Tag Archives: Autodesk

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.

My How Time Flies!

I was reading the Novedge aggregation today and was reminded how things can change. It is hard to imagine that at this time four years ago when SW World 2012 was going on it was with amusement I regarded SW user futures. Idiots with Dassault were frothing about the cloud and producing vaporware after vaporware and boasting of those achievements. It was quite amusing. Over on the SE side of things we had rapid product improvements of tremendous utilitarian value. Leadership committed to positive changes and the Universities looked like they were going to grow to big events in short order.

At that time Autodesk was not on my radar and quite frankly I did not seek much information on them. I had seen a few examples of Inventor work and users. Without fail when I took their models and edited them in front of them with SE easier and faster than they could and the old eyes bugging out thing invariably happened. To me Autodesk was a company that did not much register and the chief competitor to #1 which I believed SE deserved was SW not Inventor.

As an aside here. Inventor does not offend me as much as it used to. But I still find way to many complications to simple part creation compared to the purely Synchronous editing and part creation I by choice have been using for some time now. With SE for instance I can draw a circle on the end of a cylinder and when I click on it extrude remove on either side of the circle and darned if I could find a way to do it in Inventor this weekend. It may be there but even if it is why are the methods of doing so hard to find or convoluted? In SE you click on it and straight forward simple intuitive commands pop up. Some of the issue is me not spending the time to learn Inventor and some of it is the weird or counter intuitive way Inventor wants me to work that prevents my desire to want to learn. I have yet to decide which is the bigger problem. HSM which was not configured by the people who decided how Inventor was to work is so well thought out and logical it reminds me of SE on steroids. So I lean towards some cubical guys who wrote code for a living and did not design parts for a living being the problem and not me. Anyway.

So SW World 2016 is here and hardly any bloggers talk about it. The few that do most are employed in one way or another by either Dassault or VAR’s selling Dassault and most of the true independent bloggers who were there because they loved what they used to earn a living with are long gone. People like Devon Sowell and Matt Lombard who were passionate and independent have either quit in disgust or been subsumed into the belly of one beast or another. SW has alienated most of those with passion and love of the product who were willing to talk well of them or indeed at all. SEU comes and goes and the same thing. You who have been readers for years think back about how it used to be and Novedge was cluttered with commentaries from “fanbois”.

Autodesk as far as I can tell is the same and the blogs I have run across so far most are all affiliated with VAR’s or Autodesk. By the way, any blogger who is not or even if you are I guess send me a link to your site and I will have a look. I am searching for sites of interest to provide links to. But my main point is that the whole CAD industry has largely alienated itself from users who were willing to spend uncompensated time on their own to talk about something they felt passionately about. Through stupid things like Dassaults desire to kill this SW thing they can’t quite figure out how to stab to death yet without causing undue harm to themselves. Through the stupidity of Siemens UGS taking SE a killer design product with a future and instead of making it so smashing it into obscurity once again because some political back stabbers from UGS just don’t happen to like it.

Now we have Autodesk trying to force users to be chattel subscribers only and long time passionate CAD CAM users hate that kind of corporate money-grubbing suppression and so this great forward-looking thing Autodesk was a short time ago becomes just another neccessary evil to people who don’t have permanent seats but still have to use these tools to earn a living with. Of the three major software companies out there I ever run into I still hold out hope for Autodesk to change its mind as being the last great hope for forward-looking design build software that would acknowledge that the success of its users is just as important as the authoring company. ProE who? No comment as I just never run into anyone or any file from them. I know they are out there and that is it.

Quite frankly I think the whole face of CAD CAM is changing and not for the better. My last big hope is that somehow Autodesk recants from their book-keeper chattel model and goes back to offering seats and subs for whomever and letting the buyer be the chooser as to what is picked.

Is it not amazing the difference between SW and SE? One company driven by a visionary multi-year plan dedicated to the idea of growth and community and utilizing the two to work together toward a common goal of market domination. Look at SE which has been around just as long and as far as I am concerned is superior for 90%+ of all MCAD over SW. Relegated to sucking hind teat forever by capital venture company flipping people or ignorant individuals afraid of competition who happen to work however for the same corporation. Siemens is too bureaucratically ossified to be able to fight counter productive things so these guys who sabotage overall corporate profitability get away with it. But look at SW! In spite of internal Dassault interference it still reigns supreme and it is a huge testimony to those who drove SW for so long before Parisians decide to “improve” upon it.

