Some Thoughts on Solid Edge and Manufacturing Software

Before we venture into the primary topic of this post I want to reveal some of the thinking behind what I do and say here. Some of you have told me I speak of the same basic things to many times or the same theme to often. Or I am not polite and prim and proper with my comments at times. On the face of it all it may appear to be that way but there is a method to this. You might be surprised how many in the software industry read me. So keep in mind when I choose what to talk about I address two target audiences. One is the users. It is my intent to afford them the customer/user real unvarnished experiences I have and the opinions I form and why I form them. I have some news for you software guys and VARS to. You think I am the only user who has these at times rude things to say you are wrong. I just happen to say them out loud and make sure you hear me. It gripes my rear end to get bad information and then make financial decisions based on sources that did not prove accurate. Sometimes with the best information I can find after digging it is still not enough and over time reality proves the initial conclusions wrong. I will also tell you that.

The second group is those who produce software. It amazes me how willfully tone-deaf many are and how many times you have to bring up the same things again and again before they even begin to think about what you are saying. Sadly the only way to reach many of these guys is repetition and letting them know the problem exists and that we/I know about it. And that one month or a half-year of stonewalling or ignoring this is not going to make the comments go away. I warn the first group whose money and profits are on the line about how they will be treated. I write to the second and often most resistant to reason group in the industry because in many ways getting things fixed is the very best way to protect users. The second group is in general people who have to be dragged into doing what is right far to often and seem to want to communicate with you about once a year if you know what I mean. We live in a strange world as makers where what we sell we have to stand behind and make right or not get paid. Somehow too many software people seem to think right and working and guaranteed are not applicable to them and they should get paid no matter how junky what they make is. Not having even halfway competently working CAMWorks for SE ST7 for seven months is a perfect example of this double standard. It is also a perfect example of a software company that ignored it’s users until it’s feet were publicly put to the fire for many months in a row. So you see there is a reason and even if it bores you to tears remember that it is my desire to see things work right and a little hammer has to hit a big nail many times to drive it home.

I remember getting a call from Karsten Newbury on a Sunday morning two years ago last January. I had posted three ugly posts about those idiots in marketing. They called up and whined to Karsten about can’t you make him shut up!! I was pretty mad and he asked me don’t you want to have these people as friends and to like you? My reply was NO. They are stabbing you in the back. That meant we users to were also getting the knife. I think we all still are but like Karsten I have moved on to greener pastures. I still entertain some sort of hope someone somewhere in a position of authority with Siemens will think about what the UGS SE killers have done and how foolish it is to a company that is starving for better profits to aid in killing a golden egg laying goose because paranoic turf protecting UGS personalities have triumphed over profit oriented rational management. In the mean time I have moved over to Autodesk where I miss SE but live in a much more economically friendly world in a much more useful manufacturing ecosphere.

When I talk bad about SE remember this it is not the technical aspects of the program. With the exception of Second Floor cubical training Guy and some marketing people who suffer from being such and thus detached from any valid life model every one I have ever met and worked with in Huntsville has been top notch. It is my belief that the slowdown in SE improvements are because Siemens is taking to much of the profits from them because they are not interested in the R&D needed to continue SE’s rapid advancements. SE suffers from myopic overlords still and again and maybe forever who knows.

On to Some Thoughts

What prompted this post today was an interesting conversation I had with someone whose name will remain anonymous. Rather than talk about what the subject material of the call was about I am going to talk about what it in part revolved around which is Solid Edge.

I hope my readers know I think of SE as the premier mid range MCAD program for what I do. If you don’t you need to re-read what I have said over the years. From the magic I saw with the very first part edited with Synchronous and through the rough edges of ST1 and 2 and then with the way it should have been from ST3 and on I have always loved the power here. I have recommended and believe sincerely that even the full Inventor or SW shops with gobs of seats should have one seat of SE as a secret productivity weapon using the power of direct editing that they can’t begin to touch.

It is true I am letting my SE subscription lapse on 8-30-15. This has nothing to do though with the power of SE that exists at my fingertips. The power that I still use and then import into Inventor for use with HSM. It primarily is an economic decision based on what I see as the slowdown of new features of use TO ME. It is also because CAM is far more important now and capable CAM like HSM dictates where I need to be. Your needs may be different and you might be thrilled with getting access to SE on a Surface Pro. I still recommend that a shop that is a closed loop manufacturing concern that produces objects from their own CAD designs seriously consider SE. You may decide as I have that the only real value in the future with your subscriptions is updated translators but you can certainly benefit from getting SE into your processes. New to you the power is undeniable and you will benefit.

