Autodesk And The Future

Last week at IMTS it was my privilege to attend the Customer Advisory Board for primarily Autodesk CAM products namely HSM all flavors and Fusion 360 the same. Delcam lives in a bit of a different world and hardly anything regarding them came up and I don’t recall an actual current Delcam user there.

I took three pages of notes on things I found relevant or interesting and still have not settled upon how to word what I saw and heard. The meeting gave me pause though and I find myself rethinking what the future holds and why for CAD and CAM. This will take three posts so bear with me and read them all. If you have not figured it out yet I am not a Twitter type individual and I believe many things can’t be covered in a few paragraphs unless you wish to do so superficially. I want to know and understand and I assume you do too.

There is a dividing set of paths regarding industrial software coming up and two directions people will take. The first which is where I reside and intend to stay is permanent seats for the sake of user control and security. About security. I heard the oft repeated tedious straw man argument that surely since we all do banking and purchasing online, that we trust our money online, the same must hold true with the intellectual property that resides in our designed products. I had to explain yet again why this is most emphatically NOT true. It goes like this.

Every month you receive a consise update on all your online financial activity and you can verify everything that has transpired. If there is fraud and you catch it within a reasonable time frame, and you are given tools to do so with monthly statements, you will be made whole. This week I had to fiddle around with my credit card company while purchasing some stainless steel funnels. Money was going to an unusual place and they wanted to know it was me before they approved the transaction. This happens more than I wish which tells me that financial transactions online are way to porous to threats and this irritation is one of the tools to combat fraud. But you can be made whole here for damages.

Your intellectual property goes away and there is no finite way of auditing what it was and when it was that I know of. Plus what is the value? The cost of R&D plus marketing plus tooling and raw goods and wages and all that stuff needed to bring a product to the end-user. What is the value of something where inspiration may only strike once in a lifetime? Add into that the potential which may not be possible to calculate until there is a history of sales to predict by. Trivial things like Hula Hoops or Pet Rocks sound really stupid until you realize that the person who did it became wealthy off of it. And that in this day and time the Chinese knockoffs can get your product to market quicker than perhaps the original designer could who had to jump through the legal and governmental imposed whatevers whereas the thief in China did not. China is not the only threat they are just by far the worst one.

So once a month or more your financial transactions are comprehensively scrutinized and if you have to go online with your intellectual property it is a crap shoot and the best you can do is best practices to stop hacking. Financial things are covered and not one company involved with online intellectual property from the server farm to the software author your ISP and the internet backbone will do the same for the life blood of your company. Read the EULA or T&C of any one of those outfits and see for yourself. I did and you won’t believe how little faith they have in the online security of the services or products they sell to you.

One of the “exciting” possible future things was the idea of Blue Tooth communication between PC’s, smart phones and CNC equipment. Yes you too can stand in front of your mill with your smart phone and edit your CAM program on the fly and update your workstation file and on and on. Made to appeal to the lazy side of people this wonder would allow instant communication and CAM plan updates blah blah blah. I do that quickly now with my workstation and USB Flash drive which is all of maybe eight feet port to port. We won’t however talk about the little blue tooth receiver planted in the weeds next to your shop that also receives all your lazy man’s time-saving of seconds or a few footsteps. The real-time savings of course accrue to the dude who got your CAD and CAM data and did not have to do anything other than record it. He will surely be excited. But yes I guess the cool factor was there for those who like this sort of stuff.

All that being said though I think that in many ways Fusion 360 and the people who use it are going to be a big influence on the future. Far more profoundly than I thought possible before I met actual users and why they were there and what they were doing with it. I still sit and think of this each day and wonder just how much of what I have taken for granted will reside on one fork of the path and just how much over time will migrate to a way of operation that is wide open to security problems as I see it. Which leads to the question of just how many small guys need that security? That need that security at the permanent seat or full-blown design and machining software price? That would not be able to start a business with really scarce capital unless software was cheap.

The numbers of people who are actually using Fusion360 after downloading and not an aggregate of downloads and not used + downloaded and then used like many report as the valid number is huge. No I am not allowed to state the number we were told but if that number is true it is staggering. I see no reason to doubt it either by the way.  I was impressed with the Autodesk staff present compared to the ones I have met elsewhere with other companies for the no BS blow smoke up your rear attitude they had.

