Tag Archives: hsmworks

Choose Your Inventor Pro HSM or HSMWorks VAR Carefully

This will be a brief post today but right to the point. I am sitting here fuming over a conversation I have had with a Hagerman rep 5-6-16. Call up for support on a simple parameter setting question on Lathe threading. After first being told I would get a call right back to let me know when someone would contact me or indeed the CAM support guy would be calling I wait. Some time goes by and I call again since time is money and I am waiting as I was instructed by the phone.

Now I had switched my maintenance from NexGen to Hagerman this year based on the idea of having a company nearby for support and because they also supposedly were into a user community in my immediate area. Sad to say some things are not as they seem. I have pretty well given up on the local user group as I never get any response on this nor any notification about meetings. Sales seminars yes and some online stuff but no dice on the local user groups. I can handle that but what happened today is worthy of being talked about.

I don’t pester people for a lot of answers and so the few times I do reach out for an answer I expect to get a worthwhile reply. Hagerman got a check from me last December and this is the very first time I have called for support. Simple question and it wont take much time to answer. Threading on a lathe I need to know if there is a setting for changing the initial feed depth on the reduced infeed parameters. Yes or no here it is or isn’t. Send in an email and wait or pay extra for immediate phone support is what I am told. $1,500.00 per year with Hagerman apparently does not cover ANY immediate personal support beyond helping with install and licensing. It certainly did not cover the only question I have ever asked them in five months. I have no idea how quickly they would respond to emails as I have never asked for email help before. I don’t intend to bother them again either since what I was met with is not the corporate attitude a small machine shop business owner generally will appreciate.

So this leads to some investigation and here are my findings and conclusions. NexGenCam which is where I started and would have stayed had I known this was Hagermans policy is the largest HSM reseller in the US. This is where I am heading and it is where do CAM customers rate in the world any particular VAR lives in. Hagerman is one of the largest Autodesk VAR’s out there. They sell a ton of Autodesk products and I would imagine that HSM of all flavors represents such a tiny percentage of their gross that if HSM was to die tomorrow they would never even notice. And the Big Company attitude that goes with it. Does that make Hagerman a bad VAR in general? No but it does mean if you are a machine shop owner and your primary source of income is direct manufacturing with machine tools you better look elsewhere. They do not have an appreciation for the urgency a shop owner has when a machine or machines are sitting idle. It is not their business model and today I don’t condemn them for this but I do understand it.

So what is the prudent alternative for a shop owner? Find a VAR who derives a significant portion of their income from the sales for the product you use. My advice for people considering HSM is to do this. Now understand if you want CAD and CAM support this might not be wise. In my case though I still use Solid Edge for my modeling and only use Inventor to bring in parts and do simple edits just so I can get to the HSM gold. The same holds true for all the SW users to I bet and we are all here simply because HSM is so good.

I mention NexGenCam but there is another HSM VAR I have been told about. Since it has become clear to me having a VAR with a physical presence nearby may not bring any benefit at all I no longer count this as a key ingredient for selection especially if there is no active local user network. Which as far as I can tell seems to be the case with Hagerman and Nashville, Tn. So across the country with webexes works and today my prime criteria is becoming what does the VAR have in common with me. http://www.selwaytool.com/applications is who I am looking at for support in the future and they have come highly recommended to me from someone I trust. As far as I can see Selway will be my next and final HSM VAR. Here we have a lot in common as they are an actual Haas and others machine tool sales outfit. They sell and support CAM and not only do they do so they do so with a machinist and machine selling viewpoint. They understand chip making and what cuts the chips and I suspect have a pretty good idea of what we machine owners need and want far above and beyond mega VAR’s like Hagerman.

I like the idea that Selway is a Haas dealer (among others of course) since my machines are all Haas and I expect they have support insight other VAR’s only dream of. Really how can an office full of shirt and tie guys who have never run a mill or lathe but can say we work for Mr Great Big Autodesk VAR guy compare to hands on? I mean hands on all aspects of what I have to personally deal with where the rubber meets the road. The whole Autodesk experience is less than two years in duration for me now and I am still finding things out I did not know ahead of time. One of the things I have found out is that with HSM as my primary reason for being here I darned sure do not want to get support from someone who could care less. If you are a machine shop type I believe it would behoove you to move from Mega Autodesk VAR to a primarily HSM VAR or at the very least explore this idea.