Throughout the years though SE has been the software that remains anonymous to many because of the people who have dictated this sad result who controlled SE from outside of SE itself. One way or another whether from venture capitalists who bought a vehicle to manipulate quick money out of and had no idea of the jewel hidden within or UGS which desired some technology but could care less about its parent. SE has suffered from what can only be described as benign neglect to outright stifling by those who do not like it. It should not be this way and the primary reason I am leaving SE is because it IS this way.

I am quite certain that many within Siemens and elsewhere think oh good, the idiot is leaving SE and I hope he just finally shuts up. They fail to remember that I did work in the belly of the beast to try to change things I thought were needed through the ground rules they worked by. We see things quite differently I guess. Whole years go by and the marketing people see meetings and busy schedules and think things are being done. I see from the outside no change no progress and no indication they even care about whether the product they want us to buy is made as profitable as possible for us and them. Another year where my income is affected and I can’t get back what I have lost. Remember, corporate marketing and software guys get paid no matter how worthwhile their work or results so they never suffer financially like we business owners do when things are screwed up. They live in a world insulated from the results they produce whereas our bottom lines get directly effected immediately. Is it any wonder why they can’t relate to us?

I hear comments about this John Miller who is supposed to be doing things behind the scenes but you could not prove it by me. His desire to communicate with his customers is zero. Even the comments “he” made on the Siemens BBS were written for him. We as customers make plans that span years and part of what we need is to see that our important components are in place and can be relied upon to stay so and be so in competent and qualified ways. Even worse is that the company that he works for thinks this silence of his is acceptable and they make no effort to change what we see or hear.

What we actually see is only longevity. Mr Big never talks to us and we deserve the respect of being informed of plans for the future. Hearing nothing and knowing nothing is not sufficient and
customers will fill that information void with conclusions over time right or wrong. This is the guaranteed result that is justly earned by a company that evidently does not care enough for us and our future proof plans. No future proof data has been forthcoming. Is there a future besides the one the SW users have been subjected to? Who knows and those who do are not saying.

So we see the ecosystem our important tool is relegated to in the eyes of those who control it. And many of us wonder when the shoe will drop and we are going to be told here is your incentive to buy Catia or NX and your favorite program is now history. And this perpetuates because those who can put a stop to this are not talking. The longer they do not talk the worse our suspicions become.

This is manifest in other ways to. Is the pace of improvements slowing down but you still have to pay each year like those great things are still going on? Of course you do but each ensuing year of this the question of do I need to do this again becomes harder and harder to say yes. There are tons of SW users who are doing just fine with older versions. It is happening with SE is my guess I suspect for the same reason. Note to software companies. If you want to get paid the same each year when you know after a while we don’t call you for support you need to provide worthwhile new capabilities. Worthwhile to users and not the marketing people who have never designed a part and have no clue about what we need and expect.

Attention VARS. If the software you are banking on to earn a living with is subject to a company that has no desire or commitment to aggressive market share acquisition you are in fundamental trouble just waiting to happen. Your success is on the line unless they are fully on board with this concept.

This is one of the topics that fascinates me with Autodesk. They have plans and they are implementing them and the VARS know it. The developers know it and the users I talk to feel it. It is like it was around SE during ST4-5 where people involved with SE at all levels felt things were all going right. The big difference though is that the guy who is in charge of Autodesk is also committed to it. A general rule of thumb in the restaurant industry is that restauranteurs can create and build success stories which are then ruined by the CPA and Banker heirs to the throne who have no idea what brings in customers AND KEEPS THEM. They can’t perceive what drives customers. A smart barbecue restaurant dude makes sure you smell the mouth-watering smoke when you walk or drive by. He just might even get a lot where the prevailing winds mean that irresistible aroma is going to be drifting over the nearby busy street most often. They want you to be enticed and once in the door they have this big-ol reasonably priced menu with great food.

Siemens and UGS controlled SE have no concept of this. They have mediocre people in charge of publicity. Or worse they have people from UGS who try to stifle any attempt. Dassault is not much better and SW thrives as it does from legacy data and people who don’t want to move away from this. And from remnants of the once inspired team that made SW great and who still fight the fight.