Autodesk is I think the world leader in aiding startups to begin and prosper with relevant software. They generate huge armies of students that know the products and do not have to be trained nearly as much since they have the basics from school. Solid Works (not Dassault’s nightmare Catia however) does this second best but waaaay behind. Siemens UGS has no clue how far behind they are and I think of Solid Edge and how you can’t find anyone to hire 99% of the time already trained. Well maybe only 95% but who cares. Solid Edge is incredible design software compared to Inventor but you would never know it since you can hardly find users of it plus the only integrated CAM product for Solid Edge namely CAMWorks is not user friendly or reasonably priced. UGS and now Siemens are to blame for this. Autodesk lets you use full-blown seats of sadly now subscription only software for FREE if your company makes less than $100,000.00 per year.

The idea that I first had about the Autodesk Juggernaut steamrolling the competition a couple of years ago was most thoroughly reinforced last week.

At IMTS a few things I found of interest. CAMWorks was set up in a smallish sized booth with not much traffic I could see. Gee I wonder why? Mastercam had a TON of sales demo dudes and as far as I could see way to many of them twiddling thumbs. They were quite proud of finally adopting the ribbon bar and organizing their GUI better many years after most of their competition did. The new Mastercam has been well received though by local users I know so this is a good thing for them and their long suffering users. Esprit had a high volume demo stage but I don’t think there were high volume sales being generated. Vero was there and did not look to be a hopping joint. Autodesk had a number of sales guys, maybe to many I don’t know you tell me but they also had lots of constant traffic especially for HSM and Fusion 360. Delcam not so much and since the price of Delcam products can jump up to $80,000.00 at times I can see why not. CAM competitors to HSM and Fusion need to be very afraid for their future.

Haas from what I was told was busy from the beginning to the end. You had to force your way through their booth. I went there Friday afternoon on the last day of the event and was stunned at the traffic. There was no other machine tool builder there I could see with even a reasonable sized crowd to compare with what Haas had. Of course I am a Haas guy and a buy American first guy if possible and love American manufacturing success stories that profile how ingenuity can thrive even in the communist state of California. Hey Haas, get a move on and go to North Carolina where you will be appreciated for the jobs you create instead of being an “enemy of the environment” and “capitalistic swine oppressor of the working class”.  Or Tennessee perhaps near by my shop would also be nice😉 We like jobs here and no state income tax and we Tennessee Deplorables keep the socialists confined to college campuses and liberal newspapers few will read.

Coming up in the next week or so two related topics. The future with Fusion 360 and why it matters and the culture I found associated with the Autodesk employees I met primarily on the CAM side of course.

 

Update 9-23-16

Speaking of security. So today Yahoo is caught and forced to admit that up to 500,000,000 users may have been compromised. No that number is not a typo. This started in 2014 and is just now public knowledge. Unlike financial monthly statements which provide auditing capabilities the intellectual property of all users at Yahoo was jeopardized  for up to two years and none the wiser except for the crooks and perhaps Yahoo since I assume they must have had some knowledge of bad things going on. If they did not that is even worse and this is a prime example of online peril if you are forced to go there.  Can you picture AWS in this situation with your data? They can and that is why their T&C absolves them of any liability where YOUR stuff is concerned. How I love the cloud, let me count the ways.

How Do You Find And KEEP CAM Customers?

Well how do you? If you talk to existing users it is not to hard to do philosophically. You do what you promise, no less and if you do more good. You FIX without undue delay things that are a complaint of a significant portion of your user base. You advance the GUI so unneccessary steps and complications are removed and your product streamlined with ease and speed of use increased. You do not use your customer as an ATM and nickel and dime them to death. You stay current with existing manufacturing technology controls and common use/bought options  like probing or door cycles or coolant types and mist removers being integrated into CAM plans without hassles or problems. High Speed Machining is a must and you can’t rest on your laurels you need to improve it.

Philosophy often meets its demise with cubical programmers who have never cut a chip and or CPA MBA types who do not view customer desires as legitimate expenses of doing business but rather view them as costs to be cut or avoided.

I am looking today at HSM, CAMWorks and Mastercam. I guess in some ways HSM has dramatically affected the CAM market where these three are concerned and I suspect more to but today I am talking about these three. HSM has been eating up market share like no tomorrow for a couple of years now. How this increase will proceed is in question with subscription stupidity but non the less they have been waxing their competition for a while.

I remember conversations with some CAMWorks people about HSM a few years back and if they had considered the simplicity and power of HSM compared to CW. I do believe they perceived and realized the threat but were not sure what to do. In the mean time they were late out the gate with yearly updates for CW for SE and full of really bad problems on top of it all.

Mastercam was famous for why do things on one page and two clicks if the five-page and thirty clicks method you developed years ago still worked. I mean why make things simpler for your customer when what is there will eventually do almost anything and all they have to do is memorize the labyrinth.  Clicks all day keeps boredom away and what fun. Mastercam built the largest single CAM user group presence with this paradigm and I guess felt it was all that was needed.

