Tag Archives: Surfcam

Helical Tools, Great Cutters With A Crummy Download Policy

Today because I suffered a lot of grief and un-needed exposure to web hacking I am going to use my soapbox. I really like Helical end mills. I like the configurations they offer and the robustness of their offerings. I gave up using Hanita when I first ran across them and have yet to find a compelling reason to switch. There is however a problem I do have with their corporate policy.

It is the one they have for their Milling Advisor. In their determination to use it to generate sales leads they demand that you can only install it by going online to do so. For every workstation or PC every time. No standalone download. Now it is not like I am not a customer which is what really ticks me off. Between Win10 forced downloads and my intermittent 75KBS ISP throughput it took over an hour just to get this thing loaded on one Workstation. I filled out their form again and again and again to finally get the initial download which then tells you to go online and get the rest of it.





What really makes me mad is that I took two Workstations that I never intended to allow online, online to do this. Like all companies that expose you to hackers they don’t care about your concerns, it is all about them. I understand that “my company first attitude” since this whole post is all about me and my company which oddly enough I consider more important than theirs. It is about their dumb lack of ability to track who is or is not an existing customer and treat us like we have never been here before every time. I decided today that this has become a problem and I will never be going online again with a critical box to download Milling Advisor.

I consider the Milling Advisor to be a valuable tool. Problem for Helical is that others are starting to do the same thing and integrating tool libraries to various CAM programs and there it is with your cam program and standalone download. It is just a matter of time before there will be a competitor who will duplicate their effort and their prices. To be honest I am loyal to companies that improve my bottom line. I can easily see switching from Helical in the future because all things being equal a value added program like Milling Advisor helping me to extract efficiency from my cutter purchases is an asset.

Not one I will go online to acquire with critical workstations again but one I will down load from their competitors when that day happens. Here is the thing they don’t consider. Helical wants loyalty, I do to. You want my money but treat me like I am not a customer with your download policy it is just another thing to push me away to someone who does. Do I see another place yet like that? No but after today I am looking again.

Autodesk And The Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Update 9-23-16

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

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.

VAR’s, Their Own Worst Enemies For The Future of Reseller Networks

Before I get started a comment on VAR’s. I am not sure what goes through VAR minds when they see the future. Status quo more than likely as they cling to a sales model in many cases that will eliminate them over time if they are no good. As software authoring companies switch to subscription models more and more will be sold directly to customers without the middle man. I think this may be part of the reasoning behind Autodesks move. They lay the groundwork for people to easily try for long periods of time and know before they buy. They make extended trials easy by subs. They provide an open forum where answers are to be found and you don’t have to be a VAR customer to get support. What this means in many cases is that lazy VAR’s are in serious danger of becoming obsolete unless they change their ways.

For instance I am switching my maintenance to Hagerman and Company. They have a local office in Nashville I can easily drive to and have good people there and elsewhere for support. They also sponsor local user group meetings so they not only provide tech support they provide a networking infrastructure available to local users. This is a big deal in many ways for participants and it takes a forward looking VAR to do this and not turn these into sales hustles. For $500.00 per year they will provide support for people who did not buy their Autodesk products through them. I don’t remember the exact details here I just remember one of their local reps telling me about this. Check it out of you are interested. This is key also as I expect the future will in time belong to those who will support you based upon need and not the calendar. Ultimately I expect the better VAR’s will also offer a per incident support structure. Lets face it. The idea that my old VAR for Solid Edge was worth it when I might have called him for CAD support once or twice a year is a bad proposition for me. Out of seven years of $1,500.00 per year costs (I am guessing they got half of that.) I figure they might have spent thirty hours supporting me. The rest of my money was gravy they did not earn. Yes I know office and personnel costs blah blah blah for them. I don’t care it is my money and I set the value perceived and received from spending it. Like most of us I resent HAVING to send money off for something I no longer need. So on to the rest of the story.

I was shown a manual for VAR’s to manage their “successful” sales strategy this past weekend. Paraphrasing a section of what it said it basically went like this.

“Make sure you have a first-rate sales demo prepared. No matter how many times you have done this demo (with your hand selected demo part ha ha ha) rehearse it and make sure you can do it in your sleep without stumbles or errors. The potential customer expects you to do this and will think poorly of you if you don’t. If you fail to do this your potential customer will have no confidence in your ability to support them.”

