In a bit of a holding pattern for now until September for posts on actual CW4SE parts I will be working on. However there is a bit of news and a bit of reflection and comments upon CW4SE.
As of right now there is no forum for CW4SE. The official Geometric forum has a section for SW users only and this should be changing soon and will include a section for SE users. Even though the basic program is the same it has been Geometrics decision that SE users should not have access to the SW users forum. Since both are closed forums I guess that you must have a seat of one or the other to access them. I have no idea what will be there and it is a shame that years of experience as cam users on the SW side of things will be roped off to SE users but with the politics that could result I guess I can understand why the two will be kept separate.
I don’t think SE at the official BBS site has any intention of having a forum either and the one time I mentioned a need for one it was met with a rather curt reply from a Siemens guy that this was Geometrics job and not Siemens. Sometimes I wonder about who talks to who and who plans these things as I would have thought that a forum would have been planned and who was responsible for what would have been picked and resources dedicated. Support for CW4SE is important and unless the VAR’s are slated to fill this area I am not sure how smooth the initial support for CW4SE will be. I think this gets back to the Dart Board idea I promulgated some time back where planning is chaotic and meetings are had to decide what to talk about in the next meeting and then another one to determine if the first two meetings were effective and on and on they go. People, time passes and this is a roll-out of a new product and an important addition to SE’s ecosphere. It is important to get this right and we are months after SEU2013 and this forum is still not established. But beyond the forums there is another category and it is who does your potential VAR have as a trained support guy? CW4SE is a new integration with SE but it is not a new program. I am hoping all the major VAR’s intend to have a veteran of CAMWorks for SW on staff to answer questions on the CAM side. The program is the program and if your VAR is intending to provide support based on freshly trained guys who have not themselves cut chips with this program it could be a problem. Make sure you ask your VAR of choice what he intends to do in this area. I have no idea what Siemens official policy is towards mandatory minimum support required of VAR’s to sell CW4SE and so it is left up to the buyer to be aware of this. Make sure your VAR can support you before you buy would be my suggestion.
There is a book out there, “The CAMWorks Handbook 2013” that is for the SW integration that looks interesting. Obviously the CAD side of it is for “Brand X” and includes nothing for direct editing 😉 but from what I have read and seen with the CW4SE manual given out with the program (I assume it will be the same one I was given during beta testing) it may be a decent alternative learning method for the bits and pieces of CAM needed to decide what features are needed to do differing CAM plans. Disregard the constant references to the class B modeler and you should be alright. If I order the book I will report on what I find.
There have been webinars from various VAR’s out there. I don’t know what all of them are doing but I do know that Saratech has a veteran CW user running theirs. Now is the time by the way to tell your VAR’s that you expect at least one guy in the organization that has actually cut chips with CW4SE to be there for support for CW4SE. Remember that the only time you have to get your wishes across to these guys is going in so push for all you can before signing with one.
On the program front as planned and announced some time ago September is rapidly approaching and working with assemblies will be an additional function to be released then. I don’t know what else is coming out and as I have reminded people if they want it talked about they have to release information. Hopefully this will happen soon.
In any case I expect to have my seat soon and then it will be on to some real parts. One thing I will be interested in is how CW4SE will work for a small shop like mine where automation and the Tech Data Base setup is not so beneficial. I want to just recognize features I want to pick and go from there and also avoid populating the TDB with my own tools so I can just pick them as I go. For instance, the TDB has a lot of tools in it but not one three flute endmill. This is the preferred endmill for cutting aluminum and as it is recommended by Volumill for just this I am surprised that Geometric did not have any of these in the tools for milling section. The TDB is an area where there could be improvements made and from what I gather in talking to some SW users of CAMWorks they agree. Now the TDB is a powerful tool for automation and I think is particularly beneficial for larger shops with a system set up for tool and machine management but this is a little complicated for those who just want to pick a tool, or input the cutter data individually for each tool path and go from there. In My old program for instance I can scroll through a list of tools and just pick it and edit it right there if I need to and save the new tool to the library. Far easier than this TDB thing is. Of course I am quite familiar with the old program and not CW4SE yet so my opinions here could change as get used to using it. It would be nice if Geometric would allow for the importing of tool libraries into their TDB from manufacturers but as of right now you have a tedious excel like chart to fiddle with and you have to add these things in one by one. It would also be nice to be able to do away with having a tool library required to create a cam plan and just pick and assign tools to the cam plan and have it be remembered as tool whatever in spot whatever and then just save it. Automation is really cool for those shops that want or need it but some greater consideration for those shops that don’t want this would be nice.
One of the things I really liked during beta testing was the constant step-over tool path. I was over at the HSMWorks forum the other day and they were complaining about how tough it is to get a constant scallop heighth there. Kind of like I use to have to do with ZW3D you have to create different tool path stepovers at differing places in the part to get a really consistent finish on the part. So you end up with four or more toolpaths to do almost as good as the single toolpath in CW4SE will get you quickly and easily. Just a word here by the way. I find some of the CW4SE GUI to be clunky and some of the nomenclature to be worded in such a fashion that it is hard to remember what it means. So welcome to the real world where no program is perfect and they all expect you to learn according to the idiosyncracies of each different set of programmers. Many of which I believe don’t really grasp what actual users want because they have never cut chips and don’t understand our work flows and the reason for how we choose our work flows. The programmer liked it and it made sense to him so it must be right, right? But don’t mistake my grumbling about these things to be really serious objections to the program as a whole. I know enough about it to state that the improvements to my bottom line for cutting efficiencies will be large over time compared to programs I have used in the past. And of course the fact we now have true integration between CAD and CAM.
The insanity of allowing programmers who have not cut chips to be the final determiners of how a program is set up to work for users is a topic for another day and I am of the opinion far greater heed to user wishes should be made. I am afraid that with Geometric, like most other software authoring companies, once the program gets out the door the silliness is programmed in and it will take an act of God to get programmers to understand that just because what they did can be made to work does not make it the right way or the best way to work and to then fix it. Kind of like how dumb is it that SE still after all these years does not yield accurate manufacturing data for threads but someone in Programville decided it was OK so every user subsequently has to struggle with this. I bet this comes back to haunt them as how can they recognize accurate manufacturing data on holes imported from say SW if they can’t do it for their own program? You use software to design or cut I am sure you have pet peeves based on programmers choices too and this problem is everywhere.