren’t using the same software as you.  That’s just not nice.  Direct CAD users always play fair.

  3. Don't hit people.   As in hit them up and make them over-pay for software.  CAD doesn’t have to break the bank.  And Direct CAD doesn’t, especially when you look at companies who maintain several CAD packages at once just so they can play fair, too.

  4. Put things back where you found them.  Someone hands you a file to work with.  What do you do?  Translate it? Hack it up?  Defeature? Hide entities?  Doesn’t matter what you do with them, just as long as you put them back where the original owner wanted them.  Not sure if you did that?  Use Direct CAD with integrated CAD Comparison just to make sure what you started with is what you ended up with.  You don’t want to make any unintentional changes that could have huge consequences, do you?  

  5. Clean up your own mess.  Did you make a mistake in your design?  Or royally mess it up? Direct CAD users know you can always clean up your own mess (without ever having to start over from scratch).

  6. Don't take things that aren't yours.  Or do and then make them your own.  Direct CAD users know they can start from nearly any CAD file, native or otherwise, your own or someone else’s, and make changes to it, regardless of who or what created it.

  7. Wash your hands before you eat and remember to flush.  For all sorts of reasons, okay?

  8. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some, draw some and paint some, sing and dance and play and work every day some.  Don’t spend all your time working on a CAD model when you could have gotten the project done much faster with Direct CAD.

  9. Take a nap every afternoon.  Just don’t tell the boss. 

  10. Believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.   With Direct CAD, you’ll be able to transfer your idea onto the screen and into a product design quicker.  And as you go, you’ll be able to improve on your design.  Think of it like sculpting, only without the clay, mess or Patrick Swayze sitting behind you making you mess up. 

  11. It doesn’t matter what you say you believe - it only matters what you do.  A lot of CAD companies say they are about increasing productivity and helping engineers.  But only Direct CAD does both by allowing engineers and designers to design and work the way they want to without needless worry.

What did you learn in kindergarten that applies to Direct CAD?

Should You Copy-cat Your Customer's CAD Software?


You're a manufacturer of turbines, medical instruments, plastic molded automobile parts, consumer packaging, left handed name it, and you have one large customer and many smaller ones.  Does this sort of kind of describe your company?  

So, it makes sense that if your one large customer uses SolidWorks (or Inventor, CATIA, NX, Pro/E...), then you should copy-cat their CAD software for your company's manufacturing engineers or CAD operators to SolidWorks, right?

On the surface this seems like a logical and sound decision.  After all the file formats are the same, so it should be really easy to open the product file(s) and begin making the necessary changes to the final part/assembly file(s) in order to manufacture the product.

You would think so, but it's not the case. Why?  Because there is this HUGE thing in most of these CAD files called History.  History is what gives SolidWorks (or the software in the previous list) the ability to create the CAD model. It is the history of the operations of the product designer/CAD Operator - every click, every feature in the exact order that they were created, which once run in the program, gives you your completed CAD model. This is the case for History-based CAD, of which most of the world is using today.

Once the Manufacturing Engineer/Manufacturing CAD Operator receives the history based (SolidWorks) model, she has two choices 

  1. Begin to search through the history of the CAD file to try to reuse the design in order to come up with the geometry necessary to make the edits required for the manufacturing operations.  And if she fails at this, she needs to resort to option 2...
  2. Redesign this prodcut from scratch - using the product file as reference geometry in order to create a CAD design that can be machined, or to design a mold, casting, fixtures, dies or whatever the manufacturing operations are necessary.

Smart manufacturers give their manufacturing engineers another option:  Import the SolidWorks file (or native history-based file) into a Direct CAD modeler.  This modeler reads and understands the geometry without the use - or even better, the need - for history.  The manufacturing engineer can then edit the CAD model as she desires in order to manufacture the product.

So, what appears to be a logical and safe deicsion: using the same, copy-cat, CAD software as your largest customer, can actually be a very large mistake that will cost you time. You will lose time with CAD operators. (Estimates say that up to 50% of CAD operators time is spent fixing files! Multiply the annual salary of your CAD operators times 50% and see how much time and money you are wasting!). You will lose time when edits are needed for manufacturability or when product revisions force changes (which could derail the entire product production schedule).

Being copy-cat when it comes to your CAD software will cost you time and money. Wise manufacturers chose direct CAD and save.

Direct CAD for Contract Manufacturers eBookThere are many other issues to consider when chosing the right CAD software for your manufacturing business.  Want to learn more?  Download Direct CAD for the Contract Manufacturer. Discover the advantages Direct CAD software can give your business.

Request the eBook Now

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