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CADKEY Enhances Surface and Solid Modeling for Manufacturers

Reprinted with permission from the January/February 2003 issue of

See Also

 · CADKEY website
 · CADKEY Reading Room - CADdigest.com
 · CADKEY directory -TenLinks.com

In January, CADKEY Corporation, a developer of Windows-based mechanical design and drafting software, unveiled initiatives that enhance the capabilities, cost-effectiveness, and interoperability of the company’s key CAD design and modeling solutions. Such enhancements can facilitate design for manufacturability in a range of industries, including mold, tool and die, automotive, aerospace, and consumer products.

CADKEY announced in January that they are shipping Version 21 of the CADKEY Workshop modeling software. Version 21 of the Windows freeform CADKEY Workshop solution adds advanced surface modeling to its solid modeling engine without incurring additional cost. CADKEY also announced in January the release of CADKEY Workshop EX - a new freeform model exchange/solid and surface modeling product that combines the solid and surface modeling of CADKEY Workshop V21 with four enhanced, integrated ACIS translators from Spatial Corp. (Westminister, CO): import CATIA 4, export CATIA 4, import Pro/E, and import Unigraphics. The translators currently address the latest versions of their corresponding high-end CAD systems and are integrated as part of a comprehensive freeform model editing and exchange solution.


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Robert W. Bean, P.E., president and CEO of CADKEY Corporation, told Manufacturing Automation that CADKEY Workshop V21 has such key enhancements as solid and surface modeling capabilities and a Pure Geometry core. The company re-wrote its FastSURF surface modeling technology so it could work on a solid modeling kernel. The ability to perform solid and surface modeling in the same environment expands the versatility of and, therefore, the market for CADKEY Workshop V21. The Pure Geometry architecture is designed to ensure that any model geometry (surface, solid, or wireframe) imported from another CAD system can be edited as if created natively in V21. Target industries/applications for V21 include mold, tool and die, jig and fixture design, automotive, aerospace, consumer products, and transportation (e.g., boats/ships).

Bean noted that the advanced surfacing capabilities in V21 are very beneficial to, for example, mold, tool and die customers who receive complex designs from their customers. Moreover, the core/cavity splitting functionality in V21 enables mold, tool, and die companies to optimally analyze surfaces and separate them into the core or cavity of the mold. He also noted that the wrap/unwrap design capabilities of V21 can streamline mold design and are also beneficial for designing such products as fabric-related items (e.g., sneakers, shoes), river rafts, and composite materials.


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Bean explained that the new architecture used in V21 also provides true dimensioning capability to help ensure that any dimensions from an external file that are read V21 agree with that file’s geometry. The architecture also facilitates true assembly modeling, since it allows for referencing frequently used parts so the effects of design changes to such parts are instantly evident throughout the assembly. CADKEY Workshop V21, moreover, provides such surface functions as skinning/lofting, draft, swept, filleting, variable and constant radius filleting, surface editing and trimming tools, curvature analysis. Version 21, which will debut at the National Design Engineering Show held in Chicago. IL in March 3-6, as part of National Manufacturing Week, also provides automated generation of features, fasteners, and structural shapes, as well as enhanced rendering.

CADKEY Workshop V21, the second major software release to use the company’s new architecture, is a freeform modeling solution that combines drafting, wireframe, freeform solid modeling, advanced freeform surface modeling, assembly modeling, and mechanical libraries into one product. V21 is designed to offer enhancements that boost productivity and accuracy for mechanical designers and manufacturing engineers in the design of tooling, machinery, fixtures, molds, dies, and complex machines. The latest version of CADKEY’s flagship freeform CAD solution essentially combines three products into one by integrating functionality from their FastSURF freeform surface modeling product (which previously sold separately for $995) and DRAFT-PAK , (which previously sold separately for $595). FastSURF and DRAFT-PAK will no longer be sold as separate products.

“I have been directly involved with the development and testing of Version 21 and I continue to be impressed with what our new surface and solid modeling tools can do,” Bean stated. “Other mid-range design products rely on solution partners for advanced surface modeling functionality. This technology is typically not well integrated and is sold separately for thousands of dollars. With CADKEY workshop, the technology is not only integrated; it has been added with no price increase. Users now have the power to model anything in CADKEY Workshop. Given the current economy, this is an unbelievable value.”

