Archive for January, 2015

Expert Interview with Zaia Abraham on Buying CAD Software and Hardware

January 31, 2015 Leave a comment

CAD software and hardwareIf you need an example for how CAD has revolutionized industrial production, look under your hood, says Zaia Abraham, president of PROCAD.

“The level of quality in a car engine designed in the 90s compared to now is phenomenal,” he says. “Not only is the product superior, but it is also made less expensively thanks in part to the CAD data distribution to parts manufacturers.”

CAD will continue to offer more accurate designs and quick prototyping, and has resulted in a higher level of efficient manufacturing production.

Zaia recently checked in with us to talk about the solutions PROCAD offers and shares advice on buying a great CAD workstation. Read on:

Tell us about PROCAD … what software do you offer? Who should be using it?

For over two decades, PROCAD has offered a wide range of plant design software solutions for a customer base that includes multinational resource companies, owner-operators, engineering consultants and pipe fabricators.

PROCAD applications include piping and electrical design with a focus on the chemical and O&G industries. The piping applications include 3D, 2D, P&IDs and isometrics. PROCAD provides its software as an add-on to AutoCAD or as complete solutions with included CAD platforms (AutoCAD OEM).

PROCAD also serves the pipe fabrication industry with SpoolCAD. This application simplifies the creation of spool drawings ready for manufacture. It comes with reporting capabilities such as BOM generation, weld lists and fabrication cost codes for estimation and billing.

What sets you apart from other CAD solutions?

PROCAD applications are cost-effective and easy to deploy. From the time a customer chooses PROCAD software, our staff will help with installation, setup and training; which allows the user to be fully operational within a few days. With intuitive interfaces, robust modules, excellent technical support and timely upgrades, customers are provided with the necessary tools to get their projects done on-time and on-budget.

What do you think are the most important considerations to make or questions to ask when shopping for CAD software, no matter what your industry?

To make sure it answers their pain-point issues. The software selection process should be given full consideration to ensure the right solution is chosen. The most important factor in software choice is when you know you can live with it for a long time. Purchase of software is the easy part.

What advice can you offer on shopping for CAD workstations? What should every CAD workstation include?

Getting ample RAM and a reasonable graphic card if doing a lot of 3D.

What sorts of considerations should we make when shopping for a professional monitor for CAD?

Fast refresh rate, high resolution, good quality color, screen brightness, and visibility when viewed from different angles

How should these workstations be arranged to best suit the user?

Networked workstations are the most efficient way to setup a design office. By organizing data on sharable servers, the drawings created by the different designers use the same standards and specs for the project they’re involved in.

What are some of the most exciting innovations you’ve come across in CAD Hardware?

The fact that an average machine can run reasonably complex CAD drawings without the need for very expensive graphics cards.

What sort of regular maintenance should we be doing to ensure our CAD hardware and software is running optimally?

Get extended warranties for the hardware, and keep software on maintenance. It’s important to have the latest releases of software to ensure compatibility with the latest CAD platforms and Operation Systems.

Connect with Zaia and the PROCAD team on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Categories: Hard Drive, Workstations Tags: ,

Expert Interview with Chris McAndrew on Innovations in CAD

January 30, 2015 Leave a comment

Innovation in CADWe asked Chris McAndrew what innovations he’s most excited about today in the world of CAD.

“The explosion of cloud computing and user interfaces are on the cusp of breaking the CAD world into a new time,” replied the owner and editor of

And it’s a good thing, too.

CAD is ripe for change since the major players in CAD software, including ProE, Solidworks and AutoCAD, are still rooted in clunky engineering principles, Chris says. Even newer programs like Sketchup, Rhino and Blender are resource intensive and tough to figure out.

“As a new class of developers starts to develop tools that are made for the masses, using things like virtual reality and a backend that is powerful enough to render and update a design instantly, it’ll be cool to see what sort of fun platforms are created!” he adds.

Here, Chris talks about, the buzz surrounding 3D printing and what you need to know about buying your next CAD workstation. Read on:

Tell us about When and why did you start your site?

3DEngr was started as a place to capture information on 3D design, CAD work and engineering. Initially, was created as a study tool for the Solidworks Certification exam, and it still is a great resource for the 50,000+ designers and engineers worldwide who have their certification and are looking to further their expertise. It also has become an outlet to cover the intersection of Engineering CAD design with practical implications of manufacturing. This has led to looking into 3D printing in a big way as it has increased in popularity and become the new hot topic in the world of manufacturing.

Who should be reading it?

Doers! Those people who understand that 3D printing is not going to revolutionize the world by itself, that it will need an educated mass of designers and engineers who understand the nuances of 3D printing and are able to incorporate traditional engineering principles with the amazing new abilities for design that 3D printing provides. In short, engineers, designers, and consumers who are excited by design and engineering.

