Tag Archives: Autodesk Fusion 360

Weekly Autodesk CAM Webinars Actually Exist!

Yes I know it is a bit of a snarky title but today I attended my first Autodesk CAM webinar. I had no idea these even existed until I received an invite from Tim Paul who knew I had a keen interest in HSM Probing. Which of course happened to be today’s topic.

It is a mystery to me how good information like this is created but the fact it exists and where and when seem to be arcane lore. To be honest it is the first time I had heard of this. https://cam.autodesk.com/weekly-webinar/ will take you to the web site.

This falls into the category of better documentation as far as I am concerned. Which also leads to how do you make users aware these things exist? On the splash page for Solid Edge is a link to user forums. It is an excellent way to put this information in front of people without flooding them with emails they may not want. How many people use that link is unknown to me but it is a method.

Perhaps with each annual install of Inventor etal there could be a page during install where a user could register for a list of resources one of which could be the webinars or at least indicate interest which Autodesk could follow up on. You know what? If a customer expresses interest it’s not spam is it? If Autodesk is like Solid Edge was they may be too hesitant to contact users for fear of offending them with too many emails. And that is a problem, one that I have had before and resented.

I never had as an end goal in avoiding spam to also cut myself off from useful information though. Today’s webinar was quite useful and I hope the promise that a recording of it will indeed be made available for download. As a matter of policy I would hope all of these would be available.

A sticky link on the well attended CAM forums promoting these resources would also be good. Just some thoughts here and the creation of great resources for users is pretty useless if they don’t know about them. And if Autodesk does not get this information in front of us we will in general only find out by accident.

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.

 

Autodesk And The Future

Last week at IMTS it was my privilege to attend the Customer Advisory Board for primarily Autodesk CAM products namely HSM all flavors and Fusion 360 the same. Delcam lives in a bit of a different world and hardly anything regarding them came up and I don’t recall an actual current Delcam user there.

I took three pages of notes on things I found relevant or interesting and still have not settled upon how to word what I saw and heard. The meeting gave me pause though and I find myself rethinking what the future holds and why for CAD and CAM. This will take three posts so bear with me and read them all. If you have not figured it out yet I am not a Twitter type individual and I believe many things can’t be covered in a few paragraphs unless you wish to do so superficially. I want to know and understand and I assume you do too.

There is a dividing set of paths regarding industrial software coming up and two directions people will take. The first which is where I reside and intend to stay is permanent seats for the sake of user control and security. About security. I heard the oft repeated tedious straw man argument that surely since we all do banking and purchasing online, that we trust our money online, the same must hold true with the intellectual property that resides in our designed products. I had to explain yet again why this is most emphatically NOT true. It goes like this.

Every month you receive a consise update on all your online financial activity and you can verify everything that has transpired. If there is fraud and you catch it within a reasonable time frame, and you are given tools to do so with monthly statements, you will be made whole. This week I had to fiddle around with my credit card company while purchasing some stainless steel funnels. Money was going to an unusual place and they wanted to know it was me before they approved the transaction. This happens more than I wish which tells me that financial transactions online are way to porous to threats and this irritation is one of the tools to combat fraud. But you can be made whole here for damages.

Your intellectual property goes away and there is no finite way of auditing what it was and when it was that I know of. Plus what is the value? The cost of R&D plus marketing plus tooling and raw goods and wages and all that stuff needed to bring a product to the end-user. What is the value of something where inspiration may only strike once in a lifetime? Add into that the potential which may not be possible to calculate until there is a history of sales to predict by. Trivial things like Hula Hoops or Pet Rocks sound really stupid until you realize that the person who did it became wealthy off of it. And that in this day and time the Chinese knockoffs can get your product to market quicker than perhaps the original designer could who had to jump through the legal and governmental imposed whatevers whereas the thief in China did not. China is not the only threat they are just by far the worst one.

So once a month or more your financial transactions are comprehensively scrutinized and if you have to go online with your intellectual property it is a crap shoot and the best you can do is best practices to stop hacking. Financial things are covered and not one company involved with online intellectual property from the server farm to the software author your ISP and the internet backbone will do the same for the life blood of your company. Read the EULA or T&C of any one of those outfits and see for yourself. I did and you won’t believe how little faith they have in the online security of the services or products they sell to you.

One of the “exciting” possible future things was the idea of Blue Tooth communication between PC’s, smart phones and CNC equipment. Yes you too can stand in front of your mill with your smart phone and edit your CAM program on the fly and update your workstation file and on and on. Made to appeal to the lazy side of people this wonder would allow instant communication and CAM plan updates blah blah blah. I do that quickly now with my workstation and USB Flash drive which is all of maybe eight feet port to port. We won’t however talk about the little blue tooth receiver planted in the weeds next to your shop that also receives all your lazy man’s time-saving of seconds or a few footsteps. The real-time savings of course accrue to the dude who got your CAD and CAM data and did not have to do anything other than record it. He will surely be excited. But yes I guess the cool factor was there for those who like this sort of stuff.

