Saturday, January 9, 2010

mk QuickDesigner - 3D Guarding Configurator

We just finished our first hands-on with mk Technology Group's 3D Guarding Configurator mk QuickDesigner. Designing guards can be a very time consuming process. In the past there have been some software options but most were a plug into AutoCad or simply allowed you to access 3D models for use in any CAD software. While helpful these packages did little for those of us that did not use Autocad. mk Quickdesigner overcomes most of these limitations since it is a standalone full featured program.  From the sofware overview on mk's webpage:

Our new "mk QuickDesigner" software reduces engineering and order processing times by up to 80%.

"mk QuickDesigner" is a state-of-the-art and standalone pricing, planning and design tool for the easy and fast creation of perimeter guards made with mk Aluminum Framing Systems.

An easy to use 3D interface allows the quick design of a custom guard either by automatic equipping of 2D floorplans with 3D panels or by allowing the user to build and configure one panel at a time.

For now the final version comes packaged on a CD and can be requested free of charge via our website or email to   A downloadable copy would be nice, and we have requested that option from mk but at around 750 meg it would be a pretty large download.

When the CD is first inserted you are presented with a couple of options.  The first option is to run the program directly from the CD and avoid any installation.  Personally, I would advise against this.  Most CD drives are relatively slow and if your experience is anything like mine the program runs too slowly directly from the CD.  If you select install the program it installs like any other software.

Like any program once loaded it takes a few minutes to get familiar with the various options and buttons  available.  Thankfully mk included a 46 page PDF user guide that can be accessed by clicking on the '?' on the top program menu.  The pdf guide is well done and will get you started with the program basics.

You have a couple of different options when drawing your guards.  The first option is inserting the first section and building from that module forward.  This method is easy thanks to the connection points method of adding sections.  Using this method, basic guards are quick to configure.

As you can see in the image on the right the panel we just inserted has 3 connection points on each side and a center point where we can modify what is inside the panel.  Clicking on any of these green connection points brings up options to add the next module.

The second option for generating a new guard is using the "Automatic Guard Generation"  tools.  This tool works with a 2D line drawing tool inside the software or you can import a CAD drawing from a floor plan.  Think of it as drawing a guard in 2D in top view with simple lines.  Once drawn you can automatically generate the guard.  This will generate a solid guard that you can go back into the 3D view and change panels to doors, adjust sweep heights, and other features.  I would imagine this would be the preferred starting method when drawing more complex guards.

As a learning experience I decided to create a basic guard with a door and a conveyor entry point.  The basic guard shown in the image on the left took me about 10 minutes to create.

As you can see I was able to easily adjust the sweep height for the conveyor entry.  It even has some basic shapes (box, tube, person) you can add to represent other items in the environment.

Once drawn you can export this guard drawing to most 2D & 3D formats.  Additionally, with one click you can generate your Bill of Materials right into excel.  The Bill of Materials includes everything in varying levels of detail across 5 excel tabs.   The tabs are:

  1. Price Calculation - Basic pricing and part number information and quantities per assembly. (22 parts lin the assembly shown above)
  2.  Parts List - More detail, every part in every sub-panel assembly down to the fasteners. (54 parts in the assembly shown above)
  3. Cut List Extrusions - Summary of extrusions used and the total lengths as well as the number of cuts. (7 different extrusion / cut combinations for the assembly above including the sealing gasket)
  4. Cut List Panels - The type of panels (e.g., wire mesh, pvc, etc.) used and their dimensions.
  5. Material Requirement List - A summary showing the entire parts list shipping weight.  (282.81 lbs. in the example above).
We are very impressed with the software and have copies available free of charge for anyone designing guards using mk extrusion.  To receive your free copy please send an email to or contact us online.

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