The very idea that anyone on a shop floor would go for this deception and that CAM VAR’s would think this is smart strategy is amazing to me. Right off the starting line these companies have lied to their prospects and somehow think it is the proper way to do this. Well it is if your only concern is roping in dupes and not being a, well not being a Value Added Reseller selling worthwhile software I dare say.

So this part which has been on your demo page for years is now the part your sales henchmen bring to bear against reality. Well rehearsed and with no chance for failure and no doubt on the sales dudes laptop to boot.

I went through all this garbage with CAM VAR’s a few years ago. It was even worse than this and twice I had sales guys come to my shop with a price for Siemens Cam Express but no demo, no program to load and no ability by the sales guy to do anything with CE. It blew my mind when one of them came out here expressly to show me the program. I invited him in and had made time that day for him. I sit him down and say “OK, hand me the DVD and we will get started.” Turns out he had no DVD, no laptop loaded with it and no ability to demo it anyway. The look on his face was priceless as I immediately turned off the Workstation and told him to leave and don’t come back. The other one said “Hey, you talk about keeping the money in the family so here is your chance to buy another Siemens product”! I kid you not that was his ultimate sales weapon. Price tag and no demo once again. This one got seriously hollered at and told very uncivilly to get out of my shop.

Do these people think I would buy into $10,000.00+ worth of software sight unseen? Apparently so. This happened twice with CE and yes you bet it prejudiced me against them because it IS a direct indication of how two different Siemens VAR outfits regarded me. Another Siemens VAR would let me try NX CAM for a month but had no support individual within 250 miles of me. Furthermore I had to sign an agreement prohibiting me from using the program to cut any parts I might resell later. Like I am going to sit down and make imaginary parts so I can try his stuff out. If I can’t use it on parts that I have to produce for real customers so I know exactly how it will perform in my shop on my equipment why would I even bother?

You software companies that allow this to happen expose your contempt for future and existing customers. Customers and prospects who to you are not worth the time it would take you to make mandatory a minimum useful level of competence a part of your resellers network price of admission or passing of periodic re-qualifiers to stay on board. Bet you never miss a billing cycle though.

Cash cow buy and shut up. ATM for them only the sole consideration they manifested as far as I am concerned.

The common thread here is a desire for you to not see problems before you buy. These guys know darned well that thirty days is never enough true trial time in a busy shop. If they can get you to sign up chances are good you will pass the 30 day limit and be committed to something you never would have bought into with more research. And in many cases it sucks up enough money that the victim can’t easily leave.

Dave’s Anti Bad VAR and Software Rules for CAM Purchasing

Here is what I recommend doing today. My primary source of information is other users I know and who are close by so I can verify their skill, parts cut and similarity of equipment used. For example the shop that convinced me to look seriously at HSM was a shop that is a pressure cooker deal near by. I could go in and watch and get honest feedback because these guys had to make it work to pay bills with. Online research was secondary in importance and VAR’s the very last source of information.

Online presence is interesting because right off the bat you can pretty well eliminate companies with closed forums. A forum closed to public reading is not there to protect its customers from spam. If none can post to the forum but active customers only, who cares who reads the posts? Well a company with something to hide does and as I have documented here before Geometric for example really does not want you prospective customers looking there. Any other company that does this also has something to hide and don’t ignore this huge red flag. The opposite end of the spectrum is Autodesk CAM forums which are open to all to read and to post in also after you register. Having followed their forum for a couple of years I can say that it has never gotten out of hand so therefore I can say that those who hide their forums do so for nefarious reasons. Kudos to Siemens also for opening up their forums for all to read.

So you decide you want the VAR in your shop anyway. Not all VAR’s are bad, just most of them in my personal experience. They will send out prices and slick demos and people who generally can’t think outside of their little canned demo box. Pretty well worthless in other words. This would be my list today for any VAR before they ever entertain any idea of showing up for demo day and what is expected of them on demo day.

1. You will load the program on my computer to work in my environment and not yours.

2. You will now be given simple to complicated parts to program with no preparation allowed. Refuse this and you get no further. You can fail this part to some degree if I determine the program will work in spite of your ignorance of it.