All that being said though I think that in many ways Fusion 360 and the people who use it are going to be a big influence on the future. Far more profoundly than I thought possible before I met actual users and why they were there and what they were doing with it. I still sit and think of this each day and wonder just how much of what I have taken for granted will reside on one fork of the path and just how much over time will migrate to a way of operation that is wide open to security problems as I see it. Which leads to the question of just how many small guys need that security? That need that security at the permanent seat or full-blown design and machining software price? That would not be able to start a business with really scarce capital unless software was cheap.

The numbers of people who are actually using Fusion360 after downloading and not an aggregate of downloads and not used + downloaded and then used like many report as the valid number is huge. No I am not allowed to state the number we were told but if that number is true it is staggering. I see no reason to doubt it either by the way.  I was impressed with the Autodesk staff present compared to the ones I have met elsewhere with other companies for the no BS blow smoke up your rear attitude they had.

Autodesk is I think the world leader in aiding startups to begin and prosper with relevant software. They generate huge armies of students that know the products and do not have to be trained nearly as much since they have the basics from school. Solid Works (not Dassault’s nightmare Catia however) does this second best but waaaay behind. Siemens UGS has no clue how far behind they are and I think of Solid Edge and how you can’t find anyone to hire 99% of the time already trained. Well maybe only 95% but who cares. Solid Edge is incredible design software compared to Inventor but you would never know it since you can hardly find users of it plus the only integrated CAM product for Solid Edge namely CAMWorks is not user friendly or reasonably priced. UGS and now Siemens are to blame for this. Autodesk lets you use full-blown seats of sadly now subscription only software for FREE if your company makes less than $100,000.00 per year.

The idea that I first had about the Autodesk Juggernaut steamrolling the competition a couple of years ago was most thoroughly reinforced last week.

At IMTS a few things I found of interest. CAMWorks was set up in a smallish sized booth with not much traffic I could see. Gee I wonder why? Mastercam had a TON of sales demo dudes and as far as I could see way to many of them twiddling thumbs. They were quite proud of finally adopting the ribbon bar and organizing their GUI better many years after most of their competition did. The new Mastercam has been well received though by local users I know so this is a good thing for them and their long suffering users. Esprit had a high volume demo stage but I don’t think there were high volume sales being generated. Vero was there and did not look to be a hopping joint. Autodesk had a number of sales guys, maybe to many I don’t know you tell me but they also had lots of constant traffic especially for HSM and Fusion 360. Delcam not so much and since the price of Delcam products can jump up to $80,000.00 at times I can see why not. CAM competitors to HSM and Fusion need to be very afraid for their future.

Haas from what I was told was busy from the beginning to the end. You had to force your way through their booth. I went there Friday afternoon on the last day of the event and was stunned at the traffic. There was no other machine tool builder there I could see with even a reasonable sized crowd to compare with what Haas had. Of course I am a Haas guy and a buy American first guy if possible and love American manufacturing success stories that profile how ingenuity can thrive even in the communist state of California. Hey Haas, get a move on and go to North Carolina where you will be appreciated for the jobs you create instead of being an “enemy of the environment” and “capitalistic swine oppressor of the working class”.  Or Tennessee perhaps near by my shop would also be nice 😉 We like jobs here and no state income tax and we Tennessee Deplorables keep the socialists confined to college campuses and liberal newspapers few will read.

Coming up in the next week or so two related topics. The future with Fusion 360 and why it matters and the culture I found associated with the Autodesk employees I met primarily on the CAM side of course.

 

Update 9-23-16

Speaking of security. So today Yahoo is caught and forced to admit that up to 500,000,000 users may have been compromised. No that number is not a typo. This started in 2014 and is just now public knowledge. Unlike financial monthly statements which provide auditing capabilities the intellectual property of all users at Yahoo was jeopardized  for up to two years and none the wiser except for the crooks and perhaps Yahoo since I assume they must have had some knowledge of bad things going on. If they did not that is even worse and this is a prime example of online peril if you are forced to go there.  Can you picture AWS in this situation with your data? They can and that is why their T&C absolves them of any liability where YOUR stuff is concerned. How I love the cloud, let me count the ways.

Institutional Fund Piranhas Force Themselves Onto Autodesk Board

I really don’t want to even think about this. The destruction these types of self centered idiots bring in their wake has to be seen to be believed. No longer can a company make long term plans because now some group who takes over part of the company gets to dictate to long term investors and CUSTOMERS. UGS was saddled with two groups of people like this and they made decisions based on what made their short term goals look good to their investors at the expense of future growth to realize short term gains. Kind of like an engineer starts a company and understands what it’s value is to customers and what has to be done to make customers first and foremost happy since they fund the business. He dies and the banker idiots take over and all they see is profit potential by eliminating “waste”. So the creativity the engineer brought to the table as well as the understanding of what things were important to do even if they did not result in immediate profits is replaced by people of myopic vision who can count but they can’t create.

