Tag Archives: hsmworks

Autodesk The Evil Empire Chooses Extortion

Two things prompted this post today. One was a comment on this forum https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/moving-to-subscription/buh-bye-permanent-license/m-p/7020059#M1286. The other as you will read below was from #936 of the “upFront eZine” It goes right along with what people are saying on the moving to subscription forums regarding feature shrink and ways to raise the cost of staying with Autodesk. Two methods appear to be the way they intend to do this. Thanks a lot Darth Vader Anagnost and the rest.

Number one is hold your data hostage where their value added model is the pain of leaving is greater than the pain of dramatic fee increases.

Number two is to remove features traditionally a part of a program and charge you an extra fee to get back what you once had as a seat holder and if you are stupid enough to go there as a subscriber. The removal of Backplotting from Cimco inside of HSM is a perfect example. It can be available right now for an extra fee on top of the 35% scheduled increase of perpetual by 2019. So they snip customary important parts off and put it in a fee building environment. In conjunction with this is that they will simply stop expending as much money improving and bug fixing their products. Why try to entice voluntary customer payments with improvements when you can just tell them what you want? All of the Autodesk products I read about in the subscriber forum have users complaining about feature atrophy and increased bugs and time to fix bugs. Don’t take my word for this. Verify for yourself what others are saying.

In any case.

It is a self-evident truth that once a company decides that legal extortion is their business model customer consideration other than being an ATM has ended. Anyone who says they can’t leave because reason #1 #2 or #3 does not remember well. Mercedes-Benz left Dassault for NX as did Chrysler. There are darned few customers of Autodesk that have to deal with that degree of complexity. Siemens as far as I can tell is not planning to end perpetual. I believe this enough to have renewed with Solid Edge. SE by the way is doing it right. You can rent the program or get permanent seats. I have been with SE now since ST1 and my cost has gone up $63.00 per year. You can I believe actually rent it to by the month or the year. No mandatory minimum. Plug my dongle in and stay off-line so no exposure to confidentiality agreements breaches or hackers due to forcibly being online EVER.

It is time to make your plan on how you are leaving and not to sit here and worry about how you can afford to stay.

Quote from Ralph Grabowski this weekend ought to shed some light on how Autodesk regards loyal customers. http://www.upfrontezine.com/2017/04/stuff-i-heard-at-cofes.html

“At one mini-session, a consultant relates a story of how Autodesk apparently is cranking up subscription fees upon contract renewals. In the case he reported, the mandatory fee allegedly went from $4.9M to $9.4M to pay for “necessary” add-ons, like consulting. The problem, of course, is that if any firm on subscription says No, the software simply stops working with the next 30-day check-in.”

OK the big bully is heading your way with a baseball bat to get your money. Not ask but to take it forcibly of course. You as a rational thinking being choose A, stand there and let him beat you up and then do the same tomorrow or B, walk away with your money intact and let someone with far less foresight take the beating. You WILL choose one or the other.

Folks just a thought here. Since Autodesk has proven itself to be a master of weasel words let me toss this one out there. OK you perpetual seat holders can keep your seat after 2019. Now comes a hypothetical policy statement by Autodesk.

In a continuing effort to provide improved software and support to our valuable customers we are pleased to announce the following. It has been a real cost burden to improve our products and have to deal with two customer license environments over the years but we value your loyalty and have chosen to enhance your experience with us. Starting in 2020 we will cease improving perpetual seat products which will however remain available to you as long as you wish and migrate significant improvements over to subscription customers only. These new features may be available to perpetual seat customers for an extra fee so check with your VAR. Subscribers will benefit from dramatic product improvements and rent as you need to fit your companies demand. Autodesk sees the future and it is subscription and we welcome you to our brave new world.

Autodesk Subscription Screw U 2018 Begins

I am assuming that your arrival here to this blog means you have an interest in the direction Autodesk is taking with its software. I mean all of it from movie making to design and machining to planning civil projects. All of it and all users who stay with perpetual seats with the upcoming dramatic cost increases or decide to begin for whatever insane reason subscriptions with Autodesk.

