Tag Archives: CAMWorks for Solid Edge

The End Of The Road In Sight

For those of you who have followed me for some years now here is an update on the future of this blog.

I received the two final codes today on my Hass VF4 and TL-2. Paid them off early and will type in the final numbers today when I finish this post.

The frequency of posts has dwindled significantly over the last year. Good things to talk about are far outweighed by the bad these last few years. HSM was the ray of light in a world getting darker until I decided it too was going to become a victim of corporate suit types whose interests differ from what I as a customer expect.

Bear with me here as these seemingly disjointed comments will lead somewhere.

I will be going to Dayton Ohio for a short job soon and hope to visit one of the old time SE users. He has been using Solid Edge 20 since it came out nine or ten years ago and has not felt compelled to move forwards. The shop has current technology CNC Laser and bending capabilities and they do just fine with software this old. They did not move forward because what they needed was not being incorporated into SE.  Now I don’t know exactly why but this guy is a sheet metal wizard so there are reasons. Personally I think the pinnacle of rapid improvement in SE was achieved at ST6 or 7 but then I am a complete direct editing guy and still to this day SE can’t do in Synchronous Sheet Metal all the things the Parametric side can.

So whats your point Dave? It simply is this. When you reach a certain level of competency in your software and when you have certain levels of capabilities locked into your physical plant what more do you need to function for many years?

HSM brought Adaptive to the world as the best then and now high speed tool path. I bought my mill with this in mind. It was the most profound advancement in milling since I have been cutting chips some fifteen years ago. But I do not see anything coming down the pike like this anytime soon. Nor do I need to acquire a faster spindle or IPM cut speed considering the cost to do so. Like many shops Fieldweld is not a production facility where the very last second saved is critical. So truthfully I can cut with current permanent seat software that will push my machinery to it’s fullest capabilities and never spend another dime.

Unlike subscription fools I can do this for the next ten years or so and NOT SPEND ANOTHER DIME. I can’t be made into a hostage nor can I be forced to work online. I have all I need.

Now this of course gripes the heck out of software companies like Solid Edge and Autodesk. Where for some reason I am to give money to them each year just because they have bills to pay. Where in Autodesk’s case they now want it to be involuntary and forced forever if you foolishly go there. The problem for both companies begins with the lack of desire to hire and fund enough quality coding to advance the product in ways that benefit customers enough so they WANT to spend more money with them. SE still offers permanent seats but incremental improvements and not ground breaking ones. I still recommend you get SE if you don’t have it. For those who have been here for some time though where is the new cheese?

Why should I pay for software that does not bring improvements to MY bottom line. I don’t give a rats hooty about SE or Autodesk’s bottom line. I care that what they have to sell benefits ME and compels me to spend money with them because my profits will increase doing so. These days appear to be over and I don’t expect Autodesk to do anything with HSM this year that will compel me to renew next year. I wish they would but don’t think it will happen.

As far as I am concerned if these software companies stop bringing new benefits to the table I need I don’t care if they survive or not. The answer to future innovation in Autodesk’s case seems to be to do away with big chunks of it by the creation of a chattel subscription model which I most earnestly hope fails in a spectacular way. It is a rotten and evil way to make money.

So, I think about all this and think about what I need and what interests me. Do I want to blog about companies that offend me with bad business models and a dearth of interesting innovations to talk about? Do I want to make videos that demonstrate software I no longer support financially for good reasons? The departure of Carl Bass from Autodesk does not help either and I think it is bad news.

Is it any wonder why private CAD and CAM bloggers have dropped like flies these last five years or so? We do this because we like the software and want to talk about it and the world it works in. A form of insanity I suppose to get this wrapped up in a tool but many of us chose to do so in years gone by. One can be offended for only so long before the love of the tool goes away and that is where I find myself today. In complete agreement with the many bloggers I used to read who quit blogging because they got tired of being offended and wondering when my time will come to. At this rate it won’t be to much longer.

Solid Edge Free For New Startup Companies

One of the things I figured that Autodesk would force on the market place is a change in how people were exposed to software. Solid Edge has had a 45 day trial for SE now for some time. However we all know that up to a half a year is more like it to really really find out if a software design program is a good and the right fit for a company in many cases. I think there are exceptions to that at times. Direct editing was such for me years ago when I first saw it in action. A whole new world of freedom from parametric chains was there before my eyes and it took about a half an hour to make the choice for SE.

As a sole proprietor though and the guy who was responsible for it all I could make that choice. For many companies it is not so simple.