I think CW and CW4SE and Mastercam looked at HSM though and realized it was time to change the way they operated or lose out. I suppose you really have to have your face shoved deep into it sometimes before revelation strikes and you realize business as usual is going to hurt your company badly. CW in particular is run by a bunch of penny pinchers that regard the expenditure of a dollar as a major  catastrophe to be avoided at all costs. Mastercam is privately owned and getting family to see some things was shall I say difficult? But probable loss of future income can change things.

HSM now is the one with some long-standing issues and promises being made but not upheld. Resting on the laurels of major past achievements it is still perhaps the best three axis milling package out there. But it is not as far ahead of the pack as it was and new features are not keeping them as far ahead as they used to be because they are few and far between or don’t work worth a flip. Plus subscriptions which I think is going to kill their future potential.

Into this steps CW and CW 4 SE. Now understand that I have not used CW4SE for two years now and have never used CW but I can see with CW4SE that they have for two years been on the ball with new year updates. I gather that some problems are being taken care of. Compared to the debacle that was ST7 CW4SE they clearly have made a concerted effort compared to the past. It looks like the pace of complaints for CW with the Tech Data Base and Posts has dwindled on their closed user forum so perhaps those long time problems are easing. Who knows with CW4SE since posts are basically non-existent regarding any topic.

Mastercam has finally really worked over their GUI and has taken care of some problems. People I know who have been involved with Mastercam as contract programmers have very good things to say this year. The few users I speak to locally rate this as the best version update they have seen. Mastercam enters the ribbon bar fewer clicks and pages world for the first time ever and improves some capabilities to boot. Mastercam has always been regarded by the people I personally know as being capable of anything. If you just knew the secret convoluted path to CAM nirvana you could go there. Now not so secret or convoluted. I also see a feature I really like in turning and it is interrupted cuts in Lathe so you can avoid long stringy chips. Something I look at in real envy with my Haas TL2 where long curls can be a significant problem.

Let us not forget to regard one very important thing CW, CW4SE and Mastercam also do. They do not shove you into this subscription only user hell hole and will sell you permanent seats all day long.

I really have to wonder what this says in general. We see two programs threatened with losing market share improve what they do. They have to because each year they have to earn your business or lose you. It amazes me how many Mastercam users are many versions back and don’t renew and still make a living. I do believe these guys are all making a concerted effort to earn your repeat loyalty. To compel you with product advances and timely releases to keep sending money each year.

It was known a year and a half plus ago that HSM all flavors would be subscription only. What we see there now is a great product that suffers from a huge slowdown in new features and issues like Lathe linger unfinished for years. Forget wire and much of the world of five axis or mill turn too. When you put a lot on the table of a finite quantity of programmers and do not also structure increased talent to equal increased demands on talents you get what we have now. Lots of good things on the way and not finished or usable because the few programmers are pulled in to many directions to finish any one single thing. I suspect Marketing has a hand in this. Sales people are notorious for making promises they can’t deliver on just to make a sale. Don’t ask the “factory” what they can really do when you can make promises and print glossy promo stuff about things the factory can’t do.

And of course cost cutting and budgets.  Ask your talented staff of programmers to quadruple their workload and projects, wave your magic wand or stick pins in your Vodoo doll or whatever. A proven method to success. At least it is in the subscription world of forcible pay to play and never stop paying. Heck you get the rubes in there and you don’t HAVE to take care of any business other than invoices and counting dollars.

Today if I was a new prospective CAM buyer I would have to consider Mastercam over the others. Large trained existing user base to hire from. I would say the largest. Will run about anything you may have. This year the evidence is showing they are taking their customers needs seriously for the first time in a long time.  Oh and PERMANENT SEATS.

CW and CW4SE . I have a hard time trying to be non judgemental about these guys after the treatment I suffered under from them. Complicated, nickel and dime you to death and expensive to buy and each year after. If you can make it work for your facility fine. At least they seem to be trying. Permanent seats too if you can afford them.

HSM is my milling program of choice. Limited in what all it can do to best serve 3 axis milling it has the worlds best high-speed machining as far as I can tell. Lathe is crude and has not seen significant improvement for a while. No wire. The big new things this year like Probing and 2D Chamfer are not usable in their current state in this shop for reasons I have stated in past posts.  These things bother me but I would still buy HSM in a heart beat because the basic program is just that good. Except that now it is subscription only so this would rule it out automatically.

Funny to see how HSM stuck it to these guys who would not make things right only to now see the shoe on the other foot. I watch with great interest to see how this is going to end up. People all I can say is only a fool or desperate person would take his manufacturing facility into a must pay forever to use your own data paradigm when to many alternative that do not make you a hostage to extortion exist. You have a bad year and have to watch your money with subscription only CAM software they will have to be paid before your employees the IRS or your light bill. You will pay and pay and pay and over time pay much more than the same software costs legacy permanent seat holders.

