Tag Archives: CAMWorks for SolidWorks

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.

 

Inventor Pro HSM 2016 Users Can Now Check Out Most New 2017 Goodies

OK everyone, at http://cam.autodesk.com/inventor-hsm-experimental/ you can download the latest developmental version. This one will work with Inventor Pro 2017 and 2016 and since 2017 serials have not been released this is the only way to get a glimpse under the hood before the official release. My guess would be within days for that since this has been posted.

4-28 16 Inventor Pro HSM dev build

If the first two items do not inspire you to get this you certainly have not been waiting like I have with anticipation. THANKS guys for letting us get our hands on something without waiting to the very last moment. I don’t know what all is in there but I can tell you that the basic program download size has grown about 100MB so tons of new code has been added.

Geometric The CAMWorks Author Bought Out By HCL Technologies Ltd

For what it is worth http://schnitgercorp.com/2016/04/04/geometric-acquired-hcl/ will take you to information regarding this. What ramifications this will have for Solid Edge integrated users in particular I don’t know. I suspect the uptake of CW4SE (CAMWorks for Solid Edge) has been very poor for obvious and well documented reasons. Whether the new bosses will consider this market to be worth pursuing any more may well be in doubt. Will new owners change old rules? Are the obligations between Siemens and Geometric/CW4SE binding after the buyout? Would Siemens actually even care if Geometric walks away from this anyway since it takes potential sales of Cam Express away from the UGS remnants inside of the corporate beast?

I have mixed feelings over this. CAMWorks if it could actually implement the underlying premise of its program to be usable without consuming vast quantities of it’s customers time just to set it up and keep it running right each year could have been really revolutionary in it’s power to streamline the effort to create CAM programs. Whether this is even possible to do today with existing math skills available to Geometric I don’t know. It has not been to date. The program as it exists if you try to use it without setting up the Tech Data Base takes far more effort than should be just to get a plan out the door. Either case means huge amounts of time wasted in the end to do the same things as HSM with Autodesk takes to do and time is money.

The parsimonious behavior of the Geometric people I have had to deal with makes me wonder though if a new owner/boss could change things. Is it possible that HCL would be willing to put serious money into making CAMWorks truly be what the glossy promos say it is in reality? Time will tell. It would be nice if this new arrangement would end silly things like provable user problems being dismissed as “being done by design” and “improper cad files creation by users” when it is supposed to be integrated with a program like Solid Edge. Which by design frees you from having to do things a certain way and just right to arrive at a correct and definitive end result. Improper cad design never was defined for us by the way but it was a good alibi. With a new source of potential money comes a new source of potential commitment to acquire the right talent to solve CAMWorks problems if they desire to do so.

The track record of buyouts results for companies I have had to deal with generally have not been good. UGS buys out Sold Edge and the step child thing goes into full swing. Siemens buys out UGS and then after a period of hope the step child thing goes on and in addition to that the gutting of SE developer talent then goes into full swing. Not good for SE users. HSM and Delcam are acquired by Autodesk which I thought was a real part of a master plan to conquer the market for mid range MCAD to be combined with manufacturing in a way no one else was doing. Then come the onerous burden of subscription only for all new customers chattel mindset. VX now ZW3D was bought by the Chinese and has pretty well not advanced much beyond what it was five years ago and indeed compared to it’s competitors is slowly falling behind.

Of course I no longer use CW4SE but I still would like to see it live up to it’s promises as I would like to see any program I have had to deal with achieve. First and foremost I am an end user and what I talk about are things that I have to deal with personally and each affects my bottom line. Unlike 90%+ of all blogs out there with CAD and CAM as a main topic I am not employed or paid by anyone but myself so I am free to write as things unfold in the real world in my shop.

It would be nice to see HCL get behind Geometric and fix both flavors of CAMWorks. I have become very cynical about the trends that software companies are taking towards users though so I doubt much will change. I can see a huge percentage of small and medium size shops soon deciding to just step off the pay each year bandwagon for things that just are not bringing new features that are worth it. Most certainly these permanent seat holders which are I bet 95%+ of existing users are not going to go subscription either. So just like many shops around here we can and will work just fine for the next five years or more and give none of them any more when these companies offend us enough. Unlike Autodesk, Siemens, Dassault and ZW3d most small to medium size businesses can do fine without having to pay anymore to them for some time. I wonder if they can however thrive if WE don’t send them the money they have been accustomed to receiving.