3D printers have been around since the mid-1980s. So why is there so much buzz surrounding 3D printing right now?

There are lots of reasons, but basically the whole world has changed since the mid-80s. Materials, computing power and access are the three reasons that come to mind.

When 3D printing was first introduced, there was a very limited material list; but now, prints can be created using standard paper (the kind an inkjet printer uses), titanium and living cells. That’s an incredible increase in potential from low-grade plastics.

Computing power is the next most important development. 3D Printers still need software to tell them what they are printing. Learning to design a three-dimensional part file used to be reserved for engineers at multinational companies that had thousands of dollars to spend on software licenses. These days, there are free and open source design programs which are so easy that kids can use them (and do!). Couple that design potential with web-based sharing platforms where you can download existing designs, and all of a sudden the accessibility of 3D printing is transformed in a revolutionary way.

What excites you about the possibilities of 3D printing?

The ideation and iteration process it opens up. The ease of creating a sample or prototype with 3D printing is remarkable. So many great inventions and developments were created through painstaking trial and error, and today the effort required to undertake that process is dropping rapidly. Developments in 3D printing of living cells means that what would have required decades of research can now be packed into days and weeks. The same holds true for other industries. There will be a massive amount of failure with new designs coming off of 3D printers, which means we’ll be able to learn so much more quickly.

What trends do you think those who work with CAD should be following?

Storage costs and IP control. For those looking to build companies and products they want to monetize, it will be critical to understand how their designs are saved and shared. As long as value is still being created, someone will find a way to capture that value for their profit. Hopefully, that profit will be shared with the designers and not middlemen.

How have CAD workstations evolved in recent years?

CAD stations have slowly started to become less relevant. And that’s a very good thing. The first time I tried to buy a laptop that could run CAD software, it weighed a ton and was clunky. Though it rendered quickly, I literally couldn’t fit anything else in my carry-on bag if I flew with it. Thankfully, computing power has continued to evolve and lighter software has made it possible to run sufficient products on all sorts of devices.

What do you think are workstation must-haves for every CAD pro?

Comfort and portability. Why be tied to a physical work station when you can access computing power remotely? Not all CAD workstations make this easy, but planning your station this way will make it easier to keep the touch point that you work with and upgrade that back end as things get better.

What considerations should CAD pros make when updating their workstations today?

Whether or not you care that the key feature you want is going to be outdated in a matter of months. I’ve been sold a number of times on graphics cards that were way too powerful for me to ever use, boot up times that I never reaped the benefits of, and storage space that I simply did not use. Learn to customize your software and hardware. No two CAD pros work the same way. Find a workstation that is easy to personalize, and the benefits will greatly outweigh the incremental feature improvements that can be purchased.

Connect with Chris on Twitter.

Expert Interview with Jeff Mirisola Of Jeff’s Tool Shed On Seeing The Big Picture

January 29, 2015 1 comment

CADPeople say that the best way to learn something is to teach somebody else. In the process of describing it, you break the subject down into its components andu begin to see the limits of your own understanding.

Jeff Mirisola has taught countless visitors to his site, Jeff’s Tool Shed, the ins and outs of the SOLIDWORKS environment. Mirisola started the website to explore the limits of his own knowledge and get more involved in the community – all while sharing his knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm along the way.

Jeff Mirisola took a moment to share some of that wisdom with us.

How did you get started writing Jeff’s Tool Shed? What were your initial goals for the blog, and have you reached or surpassed those goals?

I started writing Jeff’s Tool Shed at the suggestion of Richard Doyle, Senior User Advocacy & SOLIDWORKS User Groups. We met at a SOLIDWORKS Summit in Seattle, and I expressed an interest in becoming more involved. He suggested writing a blog about SOLIDWORKS Partner products; hence the name Jeff’s Tool Shed. It’s morphed over the years into something more than just partner products, but the name remains.

How has writing Jeff’s Tool Shed impacted your own design work?

Of all the products I’ve been able to mess around with over the years, my two favorite are 3DConnexion and DriveWorks – both of which I get to use on a daily basis now. Both of them go a long way to speeding up the design process for me, especially my 3DConnexion device.

One of the reasons you started Jeff’s Tool Shed was to get more involved with the SOLIDWORKS community. What is the SOLIDWORKS community?

The SOLIDWORKS community is exactly what it sounds like: a community of users and employees all working together to help each other. On a large scale, you have the SOLIDWORKS forums as a place to ask and answer questions. Then still on a large scale, you have SOLIDWORKS World. That’s the annual user convention where thousands of SOLIDWORKS users, resellers, partners and employees descend upon some unsuspecting city for a week to learn and share. Then there’s the SOLIDWORKS User Group Network, a network of hundreds of user groups throughout the world that provide localized meetings for users to, again, share and learn.