IMTS And Autodesk CAM

I have been invited to attend an Autodesk Cam Customer Advisory Meeting  at IMTS this year. Before I get into that though just some reflections on events of the past few years.

Dealing with different companies is an interesting thing and how they interact with customers varies wildly. I remember the days of Solid Edge where bloggers and those fellow travelers of SE who were fans of the product were pretty well ignored. Now I don’t mean important people did not listen and do the right things I mean the corporate money never reached out past the SEU events to the outside world.

After each SE University in years gone by when Karsten was in charge there was a by invite only meeting after all the official events were over. He collected important users to sit in a round table and talk about what was most important with the community and as users regarding the state of the software namely SE.

To the best of my knowledge there was never any aid provided to any SE bloggers to be there although one year a couple of SW bloggers were there with some pretty sad results. And of course people like Ralph Grabowski as industry analysts and commentators were assisted in being there. People who agreed to run a session and after being approved to do so were given a free pass to the University but I don’t know if anything else was covered.

I remember sitting in Kris Kasperzak’s office one day  in Huntsville before he moved on to the NX darkside. I was trying to get him to see the logic in paying the way for friendly voices from the user/blogger community to have their expenses covered if they wished to go. It was not for me as I was paying my own way but it was to try to open the door for others who would presumably write favorable things about SE. I knew some that I had in mind who would have.

Kris was a good litmus test for prevailing mindset and thoughts of Siemens type corporate management. His reply after politely listening was that it was just to expensive to do that. Now I figure by that point in time I had hundreds of hours into promoting SE and the community for which I had never received a penny. I worked out a deal for SE before I was a blogger and paid for it all along out of my pocket. I paid my way to the SEU’s where I spent the majority of my time talking to these industry analyst reporter types and meeting with SE people. I might get to three or four sessions. I did it because I believed in SE and wanted to see it take its proper place in the scheme of things.

His reply was pretty humorous to me later that same year as I find out that out of approximately 500 people who showed up only 174, if I remember right, were actual SE users. The rest were mostly Siemens employees who did nothing and were going to do nothing to promote SE and they did not use the program to earn a living. You SE programmers in Huntsville know I am not talking about you guys. I am not talking about direct SE employees who had a future in part staked out on the success of SE. I am talking about purely wasted dollars spent on Siemens people who were paid to have a good time to fill a room up for publicity purposes. That must have been what the Kasperzak etal mindset considered a wise use of funds.

Perhaps it is a form of benign insanity to do such a thankless thing as blogging out of loyalty and regard for a software program. For some reason CAD CAM software excites people and creates followers and many of us each year look with anticipation to see and use what is new. Some companies get that and others don’t. I do know that over the last five years most bloggers that did so out of their own pockets in regard for a product are gone. Today the vast majority, I mean like 95%+ as far as I can tell, are VAR or software authoring company employees. This result directly parallels the perceived and actual regard software authoring companies have for their users is my guess.

 

IMTS Meeting

I have no idea what to expect here nor what the potential results may be. I don’t know how assiduously Autodesk pursues responding to customer opinions. For instance the subscription policy now in place is a direct slap in the face of users first, customers first and they choose what they want. It is a repudiation of the idea that quality should sell your product and the installation of a top down CPA MBA dictatorship meant solely to increase unavoidable costs to all who enter into this dark world. It has no regard for users other than as ATM’s.

So it is with some surprise I receive an invite and expenses covered and find out that there are those from as far away as Denmark with the same invite. Apparently someone is serious about finding out what CAM users think. I know some of the invitees and they are loyal users with however some unpleasant things to say. Kind of like me.

I don’t know how successful this subs paradigm is working out for Autodesk and we will never know until time reveals their reported income and from whence it was derived. Of course manipulative CPA MBA dollar experts would never put a spin on anything don’t you know but still truth will eke out.

At the very least I can say that Autodesk CAM is willing to listen and pay to listen to customers. SE would listen but only if you were willing to pay to be listened to.

Hoping for the best and that this is a harbinger of good things to come.