Hats off to SW today for the legacy it has. They have earned it and I wish the users the best and hope it all works out to their benefit.

Update today 2-1-16
Entering into the first full week of the end of new permanent seats for Inventor Pro HSM we have an announcement from Dassault SWW 2016 today that there will be no end to permanent seats for SW. I have no idea how this is going to work with HSMWorks for new customers. At this time Delcam products still offer permanent seats and talking to a sales rep last week Autodesk has no intention of ending this. Solid Edge of course is offering permanent seats along with rental, you choose.

Personally speaking I think someone(s) somewhere inside of Autodesk started a policy that will backfire. One has to remember though something I learned first hand when I knew Karsten Newbury. The person in charge does not have free will to just do whatever they want. There are conflicting opinions and agendas and back stabbers and people of authority who will oppose you for whatever reason. I am certain the same is true for Carl Bass. What I am hoping is that this has been allowed to go on because opposing it would have meant fighting a big chunk of mercenary upper management that does not understand buyers can and will buy from others if you force them to. You do NOT own them. This whole chattel serfdom thing is not the same philosophy I perceive as coming from Bass who has spent so much time assembling a manufacturing ecosphere and is himself a chip maker. I think a turf war was big enough that he was forced into saying OK. But my hope is that he is standing there with a pink slip in hand once these plantation owners are proven wrong and out the door they do. Gonna be real hard to make this stick when your major opposition is going to shoot you down through the concept of customers are first.

Yes It IS True, The Subscription Model is Failure For You

I had promised not to talk about this again and find myself regretting those words and posting again on this. Todays events in my shop reminded me in ways that could not be ignored of the value of continuing to talk about the terrible future awaiting anyone who is foolish enough to be subscription only for their business CAD and CAM life blood.

Sitting here today waiting for the latest developmental download to Inventor pro HSM. While I am waiting though I want you who are thinking of buying into subscription only CAD or CAM to get a little taste of what is headed your way. Remember the Marketing babblespeak of easy self updating IT free bliss promised by these shills for greater fees from you to them and loss of all control over your data. Of course this is not my problem because I have a permanent seat and can uninstall a version when I wish as well as install. Thank you very much marketing goof balls but I think I am adult enough and responsible enough to determine what works best for me. I sure don’t need you to charge me extra over time and be subjected to the reality of the pain your greedy desires will inflict upon all who enter. Fusion 360 looks like a genuine value but the expenses for Inventor subs anything are ludicrous over time. Fusions future bargain status is in question though as the ancillary charges will soon be forthcoming while you “rent” server farm stuff from you know who.

Today while using developmental build 115 from 1-12-16 I can’t finish a drill path. Nope, not gonna happen. Get to calculate, hit OK and the program does the magic disappearing act. After six times of variations I conclude it is well broken. So I go and post this problem at the CAM forum and less than 15 minutes later I get a response. It seems that this quickly became a known problem and 0n 1-15-16 build 117 was released to fix this. Now remembering the extraordinarily painful days of CAMWorks for Solid Edge I can only say that the fix was quick. Generally I have been told developmental builds are pretty robust and over this past year my experience has borne this out. Autodesk does warn you though that only official builds are for production.

Current version

But the last current recommended for production version is from 4-13-15 and there have been 14 developmental builds since then and only one has given me a problem. So what has happened here? If I was a subscriber I would have to wait and wait and wait for a new current build? Been a lot of months now. Or would I have a forced update that was buggy and have to wait for the patch to be issued for the problem. Now remember the problem might be unique to my setup and not a developmental or current release problem as much as a conflict with the way I have things set up on my end. Now what? Who is going to make my stuff work now? Wellllll you know with a permanent seat I just stay with what works and beta test on my own to verify quality outside of my workaday income earning area with my take home laptop version that comes with my permanent seat. I DO NOT have to ever suffer from this with a permanent seat. Auto updates with 115 would have caused significant problems until 117 was released. I love HSM and with my permanent seat expect to be well satisfied for years to come. But I want it my way which is to choose how I interact with my software vendor and I choose permanent seat over subscription chattel.

Can we talk about how robust your internet connection is here too since this is relevant to this whole kooky cloud only thing these people want us to devolve into over time?
ScreenHunter_200 Jan. 22 11.13

I am like a TON of you around the world that will never have internet speeds that will make the cloud work faster than I can do it myself. With the exception I suppose of FEA or rendering if you care to put your critical intellectual property out on the unsecure web. I am lucky to get 80KBS and even luckier if the connection is not often broken.