You’re also a SOLIDWORKS certified instructor, so you’re obviously quite well-trained with the software. In your opinion, what differentiates SOLIDWORKS from other 3D CAD software? Why do you like it so much?

I’ve only ever used SOLIDWORKS, so I can’t speak to the pros/cons of other 3D CAD software. What I can tell you is that SOLIDWORKS is easy to learn and use. When I started using it, I had zero CAD experience. I’d recently moved into a role as a technical writer, but had to wait for the illustrator to do his work. His work entailed taking what was designed in SOLIDWORKS and recreating it in AutoCAD so that it could be brought into PageMaker. I thought that was ridiculous, but was told that you couldn’t derive a true Isometric view from SOLIDWORKS. Challenge accepted! I started with the tutorials, then started taking the 2D drawings of the machine I was creating the parts manual for and recreated the components. While a bit redundant, it was excellent practice that taught me a lot about modeling. When all was said and done, AutoCAD was dropped as part of the illustration process.

What are some specific challenges that face 3D CAD Engineers?

I think that one of the biggest challenges is that 3D CAD software will allow you to design something that can’t actually be manufactured. That’s something that you need to keep tucked away somewhere – unless you enjoy having a machinist tear you a new one.

Do you use a CAD Workstation in your office? If so, which one, and what made you select that one?

Yes, I use a workstation. Three, actually. For work, I have a Dell T1700 and a Surface Pro3. The Dell is my daily work horse. The Surface is what I use when I’m traveling. I chose the Dell because that’s what is used at the company. While I was able to spec it out, I had no say on the brand. That being said, I’ve used Dells for years with few problems, so I had no qualms about the lack of choice. The Surface was my choice, however, because I didn’t want to have to lug around a heavy mobile workstation; and they aren’t all that easy to use on a crowded plane. The Surface, however, is much lighter, just as powerful, and fits nicely on the food tray.

At home, I have a Dell M4600 that’s about 2 years old. It’s the middle of the road option, but works well for me.

What are the advantages of using a CAD workstation?

A CAD workstation, whether it’s a desktop/tower or mobile, simply gives you peace of mind when it comes to performance. I’d say for every one story you hear about someone being able to run SOLIDWORKS on their just fine ‘home’ PC, there’s probably 10 that have nothing but problems. For me, it would be like buying a Corvette with a 4 cylinder engine. It may look good, but it’s not going to deliver the performance you’d want or expect.

With the business climate being what it is, why is it so important for CAD Engineers and Managers to be optimally efficient and organized? What are the risks of not being unorganized?

Business is about making money, and being efficient is just one way to meet that goal. If you have a manager who doesn’t know what his team is doing, chances are they don’t know what they’re doing either. You then end up with duplication of effort, files overwriting files, dogs and cats living together, complete anarchy. Having a cohesive effort is a much better way to go, no?

There’s more though. You need a manager who doesn’t just sit in his office doling out duties. He needs to understand what goes into creating models and drawings. He needs to understand that, as with so many other things, training is important. So is providing the proper tools (read: workstations). Showing your CAD jockeys that you’re committed to both will help them be committed to more than just the paycheck.

In the ‘Consulting’ section of Jeff’s Tool Shed, you state, “Capable of seeing the big picture regarding 3D model use across an organization.” What is the big picture regarding 3D modeling across an organization?

Ah, the BIG PICTURE. Here’s my thoughts based off of what I’ve seen: too many managers simply see 3D Modeling as a design tool. Nothing more, nothing less. Even at this most basic thought level, they still don’t manage it correctly. Files get saved willy-nilly. File naming is no more thought out than where they’re being saved to. Models are created haphazardly, which create problems downstream when someone else tries to edit them.

Honestly, there’s a lot to ‘the big picture’. File naming conventions, part numbering conventions, PDM vs. no PDM, how to utilize the data that is within your models, how to utilize the models for more than just engineering purposes and so on and so forth.

For more info and updates from Jeff’s Tool Shed, follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Workstations Tags: ,

Expert Interview with Tony Glockler of SolidProfessor on Continual Software Education

January 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Software educationSoftware is not something you simply learn once and move on.

Those that are the most serious about their careers and industries have always been lifelong learners, but this has become vital in today’s quickly evolving business climate.

To fill this need, the software training company SolidProfessor was formed to give CAD engineers all the training and certification in every major CAD platform they could ever need to stay at the head of their field and at the peak of their powers.

SolidProfessor’s Tony Glockler took a moment to tell us about SolidProfessor and some of the newest developments in the field of CAD software and workstations.

What is SolidProfessor? How did your company get started?