3. Anything relative to your special claimed advantages such as auto cam plan generation must be demonstrated on my part from the creation of, using for example CAMWorks for SE, a Tech Data Base with my tools and incorporating my strategies and proving these out on a couple of other similar parts with Feature Recognition. I am sure other CAM programs have similar things to prove so I am not singling out CW4SE in this instance. I am just using what is familiar. But whatever your special feature is you HAVE to do it from A to Z and prove it on my parts without rehearsals.
OK now that we have gotten this far show me how to cut specific areas in a certain direction or fashion. The local Featurecam VAR dude failed this some years back and we never went any further as a result. He did not know much about 3D tool paths and I had a reason for cutting that way.

4. Next we are going to cut parts with your post for my machine. You are also going to sign a commitment before cash changes hands that all posts needed for my operation will be provided and edited to my situation and satisfaction before I start paying for the program. I understand that complicated posts might run some $$ but that will be all spelled out with time frames for support and costs to finish these. Gibbs for instance is famous among users I know for slow walking their post promises. Geometric refused to honor a verbal promise made to me on a CW4SE turning post after I had paid for turning before I had bought a lathe. I did not get this in writing because I was stupid enough to think their words meant something.

12-14-15 update to the following paragraph.
Sometimes when you write it makes sense to you but is ambiguous to readers. I don’t mean to imply there are problems with the posts aspect of HSM. These guys are really good at support and making posts available. What I mean is this guys shop has problems because HSM and Autodesk have not built into the software capabilities he needs for turn mill and multiaxis mill. Talking with the owner today and he loves HSM for milling and considers it the best out there for strictly milled parts. Multi axis and turn mill however give them problems. This is a serious issue as more shops go this route to get additional work. They are looking at Mastercam (uggh) and Partmaker right now because of this.

I would except HSM from this and others may also have the integrity to make their free posts work just for you. HSM has proven themselves to my satisfaction in this area. My nearby friends shop has yet to get a good mill turn post from HSM. I think that is because the program is not strong in that area so his post suffers from a different problem. Namely that of lack of program capabilities. I know they have worked with him. They also have a dynamic Posts forum and you can get any answer you need there if it is possible to do. Remember my public forums comments above.

5. The guy you send out for this needs to be familiar enough with the program and common use CNC machinery to get us through any glitches that may come up.

6. If I find out beforehand your method of last resort is to bypass the shop floor and force your junk on me by selling to management dudes who don’t cut chips I will stop it if at all possible and 1 through 5 won’t matter at that time. If I can’t stop it I will make sure others online know exactly what you did and the sorry end result for my company. I will try to make darned sure you don’t get others as customers with the same deceptive practices. Today you can run but you can’t hide your crappy ethics from inquiring minds.

I find there are good VARs who do not mind showing you the right way and telling you the truth about what they sell. If it is not for you they will still sell to you but they won’t use deceptive practices to do so. They lay their cards on the table and let you decide. The majority of all VAR’s I have had to deal with though are pretty worthless. Two years after CW4SE was out the Siemens VAR resident support tech for CW4SE did not even have ST8 with CW4SE loaded and had no clue about my questions. One of the reasons I am no longer a customer of that VAR or Siemens.

7. If your VAR refuses to put you in actual touch with some of their current customers as referrals, or has to hunt for one that will give them a good referral (manifested by serious delays in providing or a refusal to provide any) the program may be good but the VAR probably is not. Beware of the program and or VAR in this case and investigate further before you choose. Users, if you are happy with your VAR and the program make a bit of time available for them with potential customers. Your primary purpose here is allegiance to users who need to know others can and do use the software and VAR in question and are satisfied. Save your fellow users from mistakes.

8. If there is not an active user community online for you to participate in it is a big sign of trouble. Market share does mean more work for those who use programs having it. Good online presence also means your chances of finding a local mentor or go to guy for after hours real world answers is much better.

9. If the software you are considering has geographical areas of protection for VAR’s and you have no choice on who you end up with this is another huge red flag. Years ago this is why Mastercam never had a chance with me besides their page page page and click click click GUI which I did not like. My choice was one VAR only from Georgia. The one recommended to me was Barefoot CNC the same distance away but no dice. So no sale either for Mastercam then or ever. I have heard too many bad stories about lousy Mastercam VAR’s you are stuck with because of where you live. Not saying the Georgia guys were bad but I am saying that I should have had a choice where MY money is spent. Check to see to if your potential VAR fails you in the future if you can switch to another. You don’t want to be stuck with people that show up to be paid once a year in a brand new Corvette and that is it.