Solid Edge ST9 On The GTAC Site For Customer Downloads

I used to get real excited about this time of year and with great anticipation looked for the latest and greatest from Solid Edge. This is the first year since ST1 that I am not a customer of this great design program so I will have very little to say about its capabilities as an actual user. I have also lost most interest as a blogger in this product so I won’t comment on much else about it insofar as new features above and beyond what I have already said. Namely that genuine game changing innovations appear to be giving way to cutesy marketing gimmick stuff some of which from what I gather in reading on the Siemens forums is only partly done. The pace of transformative innovation regarding pure cad design improvements have slowed down with SE in my opinion but it is the best mid range MCAD program out there as far as I am concerned. To bad it is owned by people who hold it in contempt

In any case if you are a current customer check in to GTAC and get your latest and greatest. If you wish to try SE, and if you never have I recommend you do so, they have a 45 day trial period. We all know how quickly 30 days goes by so 45 is much better.  Solid Edge has not gone subscription only stupid so this is a HUGE plus for them. I intend to use SE ST8 for as long as I can. I try to learn Inventor on occasion but it is so clunky and un-intuitive to me compared to SE that these brief sojourns into masochism quickly end. I see the great work done with Inventor so I know it is capable. The mindset behind how it works is alien to me compared to SE though which just clicked for me right away. I don’t have to learn it and at this time don’t intend to either.

To bad the only  integrated CAM program for SE is such a PITA to use and of course Cam Express which clueless sales droids will sell to you in a heart beat is not integrated at all. Such is life here sadly. Going by the CAMWorks for SE site this week and there has been one post in the last sixteen months. SE users are not amused nor enticed to be there.

Is this a new trend with software companies? To release something to say there is fabulous new stuff you just have to have even though it is not finished and has serious usability problems? Looks like Autodesk Inventor Pro HSM is doing that and Siemens from what I read is too with SE. Just a tip here to software authoring companies. Something actual manufacturing concerns learn very quickly which is sales people will get you in trouble every time with promises just to close a deal and then YOU have to make it work. Or not.

I think with SE and Inventor Pro HSM the sales guys have run ahead of reality and just to let you sales brainiacs  know customers are not amused when their yearly fees produce new features that do not work right or at all. Carts do not pull horses although the cart driver can choose to get on a steep hill and run over the horses. Sales and Marketing or is it  S&M ?

Moral to the story is do not let sales people or Marketing and Publicity off the firmly held short leash of reality if you want happy and satisfied customers.

Inventor Pro HSM 2D Chamfer Milling, Tips and Tricks and some Commentary

Before I begin just some thoughts. It is getting harder and harder to find the desire to write about CAD and CAM software. As I become more convinced over time users are in corporate eyes just a necessary evil that must be forced into accepting ever dwindling software improvements and or subscription rake you over the coals gouging and extortion. That we must become subservient to their financial needs first and foremost and what we want is not relevant. The philosophy that good products sell themselves based upon merit and improvements is history with Autodesk now as they move to subscription only where any who enter in give up all control over their future and improvements will dwindle and costs will skyrocket.

OK Fusion 360 is cheap right now but do you honestly think it will stay that way? That Autodesk would set up a direct competitor to expensive programs like Inventor Pro HSM at a fraction of the cost and keep it that way forever? I remember iPhones and unlimited data when they first came out to get users in. Could you perhaps tell me the current status of unlimited data on your iPhone and what that might cost? ATT is $10.00 PER GB for overage. Solid Edge is in corporate Hell imposed upon them by a cadre of NX UGS backstabbers and is in terminal holding pattern like SW is until the overlords can figure out what to do. The days of rapid and profound meaningful improvements appear to be over and what is being done is in many cases window dressing or rolled out with drum and fife but not complete. (Will it EVER be complete?) More and more I think of alternatives like Ironcad for design as there is being created a great void of customer regard by the majors and surely someone like Ironcad will step up to the bat and find much greater usage.

Anyway lets move on with Inventor Pro HSM 2017 specific topics.

There are some good things in Inventor Pro HSM 2017 and some oddly half done things. One of them is the 2D Chamfer tool path. The 2D Chamfer tool path will not work with chamfered edges on a solid model. It works only with corners/edges without those features. If you want to machine the part just as it is in real life use 2D Contour. 2D Chamfer is great on raw edges and also has collision avoidance built-in but it is however a promise of things to come yet not here. To many limitations on its use to recommend as your primary Chamfer tool path creator at this time. Personally speaking it is wise to avoid having to edit  solid models just as used in your assemblies or parts files just to cut a part. Why double your file requirements when properly done CAM paths should recognize the part as it is in real life?

Another feature I had REALLY looked forward to was probing. Based upon what had been shown to me regarding feature probing on parts and the idea of incorporating it directly into your HSM tool path it was exciting to see. However the reality is that what is there right now is pretty well useless. It is limited to recognizing a corner be it part or stock only.  Further it will not recognize your stock block unless you create an additional “stock” part. The correct way to do this is to recognize the stock you create for the CAM plan as the program already has to recognize a shape to work after all but such was not to be. They are working on this but I find it really silly this was not done before any official release user ever had a chance to use it.  In any case in its current state how would it know where to find your desired setup block corner anyway? It is too quick and easy to use  your Renishaw probing routines built into the Haas control to do this. The probing icon is merely a promise that someday something good will appear but not today. Probing as it is in today’s HSM will not be in any use in this shop.