SolidProfessor is a team of dedicated engineers and designers creating the best learning experience for CAD and technical engineering software.
SolidProfessor was founded ten years ago by technical engineers and SolidWorks instructors who realized that the traditional classroom learning experience wasn’t effective for learning technical CAD software.  Students would leave intensive five-day courses on SolidWorks overwhelmed and retain only a fraction of what was taught in class.

To compound that problem, new annual advances in software development provided additional capabilities; but there was no ongoing training process to support users who wanted to get up to speed with the new capabilities. SolidProfessor was created to provide an effective method for people to learn technical CAD software, and to also maintain proficiency as the software evolved.

Who are your main clientele?

Companies, educational institutions and individuals — anyone who uses CAD software and wants to develop their skills.

You provide businesses, individuals, and institutions with training plans for all the major software. In this industry, how important is it to keep up with progress? How often should people think about re-training or re-certifying themselves?

It’s critical to keep up with progress. Software is changing quickly and dramatically, allowing designers to innovate and accelerate time to market. Ongoing learning is essential to staying current with the latest technology and software capabilities.

The word “re-training” does not apply very well to software learning.  It’s better to think of software learning as a Six Sigma or a continuous learning type of endeavor; people’s software skills should continually be improving.

Every time someone runs into a design challenge, there is an opportunity to learn and improve their skills.  The concept of a “training event” like attending a class applies to learning a subject once. However, software is rapidly changing and improving, so this requires a different solution to learning other than a one-time training event. Creating a culture of continuous learning is a much more effective approach for technical industries.

Re-certification, which is a good way to verify that someone is maintaining software proficiency, should happen with every new software release as new capabilities are introduced and the software evolves. A user can be re-certified on basic skills through an assessment test, and can be certified on new capabilities by completing a mini-course on the new software functionality, as well as an associated certification test following the course.

What are some of the areas that you keep people updated on?

SolidProfessor keeps our members updated on new software capabilities as well as new best design practices.

How important is organization and workflow for productivity? How much time does a business or an individual stand to save by optimizing their setup?

Great question.  It can be difficult to quantify, but organization and workflow are critical for a company to be productive and, more importantly, to compete in the market today.

As the size of a design team grows, so does the complexity of working together. Processes are essential for a team to operate effectively. Your team members can either be your greatest expense or your most valuable asset.

SolidProfessor helps you take control of your team’s productivity by rapidly onboarding new users and increasing productivity of your top performers. The administrative tools measure progress and knowledge retention with integrated tracking.


For more info and updates from Solid Professor, like them on Facebook, connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.


Realizing the Potential of 3D Printing

January 26, 2015 Leave a comment

When 3D printing was first reported, the promises were endless. We’d all be making our own clothing, building our own vehicles, and generally running manufactures out of business worldwide. The realities have been a bit different — technologies are still in rudimentary stages, and finding materials that lend well to printing certain items, like electronics and clothing, haven’t quite been honed to perfection.

Still, the past year has seen remarkable innovation in several arenas. The quality of 3D printers is on the rise, and the quality of printer you can score for a reasonable sum of cash has also improved. Additionally, new materials have been developed that lend well to particular printing endeavors. Here are the most remarkable achievements in 3D printing as of late.

3D Printed Human Organs


3D printing

Perhaps one day, parents can rejoice in medicine’s ability to replace their baby’s faulty heart without the bittersweet knowledge that another baby didn’t live to need the heart.


Perhaps the most promising innovation is in the medical sciences. Scientists have successfully 3D printed human liver tissues, which have proven far better at detecting toxins than those previously generated by 2D printers. These liver cells were able to detect hidden toxins in drugs that had been approved by the FDA. The drugs were later pulled off the market. What does this bode for the future? One day liver cells such as this could help pharmaceutical companies get needed medications to the market faster. Controversial drug testing on animals could be eliminated. Most promising, scientists could 3D print human organs, saving thousands of people who die waiting on suitable organs to become available.

3D Printing in Space

Amid a whirlwind of publicity, an astronaut was recently able to print his own wrench in space. NASA emailed him the specs, and he created the tool on the zero-gravity 3D printer installed at the International Space Station where he works. Zero-gravity 3D printing has not been without its challenges, but could one day significantly reduce the amount of weight and space taken up on space missions. Astronauts could simply manufacture what they needed while on board the spacecraft.

3D Printed Cars


3D printing

What would you print to drive? A Lamborghini? Porsche? Ferrari? Who would be sensible about it and print a Camry?


The first 3D printed (well, mostly 3D printed) car has finally been introduced. Reviewers expected a low-powered, poor handling machine, but were pleasantly surprised at the vitality of the car. The Strati is the first such vehicle introduced to the public, but you can bet your sweet gearshift it won’t be the last.