Look VAR’s, you better be prepared to spend time with me. You want me for a customer for multiples of years right? You want me to drop a big wad of cash in your laps right? Be ready to spend the time needed to prove to me you are worth it. Prove that I am worth it by sending people who won’t waste my shop floor guys time. Prove it by not being deceptive.

The philosophy of companies fascinates me. Other than Autodesk’s upcoming wretched subs only paradigm they are the perfect example of what a potential customer would want. Nothing is hidden. Try the free version for a long time and decide if it is for you. Startups and students get a free full version for a year. How good is that for a trial period eh? The guys with the free versions also can go to the official Autodesk CAM forums and find help for a program they have not spent a dime on. As much as I hate the cloud and subscription only if I had not prepared my life raft before Autodesk goes subs only I guess I would still consider them. Writing this today I had to ask the question of myself if it were a choice between CW4SE or subscription Inventor Pro HSM I would have to hold my nose and go with HSM. I also find in talking to these Autodesk guys that a whole bunch of them have actual manufacturing experience under their belt. I think this is considered a plus before you get hired by a company whose Mr Big also happens to cut chips himself and he gets it from our viewpoint. In contrast I will never forget the day the CAMWorks for SE developers told us show stopping problems were “intended behavior”. Cubicle programmers who had never seen a chip could not figure out why we were quite unhappy when we could not readily cut chips.

Hey SANTA, for Christmas I want Autodesk to thrive by offering seats and subs and the idea of subscription only to die.

Inventor HSM 2016, Generating a Food Grade Finish on a 316 SS Valve Block

Today I am going to demonstrate the cut paths in HSM I have found to yield a surface quality that will suffice for food service without any subsequent finishing. This is a dispensing valve block meant to be sanitized daily or as often as required and has to be easily dis-assembled for access to all surfaces for sanitizing. There are some interesting things to note here and one is how deceptively simple HSM appears. There are right ways and wrong ways to cut and behind the scenes HSM makes choices for you, correct ones by the way, that remove the prompt prompt page page click click stuff so often found elsewhere. As an example in the 2D contour cut path by picking the correct profile I eliminate the boundary of cut and the top height and bottom height you might otherwise have to pick. In the 3D Scallop cut tool path I select top and bottom and one exclude surface and I do not have to go in there and select a bunch of individual surfaces to finish a portion of the part.

Speaking of Scallop cut with HSM I have to say this is my favorite final finishing weapon of choice. There are times where Adaptive with the intermediary step ups can accomplish a satisfactory finish if you do not cut to fast. You load your endmill up enough with high speeds and feeds and depth of cut though you will generate deflection and surface problems. This is true of ANY high speed machining program by the way. When time and production are critical rough with Adaptive and leave just a bit for cleanup with finishing tool paths as I did here for best results.

Scallop by the way was the tool path that replaced CAMWorks for Solid Edge’s Constant Step-over tool path which was the only reason I had entertained using CW4SE at all after getting HSM. I have SE ST8 with CW4SE loaded on my main workstation but have yet to cut a part with it. I went in there to see how it was doing and refreshed my memory on how complicated it all was. I quickly regained my sanity and left. As a matter of fact the only reason it is still on here is I had intended to do comparisons between Volumill and Adaptive. Adaptive has always won these though so far and as I type this I think I just don’t care what Volumill or CW4SE do anymore. Time to yank CW4SE off the PC and close another chapter of my life. Too expensive too complicated and run by a company whose only real concern for you as a user historically seems to be that you pay their exorbitant unearned yearly fees. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Geometric’s CW4SE by the way is a perfect example of why you never want software without a permanent license. If you were foolish enough to buy there are only certain versions that work well and if you were stuck into the upgrade when the chattel owners decide to pay to play situation who knows how long you could be shut down or the time to be wasted struggling with what the heck did they do now. It took many months before ST7 had a halfway working version of CW4SE. At least with permanent seats you can pick what works best for you even if you have to stay on last years CAD to do so. If you don’t think this is important now experience will one day demonstrate why it is and it will consume your earnings and time as it does so.