I have always advocated for outfits with multiple seats  to get a power user on to SE and see what it could do while leaving the rest of the design department to remain on the primary program. Sadly I have also had to recommend this to companies who have SE but do not model in Synchronous. The very idea that such a powerful tool exists for customers and most blithely ignore it has been a pet peeve for some time.

One of the truly forward-looking things Autodesk has done is making software available to startups and students for free. A whole army of present and future trained users is being created and a ton of startup companies are being accustomed to the usage of Autodesk products because of this. Yes I believe as does Autodesk this will create more market share for them over time.

You don’t think this is important? Have you read the history of Solid Works? Have you ever tried to get an SW user to switch to something else? SW did not have to offer free because at the time they were the first kid on the block to do outreach and community well and had a cutting edge product to boot. Times have changed and now it takes more.

Autodesk has been working on all aspects of this with students and startups and community in the only way left in today’s market which is free to try.

Solid Edge Free to New Start-Up Companies

 

Solid Edge the best software you hardly ever heard of is now entering into this area although you would never know it based on the buffoons in Marketing and Publicity over there. Announced at the SEU2016 convention and subsequently followed up with nothing.

While there are restrictions and some one year time frames you can try it for a year under certain circumstances. I wish they had made the trials as all-encompassing as Autodesk has done but since they haven’t I am pleased they are at least doing this much.

Solid Edge is much better than Inventor in my opinion. It is also better than SW except in some complex modeling areas. Their sheet metal is the best and so is direct editing both of which are mid range MCAD leaders in todays CAD world. Also and very important. My favorite hate it topics are cloud and forced subscription design (and machining) software. SE suffers from neither of these great big no-no’s. With the demise of permanent seats for Inventor Pro HSM this is a critical plus for SE.

It’s just a shame that CAMWorks for SE turned out to be such a dog and expensive to boot. This is the real fly in the oinyment with SE right now and it will cost you $$$ to get started and for SE Classic and CW4SE 3 axis mill and Volumill and 2 axis lathe your cost per year would be more than the subscription fee for Inventor Pro HSM. You can subscribe to SE by the way but not CW4SE as far as I know. I don’t talk much about SE subs because I would never do it and don’t recommend you do it either. You need to OWN it.

Yes you would have a permanent seat and could step off at any time as I have done and still work for years. But you add up the appx $20,000.00 to get the above package, assuming no discount that is the price by the way, and yearly fees more than the whole subs shooting match from Inv Pro HSM and it is another story.

This is another area where Autodesk will make its presence felt with other companies soon in another way. What is the cost of ownership + yearly costs? If you are committed to renewing each year anyway and you can stomach Inventor the subscription model at Autodesk is much cheaper and has that Lovely HSM attached to it. SE has that dog barker CW4SE and much higher total costs to use.

How much value new companies or companies considering changing software will place on the security of permanent seats VS startup and continuing costs remains to be seen.  For existing users of other software Autodesks subs model is not a good deal for sure since the heavy expenses have already been spent. It costs these guys no more or little more to continue with their permanent licenses compared to Autodesks subs and who would be crazy enough to jettison their permanent seats in this case?

I believe though that as Fusion 360 becomes better, and it will, the cost there of $1,500.00 per year for CAD and CAM everything will force the rest of the market to drop prices considerably or be resigned to losing market share until they become in many areas irrelevant. I intend to find out later this year for myself and what I have been told is that Fusion360 is much closer to the way I am used to working in SE than Inventor is.

At the very least and under limited conditions SE is taking a swing at the plate and if you are shopping they deserve your consideration. They are the best mid range MCAD modeller for my world and may well be for yours to. While I am not a current customer of SE it is the only program I use for modeling and I fully recommend it.

Autodesk Opens Doors To Second Pathway

This is the third and final part of the Autodesk And The Future commentary.

I have had to think a while for what exactly should be said about the direction Autodesk has taken. Keep in mind I believe that until forever has passed any existing policy can be changed including the wretched subscription model being foisted on future commercial users who are silly enough to go there. Will they change it without serious decline in income? No and if enough foolish individuals fund them and they think they can prevail with this plantation creating model they will keep going this way. It is all up to the buyers to stop it.

But there is a second group that does not need security, at least not yet. They will in time seek security when they get hacked or someone they know does. Or after depending on cloud backups with no internal self backups created they lose their data. Or for any number of reasons many of which have been talked to death. You either get it or you don’t and the world you live in will treat you accordingly. Funny how people who start generating real wealth begin to worry about protecting it to. This is the future for many of the current adopters of Fusion360.

