A CAD standby gets a makeover

DN Staff

April 8, 2002

4 Min Read
A CAD standby gets a makeover

The average CAD user designs with solids, surface, wireframe, 2D, and paper. CADKEY will satisfy those needs with three basis products: professional design, manufacturing design, and hybrid modeling.

Marlborough, MA-Cadkey 19 is a mature release based on the Marlborough, MA-based company's 1985-era, C-language core. It's a known quantity in the market, with a reputation as a solid, mid-range, PC-based, 3D CAD application.

The next release will be a little different.

Three years ago, company president Bob Bean began a makeover of the core of his product. He consolidated his proliferating plug-in modules into a few concise products, running on the powerful C++ language.

"We decided to home in on three target markets, instead of plugging in people to death," he says. The targeted products will be:

  • Cadkey GraphX version 20 (launched in December for drafting)

  • Cadkey Workshop version 20 (due in April) for manufacturing design; tooling, machinery, and general design/drafting

  • Cadkey Design Suite 20 (due this summer) for product design; a hybrid between parametric and freeform

GraphX will be the first to run on Bean's new "Version 20 Architecture." As the flagship professional drawing product, it is made for drafters, mechanical design engineers, and manufacturing engineers-the market now dominated by Autocad.

In fact, this market is blurring more and more between mid-range and high-end, he says. Bean thinks he can equal the drafting power of existing CAD platforms, so at $1,800 (including the annual update contract), Cadkey GraphX will compete on the basis of price.

"There's an overlap between paper, 2D, solids, wireframe, and surface modeling-and that's where we shine," he says.

"There are still a lot of people designing in 2D, and they've been passed over by the world because everyone's fighting it out in the bullpen for parametric and solid modeling," Bean says. "We're trying to elevate drafting from its reputation as drudgework to 'the art of mechanical drawing'."

GraphX is not parametric-Cadkey maintains no history tree-so users work with it differently than Solid Edge or Pro/Engineer. Its strength is the user's ability to create accurate drawings quickly-either from scratch or from imported solid, surface, or polygon models including ACIS and Parasolid (data translators included). So users who receive files from customers or partners can extract volume data, edge geometry, hidden views, and sections.

"The big thing we focused on with Cadkey GraphX is the ability to get geometry on the screen really fast," Bean says. So it uses the Hoops visualization engine from TSA (Techsoft America Inc., Oakland, CA). "We're really exercising it," he says. "We're using their latest stuff, so we can support a high-end graphics card, direct output to Web, and increase our speed with large assemblies."

And if a designer is using someone else's model, or has edited his own heavily, the new release has a function to reassociate dimensions-essentially double-checking measurements. "That's one of the things that keeps 2D modelers up at night," Bean says. "They ask 'How do I know each dimension is right?'"

The new line is certified for Windows XP, though Bean isn't leading the charge to upgrade. "It's supposed to be more stable, but we'll see," Bean says. "We're finding Windows 2000 to be very stable, but we don't recommend 98 and we don't support 95."

Likewise, the second product in this new trio-Cadkey Workshop version 20-is optimized for Windows XP/2000/NT4. Due for release in April, it is a tool for manufacturing design, tooling, machinery, and general design/drafting. It integrates drafting, wireframe, freeform solid modeling, and freeform surface modeling, all for a $3,000 price tag, including the one-year update contract.

Bean calls Cadkey Workshop the perfect solution for the engineer who has to work with data from customers and suppliers to make tooling, fixtures, molds, dies, or machines. With all the standard data translators included, it can edit any type of CAD data.

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