Anyway here is picture of the section of the part being cut.part cavity

Here is a picture of the part with a Tri-Clamp fitting in place. This will be welded in and polished out by hand as the last step in production. Notice by the way that the fitting produced to NSF standards has basically the same finish as the cut surfaces. cavity with triclamp fitting

Here is the video. https://youtu.be/McxGa1Vwnt8

Fine Tune Your HSM Adaptive Clearing Results

The whole rationale behind high-speed machining is to remove more cubic inches of material per hour and per endmill or insert. I still watch in awe over what can be done and remembering how it used to be when you had to slow down everything so you would not kill your end mill as you buried it in a step over or corner. There are various flavors of high-speed machining programs out there but they all have one thing in common. Vibration control is essential.

One of the first steps is to have the correct tool holding and while heat shrink is supposed to be the best most of us will never know. It is to darned expensive to set up for and most of us will never need that last tenth accuracy in our life times nor do we have the metrology lab required for this accuracy. The second best and much more affordable option is hydraulic tool holders. Personally I use Schunk Tendo hydraulic holders and right now they are running around $250.00 from my favorite supplier Technology Sales in Chattanooga TN for the .75″ CAT40 holder. The sleeves will run another $80.00 each. The sleeves come in slotted for TSC that will allow for six “sprays” of coolant to be directed straight down into the cut for tooling that does not have coolant holes and unslotted that will allow you to use through tool TSC. The Schunks are very concentric (.003mm claimed runout at 2.5″ on their web site) and also have never in my experience suffered from cutter pullout and I sure can’t say the same for collets and set screw clamp holders which HAVE ruined some of my days. So the first step is to have reliable and capable tool holding. Concentric pullout proof tool holding is essential to your tool life and cut quality in high-speed machining. If you do not take care of this first you can just ignore the rest of this article since your maximum potential will never be achieved unless all the puzzle pieces are put in place.

Have you ever started a cut and found yourself scrambling for the feeds and speeds over ride? Sure you have and we all know the tooth jarring squeal of impending end mill doom. As far as I know there are only two methods to fight this. One is to just fiddle at the controls while cutting until we find the place that sounds and looks good and generally that is where we stay. I dare say this is how most places do it. The second way is to embark on a rational method to fine tuning your specific mill and cutter combination for best results.

Autodesk has a spindle vibration analysis tool that goes on the spindle and analyses during the cut and for all that cut paths conditions. It also costs over 10g. There is another way that any of us can do though and all it takes is chunks of metal and some time. The following link will take you to a PDF well worth downloading and the two screen captures are from this.
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCYQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fm.plm.automation.siemens.com%2Fen_us%2FImages%2FMMS-HSM-Oct05-17050hires_tcm1224-4241.pdf&ei=1RdiVcD_BoeyggT8_4DQAw&usg=AFQjCNHsI9TfE-5ynJtSg-M4bXol2gazlQ&bvm=bv.93990622,d.eXY (Yes I know the link is long but looking at link renaming tools always seemed to end up with junk so I just posted the real one. Any worthwhile suggestions and I am all ears as long as it is not a click for profit deal.) Here are two screen captures from the PDF that will show you a graphic example of why one should do this.

Block with cut paths

feeds and speeds breakdown

Every mill has a unique vibration characteristic based upon the actual machine variances and it’s environment like the floor stability. My Haas VF4 will be a bit different from yours and the same is true for those whiz-bang 300,000.00 dollar jobs too some people are so proud of. As a matter of fact UGS did this study and they deal in high dollar production and high dollar equipment where getting that last little bit of quality and speed makes a big difference. Speaking of Modern Machine Shop by the way here is a link http://www.mmsonline.com/articles/chatter-control-for-the-rest-of-us that will take you to a page with other vibration control articles.

Do yourself and your shop a favor and have a look at this idea. It is in most cases the last piece of the puzzle to be implemented and in many cases is never even considered.

Humorous update. I was looking for Helical brand end mills on EBay and these turned up. From the Buonshopping EBAY purveyor of fine goods in Hong Kong we have these fine tools. I went to see just what the end mill feedbacks had to say and much to my amusement the first few (I looked no further) had gobs of smiley faces and bad spelling har-de-har-har.

Hong Kong helical end mill

Buonshopping purveyor of fine goods

Cutting a Basic Part in Inventor HSM Pro 2015

A few posts back I mentioned delving into tool libraries with Inventor HSM. I decided to do a complete part instead as it has been my experience that so much of the YouTube video seems to cater to five-minute bites of time. You can hardly do much in that time frame so here is a complete part and yes, it exceeds five minutes ;-).