I don’t intend to switch more than one more time. Over the next half-year until my maintenance with Mega VAR Hagerman is over I will be checking out Selway in far greater detail and will report here what I find. At this time sadder and far wiser about what to look for though I don’t expect any unpleasant Selway surprises. I have no idea if Selway is the only US HSM VAR with this business model and I am not going to check much to find out. I trust the recommendation I received. Look around though and perhaps there is a similar one close by to you and if so let me know. It would be nice to have a list of HSM friendly VAR’s to share with my peers and one guy can’t check them all out. So send me your machinist recommended VAR and let us see if we can get a list going.

Sachem Head, Bloody Knives And Plundering For Autodesk?

What is in a name? My company for instance is called Fieldweld. I chose this years ago as my very first for pay job as an independent contractor was welding a bush hog in a field. I intended at that time to do mostly welding in the field so Fieldweld suited me just fine. You inquire as to the name of most companies and there is a story behind it that makes sense when you find it out.

SO what about Sachem Head one of the hostile investor firms attacking Autodesk? http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/21/travel/havens-weekender-sachem-s-head-conn.html and http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sachem

The search is easy just type in “Sachem Head historical meaning” and off you go. From the first page the two references above were garnered. The NY Times one has as its first paragraph lead in sentence “SACHEM’S HEAD takes its name from a violent part of its history. A 1637 skirmish between the Mohegan Indians, allied with the English, and the Pequots on what is now Bloody Cove Beach led to the beheading of a Pequot sachem, or chief.” It then goes on and talks about an exclusive residential area that has no jobs and where people must travel to earn a living. Kind of like a great place for a hostile investor firm head to live in or aspire to I guess.

The second one from freedictionary is
sachem
Also found in: Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
sa·chem (sā′chəm)
n.
1.
a. A chief of a Native American tribe or confederation, especially an Algonquian chief.
b. A member of the ruling council of the Iroquois confederacy.
2. A high official of the Tammany Society, a political organization in New York City.

So take your pick. Chop off the head of the Indian Chief or be a member of the most corrupt NYC administration group ever in a city that has thrived on corruption since the early 1800’s as a way of life. Which sterling attribute does the chief honcho of Sachem Head aspire to?

What this says to me is someone who intends to eliminate existing leadership and or it’s policies whether right or wrong because we have this short term goal of stealing wealth from the company and the stock market buyers of Autodesk. It also says to me that there is a mercenary me first mindset irregardless of the affects upon the victim mentality which intends to make lots of money not by earning it but by fraud and theft. This is what I call it when the long term investors and customers who bought into a stable and productive forward looking outfit are now going to be cast aside by a hostile 5.7 percent holder of Autodesk shares. Thank Bill Clinton for this as the rules that allow this all started under him and have continued under Bush and now Obama who has allowed it to become an even bigger monster with his corrupt Dept of Justice.

Chop off the head and steal the loot and leave before the corpse starts to get peuwee! So what is in a name anyway? Wouldn’t you like to know just why this Sachem Head name was picked? After September 30 the kid gloves come off and the true face of this nice group will be revealed. Pay attention to this because I don’t think this bodes well for the victims.

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.

Simple Things Can Ruin Your Day

It is funny how we adopt “common” wisdom so often without research. We trust those around us who are doing similar things to give us good advice and most of the time they do. Recently I ran into what could have been a very expensive problem because I trusted similar things advice. A Haas tech rep told me that if I don’t run the mill on parts that once a week I should at least run a program that will keep ball screws lubricated. I ran this program the other day and walked off. The next day I go and look and laying on the Y axis way cover was my Cat40 holder and now broken end mill. Here is the culprit responsible.

no name retention knob

no name retention knob

Shops around here have told me that they save money on retention knobs and typically look for cheap prices or used but in seemingly good condition knobs from places like EBay. They also never torque these things in but just crank on them until tight. Now I know every person by that metric has a different torque value. Since my arms are pretty big I crank them down.

