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Stuck with Surfcam, REALLY need new CAM, any suggestions?

moldcore

Hot Rolled
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Location
UTAH
I’ve been using Surfcam for about 17 years, Mastercam for 8 years before that. I have to agree with what’s been said already about the UI and learning curve. Yes it’s an overpriced POS but for us it works and makes good code. We make some of the most sophisticated molds for castings used in aerospace using Surfcam and KeyCreator. Stick with it for another year and see if you can make it work. There are reason that CAM systems cost as much as they do and reasons why they seem so dammed complicated sometimes. A Little training will cost a lot less than the cost of a new software package that will probably need training also.
 

jetpigmfg

Plastic
Joined
May 20, 2009
Location
Apache Junction, AZ
I have used Solidworks and SurfCAM extensively for mold, tool and die, aerospace, 4 axis and all matter of parts. They work wonderfully together in most cases, especially if design changes occur. I also think Solidworks is a very fast geometry creation/modification tool. SurfCAM is like the others(GibbsCAM, MasterCAM, VX, et al) in that they commonly do the same things with different buttons. If I can be of any help, send me a PM
 

mechanix

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 16, 2013
Location
New York
We have looked into CAMworks, which looked appealing enough, the demo they gave me was very slick (of course I would like to see how it would actually work on one of MY parts..) and it felt like it was up to date with the industry.. however the more reading I do, makes me less and less sure it is going to be a smooth system (as well as 15k is hard to choke down, once all the solidworks and maintenance is said and done)

We use CAMWorks here at our shop and I would advise you to steer away from it. While the Tech DB has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool, this takes years to properly set up and Auto-Feature Recognition will never properly work on your parts until it's set up. The user interface is nice because it's built into SolidWorks but it is very confusing to new users. All I'm saying is that I use CAMWorks every day and if I could switch, I would. Good luck
 

Jame5

Plastic
Joined
Jul 30, 2013
Location
England
We use CAMWorks here at our shop and I would advise you to steer away from it. While the Tech DB has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool, this takes years to properly set up and Auto-Feature Recognition will never properly work on your parts until it's set up. The user interface is nice because it's built into SolidWorks but it is very confusing to new users. All I'm saying is that I use CAMWorks every day and if I could switch, I would. Good luck

How long have you been using it mechanix? How much Training have you had from the reseller?

I've been using CAMWorks for over 10 years in total, the TechDB is quite easy to get setup if you are trained to use it correctly, for example when I was using CAMWorks in industry, I could select the machine I wanted to use (this would also select the toolcrib for that machine, and the post) then I could sort the material out, size , type etc. etc.

I could use the AFR to find my features, yes some won’t find and have to be inserted interactively, but that mostly boils down to the way the part has been modelled. and in fact CAMWorks' interactive method is quicker than a lot of other software’s out there!

I could then "Generate my operations plan" this is the part where the TechDB takes over...

In my TechDB depending on the material the TechDB would output the correct operations that I had set up, simple as that, it didn’t take "years" to do this, in 3 Months I could pick one of 10 materials and the TechDB would spit out what I'd told it to do,

Yes to start it would add annoying tools that weren’t in my crib! but as you start working with the TechDB you see this less and less! until you only see "random" tools for holes of a size you haven’t done before!

of course you can do this as you program your jobs and get them out the door... by saving your operations plans back into the TechDB!

so day 1, I do a simple job, 4 drilled holes, a face feature 3 pockets (1 irregular 1 rectangular, 1 circular) and a perimeter feature in aluminium.

I set these up in CAMWorks so they behave exactly as i want them to, and I save the operations plan!

the next time I drill a hole in alu it knows how i did it last time, the next time i machine a circular pocket it does it the may i want it to... etc. etc.!

You teach the software as you work. the more you teach it the better your jobs get!

I went from CAMWorks to Mastercam; A job I could do on CAMWorks in 30 mins would take all day in Mastercam!

No matter what software you invest in, make sure you are willing to invest the time and cost to learn how to make that software work to its full potential!