3D Printed Houses

Actually, more people have publically unveiled houses they built using 3D printers than vehicles. Among these adventurers is Andrey Rudenko, an engineer and architect who lives in Minnesota. Rudenko produced a mini castle in his backyard using 3D printing, and hopes to soon embark on building a full-size home. A Chinese company showed off its ability to produce no fewer than 10 homes within a 24-hour period, though architects and engineers question the quality and integrity of those productions. Still, the promise of 3D printed homes means that builders could one day make homes to capitalize on a particular need within a given environment, such as the ability to effectively capture heat from the sun or collect rainwater for use within the home.

3D Printed Clothing

Until recently, clothing manufactured on a 3D printer was rigid and uncomfortable, definitely not something anyone would want to don to work or a party. That changed when the company Nervous System produced the Kinematics Dress, a soft, fluid gown generated from a single piece of nylon fabric. Most intriguing is that the dress was made using a body scan of the model who would wear it. Essentially, the dress was constructed as a perfect fit just for her. This would be invaluable to those people who don’t fit into a stereotypical size 10, 12, or 14. The possibilities for uncommonly tall, short, or shaped people is promising indeed.

Perhaps the realization of what 3D printing can actually do for society is on the brink of making itself known. For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Visit Cadalyst for more news, information, tips, and tricks for CAD design, 3D printing, computer-aided manufacturing, and much more today.

Categories: Printers Tags:

Making Electronics With 3D Printers

January 24, 2015 Leave a comment

What if you could manufacture your own smartphones and wearable technology in your basement? What if drones and IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices didn’t have to be manufactured in high-tech manufacturing facilities, but could be made in the family garage? Thanks to a newly developed plastic, these far-fetched scenarios could one day be realities.

The Origins of F-Electric


3D printing

With this innovation, the entire face of 3D printing could change.


Michael Toutonghi and his son decided to build an electromagnetic propulsion project for the son’s science fair at school. Since soldering didn’t come easy for Mike, he wanted to use his 3D printer to build the circuits. Yet he couldn’t find an adequately conductive material to use. This led him on a nearly obsessive quest studying nanotechnology and materials science. After years of labor, he eventually developed a synthetic mix of graphene, metal, and plastic nano composites. He formed the corporation Functionalize, and is now $6,657 into his goal of $100,000 in crowdsourced funding through the crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter.

How F-Electric Could Fundamentally Change 3D Printing


3D printing

F-Electric might be the product that makes it practical to download and print your new car.


The differences in his product, F-Electric, from similar conductive plastics that are available for 3D printing are its high conductivity, low price, and easy workability. Most 3D printing materials offer a resistance of between 1,000 and 10,000 ohm-cm. Comparatively, F-Electric features less than 1 ohm-cm of resistance. Additionally, it costs around $140 per pound (32-cents per gram), compared to other 3D printing products that run about 15-cents per gram, but provide thousands of times less conductivity. F-Electric also works well in any of the low-end PLA 3D printers.

The Future of F-Electric

For now, Toutonghi and others who have worked with F-Electric have produced relatively unremarkable products like LED flashlights. However, executives of Functionalize say that they have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to the potential of F-Electric.

In time, users will have the ability to manufacture high-tech gadgets, tools, and computers affordably and quickly using low-end 3D printers and the affordable F-Electric material. At the moment, F-Electric is capable of giving home users the ability to print the inner workings of a computer such as the Raspberry Pi, but not the housing for the device.

Of course, users will have to lean on some type of CAD system to design and simulate their products before manufacturing, which could drive up the cost of making nifty electronic gadgets at home. Being able to manufacture an electromechanical connection with a 3D printer and knowing how those connections should work within the device are two separate issues when it comes to non-professional users.

F-Electric and Functionalize do have at least one competitor, Graphine 3D. Grahphine 3D recently filed for a patent on their 3D printer generated batteries. However, Functionalize’s product offers greater conductivity at a more affordable price, which should give them the edge in the competitive marketplace.

Most 3D printers can also use actual metals, instead of synthetic plastics with conductive properties. Metals commonly used in 3D printers are copper, gold, aluminum, and bronze. The benefits of F-Electric is that it is resistant to corrosion and is more affordable than most soft metals that lend well to 3D printing.

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD and 3D printing. Visit the Cadalyst website today for more articles on news and innovations in manufacturing, CAD, 3D printing, and more.

Categories: Printers Tags:

Expert Interview with Scott Sweeney on Reusing CAD Models

January 19, 2015 Leave a comment

CAD ModelsWhile it might not be the most exciting development in the CAD world, Scott Sweeney says Reuse is the most important.

“Did you know that people still spend 20 to 30 percent of their time fixing CAD models? What a waste,” the vice president of marketing for Kubotek USA says.

And it’s not because people are bad at CAD modeling, Scott says. It’s often because the most popular CAD modelers make reuse of CAD models so difficult.