What has been a position of mine for some time is that perpetual seats make a software developer accountable to users. It means quite simply that users have an expectation of improvements as the carrot to renew. If the software does not improve they can simply stop paying and operate for years. For users of Inventor Pro HSM any real worthy new additions to the CAM side have been lacking for about two years. The frequency of beta updates which gave users the benefit of seeing incremental improvements from many per year have dropped off to just one since last December 12th. Notably considering the dearth of CAM improvements a backplotter from Cimco is on the chopping block now. So add to the dwindling improvements and new features the removal of an important traditional one.

https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/hsm-beta-testing-english-deutsch/hsmworks-2018-r1-development-release/td-p/6998929

So this week 4-3-17 sees some comments started at the above link. I am going to post some of them here for a reason. Typical user comment longer than most.

Corporate talking head explanation that basically Autodesk wants to now charge for what used to be included. Remember Autodesk and their subscription future is purely a scheme to force customers silly enough to stay or go there to spend far more money for status quo at best and I figure it will turn out to be less than that. They are I believe going to subdivide out traditional features and expect to charge for those on top of raising costs much higher over program costs that have been the norm for years with them. This is a common thread at the below forum link where Maya and 3DS Max are discussed at length along with Autocad.

I want to compel you the reader to do more than a cursory analysis of this situation with Autodesk so I put these teasers in here in hopes you will spend significant time reading at length the material in its entirety in these forums. This is a common thread throughout another Autodesk forum. Mainly that traditionally included features that are needed are being eliminated so that they can be sold as add ons in the brave new subscription world. Remember that subscription removes your power over this and you take what they are willing to give and for far more. Sans significant new improvements of course. One of the powerful tools Autodesk will soon be using against holdouts and the rebellious is updating file extensions. You need the new Autodesk whatever to open the new DWG for instance. Just to improve your user experience and software reliability of course ūüėČ

https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/moving-to-subscription/bd-p/2017

Gems like this are in there.

Softimage for Maya going away for subscribers.

Folks you really really need to spend significant time in this Moving To Subscription forum to get a feel for the future. Replete with lots of corporate psychobabble justifications and evasions and attempts to put lipstick on pigs. See what other customers are finding out and sad attempts of placation by Autodesk.

Next up is http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/2017/04/07/autodesk-customers-are-still-revolting/

An independent blog that goes way past superficial in analysis of what is going on. I have mentioned BlogNauseum before but there is new info all the time. You need to catch up and stay current with information here.

Potential and actual Autodesk customers have a decision to make and it is unavoidable. You decide to revolt against this and seek an alternative right now while you can rationally plan your move you will be in charge. I figure perpetual seat holders have easily a year to work out their solution even if they let the software lapse. It will still be current enough. Subscription only people were crazy to ever begin to go down this path and they deserve whatever happens to them. Perpetual seat holders who think they can stay and survive under this new way better think twice. Costs will escalate for less product. You will be expected to pony up additional costs for “add ons” that used to be included. You will get fewer new features and bug fixes will take longer if they are indeed ever done. Significant new capabilities will be things you read about other software companies producing for their users. You will not be a part of that any more. Autodesk has stated their goal is to make your perpetual seat existence untenable and they are going to pull out all the stops to force you to leave that world and enter subscription Hell. You stay and you will pay pay pay.

I have to admit that it gripes me to no end to have sent in another years money in December only to find out whatever they do with Inventor Pro HSM won’t matter because it looks like I have to stay with 2017 if I wish to use backplotting. Autodesk has gone from class act to class ass in a half year in this writers eyes.

Last but not least and emblematic of the atrophy of timely fixes and real improvements is this. Brought to you by the New Autodesk Way. Keep in mind probing was supposed to be a working new feature with Inventor Pro HSM 2017 and HSMWorks to follow in short order. It is done in neither of them and there is no longer even a pretense of a finite timeline to completion. Just guesses none will stand behind.

Yes we put the Icon in there for 2017 and MAYBE by Q3 of 2018 it will mean something!

Autodesk Enters Terminal Captive Rental Phase, Leave While You Can.

I enjoy reading Ralph Grabowski’s posts. One of them arrives every Sunday Evening and it is called Upfront Ezine. Today there was a reference from a blog I had pretty well forgotten about since my primary focus regarding Autodesk products has been HSM which apparently is not used by Steve Johnson.

