Tag Archives: Mastercam 2017

Bye Bye Autodesk, Renewing Solid Edge Today

I had until the end of March to participate in an SE promo and have decided to do so. The Autodesk policy of using price gouging attrition to eliminate perpetual seats over time for the subscription model had already soundly irritated me. I believe in perpetual seats and I am willing to pay the up front costs to do so. I don’t care about subscriptions just as long as it is the choice of the customer as to what they buy. I do however assign paramount importance to that choice being there.

I went to Autodesk to get HSM. It is the only reason and attached to it was this Albatross Inventor. Inventor 2018 is now out and I went to see the new features and one of the first videos I ran across was this. https://youtu.be/MV0iMjkTb3s One of my pet peeves with Inventor besides the fact that while Inventor brings in other companies work they are still just dumb solids with none of the intelligence that SE would assign imports with Synchronous Tech. But yes there it was you can now assign dimensions to 3D parts and I did not try to find out if it was for imports to. It just kind of summed up for me how far behind and clunky Inventor was to SE. Don’t even talk to me about how dumb their method of finding dimensions is either since I am tired of even thinking about the people who came up with such assinine logic. Two and a half years in with Autodesk and my attempts to use Inventor were so painful I just quit. Far easier to model in SE then revise in SE and import the revision back into my parts locator known as Inventor for HSM use.

One of the reasons I had left current maintenance with SE was a perceived lack of new features that benefited me and was worth the $1,500.00 per year since I rarely call for support. It took a few years with Autodesk to begin to appreciate that things can be far worse. With Autodesk Inventor it is shocking how far behind SE they are in many areas and with HSM how slow improvements are forthcoming. I still believe in HSM and would never consider going back to CAMWorks. But I was told late last year that you buy into HSM for what is there and never buy into it for the promises of future enhancements. I have found this to be true. Sadly HSM is a product resting on it’s laurels while others are making big strides forward and adding significant new features. HSM is mired in trying to do things with Inventor, SW and Fusion360 with insufficient programmer support. Truth to be known I suspect instructions have been given to devote far more time to all things Fusion over the rest. Fusion requires you to work on the cloud for saves and edits so it was a non starter for me. Only a fool takes his intellectual property and exposes it to such risk.

The other key thing to me is stability and perpetual seats. Autodesk is in a state of serious flux right now and the emphasis is not on what can we provide to customers to make them want to buy our products but rather how can we force an unwilling group of customers to pay more while we take away their major investments in the perpetual seat model. They want to have chattel and not customers. This had dictated to me that 2018 was the last year with Autodesk for me and this is only because I had renewed last December. Some three months before they sent out that dear customer we love you screw you letter. Had I received that letter before hand I never would have sent the check.

Oddly enough I find more and more value being assigned to Mastercam. I have heard all the complaints over the years about them. I have personally watched people use it and it seemed to be page page click click page page. But they could do anything. They now have a high speed machining tool path that is better than Volumill and probably equals from what I see HSM Adaptive. Their new version is well received in a nearby busy job shop and has cut down on the page page click click stuff I am told. I have known them for years and I trust their opinion. I don’t expect that they will ever be as intuitive and simple to learn and use as HSM. HSM however has significant lacks and apparently no burning desire to fix them since years have passed with no solution in hand for deficiencies. I can deal with a lack of ease and speed in programming if the trade off is far more capabilities and a corporate commitment to permanent seats. As far as I can tell Mastercam has this and the private owners are in no hurry to sell out or change their ways. Their model has procured for them the largest single market share for an individual CAM product and with Autodesk going full on stupid I imagine there will be many Delcam and HSM users pondering their situation.

To me Mastercam appears to be the logical next step if I take one. For sure what I choose now will be what I use for the rest of my career so I will go with something that has a history I can trust as well as capabilities I need. The addition of a huge trained CAM user base is attractive too since I will not have to train anyone. Other than myself of course if I go there.

There are few opportunities to acquire CAD or CAM customers from your competition. The hassle of migrating to a new product from the work to move files to training new users and getting them up to speed is a powerful barrier to overcome in the search for new customers. Customers that primarily will come from another program to yours. But I think right now Solid Edge and Mastercam have a golden opportunity to acquire Autodesk refugees and they might be a little crazy if they don’t get in there and offer incentives.

Update 3-23 4:39 PM

Holy cow that was fast! Placed the order this morning and have new license file in hand with media scheduled for Fed Ex delivery next Tuesday. Yes Solid Edge still sends out physical media unlike some who make it a special request. Bye bye Autodesk!

How Do You Find And KEEP CAM Customers?

Well how do you? If you talk to existing users it is not to hard to do philosophically. You do what you promise, no less and if you do more good. You FIX without undue delay things that are a complaint of a significant portion of your user base. You advance the GUI so unneccessary steps and complications are removed and your product streamlined with ease and speed of use increased. You do not use your customer as an ATM and nickel and dime them to death. You stay current with existing manufacturing technology controls and common use/bought options  like probing or door cycles or coolant types and mist removers being integrated into CAM plans without hassles or problems. High Speed Machining is a must and you can’t rest on your laurels you need to improve it.

Philosophy often meets its demise with cubical programmers who have never cut a chip and or CPA MBA types who do not view customer desires as legitimate expenses of doing business but rather view them as costs to be cut or avoided.

I am looking today at HSM, CAMWorks and Mastercam. I guess in some ways HSM has dramatically affected the CAM market where these three are concerned and I suspect more to but today I am talking about these three. HSM has been eating up market share like no tomorrow for a couple of years now. How this increase will proceed is in question with subscription stupidity but non the less they have been waxing their competition for a while.