The greatest fallacy of the existing current educational system is the self promoted idea that a college degree guarantees success. No matter how irrelevant the degree earned is to the real world. Promoted by huge lobbies that buy political favor and then reward themselves with wages (in particular at universities) way beyond their true real world worth. So these kids swallow the promise and get to go someplace cool and hang out with cool people for a while. Spend lots of money they had to borrow to be there and thus create their first real world scenario. Debt that has to be paid back.

Then they find out these educators who are tied into the same group that floods the USA with H-1B and other visas had no intention of using them long-term. The same group that trains CPA’s and MBA’s to send jobs overseas to save money and make better profits at the expense of the future. That world which then lives in rigging numbers for quarterly reports and not the future of the country as a whole. So out of school saddled with debt, brainwashed and then fired as they are forced to train their foreign replacement or the job is shipped overseas. Now they have a bright future as the produce head at the local Walmart and since their training was in a specific field most are mentally tied to that for life. Unless they are willing to walk away from it all and the vast majority will not be.

The system is rigged against these people. But having said all this I get to where I want to be.

The most striking thing I have observed with the adopters of Fusion360 is future proofing. I know these kids have no clue of how profound their choices are for their future. They see cool and cheap and making things. Yes Fusion is not as good as real established long-term CAD. But you know what? It is good enough to do almost everything I have done to date for a living insofar as design goes. I base this upon work I have seen done with it and not hands on yet. I am curious enough about it to seriously consider getting a subscription though. Well make that I am getting a  subscription later this year when I dump sad sack Hagerman as my VAR. It will not replace my true CAD backbone which is on site and offline and has permanent licenses. But it will augment my capabilities in ways I will in time be discussing.

Kids who have not had prior experience see things a bit differently. One of the surprising things I have noted is the desire to create a business and to be independent in doing so in the young people I have seen involved with Fusion. It is not a toy and they can make real life parts. With a Tormach mill and Fusion360 (and to a lesser degree Inventor) which is free for most of them. http://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/try-buy. All of a sudden a real business is created for under $10,000.00 which these guys can do. What they can’t do is $7,000.00 for the mill and then $4,000.00+ for cad and then another $10,000.00 for 3 axis mill. What I am talking about is the creation of a future group of people who are being taught to be independent minded and forward-looking. Who are being taught to be creators of things and ideas instead of being formatted by educators whose only real concern is their own wages. Educators who then send them forth with knowledge and no idea of how to adapt to change it if things don’t go quite right. No not all educators but sadly huge numbers of them today do not care one bit about the success of their products, namely the future of their graduates.

Manufacturing has to return to America in a big way in order for us to survive as we have known life to be to also be so in the future. We have to be innovators and creators and makers. These Fusion guys are just that and even though many of the products I have seen are crude and simple they do exist and these kids ARE learning to put in place the whole mental process of stepping outside a rigid mindset and into one where the question is asked what can I think up to do. Unlike those with formal education who so often look for ways to save their time and money spent to get an education in the same field of endeavor they were trained in. The idea of throwing it all away and starting over is admitting defeat most will not want to acknowledge. So they slog on flogging a dead horse and train yet more H-1B visa replacements.

What the Fusion guys are learning is that if one thing does not work another will. That with tools of creation and cheap price of entry you can experiment until you find the right things to profit by. They are learning that the only limits that should apply are the ones you put on yourself outside of your own innate abilities mentally. Some people become Henry Ford or Bill Gates others peak at just providing a decent living for themselves. But they are learning how to survive and indeed thrive no matter what the economy does because they can adapt quickly to changing circumstances. It boils down to what can I do and not what have they trained me to do or waiting for someone to tell them what to do. The price tag of failure is not so high when the tools for creation and manufacturing can be applied to so many diverse things and merely stepping sideways allows you to reuse what you have for another idea that will work.

It is this whole mindset I am seeing with this group that fascinates me. It is primarily with Autodesk these young individuals are doing this too since Autodesk has gone farther than anyone else in putting these tools in their hands.

So, the second pathway is how to think and create and rise above limitations through developing an independent what can I do for myself attitude. In other words they become makers and free themselves from limits most people impose upon themselves. Lets face it the vast majority of people are terrified of working for themselves and being responsible for their own futures.

I remember when I left Chrysler how this was proven to me. I had been there for 8.5 years and by 1981 it took 13.5 years seniority just to have a job with Chrysler. Out of all the people I knew there only three did not sit on their fat buts and wait the two years out so Chrysler could call them back into their coccoon. One was a lady who went into Radio Shack to work with computers just as the industry was really getting started. One was an idiot who did not want to pay his wife alimony and the other was me. The common refrain was you have too much time in here to walk away from it all.  But these same people would speak in reverence of the tiny group of individuals who HAD left over the years and started businesses. Envy but no desire or ability to have to fend truly for themselves based upon their own desires and abilities.