I am going to build my next workstation. Intel 5930 CPU, server quality board with overclocking to probably 4.2 or 3GHZ. 32 gig of 3200 ram, water-cooled with at least a Quadro K2200 with a PCIE SSD main drive and multi terabyte secondary backup drive for under $2,000.00. You can build this all day long and cut your cost in half from the manufacturers. Just how many simultaneous internet connections would I have to have to equal this astounding computing power on my desktop? 6GPS buss speed on this upcoming workstation would require 6 GB divided by 80KBS would be 75,000 concurrent internet connections. Do the math. Dare I say in-house also equals secure and constant backups if needed are cheapo to? Priced any 5 terabyte hard drives and soon to be 10 lately?

Please explain again to me dear corporate CPA MBA Barracudas just how wonderful subscription only and the cloud is going to be for me. Just be aware that after years of subjection to Democrat PC correct insanity and Rino Republican elect me lies I look behind the curtain before I buy. Subscription only stinks just as bad as the lies and deceptions emanating from Washington and has the same ruling class elitist mentality. Maybe it is a symptom of getting older but I find my patience with people who lie to me with insider jargon word combinations they think are fooling me into believing their deceptions does not exist anymore.

Permanent seats and TRUMP BABY!!!

The Lie Of Savings In CAD CAM Subscriptions

OK folks as the clock ticks down quickly towards serfdom for many I want to post this. It will be the last time I do so in this fashion because quite frankly if you are silly enough to go for subscription models you will deserve what you get. For those who may still be on the fence though I want to put some real numbers out there based upon Autodesks pricing for Inventor Pro HSM as of today. http://cam.autodesk.com/pricing/

Before we look at the numbers I want to make sure you readers understand that there will be prices and fees for other things to as time goes on. How many remember the unlimited data for smart phones when first offered? Get you in there and it looks cool and it is pretty cheap. May I ask you smart phone users where these cheapo plans are today? May I ask you if you don’t like it what alternative you have besides dump the data? Might as well go back to that flip phone you all despise so much if you don’t feed the data extra charges monster. The very first thing that comes to my mind is data storage and usage online to make all this cloud stuff work well. Of course it goes without saying things like data caps will be impacted for those of you who buy into iPad and Surface Pro do-dads because of course anything cellular will be an extra cost above and beyond the Autodesk subscription.

Something that can’t be predicted exactly is the ancillary costs associated with the problems of being forced to work the way Autodesk wants you to and not how you want to with updates and version preferences. You will take what they give you when they give it to you and marvel as their marketing and publicity people want you to over the loss of control over this part of your business life. Remember though the joy of painless auto updates as promised by those putting lipstick on this pig.

Now to the dollars and cents. I could not find the average length of time a company or seat holder stays with the same CAD or CAM software. I am going to use what I have observed around here as a metric though and once a shop gets going on a program that works they tend to stay. 15 years + is more common than you think. You guys just starting out and thinking 15 years is an eternity and does not apply to you are dead wrong. The 15 years go by fast and then so do the next 15. Unless there is a big shakeup I think we see the main players in CAD and probably for CAM also for an indefinite period of time. You start today and chances are good if you stay with the same company you will be using the same program for many years. Certainly the company will no matter who is there.

Initial year of Inventor Pro HSM full tilt retail is $11,500.00 with one years maintenance. As many of you experienced hands know prices are more negotiable than the sales shmuck would lead you to believe so for many the cost here is less. I highly doubt there will be much in the way of discounts or negotiation for subscriptions which for Inventor Pro will be $3,700.00 per year. That’s right one-third of the cost to buy it outright. Every year. Don’t pay don’t play.

So in ten years we have $11,500.00 + 10 x $1,500 per year maintenance for a total of $26.500.00
Subs cost is 10 x $3,700.00 or $37,000.00 + additional unknown and uncontrollable ancillary expenses and loss of control of your program to boot. In addition you have to continue with subs as long as you ever think you will need to use your data.

In 15 years permanent seats will have cost $34,000.00 with no ancillary costs of course and complete control over everything.
Subs cost will be $55,500.00 no control and ??? extra fees.

