Product and Technology Blog

Using Direct CAD for Detailed Mechanical Design? Yes, you can!

Using Direct CAD for Detailed Mechanical Design? Yes, you can!

I have a confession to make.

My desk is usually a complete and utter mess.

To my right, I've got stacks of thoughts and ideas, to-do lists, phone numbers, etc. written on pads of paper and sticky notes. The really important ones get tacked to my wall.  To my left are the stacks of magazines and mail that mysteriously seems to arrive whenever I'm not at my desk. In other words, you can't even see the surface of my work space.

Don't even get me started on the crumbs. 

Periodically, though, the piles get too big, the clutter encroaches and I start to get too self-conscious of my self-made mess.  So, I purge. 

It was during one of these purges that I came across an article in Desktop Engineering that I had saved because at the time, it ticked me off.  And when I read it again after its resurfacing, it still made me no less miffed.  Perfect blog fodder.

(Another thing you should know about me, I tend to carry grudges.)

The article was titled "Onshape Beta Goes Live," by Kenneth Wong & Beth Stackpole.  Both of these authors are well known in the CAD industry.  They both know about us and KeyCreator Direct CAD, have spoken with us and have even written about us and our products in articles and blog posts on their respective site(s).  So, it's not like KeyCreator Direct CAD is completely off their radar.

So, that should give you a small clue about why I wasn't happy.

It's the third paragraph of a recent short article that did it.  I'll quote it here for you so you don't have to go looking for it:

"The software [Onshape] has some direct-editing tools, but they're limited -- that is, in comparison to software like SpaceClaim, Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology or Autodesk Fusion 360 that operates primarily as a direct-editing program. That's a reasonable compromise, since a parametric program's purpose is usually not quick concept exploration but detailed mechanical design."

Whoa.  So, first point I want to raise:Anger Image

1. Why don't they mention KeyCreator, a program that existed well BEFORE any of the aforementioned Direct Modeling technologies.

Like I said, it's not like the authors don't know about us. And KeyCreator was doing the Direct CAD Modeling thing before anyone else thought it was cool. Do I sound like I'm whining a little bit?  Good, because I am.  Being ignored can get to you.

But what really stands about the paragraph is what I think is a blatant misconception about what Direct CAD really is:  "...a parametric program's purpose is usually not quick concept exploration but detailed mechanical design."

Is that really saying that Direct CAD is ONLY useful for conceptual design and NOT detailed mechanical design?  'Cause that's what it says to me. And that really presses my buttons.

I know that SpaceClaim touts itself as best for upfront conceptual design, mostly, I gather, because they are lacking depth in their modeling tools.  I give them that because they were also bought by a company that is integrating it into the front end of their FEA Analysis software. (What else it plans to do with the software, I have no clue.  I guess I'll just wait and see like everyone else...)  But just because that's their focus doesn't mean it's true for everyone.

So let's get another point straight:

2. KeyCreator Direct CAD is great not only at conceptual design, but as a full-featured CAD modeling package, it's very, very capable of detailed mechanical design.

In fact, with KeyCreator Direct CAD, you can do:

  • conceptual design
  • CAD comparison & design collaboration
  • full multi-physics FEA analysis (add-on product)
  • 2-3 axis machining (add-on product)
  • photorealistic rendering (very inexpensive add-on product), and
  • detailed mechanical design.

With KeyCreator Direct CAD, you can model in:

  • 2D
  • 3D
  • surfaces
  • solids
  • wireframes
  • fully-associated assemblies and layouts,
  • light-weight assemblies
  • referenced assemblies
  • assemblies in one file
  • multi-level assemblies and files
You can start with a sketch, you can start with primitive shapes, or you can even start with someone else's model, regardless of who or what created it.

You can use KeyCreator to interrogate imported parts and derive your manufacturing and/or tooling models.  Easily create molds, or rapidly de-feature models to prep for downstream applications like the aforementioned NC or FEA, or for packaging or documentation. 

Need to share your designs?  Use a variety of export options, including 3D PDF.

I'm sure I'm missing some things, but I'm running out of breath.

So, please. Tell me.  What is it about KeyCreator Direct CAD or Direct Modeling in general that can't be used for detailed mechanical design? Hmm?  Someone please tell me. Because whatever B.S. has been fed to you that says Direct Modeling can't be used for this type of work is clearly just that.  Just ask our customers who are doing all these things and more.