What we want and need besides capable modeling is this. Aggressive incorporation of the design software into education and industry. And followup to make sure teaching is current and correct. This is our future work force and we don’t want to have to pay them and train them. We want to acquire trained people. No education system will be interested in what we use and desire to teach it if there is no future for the taught in it. Especially in levels past High School where people are focused on being able to find jobs with what they were taught in. So SW and Autodesk is taught around here because these guys made sure they had industry market share which drive jobs which drives the pre-trained work force which drives use in industry as a percentage which drives more work for those who use common software and on and on this self feeding thing goes. Sad to say SE has been around as long as SW but look at the difference.

In other words a plan and the resolve to execute it to our mutual benefit. Mutual being the key word here. I could care less if you, Mr Big software guy, are profitable if you are not seeking to make me so to and that means more than just the program itself.

We need an ecosystem of integrated apps. These can be a part of the program you author or it can be a partner. SE has never and still does not offer much here. Why this decision has been made for many years and today I don’t know. I just have the reality of few integrated apps. SW and Autodesk have a far different scenario.

We need market share. For the first time in eight years I now have customers that use the same design software I have. Yes SE imports and works with imports superbly. That does not stop customers from demanding you have the same design program though does it? For the first time I have available trained users to hire. For the first time I no longer hear comments like I have never met anyone who used SE before sixty some miles north of SE’s headquarters. Directly and solely the failure of the dictators over SE to care about what we need in the whole to thrive.

What users need is the model Autodesk is operating by. With the exception of the loss of permanent seats which I abhor. Warning to the wise. Make your move before February next year and this will not be a concern of yours.

Inventor HSM Post Editing and Does Your CAM Vendor Care?

Today’s post could easily have been split into two topics. One on post editing how to links and the second on the regard your CAM author providers have for its users. The two are intertwined in this case and it all started with a post problem last Friday. I know it is a long one today but stick with it. There are some extremely useful post editing and creation links here. There are also comments regarding how one is treated by people who want your money and what they think they need to do to get it.

Inventor Pro HSM and Inventor HSM Haas Generic Turning .cps episode

Sometimes being an early adopter brings problems many won’t ever see. I ran across one of these this past weekend and it materialized in the form of a changed Haas generic Turning .cps post in the latest developmental build of Inventor Pro HSM. It always happens when you are in a hurry of course and the same day that I had Haas tech guys in to diagnose why my Y axis servo motor on my mill went out.

I learned a couple of things this weekend. One was the true value of a very active user community and the many dedicated users and Autodesk employees who populate this thing. I have always believed in community for a variety of reasons and I will shortly tell of the tale of the worrisome post.

The second thing was that I should not let past experience dictate the current response to an adverse situation. I came here from the world of CAMWorks for Solid Edge where hammering on known problems and being prepared for long hard fights to get anywhere was normal. Where you had to argue with Geometric about problems you could prove only to be dismissed because what you suffered from was labeled, I kid you not in many cases, as “intended behavior”. Where things took years to fix if at all. Where a company like Geometric would not respond to user problems and most certainly never darken the door of user forums to seek to solve user issues.

I had some parts to cut Friday and was trying to use the latest HSM developmental build and the Haas Generic Turning .cps does not work. So off I go to comment about the Haas lathe post in somewhat snarky terms. I ended up going back in there and changing the snarky bits out and have concluded I owe these Autodesk guys an apology. I went in there with a CW4SE user attitude because I had been well-trained to have one. What I have found were developers and super users and VAR employees who frequent these forums and who care about you being productive. What a change from Geometric where it has now been THIRTY weeks since the last CW4SE user post and over a YEAR since the last Geometric employee or VAR comment of any sort has happened on this forum. This vehicle that is supposed to aid users to be productive.

Well in Autodesks case I am here to say that there is a forum that works and a company that has employees that care. So on to the Haas Generic Turning .cps saga.

I am not a post guy. I have never learned to edit one nor create one and rely on the CAM software company to produce it. Just like the vast majority of users it is just another thing to have to learn for very infrequent use that I dodge if I can. My plate is already full and I don’t want to have to struggle with yet another thing to learn and then relearn again when I have to do something once in a great while.

First off here is the Autodesk CAM forum link. Go there and see. The door here is open unlike Geometric where they have a real reason to keep non users in the dark. If people only knew the reality of Geometric they would hardly ever buy the product.
https://camforum.autodesk.com/index.php

https://camforum.autodesk.com/index.php?topic=7593.0 will take you to a post started by me regarding this Haas post problem. Matt Nichols with Hagerman worked up a post for me that did exactly what was needed within a few hours of reporting the problems. It took as long as it did because I could not articulate why it failed. I had to go to the Haas user manual and work with it to get code that was for the Haas TL-2. Once I had a working example and could post good code and problem output code he had it fixed in a jiffy. The post was free and so was the help to make it right.