This is a basic walk through from zero setting to tool library creation and editing to a finished part and simulation. It is a complete part walk through and not just snippets of various aspects of CAM plan creation. This video is a basic demonstration of why I like HSM so much. Quick and easy tool library creation to tool paths and an interface that just works. Without bells and whistles and un-needed complications that things like Tech Data Bases and Feature Recognition can bring to the table and so often do.

I am a typical small job shop. Well can I say very small at one man? I have used Surfcam, CAMWorks for Solid Edge and VX now ZW3D prior to my arrival to HSM and I will say HSM beats these guys hands down.

What first drew my attention to HSM was a nearby shop that was a real pressure cooker deal with lots of small parts runs that had to be out the door fast. I know these guys and the work they do and I could hardly ignore the proof before my eyes. Their experience was mostly with Mastercam and OneCNC before HSM. I remember going over there one day as they were cutting a formed support back board for some medical group. 3D all the way out of plastic and the gouging with OneCNC at the high speeds needed to cut this part in reasonable time were driving them nuts. OneCNC never did get a post right for them on their Haas VF5 that would not gouge. Desperation led them to try HSMWorks and the rest is history. They have been there for about five years now and have no intention of leaving. They also went through the Autodesk buyout and the ensuing trepidation that brought to HSMWorks users. The way they were treated was also another serious plus for HSM in my eyes. Autodesk has lived up to every promise they made these guys and two years later I think we can safely say the words spoken by Autodesk to treat their newly bought customers right has been followed with proof as manifested in this shop.

They regard HSM as having sophisticated algorithms but a simple intuitive interface that produced great tool paths quickly and easily. I can only say I fully agree. As a bonus it has been my experience that with Adaptive Clearing I now had a high-speed machining capability that beats the current Volumill capabilities and I have current versions of both to play with. In side by side comparisons with same parts, mill and end mills the ease of creating tool paths and the always but sometimes dramatically fewer total inches of travel and thus better cut time HSM was a clear winner. I was pretty surprised about that aspect considering the reputation Volumill has. But like they say the proof is in the pudding and when you can cut parts more easily and quicker it is what it is.

Here is the video. As always I do not represent myself as an expert. I am a shop owner who will rise in ability to the level of parts I accept for work in my shop. These are the strategies I have adopted for better or worse and I encourage HSM users to step in here with better ideas for us all to profit by. Part of my reason for having a blog is the help I have received from those who are better than me who graciously have shared their time with me. The other part is for potential users to see what a real user does and not have to wade through some sales guys canned demo rigmarole.

The Leveling of the Playing Field for USERS

First go here http://www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-833.htm and read the theory of CAD commoditization Ralph brings forth. I have to admit to having similar thoughts for some time now and think the handwriting is on the wall for over priced CAD and CAM.

The exception to this will be those who have been sucked into the PLM world and the psuedopods of the Hydra so firmly wrapped around their stuff that there is no escape. At a certain level of manufacturing complexity this is necessary and an evil inflicted upon using companies by vendors that make it so difficult to use that not only do you have to buy the product you have to buy gobs of very expensive tech support. Mainly from people like Dassault and Siemens who are the chief culprits of complexity for their own benefit but others like PTC fit the bill to.

But for the rest of us who use midrange MCAD there is a revolution coming. Remember what the prices for rudimentary CAD was when it all got started? I read of things like $150,000.00+ for one seat along with the custom computer for crude stuff by today’s standards. With the exception of Synchronous Tech which I believe sets Solid Edge above the rest the similarities of all cad programs and their capabilities are sufficient for what you need to make. How easy it is to get there differs which is why all mid range CAD programs will end up having Direct editing if they want to survive with decent market share.

Let us use what I currently employ as an example of a business model which will be under serious attack by the end of this year. CAMWorks for Solid Edge with 3 axis milling, Volumill 3 axis, 2 axis turning and adding 4th axis milling adds up to over $15,000.00 and right at $3,000.00 per year for what ever they decide to put in there and tech support which most use rarely after the first year or so with most programs. Then we have Solid Edge Classic at around $6.900.00 and $1,500.00 per year. Grand total of $21,900.00 up front and add to that another $4,500.00 and your first years expenditure is $26,400.00 and $4,500.00 per year after that. Similar costs abound with most combinations out there for SW and SE with the exception of HSMWorks and SW which can as a package be significantly cheaper than others.