The end result of something like this can ruin your spindle at worst with damage to the inside of it from a loose Cat40 holder clanging around. This is a very expensive repair and will eat up both your time and money. I talked to Technology Sales in Chattanooga TN which has supplied me for years and we got off onto a whole world of things I had no idea of. None of the people around here who have machine shops do either as far as I know.

JM and no name retention knobs

JM and no name retention knobs

Now I happened to have some used JM knobs in use and I will talk about what I observed with them shortly. For now though look at the difference in the construction of the no name and the JM knobs. Now go here and read https://rktorquetest.wordpress.com/pdf-downloads/ . These articles are six and seven years old but the information is current and in searching I could not find anything that supersedes what they talk about with a newer better design. The tooling guy at Technology says there is nothing better and the customers he has that try them migrate solely to the JM knobs rather quickly. These ran me $28.00 each and it is just one of those funny things we machine shop owners do at times. We balk at high prices in some areas because we just don’t know there is an underlying reason to spend the dough anyway.

Judging by the studies done and the specified torque value for the Haas style knobs of 22.5 to 25 foot pounds I was probably only three to four times what I should have been. I have no doubt the no name knob was also not good from the very start but I exacerbated the whole situation with the gorilla torque method. JM also sells a knob socket which you can use to correctly install knobs. In all the shops I have been in I have never seen or been told about this.

JM retention knob torque socket

JM retention knob torque socket

I switched to Schunk hydraulic holders for my HSM Adaptive cutting because you get perfect concentricity on your end mill center line which gives better life and cut quality. I did not realize however that typical retention knobs would introduce measurable distortion of the tapered shank on the Cat40 holders as one of the articles in the web link demonstrates. I could prove to my own satisfaction they were telling the truth by looking at my holders which had been in service for some time.

The ones with the used JM knobs even though no doubt over torqued showed an even contact pattern on the tapered shank. The ones with the no name wonders showed a ring of contact at the top and bottom but very little in between. I can see with my own eyes what they were talking about. I and can also easily believe because of this that there were induced inaccuracies from distortion of the tapered shanks as the study said.

I think it would be time well spent for any milling machine owner to investigate what practice your shop uses and make changes before it comes back to bite you like it almost did to me. Save your spindle and improve your surface finishes and accuracies in one easy step.

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.

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.

CW4SE
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.

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
#41481
Reply
dr_cw
Participant
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.

WARNING WARNING WARNING
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.

CAD CAM Software Subscription Only, Unforeseen Complications for YOU

Recently I received an update to my HP printer. It ended up telling me that I could not run without buying more ink from HP. Now in the user manual it clearly states, that is the user manual and the conditions under which I purchased their printer to begin with, that I could run on black ink only. Furthermore there is a setting under printer properties that clearly states select grey scale to run in black ink only. So as a contract to me by virtue of the conditions I bought under and the properties which confirm the grey scale black ink only to run settings were intended I get this crap from HP. Extortion would be another way of stating this. The warning from HP I had from the printer after I installed much cheaper ink cartridges stated that any warranty would be voided by their use but did not prohibit their use. Legally I am sure they can’t since as a condition of buying this Officejet Pro 8600 I did not have to sign or commit to HP only ink.

ScreenHunter_139 Oct. 07 19.48

OK today I get this email from the ink cartridge people. HP sends you an innocent looking update which does not specify what is in there and does not allow you to select what parts of it you might want like Microsoft does. You get the whole chilona. Today I and every other HP 8600 printer buyer are being told we HAVE to do things we never signed up for and did not ask for. Arbitrarily and after the sale HP decides they want to make more money and make it in ways customers can’t run from. It is the capability to squeeze their customer base for more money that is just something no company seems to be able to resist over time no matter what the promises if they can do it. You see if you give people this kind of power over you it WILL be used sooner or later.