There was another aspect of this little journey that struck me. It was the resources available and people who wanted these tools to be in your hand. I looked a little closer at post creation and editing just for the heck of it and found the following.

First off was a new one from Laurens. Tip of the hat to you by the way. https://camforum.autodesk.com/index.php?topic=6138.0 will take you to some good advice on posts.

Of greater importance was the pair of posts by actual HSM Post Developers. From Andrew Ward we have a resource on how it all works. https://autodesk.box.com/s/3zk4u2tyr1v4oaphscog

From Achim another HSM Post Developer we have a tip on editing posts with Notepad ++. https://camforum.autodesk.com/index.php?topic=3202.0

By this point in time I was reconsidering my harsh initial comments of course and going back and changing them. I was also thinking maybe with a bit of tutoring this idea I had about post editing being arcane programmer geek stuff was not quite true and perhaps I will look into learning enough to get out of jams on my own.

The Importance of Who Has Your Back

I am continually struck by the difference I have experienced in all areas between Autodesk and CW4SE. Sadly this time it includes my soon to be past VAR Ally PLM. In many ways they have been exemplary but this fizzled away with the advent of CW4SE. The importance of posts can’t be overstated. If you can’t talk to your machinery and your VAR or CAM providers don’t care if you do there is big trouble on your horizon.

Getting posts for CW4SE is a headache. If you ever buy into this mess make sure you demand as a condition a verifiable working post before your money is plunked down and continued TIMELY support for this as a condition for you to buy. Make sure they can’t ignore you by saying they are working on it and six months later you still wait. They do not care. Get this in a contract and in written verifiable legalese so you have teeth to force Geometric to do what they won’t want to do. Your VAR will pass the buck to them so be forewarned. In my case with Geometric and Ally PLM I had problems because I did not do this. First off Geometric promised me verbally that when I got my lathe in the future I would be provided a post. They reneged on this promise to a guy that was materially responsible for them getting in the door with SE. Makes me wonder what their regard is for just plain old customers.

I now have loaded the 2015 ST8 version of CW4SE. I managed to slip in under the radar and since the cutoff date for ST8 CW4SE was 7-15-15 and my maintenance did not expire until 7-30-15 it worked. So what I am to say is as current as it gets. There are 18 .ctl posts and NONE of them are to be used for production per Geometric’s warnings. In HSM’s FREE working post library I count 96 today. 97 if I include the “Ault_Haas Turning_TL2.cps” which was provided to me quickly and without charge over the weekend to fix my woes.

I want you to consider something here and it is a window into the soul of these involved companies. I had considerable stature and standing in the SE ecosystem at the time this occurred and I was still treated this way. Eager to have me post good things but turn around and piss on me when I ask them to abide by their promise. And the VAR I had nothing but good things to say about until then kicked me in the teeth. Seems like CW4SE taints everything it touches. Yes I am a blogger but as far as I can tell anybody is treated by Autodesk CAM just like I was this past weekend. This common consideration of users was besides a CAM program that worked well and simply one of the key considerations I had when shopping for the CW4SE replacement

I had some really dreary conversations with Ally PLM about my promised lathe post. It started by me asking for the promised post only to be told they would check into it. I get an email back and they can provide one from Geometric for $500.00. (like Geometric does not have a cash cow Haas post done and on the shelf they have charged hundreds of times for I suppose.) So the conversations start and I mention the promise made to me. To bad so sad cough up the dough is the reply. I mention how many CAM programs have free posts and post support. Then they tell me that they have never heard of free posts and the resident CAM expert is supposed to be the source of this. I specifically show with screen captures the ZW3D and HSM post libraries available in the current two CAM programs I have access to besides CW4SE. Now I am sitting here and thinking to myself and getting angrier by the minute. After I have proven that I am correct and they are wrong they still had the unmitigated gall to say I did not know what I was talking about.