Fusion is I think creating more than any other product outside of Autodesk a group of people who will be business owners and not business employees. Who will be making opportunities instead of hoping for a raise. Who will be at times perhaps temporarily affected by adverse economic problems but not see it all come crashing down around them. Who before the hands of traditional ways of earning a living got a vice grip upon their minds learned instead to step outside of the box and fend for themselves.

 

Autodesk And Their People

This post is going to reflect upon the people I have met in direct employ by CAD and CAM authoring companies who support, write code or manage the outfit. But first some history of where I have been and my experiences. Also keep in mind while Autodesk has a huge range of software offerings my only concern and where my comments are directed to is metal cutting.

My very first bit of software was Surfcam’s 2D Free. A short-lived program for me since right after I got it Surfcam ended it and it became a $4,500.00 buy it to use it cost for basic mill and lathe which I did. In came a fellow by the name of Earl Thornton who was selling VX which was a design and machining all in one program around 2005 or so. The problem was now you have a CNC machine and a CAM program how do you feed the CAM program. Why with CAD of course and to me 3D and working off of shapes made immediate sense. Lots of 2D CAD shops at that time and this shop never entertained the idea of running CAM with 2D.

With the exception of Earl the rest of the VX CADCAM employees were unknowns to me to be able to know what they did as hobbies or for personal entertainment. Earl was good and today has moved on to Powermill at a company that makes auto floor mat molds with endmills so small at times I don’t see how they make them. Earl always had real life practical experience from the first time we met on.

Next got involved with involved with Solid Edge which became my design program of choice from the initial release of ST1 up until this very day where I quite happily use ST8 and intend to do so for some time.

The Solid Edge people were ones that did become familiar to me and it was surprising how many had actually been there since Intergraph days. They were passionate about what they did. Many of them, especially the programmers I met had hobbies on the side. What I saw though was primarily their CAD work done on their own time because they were fascinated with using it. Don’t recall any of them who were machinists though.

One day while running a user group meeting in Huntsville  and Solid Edge and two Var’s who were good at door prizes were also there. Never forgot that as Jeff Walker was handing out prizes I won a Starrett caliper. Turned it down since door prizes needed to go to attendees. His comment was as he handed it out was that I was probably the only one there that knew how to use them.

I also remember things like Dan Staples who was really good at running and developing design software but lived there with tunnel vision. One day I ran into him in Huntsville where he made a derogatory comment about “my” Karsten Newbury basically interfering with the orderly progression of SE. At the time I had been pushing for integrated CAM software with the idea that unless you had an actual manufacturing solution you were just a part of the puzzle. And after all CAD was created solely to feed CAM in the aircraft industry.

Still believe to this day that design software in and of its own is useless stuff until something is made from it. Yes the only real true purpose and end goal of design is to produce something and if that does not happen it is purely an academic endeavor. The focus from Dan on down was in many ways CAD-centric and it was a fight to change that attitude. Karsten Newbury, tip of the hat to him and Don Cooper, both understood the idea of manufacturing. Neither of them work there now and back into obscurity SE goes.

CAMWorks which was the next major bit of software  bought and it was a nightmare. The only one I met from Geometric who was really good was Mark Bissel. He had actual machining time and got it. I was there to see him argue about common sense workflow things with CAMWorks leadership only to be shot down every time. The rest of the CAMWorks people met were part of the problem. I swear cubical CAM software developers who have never cut metal or observed in person the end results of their programming are the bane of a machinists day and the backbone of Geometric’s CAM programmer base. Woe unto you who enter into the world of CAM software where those who author it don’t use it and the company does not own a single piece of equipment to test what they created on. And then add to that ignore you if they possibly can when you come to them with show stopping problems.

Such was the case of CAMWorks almost all the time I was involved in it. We, that is the users, were the problem for why CW did not work right. WE never followed proper modeling procedures and so WE were the reason for our tales of woe. Of course proper modeling was laughable with Solid Edge ST since any way you got there was OK but that statement became CAMWorks end all be all defense against angry customers for some time.

By the way as an aside here. I had current seats of Volumill inside of CW4SE and HSM at the same time a little over a year ago. At that time with same feeds and speeds and machine and material and end mills Volumill never won against Adaptive clearing. Most of the time it lost by a significant margin and at best came merely close to Adaptive. HSM 3D Adaptive is today’s premier high speed machining tool path generator and if you doubt it try it for yourself. Seeing makes a believer out of you. There is no comparison favorable to CW in regards to ease of use either.