Is it to much of a stretch for you to see how this type of thing will come your way too if you cede the idea of permanent seats of software for rental? Where the conditions can and will change over time and there you are. Stuck with something that won’t work if you do not pay to play. All the power and might of legal hostage taking will be underlying your rental plans. When you have data created and locked under chattel securities and usable only with further payments that are subject to change with benefits to you subject to change why would you even go there? Here is one for you. You think data storage is free? You think there wont be a day where with cloud run software your stuff won’t be held to a cloud server and they wont charge you for the use of your data each month for the program and then the new server farm rental fees? Where they will force updates on you that will change the conditions to be different from when you signed up and you can blow it out your rear end if you don’t like it?

I want you to sit down and think about the ways you can come up with to screw customers over if you were in charge of a situation where where you could force pay to play. And change the rules to your benefit whenever. The company you signed up with today may well mean all the good things they say. Then like with Solid Edge the good guy leaves and utter junk takes their place. Or they get sued and now have to raise lots of cash. Or they get bought out (don’t think it can’t happen to whatever you currently use) and the new guys have saddled everything with more debt that has to be paid for. Just as soon as corporate leadership determines they need to change how they deal with you and in direct proportion to how much power you have given them over you, you are their hostage with no recourse. Except to leave entirely and if you have years of data locked up with these mercenary companies will you ever be able to?

Gee Dave it’s just printer ink don’t blow it all so far out of proportion. I mean after all no software company will EVER change the rules on you like HP did.

Isn’t it just peachy that software companies are doing this to secure their stable future? Without regard to your future or care for your expenses or profitability or your secure stable future? Where you better pay them before you pay your light bill or lose accumulated years of work and the ability to use that work? Am I wrong about this? Can you prove me wrong about this?

Inventor Pro HSM, Stop Your Sewing Machine

Just a short post today and it regards a tip for 3D Adaptive. The problem is that while cutting a 1.5″ hole into an SS block you get a lot of unneeded vertical moves.
tool path .055 stepup

Here are the default settings from HSM on the relevant page for this post.
.055 setting

The .055 stepdowns are the problem here with this particular tool path. You will find that the tool path struggles to make sense of the .055 step-downs where none are possible so you get these weird sewing machine vertical moves as a result. These can by the way show up in your finish and can be a problem. When you are cutting and removing metal fast you generate deflection and these little jaggies do not have that problems. The end result is they will cut past the roughing cut surface. So you either remove the sewing machine by eliminating them or do a finish profile or ramp down cut to remove the extra material you have left for this purpose. As a rule I always leave a little for finishing now and don’t rely on Adaptive to do this.

Here is the step down that works for this one. Set it to be the same as the roughing depth at .55″ and this is what you get.tool path .55 stepup

Perhaps this is a bad habit of mine but with ZW3D and CW4SE and HSM I tend to find that the 3D strategies seem to deal with the part structures better and so most of the time even though the cut is technically a 2D cut I opt for the 3D.

So what exactly do you fellow users do in similar situations? Please remember that I do not represent myself as an expert. What I am is a guy who has his own shop and does his own design, fabrication and machining. This quite often does not leave a whole lot of time for experimentation and sometimes information on how to best do things is elusive especially when there are no comprehensive user manuals.(cough cough hint hint HSM) . What I also am is someone who seeks better answers from those who also cut and part of the reason I post is that I hope others will chime in with what they do and why. Besides talking about what is going on with CAM and CAD programs I also want to post information on how to do these things. All of you look for answers but very few are willing to speak up about what they do and why. Perhaps you might reconsider and share some things here. This Blog is open to you and also to worthwhile links to your material if you have some we should know about.

In Addition.
Larry has posted a comment I will respond to.
Bore cycle HSM

He references being able to do this in one toolpath in CAMWorks and you can do the same in HSM with the bore cycle. Read the comments for why I chose two tool paths on this hole. One of the premises of Adaptive or Volumill type toolpaths is the ability to use full flute length thus increasing the amount of metal removed per tool over it’s usable life. I could have easily cut this with one step down to full depth rather than two. I neglected to show this in the tool path as an oversight not because I will be cutting it this way in production.