You'd be shocked on how many people invest heavily in software and then skimp on training!
listen to the reseller your talking with and ask them how much training they recommend and what is covered! if they recommend 5 days for SolidWorks and 3/4/5 Days for CAMWorks then there is a reason why...

Spending $15k on software and expecting to be trained in two days is just unrealistic!
 

ToyMaker94566

Plastic
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
NorCal
I'm a 20+ year user of Surfcam and have seen many changes come and go. The last V5 Surfcam released was going to be my last..... Then Surware got bought out by Vero. I was invited to attend a Surfcam user group and reluctantly went just to heckle the new owners and voice my disgust for what Surfcam had become. It was made clear that VERO has very deep pockets and intend for Surfcam to be the flagship of their family of CAM system. This became apparent as they began to demonstrate the new V6. The new V6 was vastly better than anything previously.............. I bit the bullet, I've been back on the new V6 and my system is running nearly flawless. I've learned many of the new features and figured out the menus so I can say with out hesitation, I'll go head to head against any CAM system out there and you will not better me, especially when we get into 3D surfaces. There are still some improvements I would like to see but for now, I'm solid. Most my customers are designing in either Pro-E or Solidworks and all their models translate perfectly. Just because you are new to Surfcam, don't throw the baby out with the bath water, not before you get some proper training....... Just my 2 cents. :)
 

John Welden

Diamond
Joined
Mar 21, 2009
Location
Seattle
I'm a 20+ year user of Surfcam and have seen many changes come and go. The last V5 Surfcam released was going to be my last..... Then Surware got bought out by Vero. I was invited to attend a Surfcam user group and reluctantly went just to heckle the new owners and voice my disgust for what Surfcam had become. It was made clear that VERO has very deep pockets and intend for Surfcam to be the flagship of their family of CAM system. This became apparent as they began to demonstrate the new V6. The new V6 was vastly better than anything previously.............. I bit the bullet, I've been back on the new V6 and my system is running nearly flawless. I've learned many of the new features and figured out the menus so I can say with out hesitation, I'll go head to head against any CAM system out there and you will not better me, especially when we get into 3D surfaces. There are still some improvements I would like to see but for now, I'm solid. Most my customers are designing in either Pro-E or Solidworks and all their models translate perfectly. Just because you are new to Surfcam, don't throw the baby out with the bath water, not before you get some proper training....... Just my 2 cents. :)

You really need to try HSMworks. Surfcam is terrible.
 

ToyMaker94566

Plastic
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
NorCal
You really need to try HSMworks. Surfcam is terrible.
I have seen it and talked to enough users who all say the same thing, Surfcam is a faster system with more tool control than either HMSworks or CAMworks. It looks and runs like the solidworks format for part creation. That sort of system has it's place when building models but I'll smoke it in a real world application. ;)
 

eksinger

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 1, 2011
Location
Caldwell
I've been using featurcam for a few years now. It's automatic feature recognition works. but doesn't do the machining the way I want it to.. It works by extracting geometry features from a solid file from the top down then apply's the appropriate machining functions for it.. for simple parts it'll do a fine job. but it's rare when i can use it that way. tooling gets assigned by what size tool will fit the feature from your tool crib. I find that i'm alway's having to re assign tool numbers, but that's because my part runs are from 1 to 5 normally then off to a new setup.. except when i dedicate specific tools to a specific tool #.
tech support has been great. and the post is customizable. when i can't get what i want on my post, I send it to the tech support and they fix me right up.
 

John Welden

Diamond
Joined
Mar 21, 2009
Location
Seattle
I have seen it and talked to enough users who all say the same thing, Surfcam is a faster system with more tool control than either HMSworks or CAMworks. It looks and runs like the solidworks format for part creation. That sort of system has it's place when building models but I'll smoke it in a real world application. ;)

When you realize how much time you're wasting using Surfcam, your head will explode.