Yes, HSMWorks which brings me to the company that is going to break the back of overpriced CAD CAM. http://cam.autodesk.com/inventor-hsm is the current page for Inventor and HSMWorks. Look at these prices!! Yes I know that Inventor is clunky compared to SE and SW but they are working on it. Seriously working on it. Now how quickly they fix things remains to be seen but for most of us out there based upon the work I see being done with Inventor it is more than capable. I have used HSMWorks and while CAMWorks has some powerful things HSM does not CAMWorks is also far more complex to use and set up. The reality is that if you are a job shop with gobs of differing parts and small runs at the end of the year I think CW and HSM both will consume about the same amount of time to generate plans with ease of use to implement going to HSM as the hands down winner. Unless there is a significant improvement for SE in a revolutionary way and not just the incremental way the last two years have been I will more than likely not ever renew again. I can use SE as it is for the next six or seven years and all the capabilities I need are there. CAMWorks is just overpriced like Featurecam and Mastercam and Surfcam and many others with price tags way up there.

See here is the thing I am looking at. What have YOU MR CAD CAM company done for me lately? Just what is it you think I should spend MY money on? Remember, it IS my money. This thing you are supposed to compete to get not collude to fix prices at an artificially high level. You want me to keep forking out the dough when I rarely need tech support you have to offer genuine improvements that rate buyer loyalty. It is a thing that works both ways you know and what have you done for me that I should reward you with loyalty and money each year is a question most developers would rather you never ask yourself. Now if you don’t already own SE it is worth looking into to buy for at least a year just to get the Synchronous goodies. Like many SW users are discovering as their Dassault sells them down the river you can work many years without being current. Money in your pocket where it needs to be.

I expect that I will soon be buying into the Autodesk HSM Inventor world where I can replace most of what I need for $7,500.00 and $1,250.00 per year after that. For just the cost of two years maintenance with SE and CW4SE I have a new program that will save me at least $3,000.00 per year afterwards. Heck if I need only 2.5 axis HSM is FREE. That is like $4,500.00+ at CW4SE and Surfcam and Mastercam etal. It has been free for some time now and I expect it will be for some time to come. THIS is the commoditization that is going to happen and Autodesk is going to kick the prices down across the board and eat their competitors alive.

The next generation of pricing is right around the corner. HEY you UGS/Siemens SE haters don’t worry about losing sales of NX to SE but rather maybe you ought to think about will SE even keep most of its market share in the coming onslaught. If you care of course. So Nero fiddles for SE at Siemens and the lunatics run the assylum at Dassault and PTC Who is over there while a guy who is really hungry and commited with a vision and the will and power to make it happen plans your demise. I never used to think much about Carl Bass but this is certainly changing for the better as I watch what is happening under his direction.

CAMWorks for Solid Edge SP2 Has Arrived

Short post here. CAMWorks has posted for current customers an important release. We now have assemblies capability for CW4SE and SE. Add to the mix the upcoming changes to the Tech Data Base and great things are in store. I have a “beta” version of this on hand and while I have not had a chance to play with it this is proof things are moving quickly along. Now would be the time if you have been sitting on the fence to give CW4SE a good hard look if you are an SE customer who happens to also manufacture. I will have more to post on this after I get done with the glut of work over the next week and have time to play with new toys.

CW4SE is to me the biggest deal in the SE ecosphere this year and I hope you have a look.

http://camworks.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=99a7c340667821f4ee55fc3c5&id=c00bc81d3e&e=1458db190e takes you to the download link for current customers and

http://camworks.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=99a7c340667821f4ee55fc3c5&id=e579361745&e=1458db190e takes you to an introductory video.

CAMWorks for Solid Edge ASSEMBLIES Are Here

Just a short post today to notify those Solid Edge users who have been long waiting for this that the date is 4-14 for the release of CAMWorks 2014 SP2 which will have assemblies mode for SE in it. I for one have been looking forward to this as it will simplify my life for sure. The day may shift but not by much and Geometric is confident enough on this date that they gave me the go ahead to announce it.

CW4SE assemblies mode

Ain’t it purdy 🙂