I want everyone to know I am a believer in the fact that permanent seat Inventor Pro HSM is the single best deal out there today for what it can do and the cost. I am not crazy about Inventor but as I have said before lots of great work is done with it and HSM is unbeatable as long as it’s feature set matches your needs. For the vast majority of shops it does. When it becomes subscription only though the value in my eyes has been seriously compromised.

I get tired of the mindless smiley faces Marketing and Publicity put on bad deals. Perhaps a disconnect from reality is required to get one of these degrees as M&P distortion of playing field reality is common to almost every company I have dealt with. It saddens me too that this whole subscription thing has been touted as guaranteeing Autodesk’s income stream to investors via the methodology of data hostage taking rather than customer loyalty created by superior products and voluntary cash transfers.

Just what exactly does that CPA MBA mindset say about regard for customers? Here, if you are wondering let me help you out. It means their money and success are important. It also means yours is not. Dump the subs only garbage Autodesk. I think you are making a big mistake that will come back to haunt you.

The Autodesk Juggernaut Picking Up Speed

It was a couple of years ago when I gave up on Solid Edge ever getting the market share it deserved. One of the chief reasons was what I perceived to be a new ploy by Autodesk to assemble pieces of the complete manufacturing puzzle together to smother competition. This first really began with the acquisition of HSMWorks and continued with the purchase of Delcam lock stock and barrel. Today I was perusing the CNC Cookbook site and specifically this area. http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCCNCSurveys.html

Reading the CAD and CAM surveys was a bit of an eye opener. Now there is a section in here where they talk about how they generate the data used if you are interested. I was not as I figured with a couple of million visitors a year the surveys probably had a pretty good representation of what is reality in shops earning a living with software.

As a CAD side note here go through the years and see how poorly Solid Edge fares here. This has been my personal experience also for years as I have heard “you use Solid Edge? you are the first person I have met to do so” so many times it makes me ill. This is true by the way 60 some miles north of the SE headquarters in Huntsville. It fully explains why there are fewer than 500 users at the annual convention which ought to draw many more with its bargain rate pricing. The users just are not out there to begin with and CNC’s surveys are the first independent effort at generating market share data I have found that appears valid based on my own experience. It is what happens to a fine product whose future is determined by people who would just rather it went away.

Of even greater interest to me were the CAM surveys done here in 2010,2012,2014 and 2015. Go there and read in full these various years for CAD and CAM but in a nut shell here is what they had to say about CAM market share.

2010 2015
HSMWorks all Inventor and SW 1% 17%
Camworks I assume SW and SE 2% 5%
NX 6% 5%
Powermill 2% 5%
Featurecam 5% 3%
Mastercam 29% 27%

Basically Autodesk has gone from nothing to 25% of the higher end CAM per CNC Cookbook criteria.

In the “low-cost” category per CNC cookbook data we have Fusion 360 going from 0% in 2012 to 55% share in 2015.

I have been fascinated with the well planned multi-year conquest of Mid Range Manufacturing started by Carl Bass a few years ago and this survey was the first time I could see quantifiable results coming in. It does not look good for the competition. It is not my intent to hammer on the subscription thing here but with these stellar numbers I wonder why common sense has not overtaken the agenda at Autodesk. It is time to rethink this and stay with the seats and subs and let users choose. You guys are whipping the market as it is far better than I had imagined so don’t get greedy and keep winning customers just the way you have been by earning it with superior products and prices. Clearly it has been successful to date and market share is accelerating.

The other amazing thing here is the stark contrast to Dassault. SW has been famous for vaporware and grand visions from the bizarre mind of some French guy who could care less about reality. For years they have trotted out one cloud based thing after another just to watch them crash and burn. Autodesk on the other hand has Fusion 360 and the only thing that has crashed here is Dassault’s abortive plans to be first and foremost with the cloud for manufacturing.

I just sit here and think about SE as I write all this. Here longer than Inventor with 8% current market and here as long as SW with 22.7% bringing up the rear with 1%. It really makes a difference when the guy in charge has a plan. There was a brief period of hope under Newbury Cooper but they were run off for the cardinal sins of competency and caring about the future. Things not valued at Siemens who is struggling financially and can’t figure out why. SW’s share by the way has declined from 25% in 2013 and that is the result of mismanagement also. SW has had to work really hard to run off their long-suffering and amazingly loyal customers but they have begun succeeding.