“The dirty little secret is that many CAD operators will find it easier and faster to start from scratch than to reuse their own or someone else’s CAD model,” he adds.

To help solve the problem, Kubotek offers KeyCreator Direct CAD, which allows users to edit any CAD model, no matter what system it was created in, no matter how it was created. It’s the perfect solution for most applications, especially for job shops and contract manufacturers.

We recently checked in with Scott to learn more about Kubotek and get his take on what’s new and interesting in the CAD world. Here’s what he had to say:


Tell us about Kubotek 3D … what products and services do you offer?

We develop and sell the best CAD software and CAD Querying tools for Job Shops and Contract Manufacturers.

We have three specific product lines:

  • 3D Direct CAD – KeyCreator Direct CAD, CAD Validation
  • Comparison software Kubotek Validation Tool and ECO Manager
  • CAD viewing software – Kubotek Spectrum Viewer and KeyMarkUp CAD viewer and mark up


What sets Kubotek 3D apart from other CAD software?

I am going to speak about KeyCreator Direct CAD – our flagship software:

  • Simpicity – KeyCreator is a direct modeler. This is the simplest and fastest way to generate or edit a CAD model. There is no history tree to rebuild, give you errors or crash. Changes can be made to the model regardless of how the model was constructed, or the order of construction, or what software it was authored in. Most CAD software simply cannot do this.
  • Cost – our software costs one-third to one-half the price of competitive CAD software, and this is also true of our maintenance agreement costs.
  • Querying tools – KeyCreator has unparrelled querying tools, including the capability to view features’ dimensions on the fly, superior visualization tools and unique comparison technology that graphically shows — with colors — the differences between two versions of a CAD model, including its product manufacturing information or geometric dimensions and tolerance information.


What CAD innovations are your customers most excited about today?

Three things. First, we just integrated into our base package our full comparison technology. This technology allows for easy and quick graphical comparison of two CAD models. This was available at an extra charge in the past, but we felt that it was so powerful that we wanted all of our customers to have this option available in the base package. So it is now included in KeyCreator 2015, which has been shipping since October.

Our customers are loving our integrated analysis system, KeyCreator analysis. It’s a full multi-physics simulation system fully integrated into our Direct CAD system. You never leave the software, so there’s no exporting files. Update the CAD and the simulation can easily be rerun over and over to get to your optimal design.

They also like our fully integrated two and three axis CAM system. This is a very inexpensive solution for what machine shops do most – milling. We just recently added two axis wire EDM.


What are customers’ biggest complaints or frustrations?

One of the biggest complaint is that managers oftentimes dictate the wrong CAD software for their people to use. Without a clear understanding of which CAD is best for the work they are doing, managers can unknowingly reduce productivity and effectiveness of their organization. “One size fits all” is not true for CAD software. CAD software that is good for design of certain products or for OEMs may be a very poor choice for manufacturers. Managers should listen to and understand the requirements of their people when choosing CAD tools.

We meet CAD users at trade shows, they come to our website and they speak with us on the phone. We are hearing a growing sense of frustration with some large CAD companies that are forcing them to work with their intellectual property in ways that they are not comfortable. Autodesk recently announced that they will no longer be upgrading customers from one version to another. They must either become subscription customers or pay in full for a new license if they let their subscription expire. Other companies are moving their customers’ data into their cloud, which in essence locks them into their world and becomes a larger barrier to interoperability with other people’s CAD data.


What’s your favorite CAD hardware? What do you like about it?

Any modern Windows-based system with plenty of memory runs our software just fine. Be sure to have a professional graphics card too.


What types of monitors do you think are the most useful for CAD designers?

Whatever monitor or monitors you like. Most are usually a dual monitor set-up to be able to see and work on different parts of the model simultaneously.


What do you think are some must-have CAD accessories for designers?

We love the 3D Connexion 3D mouse. It allows you to drive the model with two hands and easily model in 3D space.


How often do you think CAD workstations should be updated?

If they start to bog the use down, they should be replaced. If they keep working at a good speed, no problem. We see all age workstations in our customer’s shops. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Connect with Kubotek on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Solving Design Challenges With Solidworks 2015

January 14, 2015 Leave a comment

Solidworks 2015 has been out since September 2014, and the jury is in: developers managed to please users with a host of new features and improvements that make complicated tasks simple, fast, and more productive. The company was vocal about these “user driven” changes, and bloggers who have tried and reviewed the product are overwhelmingly positive about it. Here are the top changes for Solidworks 2015, but bear in mind, the changes and improvements are numerous and some are profound. Be sure to browse through the product guide so you’ll be able to take advantage of all those new bells and whistles.


