Definitely not, Gary.
When it comes to Surfware / Surfcam the only question one should be
asking is how long can a CAM company remain viable if all they do is
concentrate on toolpaths and forget about the user interface and not
update it for years.
San Diego, CA
Jon, I would agree, the interface needs a total redo! This sentiment was
expressed recently by thread in Practical Machinist. A shop like mine where the
majority of jobs are in the 5-25 piece range needs a CAM system that is user
friendly and quick and easy to use, Smurfcam fails miserably in usability test!
Many Smurf users are either not paying maintenance or migrating to other systems.
"A shop like mine where the majority of jobs are in the 5-25 piece
range needs a CAM system that is user friendly and quick and easy to
use, Smurfcam fails miserably in usability test!"
Could not agree more.
Now take the next steps:
Start a blog and say it.
Pick up the phone, call Surfcam, ask for Alan Diehl and say exactly
what you posted above.
San Diego, CA
I like to judge a cam system on 2 criteria....ease of use and raw power.
Price is usally not my concern.
The shop Im at currently uses mastercam, and they hold like a HUGE
percentage of the market.
But if you analize it, the software is neither easy to use nor is it
You say surfcam isn't exactly user friendly.
Well, neither is mastercam the number one selling cam system. neither is
esprit, the number one selling wire edm software.
I can say this because I bounce around a lot from software to software, and
after just being away from those for just 2 years I stumble. Usually I get
the pressure that I should just walk up to this software after any time away
and just hit the go button.
But I run other software in my life that is "easy". Why are cam systems so
damn hard? Confusing as far as interfaces go?
I was involved in buying bobcam years ago, made programs the day I
installed it. The stuff didnt have the documentation yet, had to run it for
a week with no training or documentation.
I made parts.
Contrast that to mastercam. NOBODY is going to walk up to mastercam with
never having ran it before and make parts.
If you manage to make a part, good luck even finding the post processer
command. I found x to be the same.
These interfaces suck. They should pull along the user like a web page
does, but still have the power to allow the user to do as he pleases once
Lots of shops have a cam seat next ot a mill or lathe, and the poor
operator gets to make 3 programs a week. Even mastercam is too confusing for
that to be productive. And I wont even mention the complexity of the esprit
Thing is there was a time I ran surfcam and thought, "finally, a system that
makes common sence and I can guess my way thru in the beginning". The turn
off was once I started to get better at it, I found...thats all there was.
Long story short...cam system interfaces suck. A cam system should have
Easy looking like zonealarm with giant icons in order of the way a simple
part is programmed.
You shouldn't have to be trained to make a simple part if youv'e ran cam
before. It's shameful. You should be trained to do advanced stuff.
Same goes for machine tools.
Iv'e ran a wire machine that had "dumbass" mode. It was a sodik made 25
years ago, but it had this "walk you thru" thing. It kicked azz.
Thinking about even the default icon layout of esprit makes me wonder wtf?
There's steps to programming a circle on wire edm in esprit.
BUT THE DAMN icons are not in that order? They are all over the place.
Once I put the icons in the order it took to make a part, I seen the couple
of users in the room go from stressed out to make a program to wanting to
make a program.
The old saying must be true, those who can do, those who can't make cam
Imagine if the outlook express interface was like a cam system.
It would severly undermine the trolling.
That's pretty much my feelings about CAM systems as well. I think at least
part of the future lies in easy to use CAM for every niche.
You've never run a Swiss before, right?
Check out this video and tell me if you couldn't figure out how to program
one in a day with this software.
It won't program a mill or a wire but it's easy to use and powerful for
what it does do.
I was at a place recently that went through this over the past year or so.
They bought some high end high speed machining centers. The code they were
posting in UG didn't allow the machines to perform at their optimum. So
they bought some software from the builder. Now they fly. UG couldn't post
code for the Swiss we sold them, so now they are getting Partmaker in the
interim they are using our CAM software. Same with their wires. The guys
over there are using something different now too.
The problem is that they really liked the end to end capabilities of UG.
Design to manufacturing and all that. The problem is the software is too
complicated and it doesn't post very good code. So in the end they decided
to to use specialized CAM software for each type of machining process.
The main interface of Sylviexpert would greatly benefit *any* CADCAM
program I've ever used!
I've said for a long time that the bottom of the main graphics screen
should be split and I've used the Camplete GUI as an example:
Have you used Sylviexpert? It looks very well thought out to me.
San Diego, CA
Not yet, but that will change now that they are selling it in the US.
They don't have much in the way of support yet, but if nobody starts
working with it that will never change.
I'm really starting to give up hope that someone will come up with an
all-in-one solution for CNC programming that works well and is easy to
use. By concentrating on just Swiss they've made it powerful, yet simple
Actually Jon, I said Surfware because I wanted to see what your
comments would be. I would agree. So thanks for sharing.
In my silence observation, what I can say is that the CAD/CAM industry
is stagnate. I have not seen any radical changes with or towards the
technology. It seems like the same old thing. All I hear is "Better,
Faster, Improved" with new versions of software to the next.
No one is stepping up to the plate and offering a 'radical' change in
how things are being done. There are no innovations in the CAD/CAM
sector. No creative thinking. As I walked around the CAD/CAM area at
IMTS, I found myself surrounded by the same old stuff.
What I think some of these developers need to do is to get out in the
field (programmers and application engineers and not the sales or
dealer team) and observe users and machine operators first hand. They
also need to "think outside the box" and leave their egos behind and
not be afraid of the critics.
What I see as well is that many have started their own 'machine shop'
to test and to develop their software. Surfware started this many
years ago. The problem is that these so called machine shop areas for
R&D lack real technology and real investment. Most have low end
machine tools (given or loaned to them) with no abilities to check
what their software is doing. Low quality machines always hides the
truth particularly when it comes to HSM and surface qualities. Kind of
like the blind leading the blind.
My point is that we need major innovation and bold steps in CAD/CAM
technology. Our machine tool technology is years ahead of the
software. We need a paradigm shift from traditional CAD/CAM and it
needs to embrace other emerging technologies.
I see major progress by Solidcam (which probably still needs a ton of
work) to be much less modal. I hate modal CAM systems. They waste tons
of time and make my job of programming much more tedious. Programming
in CAM should be fun and it should encourage change and
Agree if you are talking about CAM. Don't agree at all if are talking
Good luck with that.
They can't even figure out how important a non-modal user interface is
and why modal programming wastes so much time and makes CAM
programming so unnecessarily tedious
Your seeing it in CAD but the companies who have made "major
innovation" in CAD don't know how to market it.
Your comments should be on my blog, which is closing in on 10,000
San Diego, CA
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