Treat your customers like crap long enough and in time someone a bit wiser will seek them out and take them from you and once gone wont be back.

Inventor Pro HSM 2017 Good Things On The Way

Autodesk is pretty tight mouthed about what will be new and when it will be out. It is around the corner though and I suspect that within the next week or two will be released. There are some serious code changes under the hood that are taking place and it, like all ambitious coding projects seem to be, is garnering delays in release of product.

What I have heard is the long-awaited Hole Wizard may not happen soon. I don’t know why but none seem to want to talk about this in terms of soon or finished. Lathe seems to be taking a back seat to four and five axis milling and some new people are coming on board to help with this including some exceptional four and five axis post talent. I have been told that this represents a bigger market than Lathe which personally I find hard to believe. I am not privy to numbers though so what do I know eh? Four and Five axis is an area that needed help though and it is on the way.

Something which I have seen but have not had any pictures forwarded to me to share is Probing for we lucky owners of Haas CNC mills that have the Renishaw probing on them. Haas probing which is as far as I am concerned is the best single option offered in the industry besides the inherent speed of cutting possible on whatever equipment is purchased from any one any where. If you buy a Haas mill and do not get probing you are crazy. Adding to this value for HSM users is the upcoming HSM ability to probe many different shapes and features way beyond what many do. Haas probing comes with a great Renishaw program but you have to learn the macros to use it with. HSM probing as I gather will take ease of use for the probes to a much higher level. I don’t know about you but anything that makes my life easier with the avoidance of having to learn yet another programing routine is welcome.

For Solid Edge users we will finally be a part of Inventors AnyCAD importing capabilities. At this time I have seen some associativity with parasolid files I have imported auto updating but this has been very spotty. With the advent of direct recognition of SE .par and .asm files this bottleneck will be gone.

There is behind the scenes co-operation between machine manufacturers and cutting tool manufacturers and HSM that will become evident this coming year. Personally I am excited about these upcoming partnerships and improvements because in spite of my outright hostility to subscriptions the power of HSM has been proven in my shop to my satisfaction. Anything that improves this great tool of production to a higher level is icing on the cake served every day I cut parts in my shop. Adaptive is the engine behind this as it is the single best high-speed machining program out there and forward-looking companies are getting involved with HSM because of this.

Funny thing about HSM adaptive. My friends shop bought into Delcam Partmaker for turning because HSM could not do the multi-axis work to their satisfaction on their new Okuma. I am always curious about programs and talked to Delcam about turning. At the same time the sales shmuck waxed eloquent of the common gui between all aspects of Partmaker so I asked about milling and specifically high-speed machining. Gave them a part and five specific screen captures of areas I wanted to see tool paths on. I was sent one screen capture of a boss with a cavity on top and the other four areas were ignored. The Delcam tool path did not get to the bottom of the top boss cavity. I responded and asked why and where were the other areas of interest and no response. I figured if they had something to show me they would have. Just like Volumill and CAMWorks it appears Delcam Partmaker evidently could not equal the efficiency of HSM Adaptive. I have yet to see anything else that does.

I have no doubt there are many new things upcoming but like most of us I have to wait and see. I have found beta testing to be more trouble than it is worth and don’t seek the “thrill” of exposure to a program before it is RTM anymore. CAMWorks cured me of any desire in this area. Autodesk is reticent to talk about things ahead of time and I can understand that to. The poor HSM guys for instance get hammered when things don’t happen just as they predicted and these choices are not exactly under their precise control. You get beat up often enough you quit talking and making promises and so we get the waiting game. It will be over soon though and I for one look forward to good things to talk about.

Simple Things Can Ruin Your Day

It is funny how we adopt “common” wisdom so often without research. We trust those around us who are doing similar things to give us good advice and most of the time they do. Recently I ran into what could have been a very expensive problem because I trusted similar things advice. A Haas tech rep told me that if I don’t run the mill on parts that once a week I should at least run a program that will keep ball screws lubricated. I ran this program the other day and walked off. The next day I go and look and laying on the Y axis way cover was my Cat40 holder and now broken end mill. Here is the culprit responsible.

no name retention knob

no name retention knob

Shops around here have told me that they save money on retention knobs and typically look for cheap prices or used but in seemingly good condition knobs from places like EBay. They also never torque these things in but just crank on them until tight. Now I know every person by that metric has a different torque value. Since my arms are pretty big I crank them down.

