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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.

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.

 

HSMXpress

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.

The Best Hardware Configuration for AutoCAD 2013, Part 4: Processor, Video Card, RAM and Hard Drive

October 31, 2012 34 comments

So far in this series, I’ve discussed how to determine if your hardware can handle the AutoCAD 2013 upgrade, how to outline your current and future needs and how to find new hardware if you decide it’s time for a new system. If you are looking for new hardware for AutoCAD 2013, here’s some specific components to look at closely.

The Processor and Video Card

Make sure to focus on the processor and the video card when looking for a new workstation. Especially the processor. This component is the most difficult to upgrade latter on.

A video card is easy enough to change out, but they can be very expensive. If you are working with 3D models and create a lot of renderings, make sure to get a good video card. “Regular” 2D CAD work will also require a good video card. Go through Autodesk’s list. Don’t fall into the trap of getting a gaming card. CAD requirements of video cards are very different from game requirements. CAD is a precision tool. Games are not. Games need speed. CAD needs accuracy.

RAM

RAM is another component that is easy to update later. Make sure you get ECC RAM (Error-Correcting Code Memory). One of the requirements of being a “workstation” is having ECC memory. This type of computer memory can detect and automatically fix common types of data corruption. That means fewer crashes while working in your CAD software!

Each motherboard will carry a certain amount of slots for the RAM chips. Get that number of chips. Each slot has a channel in which it can pump data through. If a slot is empty, then that channel isn’t being used.

Hard Drive

What are you going to do for internal storage? I’m talking about the hard drive. Workstations typically have support for RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks. Essentially this type of storage system has multiple hard drives, each mirroring the other. If one fails the workstation still works because the second drive is still running. It’s automatic and can keep your CAD users working. Of course this will increase cost, but it could prolong the life of your workstation.

How much storage space is enough? If you are storing data files, images, videos, etc. on your network instead of your workstation, then you shouldn’t need much storage. 500 GB should be enough for most systems, probably even 350 GB. Make a list of all of the software programs a user needs, include the operating system, and add up the space needed. Leave room for growth and there you go.

The price of hard drives is always dropping, and the amount of storage space on each drive is always increasing. Getting a little less storage capacity could help reduce cost.

Author: Brian Benton

Recommended Hardware for CAD, Part 1: AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit and Other Autodesk Applications

September 19, 2012 3 comments

Here at CADspeed, we get a lot of questions about buying new hardware for CAD applications. While the answer to, “What CAD hardware should I buy?” varies widely based on the person asking the question, it always starts in the same place: with the requirements of the CAD software you plan to use.

Yet a list of minimum requirements can be, well, only minimally helpful in the quest for the right CAD workstation. Most CAD users need hardware that will not just meet the minimum specifications, but enable them to maximize their productivity.

CAD software developers know this, and they have a vested interest in making sure you get the bang for your software buck. So this series will explore recommended hardware for a variety of common CAD applications from the makers of the applications themselves.

Autodesk

We start this series with Autodesk, creator of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software that includes some of the most commonly used applications in the industry. Autodesk has developed a web site to help users find certified or recommended software for Autodesk applications.

The truth is, however, many CAD users don’t use just one CAD software application. It’s very common to use both AutoCAD and Revit on the same system, for example. The intriguing part of the Autodesk hardware site is you can select multiple products and find the common driver and hardware configurations that will work best for your system.

Autodesk Certified and Recommended Hardware

Select up to three Autodesk products to find the best hardware configuration for you.

Certified vs. Recommended

On the Autodesk website, you’ll see two terms that you need to understand: certified and recommended. “Certified” hardware meets Autodesk’s minimum hardware requirements for the applicable Autodesk software product. At least one configuration (e.g., GPU + driver, or CPU + GPU + RAM + HD + BIOS) has passed tests designed to verify that the hardware supports the product’s features.

“Recommended” hardware meets Autodesk’s recommended system requirements for the applicable Autodesk product. At least one configuration has passed tests designed to verify that the hardware supports the product’s features.

A “Recommended” or “Certified” rating is based on the test results for a graphics card and driver or a complete system. Clicking the link for a card or system will reveal the results of each individual component tests.

Icon Rating Description*

Recommended – Meets Autodesk’s recommended system requirements and has passed all Autodesk certification tests.

Certified – Meets Autodesk’s minimum system requirements and has passed all Autodesk certification tests.
Icon Component Test Results*

Passed – When tested with this configuration, the hardware passed testing.