Here is my vote for Autodesk to not change things as they were at the end of 2015 and continue on the way they were with a proven method for conquest.

True Cost To Start CAMWorks for SE VS Inventor Pro HSM

Working on parts today and I got an email that jogged my attention away from parts to costs. Mainly costs of ownership. What began this was some more subscription nonsense for CAD CAM I was reading. Of course I hope by now anyone who reads my blog knows I think subscriptions have their place as a way to extend your trial period or to give you an extra bit of muscle when work flows can’t quite be covered by your permanent seats.

Other than that though subscriptions are about as honest towards customers as those satellite TV vendors. They rope you in with cheap prices and then it all goes downhill from there. Look people if you are at all considering getting Inventor HSM of any flavor you have until the end of this month to do so. After that if the CPA minded crooks have their way permanently you are screwed. Truth in plain English. All benefits in time will accrue to the software company and your expenses over time WILL be more than permanent seats. Plus all the other bad things I have covered over the years. I cannot overstate your peril in going subs only as a business model.

However the other part of the price equation today was my pondering over just how much it can cost to get started and thinking of course of CAMWorks for Solid Edge which I left last year and Inventor Pro HSM which I just renewed for my second year. A simple summation of first year expenses below. It assumes you are paying retail without some secret deal you have worked out.

Solid Edge Classic is around $6,800.00 and is $1,500.00 per year for maintenance.
CAMWorks for the level I had which was Trumill 3 axis, 3 axis mill and lathe was around $13,000.00 if I remember right. Plus posts if you were foolish enough to not make that a condition of purchase. A lathe post was offered to me at $500.00. Maintenance for this was right at $2,500.00. No I don’t have the exact pennies but I am not going to bother looking up old invoices this is close enough and you can easily verify by getting a quote. $23,800.00 more or less. Way below what the top levels of SE and especially CW4SE would run you by the way.

Inventor Pro HSM permanent seat and one years maintenance is $11,500.00 full tilt retail. Posts are free. Everything Inventor has and everything HSM has.

This brings us to another category of up front expenses. What will it cost to A, set up the infrastructure of the program itself to function as the sales demos say it should when sold to you and B, what type of effort is needed to train users.

Using the average cost of a CNC programmer from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Skill=CAD%2fCAM/Hourly_Rate we have $22.18 as a median for a programmer. Using a post on the CAMWorks site where a company claimed to have mostly worked out how to make the Feature Recognition and Tech Data Base work and their numbers we have the following. 12 weeks effort by two people x 40hrs per week I would guess is 960 hours x median wages is a total of $21,292.00 There is in addition to this a very nebulous expense in training a new user to use this complicated program. You put the number in here by thinking of your past experience and add this to the below totals. CAMWorks is complicated both to implement and learn. I have spent half days here just trying to get one tool path to work right and it is a nightmare that never seems to end.

HSM on the other hand requires nothing to make it work out of the box. If you were to make your basic tool library once you learned how you might spend half a day to get well over a hundred tools with speeds and feeds in there. I typically spend about a half hour for the 19 tools in my carousel and set them up for each job. Over time you might implement templates but since these are based upon a known successful CAM plan it takes just minutes to do this each time. Training for HSM would be a week to really get a lot under your belt and you could do 3 axis mill and simple lathe by then. Enough that you could be cut loose to work even though you would still have some questions.

Using the costs an SE user would incur with the above levels the initial costs software and maintenance would be $23,800.00 for the first year and using the cost from the above paragraph as a setup to run CW4SE add $21,292.80 and understand you still are not done. Also understand that this will be an annual recurring cost to some degree as Geometric often will change the guts of the program and you will have to re-do your data to match. I can easily see the above company having an expense of $45,092.00 dollars in their first year of ownership if they had elected to dedicate the man hours to set up the Tech Data Base at that time. It took them a while to realize that CAMWorks will never be mostly right until you jump this hurdle so they incurred this expense after the first year. But the numbers don’t lie and the numbers also don’t account for what level above what I had they have. You add five axis and turn mill and I suspect CW4SE sails WAY past $20,000.00 and now your yearly fees will be at least $4,000.00.

At $11,500.00 for design and machining I think it is foolish to entertain any idea of subscriptions for critical core software use. At $45,000.00 which is such a monumentally ludicrous number I would be compelled to hold my nose and be a subscription cotton picker. I guess part of what I am saying here is look at all the costs and not just what the sales guy fools you into believing. If you are in the market investigate and talk to current or past customers about what their true expenses and headaches were to get going efficiently.