I finally told the support gal whom I had tremendous respect for until that moment that this conversation was permanently over. Out of respect for her and because I had always enjoyed dealing with her until then I was not going to continue this topic with her or Ally PLM. My promise to her and Ally PLM however was that I knew exactly how to handle this and this began a another series of sharply critical comments about Geometric and CW4SE. I hope today someone who is reading this and considering ALLY PLM and or Geometric’s CW4SE will think harder about who they deal with or what they buy into. Buy SE from ALLY perhaps but avoid CAM from them like the plague and if you go with CW4SE from anyone you deserve what you will get.

ALLY PLM keeps after me telling me that my SE maintenance is up the end of this month. My reply was that the $1,500.00 they want for CAD only for a year is the same as CAD and CAM everything from Autodesk. For 50% off I would renew. I still consider SE the better modeler but the pace of improvements has dropped off the radar and next year will be the same so why keep paying like they are doing something I am going to benefit from? I don’t expect they will take this offer so the company that had seven years of business from me will soon be history. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Hey you Autodesk guys can you see why I was a bit testy initially regarding a post?

Latest Developmental Versions of HSMWorks and Inventor HSM Are Released

For those of you who are early adopters or have support tickets which you are waiting to have fixed go have a look.
http://cam.autodesk.com/download/hsmworks/
or
http://cam.autodesk.com/inventor-hsm-experimental/
will take you to your flavor of CAM. I have been through five of these updates now and have not experienced any problems.

http://camforum.autodesk.com/ will take you to the Autodesk CAM forums where you can see if there are any issues for these in quick order as there are a number of early adopters and they are not bashful.

In any case it good to see the regularity of fixes and coming from the world of CAMWorks it’s quite a refreshing change. You might also go and have a look even if you are not a customer just to see what the community is like. The fact that all is open to see for better or worse is a clear indication of the confidence they have in their products.

Look for a video this week on a 3 axis part being cut for food service. I am achieving without trouble a finish that requires no hand blending or polishing to go straight into food production with the Scallop 3axis tool path. Life is good when things go right and you don’t have to wrestle with software to make it work. Much nicer to have a tool that does not require Hulk Hogan to be your friend.

Value Is Where You Find It

Received my final renewal notice for Solid Edge yesterday. In June I had my last one for CAMWorks for Solid Edge. It is with some very fond memories and some really ugly ones that run through my mind as I ponder the idea of corporate intent and regard for customers. CW4SE of course never had a chance with me again after the debacle of software failure endured at this end from them. They have considerably improved their time frame for releases with ST8 being done a little over a month after release. Technically I could have expected a license for this since the cut off date was 6-15 and my license was good until 6-30 but why ask when I would not use it?

I had a little time under my belt with the ST7 SP1 CW4SE release which appeared to be as good as anything they had produced since the integration with SE. But I was struck at that time with just how cumbersome and time consuming CW4SE was compared to IP HSM and never cut another part with it again. Why take a chance on these guys again when their forums on the SW side are littered with long time problems, like the Tech Data Base which is fundamental to making CW4SE work like promised, that don’t seem to be well resolved since Geometric bought Pro CAM in 2008. When the time to complete a CAM plan took so much longer and was far more complicated than IP HSM.

Solid Edge is of course my favorite design program. Inventor is clunky to me and while part of it is being new to it part of it is inherent direct editing and importing deficiencies. I deal with a lot of imported parts and SE allows me to do what I want right away and quicker than the original authors could in the native program. The direct editing capabilities are far better at this time in SE and this is how I have worked for seven years now. The pace of improvements for SE has dropped off the chart though and the single biggest thing touted this year appears to be the ability to work with Surface Pro’s. Pure window dressing and the equivalent of SW offering two rendering programs at the same time a couple of years ago rather than digging in deep and providing meaningful new functions for CAD creation. It is what companies do when the desire to improve a product goes away for whatever reason and they want to leave it on autopilot because it does still represent income. Plus who could you sell it off to anyway?

The grand total of the maintenance for SE and CW4SE for one year would have been $4,000.00. For a combination of a design program that seems to have peaked and a CAM program that only masochistic people would inflict upon themselves while eagerly waiting for today’s problems to inflict pain on them.

http://descriptive.link/siemens-product-news-sans-solid-edge will take you to Siemens new products page. An industry news letter that talks about software they have. I see interesting things for the high dollar stuff but for SE there is just a silly rendering contest. Why nothing about what SE designs and the cool stuff made with it and case studies utilizing it? Because Siemens does not care to sell or promote SE. The corporate regard for SE shows in examples like this where Marketing and Publicity for Siemens chooses the topic. It could also just be laziness on the part of Siemens Marketing and Publicity where a whole group of people who must have had talent at some time are employed. But Siemens has a culture where if nothing is done and you can pass the buck for another day and not make a decision but show you had meetings you get this big fat paycheck so why work? Why be productive and make decisions that may come back and haunt you?

