Bad News for ZW3D Users

I had just sent a check in to renew ZW3D for CAM only as they are supposed to have lathe in there for 2012. $1,500.00 to renew was a whole lot cheaper than $8,000.00 plus other cam vendors wanted for their stuff. That and I have had my belly full of “used car” cam salesmen that can’t use the products they want to sell to me. Yeah thats right, they tell me how wonderfull their stuff is and then can’t show me. They all know how much it will cost however :-(  At least here with ZW I know where the problems are and it does not cost me nearly as much to be irritated.

Then I get the news. The very best support for VX/ZW3D worldwide was here in the USA in the form of two individuals who were just fired by ZW. These two individuals spent the majority of their days helping VARS around the world and indeed even the ZW people in China who are no where near as good with ZW as these two guys were. Support is now officially screwed on many tough questions. There are also other very qualified individuals who have been let go in the past year here in the States and as far as I can tell only the core developers are left now.

Here in the USA this is what I see. Questions raised on the ZW3D forums can go for days and sometimes weeks before anyone from China responds. Since our support now is from VARS with no truly qualified resource to back them up it will be a problem. Well, I guess if you aren’t in a hurry it’s OK that corporate ZW support is now 12 hours out of synch with it’s USA users. Got a tough problem you need answered quickly? So sorry.  Not available for you seven days a week.

I followed the Linkedin links from one of the ex ZW3D guys last week. He had a number of ZW3D employees from Europe listed as contacts and I was pretty amazed at how many were women language majors with no listed cad or engineering backrounds in the about me’s. I suspect that he too was spending time helping these ladies out on programs they may not have been any good at. I imagine they were cheaper to employ though if that is any consolation to the European users.

I believe that the Chinese want to have their own domestic 3D modeler and their only affordable chance perhaps was to buy a pretty capable modeling kernal from a company in financial trouble. VX fit that bill and the rest is history. Now they have their own program, even though they did not and maybe could not create the kernal. If they could after all why didn’t they and save the money? At this time there are around 14 code guys in Florida that are the heart and sole of the VX/ZW3d kernal. The Chinese can’t get rid of these guys because right now because they just can’t do the same quality of work. But the day they think they can these developers are toast. If I were a developer for ZW3d in Florida I would be polishing up my resume and approaching a progressive stable US based cad company with inquiries as I think the hand writing is on the wall for anyone but VARS here. Siemens and Solid Edge come to mind as a good company to work for and they are hiring.

It remains to be seen just how this will unfold. Perhaps this is temporary due to cash flow problems and poor sales here in the USA. These choices however become self fulfilling and a guarantee of continued poor sales and cash flow as USA users are cut loose to fend for themselves.

UPDATE    11-5-14

I find with surprise that this article is still read fairly often and today was read 12 times. I wish to say that while I do not use ZW for CAD anymore as Solid Edge is just to superior I do find myself still using the CAM side. Considering the amount of trouble I have had with Camworks for Solid Edge I have found myself falling back on ZW and re-evaluating my stance against them. While I think there has been little advancement over the years in CAM and  they are falling behind the direct editing paradigm which I favor so much it is still a capable program in many ways. I run into people who are still using Mastercam 8 so if it works they don’t upgrade to new. For the price tag  what you get compared to the major programs it is not bad. I spent over $13,000.00 for CAMWorks and I am ending up leaving it in frustration. While I did the same with VX/ZW it was more because of lack of advancement in CAD direct editing features and bad sheet metal.This is not an advanced MCAD program. The CAM side is quirky but pretty capable once you learn to unlock the secret little toys hidden in various places and learn the limits of what it can do. Would I buy it again? No. Would I recommend it to someone starting out and looking to save cash? You can do worse so get a copy and have a look. By experience hard learned with other programs since this was written I have to conclude that all programs irregardless of cost have many more problems than they should have. Since that is the case buy the cheapest thing which works for you AFTER extensive testing.  ZW3D taken off my hate you list and put on my interesting but would not buy again list.

10 responses to “Bad News for ZW3D Users

  1. I can tell you that the problem does NOT exist in China.
    It exists in the 2nd Floor corner office at 907 E Strawbridge Ave in Melbourne, FL.
    VX (ZW3D) has been and will continue to be a very poorly managed company.
    The one conclusion that is correct is that the Chinese are simply waiting until they are sufficiently comfortable with the kernel and the legacy C code base to migrate to a modern Dot Net architecture.
    Currently, QuickMilling is the only part of ZW3d that is written in C++ .
    The rest is all old legacy C code.
    When this does occur, ZW3D USA will be shut down completely.
    There is a hive-mind mentality where independent thought is discouraged in favor of assimilation.

    There is an arrogant, NIH (Not Invented Here) mindset that prevents an honest evaluation of the ZW3D Product.
    It is clear that the current ZW3D management team has failed miserably where it matters most, in the market place.
    This is NOT the fault of the Sales and Marketing department. They have been setup for failure by being forced
    to push an inferior product in a highly competitive market environment.

    No one with ZW3D CAD or CAM management is the slightest bit concerned about how ZW3D stacks up against the competition.
    In both CAD and CAM, ZW3D management has an arrogance about the product that is, quite honestly, delusional.
    ZW3D management is blissfully and woefully ignorant of the competition and it shows in the quality of ZW3D software.
    There are people in charge of various aspects of ZW3D development who haven’t looked at a competitor’s product,
    much less used it, in years. They are simply showing up to keep their seats warm.

