Solid Edge Sans Cam and a Question for SW Users

Before I get into this post I want to pose a question primarily to SW readers who may be stopping in. Actual users of other programs with integrated cad and cam are welcome to chime in here too and please do so. Of what value to you is the ecosystem surrounding SW? Specifically I am asking here about CAM integrated with SW. Did you look for software integrated with cam before you bought? Is it even important to you to have cam integrated with your cad program? Would lack of integrated CAM be a serious consideration for your place of business as to what you would buy?

Now on to the rest of the of this post.

Between various business ventures and the headaches of getting things going I haven’t written much about SE for some time. There is a reason for this as it just does everything I want in cad and then some. In a spirit of community I suppose I should have produced more in the way of videos and how to’s but time just goes quickly in a one man shop and when your tool set works well you tend to not make the time to talk about things. Lets face it, a lot of times when the topic of software comes up it is either how do you do this or a complaint about bugs or features or lack thereof. Like today.

On the way to creating an invoice for a finished part some amusing detours are encountered here. I am reminded every time I use ZW3D for my cam plans of the solid benefits of integration with cad and cam. As it is now of course I take my part file over to this wretched ZW mess, where I am surely reminded of the true value of great direct editing every time, and proceed painfully to cut a part. Clunky and cumbersome as a way to do things and a constant reminder of why I am in the process of changing software to, well, I don’t really know because you see nothing is truly integrated with SE. So I have the best mid range MCAD program out there with no cam sad to say.

So today in my in box I get this from Desktop Engineering and I quote in part.

“Interesting things are happening in the world of CAM software. For example, right at the end of November, Geometric introduced CAMWorksXpress at the EuroMold show. Next week, this 2.5-axis CAM system makes its North American debut at SolidWorks World in San Diego. Here’s why I found this package interesting.

CAMWorksXpress is the smaller sibling to CAMWorks, the company’s full-featured CAM system. Smaller, however, does not mean weakling. It means right-sized for many many, many shops. Like its big brother, CAMWorksXpress works inside of SolidWorks and has things like a CNC tool database, simulation step-throughs, and functions for operations like roughing, contour and face milling, holes, and what have you. It has interactive feature recognition, and it automatically recognizes holes. Changes made to a SolidWorks design propagate to the toolpaths automatically.

What it’s missing — and I use “missing” advisedly — is the high-end stuff like 5-axis milling, automatic electrode creation, machine simulation, and floating licenses that are often unused, but paid for, functionality for many CAM users. This has two quick benefits. First, you can equip yourself or the kid in the shop with a CAM tool that matches the job you want done, reserving the high-end functionality for your gunslinger. Two, if you’re thinking of getting into some machining, CAMWorksXpress gives you a cost-effective path to try out your wings since, as of this writing, it’s priced at $595”


Another cam company that will have their integrated cam at SWW. Has anyone with Siemens asked yet how these cam companies work with SW to get integrated and what each side brings to the table to get it going? I know I have personally mentioned interest in this topic to Featurecam and TopSolid reps in the last month but what I am told in reply really boils down to this. I do not represent Siemens or SE and it is nice that I am telling them there is interest but only Siemens or SE can call them and MAKE them know there is interest. I sent these companies for instance a screen capture of this thread count  (this was posted in part on the Siemens BBS SE forum and this reference is to a screen capture I took of the thread count) to show interest and that is as powerful a statement as I, a user only, can make. What precisely has been done if anything in this area? Guys, cam for SE is not going to happen by osmosis and let me tell you something. If you are signing up new customers, and they have to buy cam elsewhere that you are not involved in, your’s is the opportunity missed.

I get really angry over all this when I think that the premise for SE is to create things for manufacture and here we are reading about good stuff at SWW.  I bet there will not be one cam company at Nashville with the exception of Cam Express which has been soundly rejected by us. Not really expecting an answer here as much as I am blowing off steam over a really egregious lack of planing for users and the user ecosystem that goes back for years. You better get something going quickly here before Dassault forces the SW users to leave with the advent of the big upcoming double whammy change of the kernal and to the cloud because time does not last forever for your convenience to do things in. You are going to lose, I think, a lot of sales potential because you have not spent the time to create an end to end manufacturing ecosystem and time is not on your side.