If I was going to just put a match to my money I would rather do it on a riverboat Casino than do it to my shops bottom line.

Celebrate Solid Edge’s 2016 Fall Into Greater Obscurity

Well not really a cause for celebration as a user or as a community but certainly the Champaign corks must be popping in the UGS secret kill Solid Edge planning sessions. I was looking at Alexa page rank stats 1-1-16 just for the heck of it. So I type in Solidedging.wordpress.com and I get this.
Hmmm, curiosity stikes as I ponder how quickly SE faded into the woodwork again after the short lived social media attempts from SEU 2015 and the stellar performance of the VP Jim Miller in his once a year comments and appearance. Wonder what’s going on over there so I have a look.

Curiously enough there is contact info for this site and it is
solid edge contact info.

UGS again and am I surprised?

And Autodesk

It looks like 2016 will be the worst year in a long time for Solid Edge regarding pursuit of market share and the goal of a vibrant user community. What Ralph Grabowski said in regards to the publicity and marketing claims for the purported but not verifiable size of the SE base to be 500,000+ attendance of 500 or so at SEU 2015 is pretty pitiful. Now I would further like to know just how many of these in attendance were paying customers and how many were Siemens employees or VAR types. 2014 was pretty sad and over 50% of the attendees were not paying customers. I sit here today and reflect on this as I consider how useful SE is to me and how many more users there should be for this remarkable program. I just don’t think it will ever be though and I ask you readers to think back, or better yet just search Google, for what all has been out there this past year.

Solid Edge besides the inherent capabilities does have one thing I really like and it may be their saving grace this year. With the advent of Autodesk’s upcoming subscription only model at the end of this month there may be new SE customers from this direction. SE as of yet does not force subscriptions and I hope they never do. CAD and CAM software is not like Adobe Photoshop and many buyers are NOT going to go with subs only. Look for just this single problem only subs will fail in many places. Namely the problem of what version does your company use and do you want to control updates. You would be amazed at how many companies write lots of programs and routines to go with their main CAD program and they only upgrade every few years as a result. I see their IT guys cringe as stupid comments about hassle free auto upgrades to the latest version froth forth from the insane minds of various corporate babble-speak guys who will try anything to make this pig look good.

Subscription only is the CPA driven wet dream of greedy corporate types who would like to see us as CAD cotton pickers toiling in their fields. They want pay up and shut up and not pay us because we earned it from you. The technical aspects of subs only is so onerous that while Autodesk does not talk about problems implementing this they surely have them. I can see many heated conversations between Autodesk and major customers who will force a two tier system over time. I think Autodesk will have to relent on this and allow seats and subs or lose too many sales from major accounts who will only work with seats. If they give major accounts the right to new seats where will they then draw the line on who qualifies? Autodesk is gambling I think that there will not be to much loss over this and that will inspire others to follow suit. If they all become subs plantation owners then we all will become chattel with the choice only of what plantation to toil at. Once again the metric of punishing legitimate users is trotted out in part by a desire to end piracy with the not insignificant benefit to the plantation owners of data hostage taking making you pay forever. Who owns your intellectual creations if you have to keep renting the ability to use it from a plantation owner anyway? Certainly not you.

So SE has this remarkable dumb thing by Autodesk given to them along with the continued atrophy of the desire of SW users to be a paying part of SW. SW remember was down last year and will be this year. Both Dassault and Autodesk try to give customers to SE but I figure SE has no intent to entice or pursue these pilgrims wandering around looking for a place that wants them the old fashioned way. Namely by earning their loyalty to begin with by what is there and in the future by continued improvements.

I find that stopping maintenance for SE has been painless and work will continue for years to come with ST8. Because SE sold me a permanent seat this can be done. This decision was based upon what is good for me with my money based on my judgement for value received. I most certainly recommend a seat of SE to those who do not have it for to you it will be new and powerful. You may elect to drop it later as I did but try it out.

Just don’t expect Siemens to manifest a desire to see market share growth for SE. Don’t expect to find users easily so SE will require you to absorb the cost of training nine times out of ten. I don’t like Mastercam or SW but as a business owner if I had to consider hiring a number of trained individuals I would be compelled to look at them. It did not have to be this way but it is and for a company like SE to have been around as long as SW and still be this small is a remarkable testament to the short sightedness of SE’s various overseers from the past and today. Get that one pack of lady fingers out and light them off and celebrate with UGS the grand vision of this year for SE being worse than last year.

