How do you truly know what your peers want outside of just asking in your circle of acquaintances or perhaps in a blog what they use for cadcam and why? Do the answers you get reflect axes to grind or accurate data? How often do you get to see meaningful results that truly do indicate what these may be?
Yeah, call up your CAD company and demand to see the data they use to make decisions by and see how far that gets you! So you do ask around in every manner you can to get answers but even then is your small base of users asked truly indicative or just a result that like users tend to congregate together and answer accordingly?
I participate in the Cyon CAD survey each year and as a result I get to read their rather pricey results. SO, I sit down to read it this morning and this year was a real eye opener and a reminder that each of us can see the world as it is for ourselves and extrapolate this to be the norm without really knowing this to be so. Solid Edge users led all other large population mainstream cad user groups for a preference for best in class solution over the concept of well-integrated solutions. http://cyonresearch.com/whitepapers Lots of other things in there too but get the report if you want to know more. One could assume this could partly be a result of not having choices for SE for so many years that there is no expectations to have choices here. But this idea might be dispelled by the same, although to a lesser degree, stated opinion of all other mainstream CAD program users to have best in class to.
It appears that I may well indeed owe an apology to Siemens/SE for thumping on this integrated bandwagon. It looks like the vast, and I do mean vast, majority of actual users, according to this survey, want best in class CAD first and foremost and then are moderately interested in the integrated ecosystem of apps. This survey does not cover CAM so I am making an assumption here that CAM would correlate into these statistical results just like the CAD related apps did.
To say I was shocked at these survey results is a real understatement and sheds light upon what has been a series of baffling, to me anyway, decisions to seemingly concentrate solely on CAD and forgetting the rest.
Now I still hope for and really really want integrated CAM but at this point in time if it does not happen I can understand why. Would it help to sell seats of SE? Yes I think it surely would but I begin to think it may well be regarded by the majority of potential and existing SE customers as the icing on the cake and not the cake which is what they were shopping for.
Today also brought me back to why I bought SE in the first place and my decision was based solely on CAD capabilities. I needed sheet metal and I wanted the potential I saw in direct editing. I have to tell you that the first time I saw ST in action I could immediately see tons of ways that this was what I had been looking for. You see, without knowing these tools existed at the time I just kind of figured that history based was what I was stuck with until I first saw ST in action. I had looked at Ironcad before and I know it had a type of direct editing too but it just seemed like a bizarre interface and way of working to me and I never went further with it.
I find it interesting that my SE peers placed a strong emphasis on best in class CAD over everything else as that is precisely what I had done too without thinking of the choice having been made in those terms. I just wanted what worked and cam was not my principle problem at the time.
I also found it VERY interesting that over every other cad program in the survey the where the question of preferences was asked by program that SE buyers led in selecting best in class as their first choice as a percentage of users.
It may be interesting but Solid Edge users don’t really have a choice, there is no integrated CAM so what else are they going to choose as their reason for using Solid Edge?
FWIW I use or have used Solid Edge, NX, Solidworks, Inventor, Alias, Spaceclaim and Rhino – all were very capable in their own way (although Inventor and Spaceclaim would be at the bottom of the list for me) and as I’ve stated before I’m a fan of Solid Edge – but until it has an integrated CAM option then a genuine comparison cannot be made IMVHO.
I will tell you of how I made my decision and you decide if there was benefit. I was using a truly integrated cadcam package from VX Corp. It was literally two mouse clicks to take you to part edit mode and one to take you back to cam and a common GUI of course. Most of the time there was a degree of auto updating that made recalculation of the tool paths pretty straight forward. That was where I found myself with families of parts however or incessant customer requests for modifications to parts before final approval. My biggest single problem was history based cad and it was by far a bigger time consumer to edit parts as compared to the time saved in cam integration. Of course on imported parts, which happen for me pretty often, there was just no favorable comparison to cadcam integration if there was no qualified direct editing to go with it. See here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTaJvXDYRdc&feature=plcp&context=C3a32530UDOEgsToPDskLEvCdMqg6myZCRtw68FzTd for an example of an imported part where important geometry considerations are saved and the rest edited to suit allowing me to adapt a proven device to a new machine type. The huge time savings with this in cad make any time lost in non integrated cam well worth it.
I still use VX/ZW3D for my milling for now and it is an irritation every time when I think of the inefficiency inherent in history modeling for almost all of the MCAD parts I produce. Direct editing (ST) is not at all like SW where if I had a file import there are problems from step one time wise. In ST I just bring it in, save it and go to work on your part faster than you can. I have never sat down and done a precise study of average time saved with direct editing and cam as VS integrated history cad and cam but I can tell you that having made that leap I would NEVER consider going back.
What degree of integration are you looking for anyway? I am going to be testing Featurecam and TopSolid in the near future and they directly import .par files and there is a fair degree of associatively to file updates in both the cad and cam side I am told with part edits brought in from SE. So we do have half integration. But we also have direct editing and if you have not given it a serious look you may labor under the illusion that you have lost the overall efficiency you think you have with integrated history cad and cam. Just my two cents having been on both sides of the fence and choosing not to be where you are precisely because of overall efficiency and more $$$ to my bottom line. We will have truly integrated cam in the near future by the way because this has become a hot button issue with Karsten Newbury and he has always delivered what he has promised since he arrived on the scene.
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I have, and will not, criticise anybody for choosing Solid Edge – indeed I have stated many times that I am a fan and still use it on a regular basis. Also I have not stated at any time that I believe Solidworks to be a superior CAD package. I have, however, regularly commented that I dearly wish for an Integrated Cam product to make Solid Edge a more complete solution for ME and MY company. I’m also glad that you are happy with your choice and feel that it is the best solution for you. I don’t understand why you feel the need to defend your choice, or indeed Solid Edge, so strongly. I am not questioning your decision but trying to contribute to the debate on how we would like to see Solid Edge grow, it is my belief that not having an integrated Cam solution is holding it back. You mention FeatureCam and Topsolid, I have used DelCam products and found them pretty powerful but have no first hand experience of TopSolid. As I said before, my preference would be for HSM’edge’ or Openminds HyperMill but I’m more than willing to assess all and any future Solid Edge CAM partners.
I’ll bow out of this debate now, good luck with your quest – I hope it works out for the best, for all of us who would prefer to use Solid Edge.
Sorry I came off as defensive to you as it didn’t seem that way to me. Yes I agree and have said so many times that lack of integration does hold SE back for many, just not me. Anyway thanks for your input and I think we will probably be using the same CAD program soon as integration is on the way.