10 responses to “Solid Edge Sans Cam and a Question for SW Users

  1. I would think and hope the SE has in their roadmap a plan and vision to fully integrate a fully functional CAM solution into the product. That would open native data and give bi-directional or one direction change capability that the model change would update toolpaths.

    SE really has to look at the SW matrix of solutions and plan to have a comparable solution set on par or even more robust that what the SW comunity has now.


  2. Dave, you might want to talk to Mark Burhop about this. I think his new position is dealing with 3rd party developers.

    Some of the consulting jobs I’ve done have had situation where the CAM users needed more CAD functionality than stand alone CAM offers.

    Part of the strength of SolidWorks in the early years was that it had so much other functionality built around it. I can only think that having all the tools available would make SE stronger.

    • Hi Matt,
      Mark and I have tallked about this a number of times. I am not privy to how much actual help he gets though and how truly serious Siemens/SE is about this. I believe they want it to happen but what is their level of commitmant to it? I think they are going to have to prove to potential partners there is a reason to do this. Perhaps they may even need to pick one or two and make a financial commitmant to assist in kick starting this ecosphere. Once it gets going it would be far easier to expand but it has to begin first. No company outside of SE/Siemens really knows for instance how many SE users there are nor how many would be potential buyers. They may have to share some data with companies that the public does not have to know but the companies will have to know to decide whether it is worth it or not as a market. The other thing is what will users actually do? This is a big mystery and there has never been to my knowledge any serious survey effort to find out what the needs are in users eyes and what they would buy and support. All the marbles are in Siemens hands as is the wildly successfull or moderately successfull future depending on what they choose to do. There seems to be recognition of the problem but no urgency if that makes any sense and time does not stand still.

  3. Lots of interesting points and comments in this post so let me try to hit a few and provide some background.

    On the Solid Edge interest in partnering with CAM companies, it is there and very strong. One of the first things I did when I took over this job nine months ago was to ramp up on the players in this area. Next time I see you Dave, I’m going to give you a pile of my business cards to give to the next person that says we have not shown any interest. Or, just get me their name and I’ll call them directly 🙂

    The partner programs for Solid Edge is really pretty easy and not that different from SolidWorks. You go to a web site to apply, the application is circulated within the company and I ultimately approve it. We will typically provide free access to Solid Edge to do their integration.

    Having said that, it turns most CAM companies are Solid Edge partners already. What you and others have asked for better integration of CAM into Solid Edge. We provide a pretty extensive API and you have probably noticed I’m trying to promote this more. We have a number of non-CAM products with VERY deep integrations with Solid Edge. We are also doing a Developer day at ST5 University in June and my hope is to attract a few partners here so they can do more with their integrations.

    Having said that, doing a deep integration does take more work. CAM companies are businesses and want to get the most payback from their investment. The easy answer is to just go with whoever has the largest market share (SolidWorks). So what I try to do is convince these CAM companies to look a bit deeper.

    As you know, Solid Edge has been doing very well especially the last two years, so that is a nice selling point. Guys like you are showing there is pent up demand for a more fully integrated CAM product, another big plus. Recent concerns with SolidWorks’ architectural changes (e.g. getting rid of Parasolid, Cloud, etc.) are also a good reason to maybe not have all the eggs in one basket.

    Are things moving in the right direction? Yes. Is this enough? Not yet, or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I’m more than open to exploring other ideas with any of these CAM companies (so keep encouraging them to call me )

    Mark Burhop – Programs Director, Solid Edge Ecosystem

    • I will send you my address Mark and you can send some cards to me, I have a couple of places for them right away:-D Funny thing about those companies fighting for the ever dwindling SW pie as they lose subs and the pie keeps getting cut into smaller pieces by more and more competitors. You would think the idea might start to dawn on some of that to go where they could be on the ground floor of something growing will profit them more over time.