(I used surfcam for 15 years)
 

len_1962

Stainless
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Location
Tempe
I'm a 20+ year user of Surfcam and have seen many changes come and go. The last V5 Surfcam released was going to be my last..... Then Surware got bought out by Vero. I was invited to attend a Surfcam user group and reluctantly went just to heckle the new owners and voice my disgust for what Surfcam had become. It was made clear that VERO has very deep pockets and intend for Surfcam to be the flagship of their family of CAM system. This became apparent as they began to demonstrate the new V6. The new V6 was vastly better than anything previously.............. I bit the bullet, I've been back on the new V6 and my system is running nearly flawless. I've learned many of the new features and figured out the menus so I can say with out hesitation, I'll go head to head against any CAM system out there and you will not better me, especially when we get into 3D surfaces. There are still some improvements I would like to see but for now, I'm solid. Most my customers are designing in either Pro-E or Solidworks and all their models translate perfectly. Just because you are new to Surfcam, don't throw the baby out with the bath water, not before you get some proper training....... Just my 2 cents. :)

Toy,

I am also a 20 yr user of surfcam and I know John has used it for a long time also, I think John and myself won't argue the fact that surfcam puts out some of the best code out there.
But, yes there is a but out there, the user interface is AutoCad 12 and most machinist under the age of 35 have never used a user interface like that, most are now using some sort of solid type of software, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, inventor in school so the struggle is they need to know how to create things old school as you would with a T-Square, Triangle, paper and a pencil got get the geom where you need it.

Yes using SW has made that transition easier with surfcam but there are still improvements needed, 2D is pretty good surfcam will remember most of the geom selections if you've only modified the dimensions of the features but not if you have added features to regenerate the toolpath, 3D doesn't remember anything and you have to re-pick\select the geom again and if you use configurations in SW every time there is a change it make new layers and you end up with dead layers that have the same name and you have go thru and clean up.

So what we need to do as users of surfcam is pressure Vero to get a version to run inside of SolidWorks, hell BOB-CAD has a version, it is pretty good I am lucky as I work in education now and get to try a lot of these CAM software's at a greatly reduced cost, We also have DelCam for SW that the other machinist in our shop is using, he has made some very complicated parts and the students are always coming back with changes and because it is in SW all you have to do is a couple of clicks to change the model and wammo toolpath is regenerated, same for HSMWorks, CamWorks, SolidCam, Bob-Cad for SW and MecSoft for SW and and and...surfcam will be in the dust as well as EdgeCam and others that don't jump on the band wagon.

I have gone thru about 4 to 5 sales people here in AZ since our deal in town retired because most shops are now getting CAM that runs inside SW, heck there are 2 free 2.5 axis ones now an you can beat FREE!
I told the last guy and even the new person in charge at surfcam year and a 1\2 ago .... you need to be in SW... sales guy is now gone and a new person is there... has no clue about surfcam or the history ... will be gone soon also .... can't make money if they can't sell in AZ.

Ok, my opinion and experiences over 20 yrs. Over those 20 yrs I have had the companies I have worked for buy close to 20 seats of surfcam at on place during the 90's we had 12 seats of 3axis+, bought more than that because of theft of 3 computers and 2 here and one there and ..............you get my point. Also the on with 12 seats we were Beta test site of the yr in 99 because we help fix many issues with the metric install, but the people that were in charge at surfcam are now gone and I have to re-educate the new ones on the history of there product.

done venting now

lenny
 
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ToyMaker94566

Plastic
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
NorCal
... So what we need to do as users of surfcam is pressure Vero to get a version to run inside of SolidWorks,

done venting now

lenny
Thank You Lenny and John,

I value your knowledge and appreciate your input. As I'm sure you are both aware, different strokes ect....... I could careless if Surfcam runs in SolidWorks, I have many customers and each have a different preference to CAD. What I care about most is accommodating all of them. As for the associative feature you speak of, Surfcam does that too. Perhaps not as seamlessly but I don't use that feature anyway. The reality of most changes for me typically means retooling, new process and new fixtures and there is no way even the best box format CAM system can possible know how I want to machine it. The only people who believe machining is a science are the guys who don't make their living as a machinist.

Let me ask you guys, does your preferred system stand alone or do they operate as a module to Solidworks? Can you create a design from scratch within HSMworks / CAMworks or do you rely on a separate CAD system for that?
 