The Cost Of CAM Automation

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

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

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

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

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

“November 30, 2015 at 5:23 PM
Topics Created: 0
Replies Created: 2

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

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

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

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

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

For what it’s worth, good luck.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is It Worth It To Go?

Today I was reading Novedge as I frequently do and up pops this post. http://cadcamstuff.com/4942/advanced-manufacturing-is-on-top-at-autodesk-university-next-week/ Now I had no intention of going because the price tag is way to high for a one guy shop. Solid Edge’s convention is more my type in dollars and cents. After reading Lar’s post though I had to reconsider relative values. Of course Solid Edge has nothing much to speak of in the way of CAM partners and with the exception of Cam Express (which is funded and run by those UGS types who unfund and despise Solid Edge) there is only one integrated program. CAMWorks for SE and while much better than it was is still cumbersome and overpriced. You can achieve a much better yield on your CAM investment then this both up front and in daily use efficiencies with other programs even though they are not integrated. Cam Express is not integrated by the way while CW4SE is.

Autodesk BOUGHT and owns some of the finest CAM products out there. They are integrating them into and with each other. They don’t have to ask or whine or cajole another company to be partners. They own them and can do as they wish.

This is what struck me today in reading Lar’s post. The sheer volume of actual making things with machinery sessions was a bit dumbfounding to an ex SE guy. There were two if I remember right in SEU2015 and the guy who ran them knew Cam Express but never has cut a part in CW4SE. Somehow I have a feeling that the incredible variety of topics covered at AU 2015 will be with people who have done things with the programs and not just be someone roped in to flesh out a conference.

As an aside here I know the pace of integration of HSM into Inventor and the addition of robust turning and wire and laser type stuff has been a source of irritation for many existing users but at least Autodesk does hire more people to fix this. While it takes time to do this I am falling into the camp that feels they have been slow to put enough manpower and talent into this. Part of this feeling is due to a nearby shop that has been and still is a huge fan of HSM but has had to do all sorts of things to try and make their new turn mill lathe work and this still below it’s capacity. For crying out loud they use their old One CNC seat for turning if that tells you anything.

But this conference session listing reminded me of the scope of capabilities residing in Autodesk and the tremendous things that can be done over anything SE ever dreamed of doing. That after all is my back ground and my yardstick for comparison. Would I personally spend twice the yearly cost of my permanent seat to go there? No. But I can see bigger companies doing so with solid benefits for them.

If you are considering a rational approach to Autodesk Inventor CAD and CAM ownership you now have slightly over two months to avoid slipping into subscription only serfdom Hell. If you are at all interested you must act or consider going elsewhere. Personally I use inventor Pro HSM almost daily and would not be without it. But I will not EVER use it if it was under subscription only and I recommend the same for you prospective buyers. Subscription only is the only fly in the Autodesk ointment but it is a show stopper as far as I am concerned. The whole CADCAM market is undergoing upheaval where we the buyers are going to be subjected to fewer choices and over time higher prices and if these companies can get away with it really bad lockin serfdom. Act now while you can.

Time Of Trouble For CAD CAM Customers Ahead



As we head into the end of another year it turns out that this one is a bad one. My favorite CAD program which has been relegated to pretty serious anonymity again probably will stay there for good this time. The pace of improvements has slowed down and the capabilities of the shrinking programmer developer group have dwindled. The VP over SE has promised some things at the annual convention but did not lay out how this would take place nor any time frames. I conclude that this means there is nothing. Look, common sense would say that a structure and framework for further community and sales expansion would require planning and time already into this effort by convention time. So you see they would have been able to lay out exact details then. I choose to believe it is smoke and mirrors once again and just words to fill a space that requires them. Not a promise of future actions they are committed to.

This is a real shame as first Dassault tries to give SE customers for years and nothing. Now Autodesk is going full steam into this wretched subscription only model. SE as of this time does not YET say they will go subscription only. Make no mistake here I consider the availability of permanent seats to be the primary consideration of any software and second to this the capabilities of the software. You have to be able to control how your program works and be able to financially hold a club over the head of the program author to make them respond to your needs. No auto updates, no forced updates, no mandatory cloud, no server space you will end up paying $$$$ for because this is where they are heading, and no forced migrations to a new version of Windows or your CAD CAM program. When you go subscription only you are screwed for life.

