Working on parts today and I got an email that jogged my attention away from parts to costs. Mainly costs of ownership. What began this was some more subscription nonsense for CAD CAM I was reading. Of course I hope by now anyone who reads my blog knows I think subscriptions have their place as a way to extend your trial period or to give you an extra bit of muscle when work flows can’t quite be covered by your permanent seats.
Other than that though subscriptions are about as honest towards customers as those satellite TV vendors. They rope you in with cheap prices and then it all goes downhill from there. Look people if you are at all considering getting Inventor HSM of any flavor you have until the end of this month to do so. After that if the CPA minded crooks have their way permanently you are screwed. Truth in plain English. All benefits in time will accrue to the software company and your expenses over time WILL be more than permanent seats. Plus all the other bad things I have covered over the years. I cannot overstate your peril in going subs only as a business model.
However the other part of the price equation today was my pondering over just how much it can cost to get started and thinking of course of CAMWorks for Solid Edge which I left last year and Inventor Pro HSM which I just renewed for my second year. A simple summation of first year expenses below. It assumes you are paying retail without some secret deal you have worked out.
Solid Edge Classic is around $6,800.00 and is $1,500.00 per year for maintenance.
CAMWorks for the level I had which was Trumill 3 axis, 3 axis mill and lathe was around $13,000.00 if I remember right. Plus posts if you were foolish enough to not make that a condition of purchase. A lathe post was offered to me at $500.00. Maintenance for this was right at $2,500.00. No I don’t have the exact pennies but I am not going to bother looking up old invoices this is close enough and you can easily verify by getting a quote. $23,800.00 more or less. Way below what the top levels of SE and especially CW4SE would run you by the way.
Inventor Pro HSM permanent seat and one years maintenance is $11,500.00 full tilt retail. Posts are free. Everything Inventor has and everything HSM has.
This brings us to another category of up front expenses. What will it cost to A, set up the infrastructure of the program itself to function as the sales demos say it should when sold to you and B, what type of effort is needed to train users.
Using the average cost of a CNC programmer from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Skill=CAD%2fCAM/Hourly_Rate we have $22.18 as a median for a programmer. Using a post on the CAMWorks site where a company claimed to have mostly worked out how to make the Feature Recognition and Tech Data Base work and their numbers we have the following. 12 weeks effort by two people x 40hrs per week I would guess is 960 hours x median wages is a total of $21,292.00 There is in addition to this a very nebulous expense in training a new user to use this complicated program. You put the number in here by thinking of your past experience and add this to the below totals. CAMWorks is complicated both to implement and learn. I have spent half days here just trying to get one tool path to work right and it is a nightmare that never seems to end.
HSM on the other hand requires nothing to make it work out of the box. If you were to make your basic tool library once you learned how you might spend half a day to get well over a hundred tools with speeds and feeds in there. I typically spend about a half hour for the 19 tools in my carousel and set them up for each job. Over time you might implement templates but since these are based upon a known successful CAM plan it takes just minutes to do this each time. Training for HSM would be a week to really get a lot under your belt and you could do 3 axis mill and simple lathe by then. Enough that you could be cut loose to work even though you would still have some questions.
Using the costs an SE user would incur with the above levels the initial costs software and maintenance would be $23,800.00 for the first year and using the cost from the above paragraph as a setup to run CW4SE add $21,292.80 and understand you still are not done. Also understand that this will be an annual recurring cost to some degree as Geometric often will change the guts of the program and you will have to re-do your data to match. I can easily see the above company having an expense of $45,092.00 dollars in their first year of ownership if they had elected to dedicate the man hours to set up the Tech Data Base at that time. It took them a while to realize that CAMWorks will never be mostly right until you jump this hurdle so they incurred this expense after the first year. But the numbers don’t lie and the numbers also don’t account for what level above what I had they have. You add five axis and turn mill and I suspect CW4SE sails WAY past $20,000.00 and now your yearly fees will be at least $4,000.00.
At $11,500.00 for design and machining I think it is foolish to entertain any idea of subscriptions for critical core software use. At $45,000.00 which is such a monumentally ludicrous number I would be compelled to hold my nose and be a subscription cotton picker. I guess part of what I am saying here is look at all the costs and not just what the sales guy fools you into believing. If you are in the market investigate and talk to current or past customers about what their true expenses and headaches were to get going efficiently.
If I was going to just put a match to my money I would rather do it on a riverboat Casino than do it to my shops bottom line.