Seekins

Stainless
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Location
Lewiston ID
HSMworks for me. I have a full blown seat of Feturcam that we tried, i hated it and couldnt use it... and they sent us a bill and my lovely wife paid it just like it was any other bill. It SUCKS.. and they wont even let me sell or give it away. I paid @10k for it and never turned it on past the time i spent trying to make it work for us.

HSMworks is stupidly easy if you know solidworks. After using SW since about 98 its pretty much a extenssion of my hand anymore. HSMworks kicks butt and makes us allot of parts easily. configurations update, you can copy and past all kinds of stuff and the best part..... they listen to their customers
 

Dave Cross

Titanium
Joined
Oct 25, 2007
Location
South West Canada
HSMworks for me. I have a full blown seat of Feturcam that we tried, i hated it and couldnt use it... and they sent us a bill and my lovely wife paid it just like it was any other bill. It SUCKS.. and they wont even let me sell or give it away. I paid @10k for it and never turned it on past the time i spent trying to make it work for us.

HSMworks is stupidly easy if you know solidworks. After using SW since about 98 its pretty much a extenssion of my hand anymore. HSMworks kicks butt and makes us allot of parts easily. configurations update, you can copy and past all kinds of stuff and the best part..... they listen to their customers

Fucking Featurecam/delcam, they tried to do the same thing to me, except I told them to go fuck themselves. I can't believe they had the nerve to try and charge me for the software AFTER I had returned it because I was UNSATISFIED, all within the TRIAL period...

The sales guy actually had the nerve to call me and start cursing me out for not liking it:crazy:
 

rlockwood

Stainless
Joined
May 1, 2013
Location
Near Seattle, WA
Another HSMWorks here. Much like what JW said, it literally changed the way I think. In a prototype environment like i'm in, where its highly likely i'll prototype a few variations of the same part before it moves to production, its an INCREDIBLE time saver. Further, if you're designing your own parts, nothing else i've seen matches the ability to make on the fly geometry changes.

It's not perfect, but its a hell of a lot closer. If your engineering team is already using solidworks, you're golden.

they listen to their customers

One of the biggest ultimate selling points for me. I consider all software out there a work in progress. Their forum gives you direct access to the software developers themselves, all of whom appear to have a vested interest in producing a product that makes their customers happy. Bug reports are virtually always responded to (by an actual PERSON) within 24 hours, and often fixed within 30. Depending on difficulty to implement, feature requests often find their way into the next development release, etc. Need your post customized? Usually gets taken care of the same day.

Anyhow, just another satisfied HSMW customer here..
 

Dan B

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 18, 2006
Location
Ontario, Canada
Fucking Featurecam/delcam, they tried to do the same thing to me, except I told them to go fuck themselves. I can't believe they had the nerve to try and charge me for the software AFTER I had returned it because I was UNSATISFIED, all within the TRIAL period...

The sales guy actually had the nerve to call me and start cursing me out for not liking it:crazy:

Yeah, I had a very bad experience with Delcam too. They burnt their bridges so bad that I will never even look at another Delcam product. They really need to study up on customer service and how to treat potential customers. Lying and bullying isn't the way to do it.

Dan
 

BOSTON

Stainless
Joined
Oct 5, 2006
Location
Boston,Mass.
I was at a company yesterday training 2 R&D machinist to use Sprutcam...They dump Featurecam after buying a Tormach and Featurecam charge them a great deal of money for a post that does not work...Featurecam basicly said if you need some addition to the post pay us...
That was the deal breaker for Delcam...They have 2 seats and the yearly support fee was almost twice as much as the cost of Sprutcam...Both machinist have already said that Sprutcam was easier to use (for thier needs including 4th axis) compared to Featurecam...

HSM is going to be taking a lot of customers from other software companies in the next few years...I'd buy it myself but just can't justify the cost...My all post verison of Sprutcam with 4th and limited 5th axis was only $1500 when I bought it...
 

len_1962

Stainless
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Location
Tempe
Thank You Lenny and John,

Let me ask you guys, does your preferred system stand alone or do they operate as a module to Solidworks? Can you create a design from scratch within HSMworks / CAMworks or do you rely on a separate CAD system for that?