Thus 2D Chamfer and Probing both fall into a problem that seems to be growing with HSM. Add to this the really slow development of Turning and you wonder why they talk about something and release it with so many shortcomings. It would be better for them to knock off promises and concentrate on FINISHING something and then moving on to another item. It is like the problem of lack of user manuals to go with HSM. You wont find documentation for the tips I give below. Tips that can save you lots of time and grief. They have finally hired someone to do this but how urgent is the desire to see it completed I wonder? It is like a group of well-meaning programmers with great ideas and visions somehow get bogged down in the day-to-day world and all the promises and problems get worked on but few actually and truly finished. Start with A guys and work to Z but don’t go to B until you are done with A.

These are gripes I have but the core product of HSM has given me many trouble-free days of production and I don’t regret being here at all. I just don’t understand the rather disjointed development of HSM. I however use it for a living and programmers live in another world and get paid irregardless of what goes out the door to the customer so our goals probably wildly differ. I want to finish something so I can be paid and they see it as a work in progress where years passing before completion is OK and the paychecks come no matter what is not done.

As always now since Autodesk has gone gouge your wallet subscription only there is a caveat to HSM. If I did not like HSM I would not write about it. I do however despise the sales model it now resides in and you need to know upfront the price of admission here now has very onerous conditions. You have to wonder if subs only is partly responsible for the slow down in the actual finishing of features in HSM since the forever pay to play subs ecosystem means they don’t have to improve much anymore to keep getting dollars from their newfound captive audience. Improvements and actually finishing improvements can easily become avoidable expenses in this corporate model especially with corporate investment sharks now having a presence on the Autodesk board. It is going to be a very interesting year ahead for Autodesk product users as we see how all this shakes out.

How do you find information for many hidden nuggets of HSM CAM cooking gold right now? Well you often need to find someone who can fill you in because many key tricks and tips are not documented. However HSM has just hired a person to create documentation so this really problematical lack is perhaps now being worked on.

Now Onto The Good Stuff

I spent the better part of a day recently trying to figure out why I could not consistently create results on a simple part. Admit it you have too and it is quite frustrating is it not? Fortunately courtesy of tech help from the hidden HSM bunker I have some answers for you and I. Thanks Tim!

I have some of the tips below but the video will go further into how to use them. In general though I think it would behoove most of us to take the time one day to right mouse click everything as we go through a CAM plan and see what shows in the pop up menus and what these things do.

For instance you can right-click on a setup and select “default folder” option to make that setup the one you are working on. If you have noticed with more than one setup your default setup “work folder” is the last numerical one in the list. You go back to set up 3 out of five and you know you are there but unless you clicked “default folder”on that setup before you pick a CAM path for setup 3 it will default to the last folder where you have to remove and start over and ask yourself just how many more times will you do this?

I can’t say how many of these hidden nuggets are in HSM because like most of us I get to where I can make a CAM plan and make it work to my satisfaction and stop right there. After today I am convinced this is a big mistake and intend to look deeper in my spare time. Part of the reason I stop looking sometimes is the hope I can blunder through it faster than I could dig and dig and dig for answers that may take a lot of time to find. I really look forward to the upcoming new help goodies in hopes this will be a central clearing area for this kind of information.

Even a searchable tips and tricks section on the HSM CAM forum would be of help. Here are some chamfering tips that may help you.

For 2D Contour using chamfer mill and corner round mill contour click and hold Alt key and left click lines and pick lines just like you were climb milling starting at one end of chain if this is what you want and pick each line. On a part with chamfer features or corner round already on part click lower line(S)

Press and hold ctrl key and left mouse click to remove lines from selection.

2D Chamfer tool path will not work with chamfered edges on a solid model. It works only with corners/edges without those features. If you want to machine the part just as it is in real life use 2D Contour. Chamfer only at this time and corner round tools do not have a dedicated tool path like “2D Corner Round” yet
Here is the video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haas Demo Day, Another Worthwhile Autodesk CAM Var and Random Thoughts

I think with the advent of CPA and Investor fund run corporations distorting much of manufacturing in America that Haas is a perfect example of the opposite. Of course they will have to some day leave the Communist Republic of Mexifornia to become what they fully could be but that is another story. I believe in Haas and yes I am sure you can buy better iron and spend a whole lot more doing so. Around here in Southern middle Tennessee Haas is by far the leading chip maker and machines just go year after year. I hear just as many complaints about problems from the guys who spent a whole lot more on foreign iron. They however get to spend twice as much for repairs, wait far longer to get them done and I think in general pay more per part to make a living with them. The debate rages on and you can find detractors as often as praisers for Haas online. Talking to small and medium size shops around here and elsewhere and they continue to buy Haas over everything else and smile to the bank. I hire my neighbor and do so economically while making parts that satisfy my customers and earn a living to boot.