    • Keyser,
      I recieved information today regarding these things you talk about. It was an eye opener and explained behavior at VX I never could understand. I sent a copy of Surfcam down to VX and told them to load it and run it in demo mode. At the time, probably four or five years ago, I was frustrated over the terrible tool library and speeds and feeds plus I was unhappy with how truly byzantine the path was to do basic two axis milling. Nothing really changed and most of these problems still exist today. Things like thread milling I swear were put in there in an incomprehensible fashion just to say they had it and same for sheet metal. I remember talking to Bob Fischer about why VX had no corner rounding tool paths. His reply was that the people in developement told him that corner rounding was obsolete and not used anymore. I sent him a screen capture of the million plus hits for corner rounding tools from a google search and the multiple current catalogue pages of tools from MSC as proof they were either lying to him or woefully ignorant of machining. Corner rounding, although very poorly implemented did show up a year or two later. I now understand why these things were allowed to be.

      Do you think I am mis-reading ZW’s future in Chinese hands and perhaps there is hope here? I talk to so many people that have trouble from there with shoddy work, cut corners and indeed in products that I have bought that I just assume the worst.

  2. ZW China will only let this go on for so long.
    I believe that Mike Lynch’s termination was the beginning of the end for ZW3D USA. Makes no sense unless their business plan does not require support. Just my opinion for what it’s worth.

  3. Perhaps the begining of the end goes back much further. It seems as though the firing of Mike and Earl has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and I am being told a lot of things that are pretty disheartening in regards to VX. I am coming to believe that Mark Vorwaller and Robert Byrnes are the chief reasons for the current mess and perhaps they are the ones who should have been fired. The evident refusal of Vorwaller and Byrnes to look at reality where VX was concerned is pretty sad and it explains why user and employee complaints over very serious problems were fixed only after years of griping or not at all.

    It is sad to think that years of improvements and development were held back by those at the top.

  4. ZW acquired VX for its core technology and R&D people. That’s for sure. And I bet every acquisition aims the same, ZW is no exception. With the cheaper labor cost in China, the support in US is less of a choice to them. There’s no need to say that ZW’s R&D and Support are still inexperienced compared with those in US. I guess they’re cutting the wage spending for the marketing of ZW3D. Guess what? There’re only a fraction of people know the VX/ZW3D. Above all, they’re still making process with ZW3D 2012. I just saw their preview video. http://youtu.be/1ambK96_lt4

    • Above all yes they do appear to be making progress and the addition of lathe is the only reason I renewed. We shall see soon just how well all this stuff works though as having dealt with problems since 2004 I have little patience. I know, ZW has only been in the picture a short time now but I have not and I am tired of problems and really hoping this will not be a new crop of issues. Most everything I have had manufactured from China, with the exception of my computers, has had too many problems with quality and they are forbidden now in my shop. It is a problem that seems to be getting worse and not better so this is my reason for apprehension over the software. There is even a term for this now and it is quality fade and it was created in response to growing problems.

      Labor costs may be cheaper in China but my shop is not in China. I need to be able to speak to someone in tech support who can solve my problems because in a number of instances software can shut you down. Mike and Earl and my problems are solved quite often in two or three hours. Chinese support by email only and their work day is 12 hours out of synch with mine. Now which one do you think I am going to want? It is a matter of economics as you say and if I am not worth enough as a customer to have support I will go somewhere else that will. Time is as they say money afterall. I am here for a little while for better or worse as I sent the check off but I certainly don’t have to stay here.

  5. To be honest, I don’t know what is going on, but I did see the new ‘speeds and feeds’ is coming in ZW3D new release. New stuff is a little later, but I does see their hard work. Now, they achieved 10X graphic performance simply by using the graphic technology, and we should admit that VX kernel is really fantastic enabling to do a log of things. In their new version, they got 3D PDF, new undercut operation for Quick Mill, as well as CAM folder for organizing tool operations, what I can see is the good work ZWSOFT and VX done.

    • Are you a user and if so for how long? There are a number of problems here and they go back for years so I am not going to recap it all. Biggest issue is we will now have poor tech support for the USA just when they are planing on a major and revisionary update. It will have problems and who do I turn to for tech support during my workday? My shop is not in China. Lack of support is the cause of all the latest ruckus. Other things have been simmering in the backround for a long time but this firing of the USA tech support staff was the thing that finally brought user irritation to a head.

      New things are coming I agree and it is the only hope for the future where ZW/VX is concerned and that depends on if they do it well. So now we wait for more than screen captures and teasers to see if it is window dressing with buggy new features or the real McCoy. I asked a week ago what types of lathes were these new tool paths tested on and what types of equipment had posts been written for. No reply. Things like this make me nervous.

    • Mr. Foxman,

      If you think anyone will be able to justify a purchase of several thousand dollars without viable qualified and local tech support, you are kidding yourself.

      It is obvious ZW no longer needs or wants its US customer base, which is negligible.
      ZW3D is about to become the official Chinese CAD/CAM system.

      I wonder how it will be until ZW will terminate the lease on the Florida location?
      It’s obvious it isn’t needed any longer.

      • I think so too. I spent some time today looking for for a past post by a poster who is big on pushing ZW3d on a Chinese forum. I did not find it in a short period of time and won’t waste more time in searching. Two things were of interest in his post. One was the reference to “home grown” ZW3d and it’s being China’s first 3d modeler. The other was the statement that the ministry over industry was being approached to make ZW the official government cad cam system. This did not imply much interest in the USA market for sure. Actually they are not at all interested I am afraid and if they have sales that’s nice but you are right, Florida and USA tech support are history. I suspect the opinions or desires of any USA users at this time are totally irrelevant. I think they also know that ZW3d is way behind their competition in the USA and to sell here will be tough anyway.

        In a couple of regards this is kind of amusing. One, with all the hacked and whacked software from around the world in free use over there and the government in tacit approval of this what will they do to protect their “home grown” software. Two, if official Chinese industries are forced to use home grown over proven capable software that just happens to be much better from foreign countries it could prove to be costly for them to everyone else’s advantage.

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