If I was a stock analyst and I knew how much time and potential was being wasted through this smothering bureacracy Siemens has allowed to develop I would dump my stock TODAY. It is no wonder their profits are down with the massive amount of unproductive overhead they have. I figure the Mr Big over Siemens bought UGS in an effort to make Siemens manufacturing more efficient. Sadly now the short term effects of buying efficiencies have been subsumed into the belly of the beast and the do nothing think nothing make no waves culture reigns supreme. Now put SE into these hands that not only can’t run what they have well but have genuine animosity as the UGS people do towards SE and tell me how bright the future is. Siemens admits they are not as productive as their main competitors and they are going to have to suffer real financial pain before changes are made. I have no idea how you would turn something like this around though when you have trained your workforce to be unproductve and have paid them handsomely to be so. They think it is what you want and the paychecks are proof of it.

I refuse to fund the people who have ruined SE’s future and have deliberately choked off funds to develop it with.

Here is the starkest contrast I can think of between Siemens SE and Autodesk’s Inventor. On one hand we have Mr Big Carl Bass who owns serious manufacturing equipment and has it in his personal shop. He writes CAM programs for parts his two hands and mind produces with this equipment. He is all the time making an effort to be in places that revolve around manufacturing and education for manufacturing. As far as I can tell not only is he in charge but he is committed to the idea that what he does is important not only to Autodesk’s future but Americas as a manufacturing giant. He is a maker of things with his own hands and he gets it.

Siemens has a guy over SE named John Miller that no one sees. No one hears from him and he has absolutely no desire to make chips or promote manufacturing or SE. Unlike Karsten Newbury who while he did not personally cut parts had a manufacturing degree and DID get the idea. Siemens ran him off and replaced him with a mindless drone place holder. This then is the measure of what these two companies believe and think of you the customer. Remember you make a living based upon the software you use and you better think hard about what regard the authoring company has for you. If I was an SE VAR I would be seriously concerned since it is clear Siemens does not worry about the future with anything SE.

So on one hand we have Inventor Pro HSM everything Autodesk has to offer for $10,000.00 and $1,500.00 per year. Over there we have SE + CW4SE at $20,000.00+ and at least $4,000.00 per year and this is far from everything there is to offer. You stick in 5 axis for CW4SE and you are probably up to nosebleed heigths. On one side we have a software company that believes in manufacturing and has spent money to buy the tools to make economical best in class manufacturing a reality if not now in the near future. They make their living off of software and it has to be right or they won’t thrive. On the other we have an ossified manufacturing concern where the software they purchased represents a tiny fraction of their gross and they quite frankly don’t care about you. They bought the software to improve their internal efficiencies. At one time I thought this was a good thing but now conclude for SE users it was not. A program on autopilot in a company that could care less about you is not good.

On one hand we have a company that offers free software to startups and free two axis machining to SW and Inventor users. They desire to be your partner. On the other hand we have, well we have Siemens SE. Run by what’s his face and stifled by UGS hatchet men in combination with Geometric who evidently only cares about your results when the heat is on. Oh, and two axis milling for SW and SE users is $4,500.00. People who like your money but don’t see things as a two way street where the benefits must accrue to both sides of the equation.

I have not made up my mind about SE in the title of this blog. I still really like the program and the Siemens UGS people can’t kill the productivity already there they can only limit it’s future development. I sit here with fond memories and a program that is still my principle modeler. It feels more and more though like Solid Edge belongs in the title of this blog as a memorial to what was and not what will be. Sure do miss you Karsten and what you represented that is no longer here.

Are Marketing and Publicity People really Aliens?

As an aside here. What is it with marketing people? Does their designer bottled water they must consume before any planning is done contain serious sedatives? I am seeing the same thing with Autodesk as I did with Siemens although not as bad. There are lots of things to talk about regarding events and activities already paid for or done. Human interest stories that revolve around software use or the educational field and you don’t see squat. I don’t know who is in charge of Autodesks marketing but the same disconnect as Siemens is there. Why is it so hard for these people to talk about what is here and present and relevant to existing and potential users?