The end result of something like this can ruin your spindle at worst with damage to the inside of it from a loose Cat40 holder clanging around. This is a very expensive repair and will eat up both your time and money. I talked to Technology Sales in Chattanooga TN which has supplied me for years and we got off onto a whole world of things I had no idea of. None of the people around here who have machine shops do either as far as I know.

JM and no name retention knobs

JM and no name retention knobs

Now I happened to have some used JM knobs in use and I will talk about what I observed with them shortly. For now though look at the difference in the construction of the no name and the JM knobs. Now go here and read https://rktorquetest.wordpress.com/pdf-downloads/ . These articles are six and seven years old but the information is current and in searching I could not find anything that supersedes what they talk about with a newer better design. The tooling guy at Technology says there is nothing better and the customers he has that try them migrate solely to the JM knobs rather quickly. These ran me $28.00 each and it is just one of those funny things we machine shop owners do at times. We balk at high prices in some areas because we just don’t know there is an underlying reason to spend the dough anyway.

Judging by the studies done and the specified torque value for the Haas style knobs of 22.5 to 25 foot pounds I was probably only three to four times what I should have been. I have no doubt the no name knob was also not good from the very start but I exacerbated the whole situation with the gorilla torque method. JM also sells a knob socket which you can use to correctly install knobs. In all the shops I have been in I have never seen or been told about this.

JM retention knob torque socket

JM retention knob torque socket

I switched to Schunk hydraulic holders for my HSM Adaptive cutting because you get perfect concentricity on your end mill center line which gives better life and cut quality. I did not realize however that typical retention knobs would introduce measurable distortion of the tapered shank on the Cat40 holders as one of the articles in the web link demonstrates. I could prove to my own satisfaction they were telling the truth by looking at my holders which had been in service for some time.

The ones with the used JM knobs even though no doubt over torqued showed an even contact pattern on the tapered shank. The ones with the no name wonders showed a ring of contact at the top and bottom but very little in between. I can see with my own eyes what they were talking about. I and can also easily believe because of this that there were induced inaccuracies from distortion of the tapered shanks as the study said.

I think it would be time well spent for any milling machine owner to investigate what practice your shop uses and make changes before it comes back to bite you like it almost did to me. Save your spindle and improve your surface finishes and accuracies in one easy step.

True Cost To Start CAMWorks for SE VS Inventor Pro HSM

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.

CW4SE
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.

The Cost Of CAM Automation

Some years ago I had a demo of Featurecam. At the time I was using VX now ZW3D and while I could cut parts there were things involved to do so I did not like. Things like having to create a surface where the cut path would extend past the part perimeter so I could generate a more efficient tool path. So the idea of feature recognition was of interest to me and I wanted to see Featurecams version of this. Keep in mind this was probably five or six years ago so I have no idea what the current capabilities are.

The auto part cutting toolpath the guy pulled up dropped my jaw on the table. One click and there was this magical stuff on the screen. But then it went downhill quickly because when I asked for specific finishing strategies he could not do it. I presume shame on him for not spending the time to learn 3D. If I was selling software I sure would not decide learning all about it was to hard but he did. But the other thing I decided was there were to many complexities to make it work. VAR’s take note. Featurecam lost any chance with me because they sent an incompetent out to demo and sadly he was the only demo jock Featurecam had around here.

Now the question of is it worth it to slog through the process of finding the magic for daily real world use needs to be asked. Is it even possible for CAM software to automatically do what I want often enough or ideally all the time? The answer for me was no then and still is today.