CADKEY Workshop V21 offers new functions not previously contained in FastSURF, such as core and cavity splitting and curvature analysis. Advanced surface modeling functions, such as trimming, drilling, and offsetting, work on the same ACIS  database as solid modeling functions, avoiding the need to transfer entities from one form to another (FastSURF Surface to/from ACIS Sheet Body). Moreover, all surface functions can now directly work on solid faces or sheet bodies created with sold functions, and vice versa.

The new capabilities of CADKEY Workshop V21 enable users to access any modeling tool (2D, 3D wireframe, surface, or solid) at any time during the design process, providing enhanced flexibility in modeling a part or assembly to be designed.

Enhancements in CADKEY Workshop V21 include the integration of Machinery’s Handbook-type automated functions that swiftly generate fasteners, features, and structural shapes, based on ANSI, ISO, or DIN standards, via dimension-driven formulas using a real-time preview window. Such automated routines accelerate design time and help reduce errors that can arise when drawing components manually each time. While this functionality was previously found in the DRAFT-PAK product, Version 21 also offers feature and fastener improvements not previously implemented in DRAFT-PAK. For instance, thread representation can now be controlled as a view mode (no threads, simple threads, schematic threads, or detail threads) for display flexibility. The creation of cosmetic detail helical detail threads has also been added.

Enhanced rendering capabilities in CADKEY Workshop Version 21 include options for setting transparency and material for faces as well as camera lights, light markers, and light intensity. Lights, fasteners, features, structural shapes, and sheet bodies (surfaces) have also been added as new entity types for improved integration and to afford users the option to work on those objects with general commands, such as edit, move, or masking. A new print stamping function and several new print options have been added for controlling and modifying print configurations; and a new capability has been added to export CGM files.

CADKEY Workshop V21, which offers a versatile assembly and data organization structure, comprehensive dimensional assurance system, and advanced surface modeling, is designed to allow manufacturing professionals to readily create, import, and edit 3D models and drawings. V21 optimally runs on Microsoft  Windows  XP/2000/NT4 and sells for $3,000, which includes a one-year annual update contract.

Another product released in the Version 21 product line is the CADKEY V21 2D/3D professional mechanical drawing software for drafters, mechanical design engineers, and manufacturing engineers. Highly suitable for users who do not need to use solid modeling for design, CADKEY GraphX is sold separately for $1,000, including an annual update contract. The product is designed to allow users to create accurate drawings from scratch or generate drawings from solid, surface, and polygon models. It utilizes intelligent dimensioning on native or imported drawings to help prevent costly manufacturing errors and allows users to run third-party add-on software for extended power. Industry standard data translators (DWG, DXF, ACIS-SAT, Parasolid X-T, STEP, IGES, STL, VRML) are included. The Version 21 enhancements include automated wireframe fastener and feature hole libraries and structural shape routines previously found in DRAFT-PAK, and advanced rendering.

Regarding the new model exchange/solid and surface modeling product, CADKEY Workshop EX V21 also includes translators for the import and export of ACIS SAT 1.5- 7.0, Parasolid  X_T 7-13, STEP AP203 and AP 214, IGES, DWG/DXF 11-2000, and STL as well as export of DXF, DWG, ACIS -SAT, Parasolid  X_T, IGES, STEP, STL and CGM files. The product is highly suitable for anyone who needs to work with data from customers and suppliers because it has a Pure Geometry core that gives users the ability to read and edit wireframe, surface or solid geometry files imported from any other UNIX  or Windows -based CAD system. Manufacturing engineers can use it to generate tooling, fixtures, molds, dies, machines, and more from customer files as needed during the manufacturing process. The product will also debut at the National Design Engineering Show (NDES) held in Chicago in early March. Bean explained that Workshop EX V21 is targeted at automotive and aerospace suppliers (primarily mold, tool and die companies), who need to deal with their customers’ CAD files. EX V21 allows such companies to cost-effectively work with files from high-end CAD systems (e.g., CATIA, Pro/E, Unigraphics).

Bean states that, "This product is a 'must-have' for any manufacturer because it enables them to use just one CAD system for all of their file editing, as opposed to buying and maintaining one of every CAD system on the market. It is the ultimate in interoperability for anyone who receives files from a variety of sources and needs to edit them. Customers have the flexibility to model any part or assembly they need to design.