I remember conversations with some CAMWorks people about HSM a few years back and if they had considered the simplicity and power of HSM compared to CW. I do believe they perceived and realized the threat but were not sure what to do. In the mean time they were late out the gate with yearly updates for CW for SE and full of really bad problems on top of it all.

Mastercam was famous for why do things on one page and two clicks if the five-page and thirty clicks method you developed years ago still worked. I mean why make things simpler for your customer when what is there will eventually do almost anything and all they have to do is memorize the labyrinth.  Clicks all day keeps boredom away and what fun. Mastercam built the largest single CAM user group presence with this paradigm and I guess felt it was all that was needed.

I think CW and CW4SE and Mastercam looked at HSM though and realized it was time to change the way they operated or lose out. I suppose you really have to have your face shoved deep into it sometimes before revelation strikes and you realize business as usual is going to hurt your company badly. CW in particular is run by a bunch of penny pinchers that regard the expenditure of a dollar as a major  catastrophe to be avoided at all costs. Mastercam is privately owned and getting family to see some things was shall I say difficult? But probable loss of future income can change things.

HSM now is the one with some long-standing issues and promises being made but not upheld. Resting on the laurels of major past achievements it is still perhaps the best three axis milling package out there. But it is not as far ahead of the pack as it was and new features are not keeping them as far ahead as they used to be because they are few and far between or don’t work worth a flip. Plus subscriptions which I think is going to kill their future potential.

Into this steps CW and CW 4 SE. Now understand that I have not used CW4SE for two years now and have never used CW but I can see with CW4SE that they have for two years been on the ball with new year updates. I gather that some problems are being taken care of. Compared to the debacle that was ST7 CW4SE they clearly have made a concerted effort compared to the past. It looks like the pace of complaints for CW with the Tech Data Base and Posts has dwindled on their closed user forum so perhaps those long time problems are easing. Who knows with CW4SE since posts are basically non-existent regarding any topic.

Mastercam has finally really worked over their GUI and has taken care of some problems. People I know who have been involved with Mastercam as contract programmers have very good things to say this year. The few users I speak to locally rate this as the best version update they have seen. Mastercam enters the ribbon bar fewer clicks and pages world for the first time ever and improves some capabilities to boot. Mastercam has always been regarded by the people I personally know as being capable of anything. If you just knew the secret convoluted path to CAM nirvana you could go there. Now not so secret or convoluted. I also see a feature I really like in turning and it is interrupted cuts in Lathe so you can avoid long stringy chips. Something I look at in real envy with my Haas TL2 where long curls can be a significant problem.

Let us not forget to regard one very important thing CW, CW4SE and Mastercam also do. They do not shove you into this subscription only user hell hole and will sell you permanent seats all day long.

I really have to wonder what this says in general. We see two programs threatened with losing market share improve what they do. They have to because each year they have to earn your business or lose you. It amazes me how many Mastercam users are many versions back and don’t renew and still make a living. I do believe these guys are all making a concerted effort to earn your repeat loyalty. To compel you with product advances and timely releases to keep sending money each year.

It was known a year and a half plus ago that HSM all flavors would be subscription only. What we see there now is a great product that suffers from a huge slowdown in new features and issues like Lathe linger unfinished for years. Forget wire and much of the world of five axis or mill turn too. When you put a lot on the table of a finite quantity of programmers and do not also structure increased talent to equal increased demands on talents you get what we have now. Lots of good things on the way and not finished or usable because the few programmers are pulled in to many directions to finish any one single thing. I suspect Marketing has a hand in this. Sales people are notorious for making promises they can’t deliver on just to make a sale. Don’t ask the “factory” what they can really do when you can make promises and print glossy promo stuff about things the factory can’t do.

And of course cost cutting and budgets.  Ask your talented staff of programmers to quadruple their workload and projects, wave your magic wand or stick pins in your Vodoo doll or whatever. A proven method to success. At least it is in the subscription world of forcible pay to play and never stop paying. Heck you get the rubes in there and you don’t HAVE to take care of any business other than invoices and counting dollars.

Today if I was a new prospective CAM buyer I would have to consider Mastercam over the others. Large trained existing user base to hire from. I would say the largest. Will run about anything you may have. This year the evidence is showing they are taking their customers needs seriously for the first time in a long time.  Oh and PERMANENT SEATS.

CW and CW4SE . I have a hard time trying to be non judgemental about these guys after the treatment I suffered under from them. Complicated, nickel and dime you to death and expensive to buy and each year after. If you can make it work for your facility fine. At least they seem to be trying. Permanent seats too if you can afford them.

HSM is my milling program of choice. Limited in what all it can do to best serve 3 axis milling it has the worlds best high-speed machining as far as I can tell. Lathe is crude and has not seen significant improvement for a while. No wire. The big new things this year like Probing and 2D Chamfer are not usable in their current state in this shop for reasons I have stated in past posts.  These things bother me but I would still buy HSM in a heart beat because the basic program is just that good. Except that now it is subscription only so this would rule it out automatically.

Funny to see how HSM stuck it to these guys who would not make things right only to now see the shoe on the other foot. I watch with great interest to see how this is going to end up. People all I can say is only a fool or desperate person would take his manufacturing facility into a must pay forever to use your own data paradigm when to many alternative that do not make you a hostage to extortion exist. You have a bad year and have to watch your money with subscription only CAM software they will have to be paid before your employees the IRS or your light bill. You will pay and pay and pay and over time pay much more than the same software costs legacy permanent seat holders.