I was told about a Walter cutting competition in Germany I believe it was. Where HSM did really well and the only negative thing was the endmills did not last quite as long time wise as they did in Volumill. Well the physics of cubic inch metal removal rates being what it is I imagine they did not. But when you are cutting parts in less time I know what I want and it is the most metal gone per minute and HSM won that. It would have been interesting to see the total cubic inches removed per tool to. So why has marketing not talked about this and why can’t I get this information to blog about? I have asked and nothing although admitedly I have not asked marketing people for this I have asked others within Autodesk.

Carl Bass was on sabbatical recently but he made time to go by an educators conference and talk about software I presume. He does not need a prompter or a script. He has a passion for this and I hear it was very well received. Is this not a relevant human interest story to CAD and CAM users? Somewhere buried in the files of things good to talk about and already paid for that Marketing and Publicity is so clueless about this too dwells. I would really like to be in the mind of a marketing dude for one day just to see how they figure out what is important and what to talk about. The public face that is the result of their efforts is so alien to me and so lacking for content readily available that I just can’t figure out what makes them tick.

But then I drink spring water and not “designer” water so perhaps I never will understand.

Is It Geometry Or Is It A CAM Bug?

Had a chance recently to look at a part where the problem for the user was that he could not cut into a corner pocket in Fusion 360. This reminded me of a similar situation I had with Inventor Pro HSM 2016. Namely how do you cut a .0625R corner with a .125 endmill? I had trouble on a part too and found that for some reason IP HSM would not allow me to do this and I had to change the radius or fib about tool size and suffer from those induced problems. In reality though what HSM was preventing me from doing was for my own good as there is never a good corner finish at any sort of speed when the radius of the mill and corner are the same.

Here is the problem section of the part.
Original cavity

It is pretty easy to make mistakes on your own or to have imported geometry you did not check well enough. Often during edits people make mistakes for a number of reasons and we all have done similar things. So what is the mistake here? It is not so readily evident to the eye and the .125 diameter endmill won’t cut into the .125 corner pockets. Why?

geometry problems

Look at the above screen capture. The yellow line is a diagonal between existing corners. We can draw a line and then create a circle off the center of the line and see just how far back from the true corners the holes really were. Look closely at the opening of the corner pockets and you can see the section where the opening width becomes .123 since we are past circle center point.

There are three answers here and it depends on the requirements of the part. If it had to be off center and this exact diameter and a drill point bottom is not an issue drill and ream. If the hole could be moved to the “line” center and it could grow to .126 diameter use the .125 end mill the user wanted to use to begin with. This will cut. Or if the hole center needed to stay where it was and could grow to .126 put some flats on the geometry like below. Now that the opening will be a true .126 width the end mill will do just fine. I suspect the intent here was to just get a “square” corner the only way you can get one by milling and the whole thing could have been accomplished better with a .126 diameter hole back just far enough to make the square.

amended cavity with flats

More CAM problems with geometry origins happen then designers who do not cut parts ever dream of and some of them are not apparent to those who do not make things. In truth all of us who actually make things have been in a hurry and distracted from concentrating on just one thing and have been subject to this kind of oversight as to what the problem really was. Or indeed have been the source of the problem when in a hurry and we don’t catch out own mistakes. OK tell me you have not done this exact thing in the past?

It can be easy to sit there in justifiable anger at the CAM program no matter which one we are using. If we had just backed off a bit and looked at why and included the geometry into the problem solving equation I bet there are times each of us could save ourselves some grief. It is the kind of stuff that happens when you get busy and distracted so next time give a moments thought to the idea that it could be the CAD and not the CAM.

Cutting a 3 Axis Part in Inventor Pro HSM 2016

Made a discovery last week regarding cutting 3 Axis parts in HSM. I don’t know if Scallop cutting was in there before as I don’t remember it so in any case new to me and it was the missing link for my parts. Up until now I had kept ST7 and CAMWorks for Solid Edge on one of my workstations because I liked the Constant Stepover tool path so much. While fiddling around and looking at aspects of HSM I had not really investigated before I discover that HSM has this same capability. Scallop judging by the tool paths does the exact same thing as Constant Stepover in that it has a true constant stepover in X Y and Z simultaneously. There is no better cut path for fine surface finishes on complex parts than this.

Regarding this video. It is from A to Z again and all steps are there from importing the file done in Solid Edge through creating a cam plan in HSM and then tool path simulation. Keep in mind this was done on a four year old Dell T3500 workstation and there is talking and time fiddling compared to an individual just sitting down and doing it. My point basically is that it does not take long to do this part from begining to end in less than optimal conditions. The video is 17 + minutes and with a fast workstation and someone who knew the program and was not fiddling around I bet this would take less than 12 minutes from beginning to end.