He is a long time yearly maintenance Autodesk customer who is like myself feeling the customer love oozing out from the portals of Autodesk. Well at least one portal for sure. Here, have a read.

http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/2016/12/06/autodesk-perpetual-license-owners-to-get-screwed-big-time/#comment-152761

While you are there read a bunch of other stuff from real life customers and users of Autodesk products. They keep up better than I do with what all is going on or being said regarding Autodesk. It is interesting to me to see that independently of influence from Steve’s blog I was reaching the same conclusions about the future for permanent seat holders and Autodesk.

One of the things that has disturbed me recently has been the encroachment of psychobabble adspeak words into the HSM forums. Offered primarily in support of why links do not work on new and IMPROVED web sites and why features are not finished years after first being presented and the pace of improvements drops considerably. When I start reading Autodesk people using words like “leveraging” in relation to failed websites and stuff never finished it alarms me. It is a clear sign of things going wrong. People who used to use plain English and were concerned about things being right for customers become supplanted by those who thrive on Autodesk first and only and customers are meant to be BSed to. Look people, when someone starts all this adspeak stuff who do they really relate to?

So I think of this verbiage tossed around now and what I have seen and heard in regards to the atrophy of new user improvements and functionality regarding HSM.  I think real hard about all the utter garbage from Autodesk I read today at Blog Nauseum.

There are signs in life that tell forward-looking people it is time to consider what is prudent and wise for themselves.

First and foremost I am loyal to my own company. Then I am loyal to fellow CAD CAM users who also for better or worse have to use software to earn a living by. I am not loyal to software although I am a big fan of good useful software. It helps me earn a living. But there comes a time where what was once good can become a bad thing. Or a thing not worth the price of admittance anymore since scant improvements do not justify yearly expenditures.

This leads to a couple of comments. Permanent seat software is the only type to consider at any time. Like right now with the customer unfriendly Autodesk ecosystem. As a permanent seat holder I can register my immense   dissatisfaction with the way things are going by simply not giving them any more money. Only with permanent seats can a corporation be held accountable for lack of new user benefits. I can and will work for years without spending another dime. You get suckered into subs only and you pay forever and over time pay more and more for less and less.

Let me ask you something. If you were a greedy corporate type and you wanted to have a captive customer base who had to continue to send you money just to work. If you were a greedy corporate type who wanted to do away with the onerous burden of having to spend money for provable new benefits to entice customers to buy and stay. If you were a corporate type who wanted to squeeze your customers (captives) for more and more and get paid before their light bill’s were what would YOU choose as your modus operandi?

Autodesk has clearly made the choice that you subscription customers are to be ATM’s. They apparently are also going to force permanent seat customers out of their safe zones and into the slave zones which saddens me but somehow does not surprise me.

The handwriting is on the wall. At this time I can’t think of a single Autodesk product I would recommend to anyone. It is not that there are no great products there. I like HSM a lot and intend using it for years to come. I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone though because the only way you can now buy it is¬† the subscription chattel model. I do not and will not ever support a company that goes there nor recommend that a business become captive to an uncontrollable¬† cost structure where the overlord can just decide they need more money from you but you never get more from them in return.

People all I can say is if you are thinking of going there don’t. If you are there as a permanent seat customer as I am it is time to make a move towards an alternative so you can make an orderly transition. It bother me a lot to read the stuff I read today at Blog Nauseum but it did connect more dots for me with info from long time Autodesk product users.

Time to let the Autodesk ship of corporate greed lose their food source and be starved into submission or bankruptcy. I would prefer they recant this ugly future for the duopoly of subs and permanent seats your choice. At this time I sadly concur with the fed up Blog Nauseum people who believe untrammeled anti customer greed is the way Autodesk is going to be.

Hey just for giggles go here.

http://schnitgercorp.com/2016/11/30/autodesks-fq3-shows-upsides-downsides-change/

And from this article I will leave you with this quoted paragraph from Carl Bass.