“We have imported many types of customer files and are continuously impressed with the quality of the translations. Once a file is imported, CADKEY Workshop EX's powerful surface and solid modeling tools can then take over and edit the file or use the file to create molds, dies and other machinery. Working with a customer, I read in their Pro/E part file and repaired it with CADKEY's healing wizard, modified the file and created additional CADKEY geometry per his requests, the way a typical user would. I also read in a complete mold design from a native Unigraphics file and was able to edit and modify the file. The high-end CAD translators in CADKEY Workshop EX were integrated for a fraction of what those can cost when sold separately."

The import Pro/E function imports freeform solid and surface 3D geometry directly from Pro/Engineer version 16 to 2000i2 files (.prt and .asm). CADKEY Workshop EX's ability to import and export the STEP AP203 & AP214 (.stp) file format is an effective mechanism to send model data from CADKEY Workshop EX back into Pro/Engineer.

The import Unigraphics  translator imports freeform, solid and surface 3D geometry directly from Unigraphics version 10 through 18 files (.prt). The translator allows filtering based on layer display status and entity blanked status. CADKEY Workshop EX includes the capability to import and export the Parasolid  (.x_t) file format, which is a native model format for Unigraphics, Solid Edge, SolidWorks and other CAD/CAM systems. This .x_t format is an effective way to send model data back into Unigraphics.

The import CATIA 4 function allows wireframe, surface and solid model geometry to be imported from CATIA 4.1 and 4.2 files (.model, .dlv and .exp) including proper handling of level and color attributes. Optional filters allow selective import based on entity type and exclusion based on special 'Noshow', and 'Nopick' CATIA entity attributes. An export CATIA 4 function allows wireframe, surface and solid model geometry to be saved to CATIA 4.1.9 files (.mod, .exp and .dlv) including proper handling of level and color attributes.

The CADKEY Workshop EX modeling solution, which sells for $6,000 domestically (includes an annual update contract), combines drafting, wireframe, freeform solid modeling, advanced freeform surface modeling, assembly modeling and mechanical libraries into a single product. It allow users to access any modeling tool (2D, 3D wireframe, surface or solid) at any time during the design process, giving users the flexibility to model any part or assembly they need to design. Any imported model geometry (surface, solid or wireframe) from another CAD system can be edited as if created natively in CADKEY Workshop EX.

Bean noted that CAD data is being increasingly used throughout the manufacturing enterprise and supply chain. The ability of V21 to publish a 3D design to the Internet facilitates rapid dissemination of CAD data. He also noted that less expensive CAD tools are becoming more robust and can handle more complex design tasks; and the movement toward 3D CAD is gradually continuing. 3D CAD is required in such industries as automotive, aerospace, and consumer products, while less sophisticated design applications (such as bearings or valves) can be represented by 2D designs. Bean perceives realistic opportunities to sell CAD software in China, although piracy issues must be addressed.

CADKEY Corp. differentiates its products from other CAD/CAM systems from the competition by focusing on supporting manufacturing. As part of their strategy to refine their offerings to further support manufacturing, CADKEY Corp. plans add such enhancements to their tools as the ability to locally edit the geometry more easily, the capability to repair inaccuracies in files imported to CADKEY, and extended interoperability. During 2003, CADKEY plans to release V21.1 with significant speed enhancement, and to release a successor to V21.1 which will offer such functional enhancements as improved local operator capability and greater interoperability.

CADKEY Corporation, a CAD/CAM company founded in 1989, develops and markets the CADKEY  product line used by design and manufacturing professionals worldwide. The company is a developer of PC-based, professional mechanical CAD software used by designers since 1985. Dedicated to serving mechanical and manufacturing engineers, CADKEY Corporation's software development efforts focus on innovative freeform geometry-based modeling products. Over 295,000 copies have been shipped worldwide, and CADKEY Corporation's products are used in the in more than 40 countries.

Total end-user spending for mechanical CAD/CAM, CAE software and services is pegged at about $6 billion in 2002, representing about a 5% decline from 2001, according to Daratech, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 617-354-2339).

The global market (including 2D, 3D, hardware, software, systems, services) for commercial/industrial CAD/CAM applications totals $21.2 billion in 2003 and is projected to rise at a 5% compound annual rate to reach $27.1 billion in 2008, according to Machover Associates Corp. (White Plains, NY, 914-949-3777). The 3D portion of the aforementioned CAD/CAM market totals $11.3 billion in 2003 and is projected to rise at a 9% compound annual rate to reach $17.4 billion in 2008.  

Manufacturing Automation is
edited by Peter Adrian and published monthly by
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