Passed with issues – When tested with this configuration, the hardware has some minor problems or features that are not supported.

Failed – When tested with this configuration, the hardware does not adequately support the product’s features.

No Results – This configuration has not been tested by the associated product.

* Test results are valid only for the tested combination of hardware and driver. Certified or Recommended status does not guarantee that the graphics hardware will operate acceptably with other drivers or configurations. Driver-specific test results are available for some hardware and can be found by clicking on a product name in the Hardware List.

Other Terms to Understand

Before using the Autodesk Certified Hardware site, you should understand a few other common terms to make sure you are getting the right results.

Graphics:

  • Workstation—Graphics hardware designated by the manufacturer as workstation-grade, typically meaning it is designed to work with 3D CAD applications
  • Consumer—Graphics hardware designated by the manufacturer for desktop or gaming level use, typically meaning it is not designed or recommended for use with 3D CAD applications
  • Mobile—Integrated hardware normally found in laptops.

Systems:

  • Workstation Desktop—Desktop system designated by the manufacturer as workstation-grade, typically meaning it is designed to work with 3D CAD applications
  • Workstation Laptop—Laptop designated by the manufacturer as workstation-grade, typically meaning it is designed to work with 3D CAD applications
  • Consumer Desktop—Desktop system designated by the manufacturer for desktop or gaming level use, typically meaning it is not designed or recommended for use with 3D CAD applications
  • Consumer Laptop—Laptop designated by the manufacturer for desktop or gaming level use, typically meaning it is not designed or recommended for use with 3D CAD applications.
  • Tablet—Touch-screen device with integrated components.

The Hardware List page contains only the hardware products that Autodesk has tested for use with certain Autodesk applications. Autodesk tests a variety of hardware, but focuses primarily on hardware the manufacturer has indicated is workstation-grade and designed to work with 3D CAD applications.

Unless otherwise noted, Autodesk hardware certification tests are run on systems containing a single video card with a single monitor attached. Autodesk does not currently run certification tests on systems with multiple graphics cards installed or multiple monitors.

Author: CADspeed Editors

Choose the Right GPU for Your CAD Workstation

September 5, 2012 5 comments

A GPU manages how your computer graphics process and display and, thanks to parallel processing, is typically more efficient than a CPU. The GPUs that are best optimized for professional graphics-intensive applications, such as CAD, design visualization and analysis, are found in workstation caliber AMD FirePro and NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards.

Five Categories of GPUs

Such professional-caliber GPUs come in a variety of flavors for desktop as well as mobile form factors. In the more mature desktop arena, they tend to fall into five categories of add-in cards.

The first category is 2D GPUs. Professional 2D cards can manage some 3D processing, but are not optimized for regular or intensive 3D applications. They generally aren’t well suited for CAD use.

For professional-level CAD work, you’ll want a Quadro or FirePro 3D add-in card. Each of these product lines includes approximately half a dozen models that fall into the remaining four product categories, as defined here by Jon Peddie Research:

  • entry-level: $350 or less
  • mid-range: $350–$950
  • high-end: $950–$1,500
  • ultra high-end: $1,500 or more

There are always exceptions, but most buyers will want to match the performance and capabilities of the GPU with the rest of the system — that is, an entry-caliber card for an entry caliber workstation. Achieving good balance, where each component hits a performance level that is supported by the rest of the system, is the best way to maximize ROI for your workstation purchase and optimize your productivity.

Fortunately, most workstation OEMs today do this work for you, offering a subset of cards from AMD and NVIDIA that best match the capabilities of the model you’ve chosen.

Optimizing GPU Performance

Most graphics cards — and all performance-oriented models — slide into PCI Express x16 slots in the workstation. Graphics cards can be installed in open slots at the factory when ordering your new system, or anytime later if you buy a card off the shelf. A mid-life upgrade of your system with a latest-generation GPU can provide a cost-effective kick, for example if rendering becomes a bottleneck.

And unlike the machine that’s at your desk today, your new workstation (unless it’s a small–form factor model) will likely come equipped with at least two PCI Express x16 slots, able to accommodate two cards. Why would you want two (or more)? One reason is that multi-GPU technologies from NVIDIA (SLI) and AMD (CrossFire) allow the pairing of two cards (rendering alternate frames) to boost performance.

Author: Alex Herrera

Buying a New CAD Workstation? Know Your Software System Requirements

August 30, 2012 4 comments

Where do you begin your quest for the right workstation? This particular hardware search should start with your software.