“Mr. Bass said that in Q3 the company ‚Äúmade progress on our two major initiatives: growing lifetime customer value by moving customers to the subscription model, and increasing adoption of our cloud based solutions. Given that this quarter was the most uncertain when we started the year, these are fantastic results.‚ÄĚ He noted that ‚Äúproduct subscriptions drove the¬†vast majority¬†of the new model additions. The launch of industry collections, the next generation of suites that include many of our cloud services, contributed to our strong growth this quarter. Collections are a great example of how we‚Äôre simplifying our offerings while increasing lifetime customer value.‚ÄĚ

So you dear customer are now nothing more than an ATM and you will pay up and shut up.

 

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.

Pick Your HSM Support Carefully

I have been waiting for a while to write this. Picture this scenario in your machine shop with a part on the mill or lathe. Your $95,000.00 dollar or more investment sits idle as you pay your employee to wait. Happens a lot with CAM software when there is a problem. Deadline is ticking and you need an answer.

VAR support is a nebulous thing with Autodesk. Can’t find where it is spelled out what are the Autodesk mandated VAR obligations for the money we pay. It looks like VAR’s get to set their own requirements here ranging from decent to pay us more for just about everything you can think of.

So exactly what is support and what should you expect? In my case it costs $1,500.00 per year and I have no idea what the split is between Autodesk and Hagerman. Hagerman is the VAR this post is commenting on. I was told by people in the Nashville office of their support for local user groups which was my primary reason for switching from Nexgen to them. It has been a year and nothing. I have called and asked to be notified and the crickets never stop.  There have been some pay to play events but nothing in the way of a local user group.

The kind where peers gather for good reason under a roof provided for by a VAR who understands that value. The kind of meeting where sales shmucks are not allowed since it is to be by users for users.

I called one day with one question expecting to be treated just like my old Solid Edge VAR Ally PLM would treat me. Or the same way Nexgen had treated me in the past before I foolishly drank the Hagerman local user group support Kool-Aid. It would have taken about five minutes for their CAM guy to answer my question. I was told that I could request an immediate answer and credit card pay that cost for an immediate answer. Or get in line for email support to be answered in some nebulous time frame.

I do not pester VAR’s with endless teach me the basics questions. I have rarely used VAR support because I make an effort to solve problems on my own. But on the RARE occasion I do call I most definitely do not expect to be treated like dirt. Apparently Hagerman’s support for the portion of $1,500.00 they receive is, are you ready for it, helping you initially install your software. The same thing Autodesk already does for you online.

Hagerman is too big and too corporate and to MBA CPA minded for a small shop that actually makes things for a living is my opinion. Nexgen is an excellent alternative to them and for CAM they are great. I chose Selway in this instance because they also sell machine tools and are conversant with CAM and post’s and machines like the ones used in my shop. Every thing I have heard about them after extensive research indicates to me that while I am sure you can’t pester them endlessly with dumb questions they will go the extra mile to get you running.

Hagerman sees you as an ATM where a button is pushed and cash falls into their pockets. You are not a person or valued customer as a small business.

So here is what I sent to Hagerman today after getting my contract switched. I have enjoyed sending it to them and posting it here and it is the only pleasant thing that has occurred in my involvement with them.

It reads as follows.

“Due to the extremely unprofessional way in which Hagerman handled my only support request for the whole year I am leaving for Selway. Furthermore whomever I can influence to do so also I intend to do so. I regret most thoroughly ever being involved with you guys. I really liked the lies about local user group meeting support for Nashville to both CAD and CAM. Here we are a year later and I wait in vain for the first one. I can’t think of anything your outfit is good for where I am concerned except prompt billing statements.

What the heck did you guys do to earn the money you received from me anyway? Please tell me just one thing. I mean besides consuming oxygen in my behalf. Why are you so worried about the invoice slipping through the cracks when you let your ex customer’s support slip through the cracks is a question that comes to my mind.¬† If I may venture an opinion here it would be that the Customer Success Manager does not communicate with the Customer Support Manager in any meaningful way.

 

On 11/22/2016 11:06 AM, Lisa Stewart wrote:

Hello Dave:

I missed you this morning and left you a voicemail following up on the subscription renewal that will be coming up for expiration soon (12.15.2016). Will you please let me now the status?  I want to make sure this invoice doesn’t slip through the cracks.