Improving the Looks and Usability of Finished Products



Solidworks 2015 makes it easier than ever to create asymmetrical designs, such as ergonomic products.


The new version allows you to create asymmetrical fillets for surfaces, parts, and assemblies. This is particularly useful to users in the industries of high-tech product manufacturing, medical equipment, and consumer goods. You can now increase surfacing flexibility to allow for modeling of stylized designs such as ergonomic designs. The rendering setup is much quicker, and the software allows you to toggle between symmetrical and asymmetrical filets at any point. You can now maintain precise control over the edge shape and bias according to the intent of your design.


Creating More Accurate Layouts and Profiles



This version of Solidworks makes it a cinch to flatten out 3D designs of shoes and clothing to work out the kinks in assembly.


For CAD users in industries that depend heavily upon fabrics and other soft materials — such as clothing, footwear, and upholstery designers — you can create more accurate layout profiles to eliminate fitting issues at assembly by flattening your 3D design into the 2D presentation as if it were on the cutout and assembly line. Solidworks 2015 allows you to get feedback on deformities and export profiles for production more easily than ever.


Simplifying Machine Components

For users in the construction, automotive, and machine tools fields, the latest version of Solidworks allows you to automate roller chains, energy chains, and power transmission components so you can view the movement dynamically and check for interference instantly. This feature works for both open and closed chain paths, and automatically updates with the changes as you make them in the design.


Making it Easier to Review and Make Design Decisions

For users in the AEC and building industries, Solidworks now features thorough design capabilities for HVAC and cable tray layouts. You can create routing assemblies that are fully supported by Bill of Materials (BOM) and drawings upon completion. It also generates digital models for BIM, including files that can be shared and networked to allow for fast and easy collaboration and decision making. The new version also allows you to build custom libraries to support your product lines or projects.

In all, there are over 200 new features and improvements to tinker with. Solidworks 2015 is one of the most well-received CAD software developments of the past year. For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Are you looking for additional reviews on CAD hardware, software, and more? Visit the Cadalyst website for reviews, information, tips, tricks, and other great news you can use.

Categories: Workstations Tags: ,

New Features of HSMWorks 2015

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment

The big news for HSMWorks 2015 is its support for SolidWorks 2015, which was released in September of 2014. Since the Service Packs released frequently by HSMWorks are notably beefy, adding new features and improved functionality in between annual version releases, support for SolidWorks 2015 is the most notable update. However, version 2015 also has some other features and benefits to consider if it’s time to upgrade your software.


Improvements for Multiple CPU Systems


HSMWorks 2015

Version 2015 is ideal for systems with multiple core processors.


For CAM professionals using a multiple CPU system, HSMWorks 2015 offers noticeably more support for the latest generation of Intel processors, and supports up to 36 total core processors within a single system. This eliminates the bottleneck associated with software that only utilizes a single core.

The new version also reduces the amount of cycle time needed for processing, which increases the lifespan of the CPU. HSMWorks calls this feature Enhanced Adaptive Clearing technology for high-efficiency roughing. Version 2015 is also well suited to higher-end workstations because it allows for rapid toolpath calculation and post processing and makes last-minute changes easier. With HSMWorks 2015, engineers can get programs on the shop floor faster than with previous versions.


Adaptive Roughing

HSMXpress (available as a free download from the HSMWorks website) comes with 2D Adaptive Roughing strategy, and the full HSMWorks 2015 version comes with both 2D and 3D Adaptive Roughing strategy. Not only does this popular feature reduce cycle times, but it improves tool life by utilizing better toolpath algorithms. Version 2015 offers more control with the “Stay Down Level” tab and the ability to avoid chatter and reduce tool wear.


Improved 3D Capabilities


HSMWorks 2015

3D looks more realistic and renders faster in version 2015.


Version 2015 also offers better 3D simulation capabilities, which is most useful for users in the mold and die industry, as well as users who work with larger models and sculpted surfaces. It features “Fast 3D Mode,” which is useful for more complicated endeavors, as well as the “Simulate” function that users of HSMXpress will easily recognize.


Better Simulations

Simulations of HSMWorks 2015 are more visually accurate and give a better idea of how the process will perform before implementation. This version makes it easier to hone and fine-tune everything before hitting the green button on the CNC machine. Specifically, the “Show Stock” feature has been improved, and it now takes less than two seconds to simulate a realistic or common 3D toolpath.



You can download HSMXpress for free, and it comes with a free 30-day trial of HSMWorks 2015 so that users can decide whether the new features and functionality are worth the investment. HSMXpress and HSMWorks are compatible with SolidWorks 2013 or later, and requires Windows 7 or Windows 8 General Release (32- or 64-bit, though 64-bit is recommended), and dual or quad core processors. Minimum display resolution is 1,024 x 768 with true color (1,600 x 1,050 with true color is recommended).

