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CADKEY to Roll Out New Product Line

First Product is CADKEY GraphX for 2D

By Roopinder Tara, editor, TenLinks

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Pity the person who works in 2D CAD these days. Like Cinderella left behind while the stepsisters get all the attention at the ball, the 2D designer or draftsperson toils behind the scenes. While the glamorous 3D models appear on the covers of the magazines, win the image contests and dazzle the crowds at the trade shows, it’s still the almighty 2D drawing – with the old front, top and right side views - that get signed off to become the final deliverables in many a project. You may dream in 3D color, but you probably produce in flat black and white.

Robert Bean, president and CEO of CADKEY, recognizes that 2D is the very bread and butter of our industrial existence. The soft-spoken, serious Bean is all about giving users the tools they need to do their jobs. Okay, a lot of CEOs are going to say that; but this is a CEO with a bachelor's and a master's degree in engineering, so we asked Bean to share with TenLinks his vision of the CAD world and CADKEY’s role in it. 

Bean concedes that the 2D design world is dominated by arch competitor Autodesk and its AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Likewise, he concedes (for now) the product design space, which has been staked out by the likes of CATIA, Unigraphics and Pro/ENGINEER. So what’s left? “We want to own manufacturing design,” answers Bean.

In the creation of mechanical products, the two worlds of design and manufacturing are close – yet so far apart. A drawing may only have to go through a door but the scenery changes drastically from the clean shirts, carpeting and quiet of a drafting room to flying sparks, metal shavings and the smell of cutting fluids. This is where CADKEY has already made its beachhead. Its following in the manufacturing arena has contributed to its success: over a quarter million CADKEYs have been sold and 20,000 users are on maintenance contracts. Here, among the machinists and manufacturing engineers, CADKEY hopes to become the tool of choice to make the molds, jigs and fixtures used in manufacture. While the engine casting may have been designed with CATIA, the fixture to hold it while it is machined should be made in CADKEY.

Enter CADKEY GraphX

CADKEY GraphX will be the anchor for a pared down product line for CADKEY. Unlike the packs and extensions CADKEY once offered, the new line will offer just 3 items:

  1. CADKEY GraphX - for mostly 2D users, replaces WIREFRAME, due within weeks
  2. CADKEY V20 - for 2D and 3D, including surfaces and solids, due in February, 2002. Version 21, due in April 2002, will include functionality of DRAFT-PAK and FastSURF.
  3. CADKEY Design Suite – a hybrid product with parametrics, due in summer 2002

The new product line will be based upon completely rebuilt code, a process that took the last four years. This is no minor undertaking. Looking under the hood of any full-function general purpose CAD software code can reveal hundreds of thousands of lines of code. This is the fourth time that CADKEY has overhauled their engine since the original CADKEY was launched in 1984 for DOS.

The latest component technology in use:

  • Database and file format (GeMS from Honeywell)
  • HOOPS – will offload the graphic workload to hardware

What Will Users See?

  • Better handling of large files and assemblies. Parts of an assembly can be stored in individual files or in one large file. The use of a separate file will allow instancing of parts - where parts can show up in an assembly but not take up any room as there is only a pointer to a file not the part itself. Users can create all the parts in one large data file and then spin off parts in separate files – something that proves useful when sending designs to subcontractors
  • Unlimited redo/undo (CADKEY 19 could only manage one level of undo and redo)
  • Unlimited levels
  • Enhanced dimensioning

In the context of a “virtual” meeting (thanks to WebEx), Bean was kind enough to demonstrate CADKEY GraphX.

Highlights of CADKEY GraphX are:

  • Professional drawing
  • Associative detailing and layout
  • Numerous translators (DWG/DXF, STEP, IGES, SAT, XT)
  • Section, HLR, Render and heal solid/surface bodies
  • Symbol libraries
  • Full customization capabilities (CDE, Macro)




















CADKEY GraphX is first and foremost a 2D drawing package.
Image courtesy of
Elan Motorsports Technologies, Braselton, GA. click on image for larger view





















CADKEY GraphX can import and manipulate solid models for the purpose of creating drawings. Here, CADKEY GraphX helps catch faulty dimensions in imported models (shown in red).
(click on image for larger view)

Despite its intention to become the tool of choice for manufacturing drawing and creation of details, layouts and assemblies, CADKEY GraphX understands that even the user who delivers 2D drawings still lives in a world in which 3D plays an ever-increasing role. To this end, CADKEY GraphX can handle solids, surfaces and 3D wireframes. You can view and manipulate 3D wireframe, surface and solid models. In other words, you can extract your front, right and top views. You can even heal solid models. You just cannot modify solids - for that you’ll have to wait for the higher-end products. Also included are translators (DWG/DXF, STEP, IGES, SAT and XT), symbol libraries and customization (CDE and Macro).

Who Needs CADKEY GraphX?

CADKEY targets large enterprises as potential customers for CADKEY GraphX. For example, a very large aircraft company already owns at least 300 CADKEY seats, says Bean. This company, known for its CATIA use, pays $3,000 a month to maintain each CATIA license. Bean’s research shows that even on the high-end software most of the work is still 2D. So for companies such as this to invest in CADKEY GraphX - which can read CATIA files - seems like a no-brainer to Bean.

CADKEY GraphX will be shipping in a few weeks. The other two products will be available within the next 6 months. CADKEY GraphX will be introduced at $1,500, although its eventual price will be $1,800.

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