 

Thank you very much for your time and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.

 

Lisa Stewart

Customer Success Manager

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.

 

IMTS And Autodesk CAM

I have been invited to attend an Autodesk Cam Customer Advisory Meeting  at IMTS this year. Before I get into that though just some reflections on events of the past few years.

Dealing with different companies is an interesting thing and how they interact with customers varies wildly. I remember the days of Solid Edge where bloggers and those fellow travelers of SE who were fans of the product were pretty well ignored. Now I don’t mean important people did not listen and do the right things I mean the corporate money never reached out past the SEU events to the outside world.

After each SE University in years gone by when Karsten was in charge there was a by invite only meeting after all the official events were over. He collected important users to sit in a round table and talk about what was most important with the community and as users regarding the state of the software namely SE.

To the best of my knowledge there was never any aid provided to any SE bloggers to be there although one year a couple of SW bloggers were there with some pretty sad results. And of course people like Ralph Grabowski as industry analysts and commentators were assisted in being there. People who agreed to run a session and after being approved to do so were given a free pass to the University but I don’t know if anything else was covered.

I remember sitting in Kris Kasperzak’s office one day¬† in Huntsville before he moved on to the NX darkside. I was trying to get him to see the logic in paying the way for friendly voices from the user/blogger community to have their expenses covered if they wished to go. It was not for me as I was paying my own way but it was to try to open the door for others who would presumably write favorable things about SE. I knew some that I had in mind who would have.

Kris was a good litmus test for prevailing mindset and thoughts of Siemens type corporate management. His reply after politely listening was that it was just to expensive to do that. Now I figure by that point in time I had hundreds of hours into promoting SE and the community for which I had never received a penny. I worked out a deal for SE before I was a blogger and paid for it all along out of my pocket. I paid my way to the SEU’s where I spent the majority of my time talking to these industry analyst reporter types and meeting with SE people. I might get to three or four sessions. I did it because I believed in SE and wanted to see it take its proper place in the scheme of things.

His reply was pretty humorous to me later that same year as I find out that out of approximately 500 people who showed up only 174, if I remember right, were actual SE users. The rest were mostly Siemens employees who did nothing and were going to do nothing to promote SE and they did not use the program to earn a living. You SE programmers in Huntsville know I am not talking about you guys. I am not talking about direct SE employees who had a future in part staked out on the success of SE. I am talking about purely wasted dollars spent on Siemens people who were paid to have a good time to fill a room up for publicity purposes. That must have been what the Kasperzak etal mindset considered a wise use of funds.

Perhaps it is a form of benign insanity to do such a thankless thing as blogging out of loyalty and regard for a software program. For some reason CAD CAM software excites people and creates followers and many of us each year look with anticipation to see and use what is new. Some companies get that and others don’t. I do know that over the last five years most bloggers that did so out of their own pockets in regard for a product are gone. Today the vast majority, I mean like 95%+ as far as I can tell, are VAR or software authoring company employees. This result directly parallels the perceived and actual regard software authoring companies have for their users is my guess.

 

IMTS Meeting

I have no idea what to expect here nor what the potential results may be. I don’t know how assiduously Autodesk pursues responding to customer opinions. For instance the subscription policy now in place is a direct slap in the face of users first, customers first and they choose what they want. It is a repudiation of the idea that quality should sell your product and the installation of a top down CPA MBA dictatorship meant solely to increase unavoidable costs to all who enter into this dark world. It has no regard for users other than as ATM’s.

So it is with some surprise I receive an invite and expenses covered and find out that there are those from as far away as Denmark with the same invite. Apparently someone is serious about finding out what CAM users think. I know some of the invitees and they are loyal users with however some unpleasant things to say. Kind of like me.

I don’t know how successful this subs paradigm is working out for Autodesk and we will never know until time reveals their reported income and from whence it was derived. Of course manipulative CPA MBA dollar experts would never put a spin on anything don’t you know but still truth will eke out.

At the very least I can say that Autodesk CAM is willing to listen and pay to listen to customers. SE would listen but only if you were willing to pay to be listened to.

Hoping for the best and that this is a harbinger of good things to come.