For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD. Get even more reviews, news, tips, and tricks on CAD workstations, software, and more at the Cadalyst website today.

Expert Interview with Jimmy Bergmark About AutoCAD

January 8, 2015 Leave a comment

AutoCADJimmy Bergmark of JTB World has decades of experience in the AutoCAD industry. That’s why he started his own business to help fellow CAD users.

He agreed to share his experience in that industry with readers in this interview.

Please describe your background and how that background benefits JTB World.
In 1983 I got a Sinclair ZX81 computer and got hooked by what computers could achieve; I started to learn BASIC and after that took every opportunity to learn more about computers and programming and later selected an education with that focus. Starting in 1989, I got to work with building engineers using AutoCAD helping out with automating their drafting work using AutoLISP.

For nine years I worked for an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) company as an Architectural and Structural Engineer, CAD Manager, Database Manager, Development Manager and System Manager. One great thing with that work was that the factory and office were side by side so we could see what we did be put into practice and also get quick feedback from the crew on the factory. During that time, I started JTB World in 2001 as a side business where I made good use of my experience of finding ways for companies using CAD to work more effectively and cut costs by automating tedious work. Since 2006, I’ve worked with JTB World full time together with my wife, creating apps that are sold through our website and now also on Autodesk Exchange Apps as well as creating custom solutions both for one-man shops as well as large enterprise companies.

Describe the services offered by JTB World.
JTB World focuses on programming services mainly for the AutoCAD and Revit platforms but also for Microsoft Office and Windows in general. Most programming is done with AutoLISP, VBA, VB.NET, C# and sometimes in C++, often involving connections to software like Excel or databases like Access or SQL Server. JTB FlexReport is a license and application usage monitoring solution offered by JTB World to help customers to manage their software licenses and be in a better position when it’s time to make decisions on maintenance, upgrades and new purchases that often can be very expensive. With the help of JTB FlexReport, it’s easier to know historic usage and estimate future usage.

When it comes to AutoCAD, what do customers say are the most beneficial features offered by JTB World?
My many years of using and programming for AutoCAD benefit our customers greatly. If a customer has an idea or a problem, it can in most cases be realized or solved with a custom solution that saves them time and money. Sometimes what the customer wants can be done with existing AutoCAD
functionalities, and I’d rather suggest them how to use these than to create a custom solution. Other times, AutoCAD is lacking functions some customers need, and I try to create something to make AutoCAD more powerful.

JTB World has, for example, the SSMPropEditor app that is for users of AutoCAD’s Sheet Set Manager. One customer said, “This program is one of the best values for the money we spent. I have mentioned this to management several times. The program and the support is above and beyond.” Another customer said, “I’ve purchased the SSMPropEditor and it’s the best investment I have made in my life. I’m editing custom sheet set data regarding drawn-by and checked by and lots of other data for hundreds of sheets in seconds while it took me days to do it.”

What are some of the biggest issues CAD users come across, and how do you address those issues?
Often similar things need to be done on multiple drawings. It can be from updating title blocks, plotting, extracting information to Excel to updating drawings to meet certain requirements. Existing apps like SmartPurger or AutoCAD Automation Tools are great for batch processing. Sometimes small apps done, for example, in AutoLISP can go a long way while in other cases the complexity can require days of work to program but still save even more time and costs compared to doing it manually.

Please name some trends happening in the field of CAD and how JTB World addresses those trends.
There’s importance of consistency of information and data when working with CAD. BIM is a big trend that has going on for years. BIM can be implemented by companies in different levels where even AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architectural can play a part, but the problem is that there is data both in the CAD system and in other external databases, and here JTB World both has existing apps like ACAD_db and ACA_db that link data between databases and CAD as well as custom solutions to fit specific needs. Other companies take BIM even further with Integrated Project Delivery and use the data better for both construction as well as building operation, and there are a lot of opportunities for a company like JTB World to help companies to achieve these goals.

What kinds of tips and tools does JTB World offer for CAD users?
There are several AutoLISP apps and code snippets I have put up on my site that can be used for free, and on my blog I share useful tips like Length of object label with free app for AutoCAD or Slow to license and start Revit.

What benefits do individuals experience when using JTB World?
Customers can draw upon my experience of having worked in and for companies similar to their own. I have done drafting and engineering work myself and know how frustrating certain things can be and how much help a bit of programming or customization can do.

Please share anything additional you would like individuals in the CAD community to know about JTB World.
Customers can get help with questions or apps that are done within less than an hour all the way up to large, complex projects that take weeks or months and often where many programmers are involved. Feel free to contact us at JTB World, and we will do our best to accommodate you by reducing your work load, minimizing errors when things are done manually and saving your company some money. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Categories: Connectivity, Workstations Tags: ,