I had just sent a check in to renew ZW3D for CAM only as they are supposed to have lathe in there for 2012. $1,500.00 to renew was a whole lot cheaper than $8,000.00 plus other cam vendors wanted for their stuff. That and I have had my belly full of “used car” cam salesmen that can’t use the products they want to sell to me. Yeah thats right, they tell me how wonderfull their stuff is and then can’t show me. They all know how much it will cost however :-( At least here with ZW I know where the problems are and it does not cost me nearly as much to be irritated.
Then I get the news. The very best support for VX/ZW3D worldwide was here in the USA in the form of two individuals who were just fired by ZW. These two individuals spent the majority of their days helping VARS around the world and indeed even the ZW people in China who are no where near as good with ZW as these two guys were. Support is now officially screwed on many tough questions. There are also other very qualified individuals who have been let go in the past year here in the States and as far as I can tell only the core developers are left now.
Here in the USA this is what I see. Questions raised on the ZW3D forums can go for days and sometimes weeks before anyone from China responds. Since our support now is from VARS with no truly qualified resource to back them up it will be a problem. Well, I guess if you aren’t in a hurry it’s OK that corporate ZW support is now 12 hours out of synch with it’s USA users. Got a tough problem you need answered quickly? So sorry. Not available for you seven days a week.
I followed the Linkedin links from one of the ex ZW3D guys last week. He had a number of ZW3D employees from Europe listed as contacts and I was pretty amazed at how many were women language majors with no listed cad or engineering backrounds in the about me’s. I suspect that he too was spending time helping these ladies out on programs they may not have been any good at. I imagine they were cheaper to employ though if that is any consolation to the European users.
I believe that the Chinese want to have their own domestic 3D modeler and their only affordable chance perhaps was to buy a pretty capable modeling kernal from a company in financial trouble. VX fit that bill and the rest is history. Now they have their own program, even though they did not and maybe could not create the kernal. If they could after all why didn’t they and save the money? At this time there are around 14 code guys in Florida that are the heart and sole of the VX/ZW3d kernal. The Chinese can’t get rid of these guys because right now because they just can’t do the same quality of work. But the day they think they can these developers are toast. If I were a developer for ZW3d in Florida I would be polishing up my resume and approaching a progressive stable US based cad company with inquiries as I think the hand writing is on the wall for anyone but VARS here. Siemens and Solid Edge come to mind as a good company to work for and they are hiring.
It remains to be seen just how this will unfold. Perhaps this is temporary due to cash flow problems and poor sales here in the USA. These choices however become self fulfilling and a guarantee of continued poor sales and cash flow as USA users are cut loose to fend for themselves.
I find with surprise that this article is still read fairly often and today was read 12 times. I wish to say that while I do not use ZW for CAD anymore as Solid Edge is just to superior I do find myself still using the CAM side. Considering the amount of trouble I have had with Camworks for Solid Edge I have found myself falling back on ZW and re-evaluating my stance against them. While I think there has been little advancement over the years in CAM and they are falling behind the direct editing paradigm which I favor so much it is still a capable program in many ways. I run into people who are still using Mastercam 8 so if it works they don’t upgrade to new. For the price tag what you get compared to the major programs it is not bad. I spent over $13,000.00 for CAMWorks and I am ending up leaving it in frustration. While I did the same with VX/ZW it was more because of lack of advancement in CAD direct editing features and bad sheet metal.This is not an advanced MCAD program. The CAM side is quirky but pretty capable once you learn to unlock the secret little toys hidden in various places and learn the limits of what it can do. Would I buy it again? No. Would I recommend it to someone starting out and looking to save cash? You can do worse so get a copy and have a look. By experience hard learned with other programs since this was written I have to conclude that all programs irregardless of cost have many more problems than they should have. Since that is the case buy the cheapest thing which works for you AFTER extensive testing. ZW3D taken off my hate you list and put on my interesting but would not buy again list.