One comment made in the video about comments made earlier in the video make no sense. What I meant was to reference stock to leave and smoothing and to leave them blank.You can reference the blog post before this one for a detailed explanation. https://solidedging.wordpress.com/2015/07/14/inventor-hsm-2016-accuracy-tip/

As an aside here. The Autodesk guys are pretty closed mouthed about what is going on with HSM. It is looking like this year is when it will all come together for HSM and as little bits dribble out you can tell they are excited. It is about time. Solid Edge has an 18 month cycle for each version from absolute beginning to RTM and this is with experienced staff on a product they have years of experience with. The HSM guys have had a ton of stuff on their plates including integration with two new programs along with some sort of upcoming core change and finishing up leftovers like the Hole Wizard. In addition they have had to find new talent to hire and then get them up to speed so they can make worth while contributions. I am not at all surprised it has taken this long but I do believe the wait will be over later this year. And it will be well worth the wait.

I now have all the tools for a cut that will require no hand finishing for food extrusion dies. It is remarkable to me just how fast and simple cutting parts can be when you are using the right program.

As an aside here some thoughts on software. In some regards I am an abnormal CADCAM user. I am a self employed small business owner and most users are not. I have an interest in my software tools beyond most including many owners who just want things to work now. I want to know the mind set of the authoring company and it’s leaders. I want to know where they are heading so I can relate their products to my future plans. Most users are cubical dudes I figure and their interest is only in the paycheck they earn, quitting time or perhaps how to sneak way to much social media into the mix and get a paycheck doing it. No interest with software and certainly not what makes it tick. I am part of an even more abnormal group and that is as a blogger who does not get paid for what he does and there are darned few of us left. I talk about what I use and what interests me or makes me mad. But this abnormal state of mind is where I want to be. It had stopped being fun over at SE a year ago January when I decided Siemens was determined to bury SE and became bleak after Karsten Newbury was run off. There are not many happy people there any more. Today talking to the Autodesk guys is like it used to be with SE. It is refreshing to deal once again with people who have confidence in their corporate leadership, the direction they are heading and believe in the products they work on.

Join me as we cut a 3 Axis part in Inventor Pro HSM 2016

Inventor HSM 2016 Accuracy Tip

Working on a part for a post on cutting 3D in HSM and found something additional to talk about besides the toolpath selection.  I was having trouble with simulation yielding accuracy results and so the questions began. When settings were as good as I thought they could be and still problems off to the answer guy. TP you know who you are and thanks for the info. The first and best answer to date. So let us delve into simple settings that make a big difference in accuracy.

First off though screen captures of the initial simulation that had me concerned.settings on 1 settings on 2

Notice the amount of material left in strange ways in the second screen capture. Regarding the first one by the way apparently the faceting you see primarily going down in Z is graphics card related and kind of self defeating. In an effort to reduce the GPU overhead by giving exact results it can fudge them a bit to reduce rendering times by reducing accuracy. Not a choice I would have made but there it is. I noticed the same thing with simulation in “metallic” mode with CW4SE and wonder if this is a common simulation program core both share or just the nature of graphics cards response to a situation.

Now look at simulation with settings changed and see a significant difference. First the relevant settings.

settings

My problem was ticking the stock to leave box and picking .0001 and also selecting smoothing. Now smoothing sounds great depending upon which tool tip you see. Initially when I moused over “Smoothing” this is what I saw.

smoothing filter

Sounds like no effect upon accuracy but this is not true. This is where I stopped looking and selected smoothing. However when you mouse over smoothing tolerance you get a different story.smoothing tolerance

Smoothing does effect accuracy and the tool tips depending on what you see first are misleading. I was told that smoothing was primarily a concession to older controllers that would have data starvation problems and that newer machines with better look ahead capabilities would not need this.

What I had unknowingly introduced was tolerance discrepancy stack-up and the difference was as large as adding each factor I had introduce in. .0001 + on material left and then whatever accumulated from the interpolation of the smoothing algorithym.  Lets look at simulation results now with smoothing and material left not selected.

settings off 2 settings off 1

Pretty significant difference in my book and this was a self induced inaccuracy trap I had fallen into. Pay attention to these settings and you won’t have to scratch your head like I did wondering what is wrong.