Solid Edge is a perfect example. I have been a dues paying customer for seven years now until last August when I decided that there were not enough new improvements for me to continue paying. I would have renewed for $750.00 but not $1,500.00. I can still use SE ST8 for the next six or seven years and be quite productive. I can export to a cad neutral format and if the past is a prediction of the future old files can be brought forward with no problems and old ones opened with new the same. At least with as much data as I need anyway. These guys forget that value is a two-way street and when I no longer need support and new features the new features better be good. The VAR pissed and moaned about how this was not giving them any income and my thought was it is always about them and not the customer. How about my value received? So they stagnate and if you are not a customer still represent a great value for now. Jump on board for a year or two and then let them go and use your permanent seat like I will. Sad future for SE though. I like Ralph Grabowski’s observation from SEU2015. For a company that claims to have 500,000 users why is their attendance so small especially considering that it is one-third the price of SW and Autodesks annual conventions. I don’t believe for one second SE’s claims of market size and numbers.

How would you like to be a customer of Dassault’s SW? They have lost more than they get in new users and don’t seem to care. They limp along with buggy programs whose chief claim to market size appears to be that their customers have tons of legacy data and don’t want to move away. As Dassault does the Catia Lite migration over time they will move anyway and move to more expense, just as many if not more translation problems and as a bonus become data hostages as the new stuff will only work with a current subscription. As in monthly or yearly with no permanent seat you can fall back on when it is time to cut them loose.

PTC has just come out with subscription only. Just like listening to that idiot Obama they tell you how it is for your own good and will save you money and will give you great flexibility and freedoms to choose blah blah blah. And it will be just as beneficial in the long run as Obamacare. In the mean time you become chattel now and in the future.

Word of warning to anyone considering Autodesk. I think Inventor Pro HSM is the finest value bar none on the market right now for what you can do. CAD is clunky as all get out but I see the work being done there. HSM as I have stated has deficiencies in various areas but for me with simple turning and three axis mill parts is the finest CAM program out there. HSM Adaptive is better than Volumill which is touted as the industries best by many. Try Adaptive and you will change your mind. They are assembling a manufacturing ecosphere I approve of.
What they are also doing is something I find completely disgusting and that is by 1-30-16 you better have purchased a permanent seat or forget, possibly forever if this junk flies for Autodesk, personal autonomy and all that goes with it. You will no longer own your own data and will have to rent it back from Autodesk if you want to use it. I can see it now. You quit making a widget but have to pay for years just to be able to open the widget file because your customer expected support on the old part. With a permanent seat no additional cost but with subs you pay to play. Pay to play. Pay to play. Pay to play. Did you understand that? You pay to play. It appalls me how many CAD and CAM customers are oblivious to what is right around the corner from them.

Maybe all these companies are right. Maybe most customers don’t care what slop and egregious conditions are served up to them. It is hard for me to imagine that. I still talk to current Autodesk customers who ask me about this email they have recently received warning them about “stocking up” on permanent seats just to be safe. Another sales stratagem I find quite disgusting. In this case though the extortion via extra “stockup” seats just may be to the customer’s benefit. But why does Autodesk feel they have to go there anyway?

The answer is more appalling than you might think. They want to secure their financial future. Not yours by competitively supplying a superior product at a superior price as they are doing right now with Inventor Pro HSM. They want pay to play and you as chattel. I wonder if their analysts predictions of the future are so grim that they figure the only way they can survive and thrive is to reduce the cost of entry but make sure you can never leave.

So 2015 will be the year that goes down as the beginning of the end for benefits and control of destinies being equal between users and authors of software. It is my fervent hope that incomes drop precipitously for the pay to play guys and they will be forced into relenting back to the model of choosing what YOU the CUSTOMER want. I will be sending a check to Autodesk next week because I liked what I saw and it is a permanent seat. The day I can’t do that is the day I am gone.

Somehow I expect to see files from older versions of everything with growing regularity in the future as people step out of legal theft and wait for the next great thing to come along. After all I see around here shops working with CAD and CAM years old and doing fine. The only real exception to this is CAM if they do not have a current or recent good High Speed Machining program. I hope in the coming economic problems this pay to play junk comes back to roost on all these pay to play proponents.