Sometimes there are simply not enough laser beams you can shoot out your eye holes to automatically change how geometry is modeled. They should have built it this way, they should have built it that way, they should have quit and taken a job as someone who jabs lard into large buckets.

Stacking model features to work for manufacturing is, often times, difficult. There have been a few 3D product dev companies targeting this apparent lack of design competency, with the idea that anyone, from accounting to zen master of manufacturing, can make the change for engineering.

Dangerous? Well, KeyCreator is one company offering this up and dealing out the direct editing deliciousness. How do they take on dumb geometry? Sit back as “Dr. Walt” takes you on a magical journey through the process of editing a SolidWorks part in KeyCreator.

What is KeyCreator
KeyCreator from Kubotek (based in Osaka, Japan) is one of, if not the original modeling system to offer Direct Modeling/Editing for 3D geometry. It was originally know as CADKEY, with the integration of CNC programming and the name change in 2004. While I’ve not used it in a design/production environment, I can tell you it has a great interface and very active development with the latest version at 9.0. While they don’t have a direct download, you can request a trial to try out for 30 days.

They also have a series going where “Dr. Walt” Silva shows some of the features in KeyCreator. Here’s a glimpse of how he takes a (very) simple SolidWorks part, imports it into KeyCreator and makes a change using the KeyCreator direct editing tools. He has a good line… “More often than not, Design Intent, bites you in the mouse.” Did you catch that… it’s a clever play on words.

What he says is true. Design Intent does bite you in the ass. “Design Intent” itself is an awful phrase. You can’t guess it. It might as well be called a design assumptions, and we all know assumptions are never a good thing. That’s a whole other topic though.

I like the video and the idea they suggest about updating the part for manufacturing, even though, discussions and operations like this should happen up front with design and engineering working in harmony with manufacturing. What they won’t show is that you can actually update the SolidWorks part without having to go back and change any operations.

It’s a simple extrude up to surface, like so…

Here’s the catch though. Both require knowledge of how to do it. How to use the software, how to open, how to import, how to use the feature. Is it easier to show how to do that in one over the other? Maybe.

SolidWorks is making some headway on the direct modeling approach, but not to the level that companies like Kubotek, Siemens (Solid Edge) and SpaceClaim are. I imagine, we’ll see this changing in the future though. Dassault (DS) has this thing about making things “Life-like” and as I’ve alluded to in the past, DS seems to have V6 plans for SolidWorks. So, that may mean more direct editing juice and perhaps an entirely new flavor of SolidWorks you’ve not seen before. How’s that for some assumptions. I should be slapped.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.