Kubotek USA today provided a look at its vision for the future of manufacturing. This comprehensive strategy for small-to-medium sized companies recognizes the limits of today's commonly used CAD/CAM tools and takes into account how design and manufacturing engineers really think, design and manufacture. The Kubotek M3SM vision (Measure, Model and Machine) is an innovative strategy that will enable smaller design shops and manufacturers to compete more effectively in the global marketplace. The strategy is based on the real-world experiences of a select group of Japanese designers and manufacturers.

With today's mass production of goods increasingly shifting overseas, especially to low-cost factories in China, many small-to-medium sized manufacturing companies are looking for new business models to help them compete. They need to drive efficiency, increase creativity and reduce costs. The Kubotek M3 vision, supported by its Creation Engineering product family, will help these companies evolve into design and manufacturing businesses that are simultaneously integrated, more flexible and more competitive.

In an M3 manufacturing environment, designers can capture real-world data, often by scanning a physical item, then change the item (customize, iterate, warp or distort it) and quickly produce the item, either prototyping to determine manufacturability or to quickly produce a finished product. This equates to a much faster and higher quality cycle from conception to time-to-market. It breaks down the barriers between functions, enabling teams to reiterate and refine in hours instead of days or weeks.

The M3 vision was derived from Kubotek Corporation's own experience in designing high-end audio equipment, where real-time, real-world data is incorporated into an ever-changing "view" of a physical space (a room and its occupants) in order for the system to continuously adjust the output. Additionally, this overall approach to design and manufacturing is highly optimized for the future of mass customized manufacturing (examples include medical devices such as hearing aids or premium products built for individual consumers, such as custom motorcycles, a thriving business.)

"We saw in CADKEY® a unique opportunity to move design and manufacturing to the next level," said Dr. Kubo, founder and CEO of Kubotek Corporation. "Conventional, parametric-based CAD is focused on repetitive design systems and mass production, and is too confining for today's manufacturing environments. Product designers want to be able to take an object and change it perhaps to retrofit it, customize it or simply, improve it. To do this, they need to be able to mix real world data in with their designs. CADKEY, and its 'offspring', KeyCreatorSM, are the only products that can achieve this goal."

Dr. Kubo continued, "When a child moves from modeling clay to crayons, they become restricted in their creativity by the limitations of 2 dimensional tools. Similarly, most of today's CAD tools take designers further and further away from their base of creativity."

"We see the future of the industry as designers and engineers working with design solutions, freed by technology but not limited by it. Based on KeyCreator, new tools will allow designers to attack the problem from any angle, to input real-world data and mix it with their original designs, and modify the results quickly and easily. Eventually, we will be able to provide them with a wholly integrated design and manufacturing solution, with KeyCreator as the linchpin."

The M3 vision is based on these premises:

  • Computer-aided Design (CAD) is immature. (While there has been extensive discussion about "mature CAD" this refers to the maturing marketplace, not the software itself.) Despite more than 20 years of technological history, CAD solutions are, as a group, hard to use, based on proprietary architectures and poorly integrated with complementary solutions. Today's design and engineering tools impose limits on creativity and force designers to follow a rigidly defined process one that is counterintuitive to the creative process.
  • While there is a growing demand for customized products and companies that are able to achieve customization at the assembly stage (like Dell) there are few examples of companies doing this at the design and engineering phase.

"While the M3 vision may seem counterintuitive to the casual observer, it is based on the real world experiences of several of Kubotek Corporation's global customers," said Robert Bean, chief operating officer, Kubotek USA. "Overseas we're starting to see the birth of Super Shops' where they are able to quickly design and manufacture highly stylized, organically shaped products, which in some cases, are completely customized. Our customers have proven that it is possible to do this quickly and cost-effectively."

CAD Wire is a Kubotek Service Center and engineering consulting firm based in Markham, Ontario. Recently the company has seen a surge in customer requests for new products to be created, working not from a CAD file but from a physical object. "Kubotek's vision of an efficient and cost-effective design and manufacturing process will allow small-to-medium shops to better compete globally," said Wence Daks of CAD Wire. "Kubotek's M3 is a revolutionary concept yet at the same time it is perfectly aligned with today's marketplace realities.

"Recently we were asked to literally recreate the wheel'," continued Daks. "Kubotek enabled us to have the product digitized which allowed us to create a prototype in a fraction of the time it would have taken to redesign it. The result is that we are more efficient, and are capable of creating higher quality of work."

Meanwhile, Kubotek is also announcing the upcoming release of KeyCreator 4.0, a new version of its widely used design and manufacturing software. KeyCreator 4.0 continues the evolution of the popular CADKEY software, and is well known in industrial design settings where it provides unprecedented productivity in key product creation processes. The new version of the software is a step toward the delivery of the Kubotek M3 vision.

Kubotek KeyCreator builds on the heritage of CADKEY, the first true 3D MCAD software for the desktop. KeyCreator combines both the latest in geometry-based design and modeling technology, with a legacy of success in helping customers in the design of tooling, complex machinery, fixtures, molds, dies and a multitude of product development industries including automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, sports equipment, medical device and many more.

The KeyCreator Creation Engineering product line includes multidimensional design and drafting, NC programming and reverse engineering capabilities. The product line features the company's unique geometry-based foundation with localized feature editing and sophisticated deformation techniques designed to help users do their work faster. These capabilities are particularly useful for design teams working with advanced designs of solid models because KeyCreator blends surface, solids and wire frame modeling allowing easy modification and editing functionality.