Haas has a demo day once a year and next 6-14-16 is the day. Twenty three of the Haas outlets in the USA will have Autodesk HSM (Inventor HSM, HSMWorks and Fusion 360)as their guest machining program demonstrator there and will be cutting parts with it and answering questions. http://cam.autodesk.com/haas-demo-day/ for locations. Selway Machine Tool who is one of only three (see below) VAR’s I would currently recommend for HSM CAM at this time is one of the Demo Day sponsors for both machines and CAM. Of all Autodesk CAM vendors they are they only one I know of with this exact mix as a company.

One of the unexpected benefits of Hagerman behaving poorly with me on support was making me research just who is a worthwhile VAR for a small shop, heck any size shop where CAM is what makes the bread and butter. I had an unsolicited offer of support from another VAR and I do believe the guy means it. Not just for me as a blogger where notoriety can open doors that normal customers can’t get opened but for anyone who is one of their customers. Yeah Fieldweld is not one so the offer was probably not something available to most non-customers but here is another prime candidate for someone who is using HSM and needs a good VAR to switch to. http://ecadinc.com/ is the VAR and Steven Duke is their CAM support guy. I mean this is all he does and he was a shop owner himself for five years making chips so he gets the idea that you NEED to make your machine run. So we have Selway and now ECAD Inc with dedicated and serious about you the machine owner VARs to pick from. There is also NexGenCam http://nexgencam.com/ who is a CAMcentric Autodesk VAR that will give you better service to. You intend or make chips with HSM check them out.

It continues to horrify me a bit how much my old ZW3D posts still draw traffic in comparison to the old Solid Edge posts. I can’t fathom such a fine bit of software like SE was and still is to be relegated to almost the same status as ZW3D in searches that arrive at my blog. Congrats you UGS people your magic is working. One of the top stories for SE’s ST9 recent release is “Cloud-enabled Design on Your Terms”. Just like the Surface Pro thingy last year someone has done research internally and they have arrived at some conclusions about future customers. Or at least the ones coming out of school they hope to make into future customers. Basically if you will allow me to paraphrase what they concluded in my own words it is that younger people do not care about security and are used to just throwing it all out there in cyberspace for whomever to harvest. They like cool and don’t care too much to think of ramifications because forethought interferes with cool.

Being the curmudgeon that I am and still thinking that security means something and so does privacy for that matter it horrifies me by how little what ever the heck they call themselves today worry about repercussions of actions. I have written about the cloud for years and nothing has happened to change my opinion of how dangerous it is especially for the intellectual property of manufacturing and design companies. Where if hacked unlike a bank account where you know monthly where you stand IP can go away and the Chinese can be making knock offs before you even get to market. It can be so bad that you look on a store shelf one day and see your own product but you did not authorize its manufacture and THEY made all the money off your back. You best fight this by not giving people an electronic shopping cart to fill with your goodies.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/07/android_keyboard_needs_to_see_camera_and_log_files/ and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/12/29/security_year_in_review/ are just two articles perused by me in the last week at the Register web site. There are some like this all the time and have been for years. Sad thing is that unlike financial institutions that will reimburse you for on-line theft if you report it in time your IP is just gone. Not one software authoring company that makes or entices you to the Cloud will stand behind you here but they will happily sell you the software that can gut your company’s future. Read the fine print people. In the EULAs we have to sign to use the software and see it for yourself. If these authoring company lawyers are worried about it shouldn’t we be to??? What SE is doing now with new “major” features is making the equivalent of more rendering programs available to SW users a few years ago. Where major new innovations to pure CAD creation were too hard to come up with so other things take their place.

When at the top of the new list of features is this cloud stuff you might suspect the people who put it there consider it to be the prime achievement of the new release. Wouldn’t you put the best first since that is what people will first see? https://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/solid-edge/st9/ A true indicator of things going wrong. In my dreams I would see Solid Edge under people who cared and aggressively pursued design excellence in combination with HSM for a complete manufacturing ecosystem. Freed from the shackles of subscription placed on HSM by Autodesk and those inside of Siemens who don’t want SE to succeed. I intend to write more soon on HSM as I do intend to talk about my favorite machining program and what it so admirably does. I just can’t find it in my heart to recommend it like I used to because subscription only goes against everything I believe. In this day and time we should have a choice between subs and seats.