  4. We tested Solid Edge and Solidworks side by side extensively and as a former NX user I was rooting for Solid Edge. However we went with Solidworks, why? better eco system, better community and most importantly integrated CAM. The Solidworks/HSMworks combination we now use beat any Solid Edge + stand alone Cam package – and Sold Edge + Cam express. As stand alone CAD packages there really isn’t much to choose between them, synchronous technology is great but we design and manufacture our own products in house so the ability to manipulate other peoples models isn’t so important. Solidworks hole wizard is way better than that in Solid Edge and makes my life easier.

    In an ideal world my preferred mid level CAD/CAM package would be Solid Edge with integrated HSMworks(edge?) or Openminds Hypermill. Interestingly there are more Cam options for Inventor than Solid Edge – are there any integrated solutions for Solid Edge at all?

    Mark, I take your point that you will help any developer that approaches you – but I think you need to be more pro-active and positively entice them in as I truly believe the lack of a good, fully integrated, CAM package is holding Solid Edge back from achieving its true market potential.

    • Hi Neil,
      This was a serious consideration for me to when it was a tossup between SE and SW. I also liked the much larger and active user network. However for me the advantages of Synch Tec far outweighed these as my biggest problems were with quick editing for families of parts, sheet metal and editing of files from other programs. SW was either inadequate or completely lacking in these areas and integrated cam, which was the only integrated app I was worried about, was a secondary consideration. A choice which for me has proven to be the best one as the time I save in CAD far outweighs the time lost in CAM.

      In Mark’s defense I can tell you that according to a post on the Siemens BBS Mark has been over this integration for about ten months. I gather that a good chunk of this was spent with him being pulled off this task and sent to do other things. It has been publically stated by Karsten Newbury that this will not happen again and that Mark is now full time integrator and this is his only job from now on. Karsten also says that Siemens bought UGS because they understand the value of integrated software and this is what they intend to have. Of course NX is there and SE is woefully short. There are legacy problems where SE was ignored for a long time and these do take some time to fix. Now I will not defend this lack of integration inherited from UGS and Integraph but I will say that Karsten has been a man of his word over the last two years though and if he says this is going to be corrected, it will be.

      The nice thing for me in all this is I feel I am with a software company that will have all I could need within soon and the BIGGEST bonuses are that I am with a company that does care what it’s users want and is not going to ruin my days with gobs of problems like the SW users have coming there way. It will be scant consolation to have this wonderfull integration if you can’t create the CAD backbone that drives it all and sadly that is where SW is headed.

  5. Hi Dave,

    I don’t disagree with a lot of what you say however, but right now, for me and my company, Solidworks/HSMworks is the best solution. As I said, I’m convinced about Solid Edge’s capabilities and would gladly invest in a seat should a quality integrated CAM system become available. Until that time I am very productive with the solution we have. However I’ve just posted this on the HSM forum to see if I can provoke some debate;

    “There seems to be a good deal of uncertainty in the direction that Dassault are taking SolidWorks with talk of V6 being only on the cloud, that any stand alone application will somehow be less or that indeed SolidWorks as we know it will disappear and become ‘Catia Lite’

    May I suggest that the good folk at HSM consider adding HSMedge to their portfolio. The Solid Edge users are crying out for a quality integrated CAM solution. Mark Burhop at Siemens is on public record as saying that they will do everything they can to bring the CAM companies on board. Solid Edge licences showed a 50% growth in the last year alone. The parasolid kernel as we know is owned by Siemens and Synchronous Technology is now a mature technology with eight plus years of development.

    I am hugely impressed with HSMexpress/works, the clean interface, ease of use and superb toolpaths make Solidworks my weapon of choice these days – but only because of the integrated CAM solution. Don’t get me wrong, Solidworks is a capable CAD modeller that works well, however given a choice I’d rather be using Solid Edge/HSMedge.

    So how about it HSM people, is this on your radar? – you know it makes sense :-)”



    • Hi Neil, I agree totally that cam companies should be planning on direct integration with SE as it will directly improve their bottom line by association with a rapidly growing user base. A friend of mine bought HSM Works and really likes it over One CNC which he dumped due to lack of efficient tool paths and gouging. His customers all use SW so it made sense for him as he has no design capabilities to speak of and integration with SW was very important.

      “So how about it HSM people, is this on your radar? – you know it makes sense :-)” for me too and the same for any other cam company capable of looking forward at the growing cash crop someone will harvest.

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