Let’s be real: Nobody relies on just one application over the course of a day. We’re all bouncing between disparate tasks and windows. But for the majority of CAD professionals, there is one application — or maybe a couple — that consumes the bulk of your hours at the desk. What’s the app that dominates your day? Got it? Now hit the web site of the software developer and find the minimum and recommended system requirements for your killer app. AutoCAD users can find this information at http://usa.autodesk.com/autocad/system-requirements.

Minimum is the Starting Point Only

In most cases, an application’s minimum requirements set an extremely low standard, as the software vendors begrudgingly must address the least common denominator of the installed base. We don’t recommend you follow these guidelines, but it’s worth making a note of the minimum graphics, system memory and CPU requirements. On the other hand, it’s highly likely that any new workstation on the market today will meet or exceed these numbers.

Certified Hardware

More interesting is the list of recommended or certified hardware. For SolidWorks, Dassault Systèmes (as of this writing) specifies a minimum of 1 GB RAM, but suggests 6 GB. Well, if you go with 1 GB, you’ll be sorry — even 6 GB isn’t necessarily the best choice, depending on your budget, and especially given the incredible amount of gigabytes/dollar that can be had today.

Similarly, Autodesk isn’t going to stop you from running a PC gamer graphics card, but the company will tell you which cards are optimized for performance and built for reliability when it comes to supporting AutoCAD or Autodesk Inventor.

Increasingly, the only CAD-certified graphics cards are professional-brand NVIDIA Quadro and AMD FirePro. That’s because software developers have consistently seen the fewest bugs and problems with cards that, like the system overall, have been exhaustively tested and tuned for professional workstation applications. In fact, the major CAD software developers will help you address issues related to running a Quadro or FirePro card, but they dedicate no support cycles to fixing bugs on consumer-class hardware.

Author: Alex Herrera

New Accelerated Processing Units for CAD from AMD

August 15, 2012 1 comment

AMD launched the AMD FirePro A300 Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) for entry-level and mainstream desktop workstations. Featuring AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology, the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs are designed for CAD and media and entertainment (M&E) workflows.

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs combine CPU and GPU functionality on a single chip to blend workstation performance and application-certified compatibility required to help keep design professionals productive in their work.

“Design professionals demand workstation-class tools that enable productivity and flexibility in their workflow, and the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs enable workstation integrators and OEMs an exciting new computing platform on which to design and build powerful, entry-level desktop workstation configurations,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Graphics.

According to the company, the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs are the first single-chip processors capable of delivering the workstation-class visual computing performance required for advanced professional design workflows. The introduction of AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs is designed to allow OEMs and workstation integrators (WSIs) greater flexibility, enabling new workstation designs that help save space, are energy efficient, and have low heat and noise levels without compromising true workstation-class performance and reliability.

Performance

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs were developed for the entry-level and mainstream workstation segments, providing a blend of CPU and GPU performance and industry-leading features to keep design professionals efficient:

  • Support for AMD Eyefinity Technology for enhanced efficiency and immersive, multi-monitor productivity;
  • AMD Turbo Core technology, where CPU and GPU performance are dynamically scaled depending on workload demands, effectively providing a more responsive experience;
  • Support for horizontal display resolutions up to 10,240 x 1600 pixels, enabling large desktop spaces across multiple high-resolution display devices for advanced multitasking;
  • Support for Discrete Compute Offload (DCO), allowing additional compute capability by using discrete AMD FirePro GPUs in parallel with APU graphics for extended GPGPU performance;
  • 30-bit color support to enable image and color fidelity for advanced workflows such as color correction and image processing when using displays capable of 10-bit-per-channel operation;
  • Dedicated UVD (universal video decoder/VCE, or video CODEC engine) media encoding hardware for faster “fixed function” GPU processing of H.264/MPEG4 files and other motion media formats when using compatible software, to free up CPU resources for other tasks.

Pricing and Availability

The AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs will be available in systems from a number of workstation integrators starting in August 2012.

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs
APU Model TDP CPU Cores CPU Clock (Max/Base) AMD Stream Processors GPU Clock Unlocked
AMD FirePro A300 65W 4 4 GHz / 3.4 GHz 384 760 MHz No
AMD FirePro A320 100W 4 4.2 GHz / 3.8 GHz 384 800 MHz Yes

Author: CADspeed editors

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