Read it and weep. http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/ March 21 2016

Carl Bass understands completely the peril this represents to Autodesk but his hands are tied. Autodesk will now in part be told what to do and how to do it by people who only understand running up stock prices so they can sell out before the results of the policies they force into being harm or destroy the company they do this to. I have no idea where this will end up nor who will get canned in the inevitable upcoming house cleaning as dead wood according to people who know nothing about Autodesk wield the axe. That will also be manifested in software that is not immediately profitable too I suppose. I would also imagine that development will slow down because some of that after all is future oriented with results that may not be seen for years. Autodesk is now going to be beholden to quarterly must make more money at any cost idiots. We users of Autodesk products who must plan in terms of years will be shackled to 90 day time frame destroyers of companies.

I have to wonder how much of this onerous anti-customer profitability subscription stuff is because these guys have forced it. I still believe in Bass but just like I watched with Karsten Newbury and Don Cooper the very best forward looking talent can and will be countermanded if the wrong people get to be in charge. Carl talks about the philosophy of long term investors and institutional make a quick buck investors like these hostile new people are in the World Cad article. Now the word hostile is not what he used it is what I use. I think it is accurate since they do not care about our future other than we will send them more money.

It is depressing to think such a fine thing as HSM, which is the reason I am here after all will be subject to these people who make no chips, write no software and have no clue what we customers value will determine in part or over time in whole what we get. There will be indications as we go forward as to what will be the result. Sadly though for the first time I have to question if permanent seats will be forever as promised to current holders. I HOPE Carl Bass can convince these people to be prudent about what is done. I think subscriptions only were done against his advice though and expect he will be ignored in other ways to.

Amazon AWS Peril For All Associated CAD CAM Program Customers

Today I talk about a topic of growing interest as more and more software companies attempt to coerce customers into the online subscription model or online products like Fusion 360 which rely on web server farms to work. What started this was reading a most excellent article by Ralph Grabowski. http://www.upfrontezine.com/2016/02/byol-bring-your-own-license-frame.html is the link and you need to go there and read it before going further.

On 2/7/2016 10:02 PM, Ralph Grabowski wrote:
> As for being worried about the security of storing your firm’s proprietary IP [intellectual property] on remote servers that you do not control, well don’t, says Mr Brown. “Concerns about security and performance are starting to dissolve. Amazon AWS focuses on data center security, and has hundreds of people concerned about security. Contrast that to the efforts in most private data center, and the contrast is dramatic.”

I get so tired of the continual misrepresentation regarding this cloud security. https://aws.amazon.com/agreement/ will take you to the current legalese regarding how confident Amazon is regarding complete and total security for customers. Of particular interest.

Section 8.1 gives Amazon the right to turn your stuff over to any regulatory or governmental agency. It reads in part “We may disclose Your Content to provide the Service Offerings to you or any End Users or to comply with any request of a governmental or regulatory body (including subpoenas or court orders).” I assume it also means without subpoenas and court orders is how I read it since any does mean any. So the ChiComs want a look at your intellectual property they can have it. Or a corrupt individual from say the Obama Whitehouse or Justice Department or the Clinton Foundation.
As corrupt as this current version of the federal government is do you honestly think your hard work would never be for sale for a “campaign contribution”?

Section 10 Disclaimers is fun to. We are not responsible for anything of note or worth. You went here to bad so sad.

Section 11 Is exceptionally delicious. The evasion from any repercussions from use of their products and statement of their complete confidence in what they offer in this section is particularly heart warming.

I think Amazon is the largest online server entity of the three mentioned and without going to the other two I bet it is safe to say they do the same T&C thing as Amazon. I don’t know about any of you but section 8.1 is particularly troubling and means anything you have with Amazon can be had for the mere demand of a faceless and unaccountable to you bureaucrat who can then profit one way or another from your property. Do you see any other way to interpret the very words Amazon put there? It means to me any foreign government where Amazon can be legally bound by their edicts has to surrender upon demand your stuff.

It takes big brass balls to stand there and say how safe Amazon AWS is and then hope like crazy that no one reads the fine print. You go there you deserve what happens to you and I can’t think of a bigger wake up call than this cavalier treatment of customers by Amazon AWS T&C. Any CAD or CAM software that demands you use this paradigm to work with deserves to lose you as a customer. Their contempt for everything you have worked hard for except the money they demand from you is staggering.

Question for you Amazon guys. How many of the hundreds of people you have working on security are actually lawyers figuring out how to not make you liable for the ecosystem you have created?