I am going to talk about Geometric’s CAMWorks for SW and SE VS Autodesk’s HSM today and compare the underlying philosophy of the two programs. The question is will it be worth the time to make a complex set of rules work as in CW or is it better to have rapid tool path creation where the user has to interact with the program at every step of the way. I will say this for Geometric. Even though I have no interest in them anymore the program has come a LONG way from the SE ST7 CW4SE debacle. I can’t say much about the SW side as I have never used it. But there is a huge difference between quick and easy well laid out CAM strategies and the labyrinth of complexities to make things work most of the time with feature Recognition and Tech Data bases or their equivalents. What makes sense for most shops?

This is a reply to an ongoing post at the closed CAMWorks SW user forum. The forums may be closed but they never say you can’t copy paste what is there so I do so today.

“November 30, 2015 at 5:23 PM
#41481
Reply
dr_cw
Participant
Topics Created: 0
Replies Created: 2

Know this is an old post but we are ‘new’ Camworks users as of 2014 and we experienced some of the same issues and frustrations noted above. However things are better.

Brief history, we are a production shop, use customer models, and have used another CAM package for over 30 years, so we’re not newbies in that regard. FYI, our main CAM software has it’s fair share of a learning curve and issues too. Solidworks is our CAD software.

Our primary interest is the AFR side of Camworks, knowing there will be limitations, it still looked good. After the past year, and minimal Camworks use (inconsistent program results) we just committed two people, for the last twelve weeks, doing nothing but Camworks ‘development’. It has come along ways toward being what we were wanting it to be.

The four key points for us were:
Understand, and set the default options for Camworks (do this before the next step).
Complete rebuild of the Techdb, started from scratch for strategies, particularly the operation default settings.
Set all tooling feeds and speeds.

A multitude of testing and documentation on AFR application, this is on going.
A bit unusual but depending on how AFR is ran it can provide different results, sometimes it will only run one way and not another. We use, MfgView setting and our optimum process is do a manual “Mill Part Setup”, choosing machining direction. Then run “Recognize Features”. Holes, pockets and bosses run well, most slots come out pretty good. Fillets and ‘broken’ geometry can be an issue.

For what it’s worth, good luck.”

There is I suppose in a large shop a place for CW. But what astounded me was the time this shop thought was worth it to make CW work a fair portion of the time. I was left thinking to myself that if this is a real metric for time to do it right how in the WORLD was a small shop ever going to find 2 men times 12 weeks times 40 hours a week (I presume) to get some common features to work well while leaving much that still does not? 960 hours of time gone and how could I possibly justify or benefit from this? Just how many YEARS of cam plans could HSM write in that same time period? And never have to worry about Tech Data Base corruption requiring a rewrite through program failure (fairly common based on forum complaints) to Geometric changing the way it all works requiring you to redo your data to meet the new paradigm. And don’t forget to add the periodic Microsoft Access problems into the mix for further joy and productivity.

What is the value of time in our shops? What is the potential value of the time gained in years to come if the TDB and Feature recognition could be made to work right and in a bullet proof fashion? It might be worthwhile for specific environments and particular conditions but for the vast majority of us, no way Jose. Certainly it must be mathematically possible to implement the TDB FR paradigm but no one has come up yet with the underlying structure to make it work without tremendous up front and reoccurring effort.

This idea of time has value and simplicity while producing profit-making tool paths is the underlying premise of a program like HSM. To bring in a part cold and quickly generate a tool path with either a unique tool library for that part or picking from a common use one you already have. How many programs could be done with 960 hours of time and unlike the above shop where their fruit off the tree only works often the HSM tool paths always work just like you program them to. 960 hours just blows my mind.

Sitting here this morning trying to figure out how this TDB FR scenario would really be beneficial after all the time spent to get most of the way there to the CAM Valhalla and I just can’t see it. But then I have never worked for a company large enough that could possibly benefit from this.

Where I am heading with all this is can software be to clever and to cute with its underlying operational premises? In other words is it even possible to do at this time with current state of the art capabilities? What are the real needs for most shops?

If I and my nearby peers are typical what we want is quick, easy and reliable CAM plans and we do not want tremendous overhead and complexities that take lots of time both to learn and implement and then periodically have to repair.

Sometimes I wonder why aspects of programs were written or tried and I often think that like CAMWorks (and ProCAM before them) has tried to do the results reflect more of what some marketing whiz-bang says will sell over what the technical guys say they can actually do. We all know what happens when wonderful sales people dictate what will be done over what can be done don’t we.