Now all this has been a lot of verbiage to get to this point but I want no doubt in anyone’s mind the process and experience traveled through before getting on board with Autodesk because of HSM.

What a breath of fresh air HSM was. In fact it was my original recommendation for integration with Solid Edge https://solidedging.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/solidworks-and-hsm-works-and-why-not-hsm-edge/ until Autodesk screwed that one up. With Intuitive and simple to use and tons of behind the scenes logic built into the program that just worked for all my 3axis milling no matter what the part complexity. Lathe was and is pretty crude compared to other programs but still does the basic things my shop needs. This shops requirements are pretty simple compared to mill turn or four and five or more axis parts. In other words this shop probably represents 80%+ of the job shop metal cutting market. There you go, a number I just created with no way of verifying it but that seems to be the way it is in the shops around here.

Over the two past years where I have become privy to behind the scenes decisions and the people involved in making them at Autodesk and HSM it has been a complete eye opener into what a true manufacturing ecosphere entails. It’s primary requirement is the involvement of those both in charge and as coders and support in actually producing things with the software. Yes I mean with their own hands.

I think I can talk about this little story. If you were with HSM and Carl Bass wanted to meet with you to buy you out what do you think would be his first question to you? Well whatever you think it should have been what it became was a question on HSM 5 axis posts. As it turns out Carl runs and programs himself. I think he picked HSM as Autodesk’s first CAM acquisition based upon personal knowledge of the product and I bet he had a seat and had used it himself on his own equipment. I do not know of any other major corporate software honcho who has his perspective on manufacturing based upon personal hands on experience  to truly understand our maker problems.

Hearing about Carl as a story was great but the advisory meeting was an entirely different animal. Sitting in a room with perhaps sixty or so individuals as we introduced ourselves and what exactly we did I was amazed. Amazed at how many actual Autodesk employees involved in Fusion360 and HSM had desk top or Tormach or metal-cutting something residing in their homes and garages. I thought to myself as people spoke up how unbelievably high was the percentage of Autodesk dudes who were real-time metal cutters.

The talk about Pier 9 and what was coming up. Bass himself has enough CNC equipment to be his own personal test lab and now they have the Pier to add to it. More capabilities coming and testing for how it all works and works with various tools to better refine the CAM programs is ongoing and continuous as far as I can tell.

Yeah that’s right. Gobs of these guys USE what they are a part of creating.

Here is a prime example of what I had run into before HSM with CAMWorks for example. They sent one of their support guys to my shop to cut parts using SE and CW4SE on my brand new VF4 to have video for the upcoming SEU. The first picture I call “Why Carve When You Can Trench”. Their guy shoved a Helical endmill at rapid speeds right through the work piece. Before I could hit the big red button it had flown through four cuts and how it survived is a mystery to me.why-rough-when-you-can-trench

The second one is the famous CW demo car and represents the best finish he came up with before we quit trying. Keep in mind I am watching all this and stunned by what Geometric sent to my shop as expert talent to create video for a new product launch  The third represents his best finish on one of CAMWorks timeless never changed demo models. It took two plus DAYS before I told him we were going to do it my way primarily with a bull nose end mill and not a ball end mill. This was his best finish and of course the bull nose was far superior to the experts ball nose choice. I have kept these pictures because this whole experience was surreal and little did I know at the time indicative of what would also be my future experiences with these clowns.

Attention all you software authoring companies. Don’t make customers who hate you because of how you treat them. They will never forget.

carglasses-gouges-floor-and-top-general-yuck-finish

In contrast all the guys I have met with HSM are sharp. They were I am quite certain fully vetted by people who knew what they were looking at before they were hired. I have never had bad advice. As a matter of fact the only two bad experiences I have had since I have been on board with Autodesk HSM is the garbage support model from Hagerman   (Moving to Selway will solve the support problems and if you cut chips for a living and use HSM or Fusion I recommend you check them or Nexgen out. Selway in particular sells CNC machines and machining software and they get it.) and the advent of subscription only for new customers. (Sorry guys I could have said Inventor HSM Pro but I love HSM and not Inventor which it is attached to.) It has also taken time to get on the ball with some long-term shortfalls but I believe they know what they are and have and are hiring people to fix these problems.

Even Delcam was a disappointment to me. I looked at Featurecam before Delcam was bought out by Autodesk and sad to say the local rep could not do 3axis parts. His comment was they had not trained him yet to do so. My thought was you work on any sort of commission you better darned well learn what you are TRYING to sell.

Of them all in my own personal experience only the Autodesk, HSM and Fusion people have really impressed me as being knowledgeable and hands on with the end goal of a machine shop owner. To make parts and more money per part at the end of the day.

 

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.

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.