I find it disturbing that some of the major growth companies seem to be Check into Cash and Title loans and Bail Bond outfits. It seems like wherever I drive from Kansas City MO to Orlando FL and Washington DC these past few years these things sprout faster than mushrooms. Where people who have been smothered by this multi-year economic drubbing Obama and his fellow travelers have spawned pay more and get less and can’t afford to buy or borrow at reasonable rates and costs. Subs are the same predatory corporate paradigm except what makes it even worse it that people who can afford it are now told no more seats. It’s like a screw you no matter what your financial circumstance is we want you to pay like the Check into Cash people do and never stop. And pay a whole lot more for the same thing.

Anyway the drag races, don’t get excited you Obamaites I am talk cars here not weirdos, are coming up this weekend and I think I will see what superior design, machining and fabrication can do at the strip from people who actually put their hands-on expertise on the line. Funny isn’t it how once you get away from public schools and today’s universities the only thing that counts in so many ways is the ability to win

Solid Edge ST9 Released With A Whimper

Did you know ST9 was released? I stumbled across this today much to my amazement. No industry whoopla, no promotions no industry buzz no nothing. Hidden in the dark corner recesses of another PLM World event where no SE users attend ST9 is released. Courtesy of Kill SE Jim Miller officiating the demise of SE for Siemens.
https://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/solid-edge/st9/

Pablum from industry “experts” who do not use SE for a living.
https://community.plm.automation.siemens.com/t5/Solid-Edge-Blog/Industry-experts-give-their-views-on-Solid-Edge-ST9/ba-p/349551

And finally a trial download link.
http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/plmapp/se/en_US/online/Shop?ACTION=trial#ACTION=trial

Had a look and to say it was underwhelming would be an understatement. More cloud crap big deal. Pack and Go which should have been there ages ago and was available for free from a German company for years before Siemens SE ever got around to incorporating it. Perused through the short list of things and remember years gone by where really powerful new stuff was introduced and not this window dressing tinkering around the edges type of action in ST9. The wisdom of my stepping off the pay the same for less each year paradigm which apparently is now the future for SE is proven with this release.

Now admittedly my impressions are just that and I have not downloaded and played with the program to see if there is anything exciting in there for me. Quite frankly don’t expect to do so either since the bragging points in the official, such as they were, release literature hardly inspire desire on my end. You see when the decision was made to drop SE in ST8 after just squeaking by into it with my last years maintenance because there were no new features of worth to ME I had determined the future was bleak. ST7 was the peak year and last year of note and worthy of renewal dollars coming from me. Even had a discussion with Ally PLM about renewing at 50% off or not at all since there was nothing new for me I needed in ST8 and of course they refused and so did I. It is my money after all and why pay for nothing was my thought. ST7 had all the tools needed in admirable array and ST8 added a little to it but not much so I did move to it but was not going to pay any more money for it.

ST9 looks like nothing but confirmation that the serious removal of quality programmer talent from SE to primarily NX related things must be continuing unabated. Hate to say this since I am and was such a fan of SE. Still in daily use for virtually all my modeling and intend to do so for some time since I do have a permanent seat. It beats the pants off Inventor for instance. I have had a current permanent seat of Inventor Pro for two years and still have yet to make serious time to try to learn it. It is just clunky to use compared to SE so why bother going there until I absolutely have to. It is attached to HSM which is really awesome so I have it anyway. And at this time you can still get permanent seats with SE which IS a big deal. I will say once again if you are not a user of SE or have never been it is worthwhile for you to look into it. For you these tools will be fresh and powerful and a real aid in CAD productivity. But once you get your permanent seat and get up to speed with your user ability if things do not improve just step off the money merry-go-round. I don’t expect them to improve either and with the absolute animosity the UGS people have towards SE it is certainly at best in a stagnant holding pattern for an unknown period of time and perhaps forever. Until they can figure out what to do with this program they really don’t want and can’t sell. Chuck Grindstaff is a big UGS guy and Jim Miller is his boy from years ago and there for a reason. Make sure SE never has a chance to thrive again.

These top flight people with SE I have met over the years in Huntsville are being sold down the river along with customers who are getting less and less for their money. While I have promised an individual I will not write about Ironcad for a fixed period of time let me say this. Spent some time last week with a support guy from Ironcad and left wondering why the heck this program was not in far greater use. I will have more to say in the future but I can certainly say if you are not a customer of SE and you are looking for a good direct editing program you need to have a look. If you are a small design build house where you consume your own data for manufacturing and do not have to have a particular program just because your biggy customer demands so you really need to look. More to say later.