Toy,

I have 1 standalone CAM (surfcam) and 3 that run inside SW (DelCam, HSMWorks and Bob-Cad), as of right now I run surfcam everyday and our other machinist runs DelCam, loves it hated surfcam, I am now starting the process of learning HSMWorks and I am finding it nice and easy, well setup and easy to add tools and tweak things.

Now I use SolidWorks for everything, have since 97 when I bought it just for the translators, you remember the days of a 96k modem and the I'm ready to receive are you ready to send phone call that took all night and they didn't include the wireframe, in surfcam kind of need that, to now doesn't matter who sends me a file from what CAD software SW reads it, 26+ translators, surfcam charges you for some of the standards like ProE\Creo, step, Catia 4\5, Siemens\UG\NX and Inventor all of them are in SW. I can make make anything from a new job to modifying an old job to adding a new rev of a part to the old job, and... and... and .... using SW, that means if the CAM is in SW and I make a configuration of the old assembly using the new part and the toolpath I created using say HSMWorks justs has to regenerate using the way I programmed it, yes you can to something like this with surfcam but not without re-selecting stuff, so the internal CAM does know what you want, sorry, but it does.

Don't get me wrong, I love surfcam, have made a lot of money with it, it just needs to get into the 21st century with sketching, plane creation and some click pull and drag.
Can't tell you how many parts I have created with surfcam, in the 90's as a model maker made cell phones, PC's, monitors, mice, TV's, medical and many more parts for ID firms across the country and if it had been as easy as SW i would have had to work 70+ hours a week and almost get divorced along the way because I was never home.

lastly you cannot run HSMWorks, CAMWorks, SolidCam, as standalone, they have to be in SW and pretty soon HSMWorks will be in Inventor since AutoDesk bought them, so asking can you design with them my answer is "HELL YES YOU CAN" all day every day.
 

ToyMaker94566

Plastic
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
NorCal
..... Don't get me wrong, I love surfcam, have made a lot of money with it, it just needs to get into the 21st century with sketching, plane creation and some click pull and drag.
Can't tell you how many parts I have created with surfcam, in the 90's as a model maker made cell phones, PC's, monitors, mice, TV's, medical and many more parts for ID firms across the country and if it had been as easy as SW i would have had to work 70+ hours a week and almost get divorced along the way because I was never home.

lastly you cannot run HSMWorks, CAMWorks, SolidCam, as standalone, they have to be in SW and pretty soon HSMWorks will be in Inventor since AutoDesk bought them, so asking can you design with them my answer is "HELL YES YOU CAN" all day every day.
................. Ok you bastards, I'll take a closer look.......... Ya know, I have prided myself for always being on the cutting edge of technology. The old school machinists always mocked me for being the only college educated machinist and shop techno guy! Eventually they either came on board or faded away - so it's tough to hear that I'm the old skool dog now! LOL...... But if I find you're all full of crap, I will not like you any more! :D
 

Seekins

Stainless
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Location
Lewiston ID
I'm OK if you don't buy it, just means i have an edge :) I will be buying another seat as soon as i find another programmer to bring on.

Oh the good o'l days of onecnc...
 

g-coder05

Titanium
Joined
Mar 5, 2006
Location
Subic Bay
I have been using Featurecam for about 2 years, and I have to say it is the worst interface I have ever used. It crashes regularly, it is missing many basic drawing shortcuts, and many of its conventions are very counter-intuitive. And when I have to create 3D surfaces, it gets even worse. I will very often get 'unable to process' errors with no indication of what is actually wrong, and waste a lot of time just changing random settings until something works. I come from a 3D graphics background, where interfaces have been streamlined and refined for years. It feels like the programmers had never even seen a graphic interface before when they started designing this thing; I was complaining to their tech support about the lack of something as simple as 'hold shift to lock into x/y axis or regular polygons only,' and he had never even heard of such a thing. This is something that became a stand drawing convention like 15 years ago, and that is about how far behind the curve the rest of the program feels to me. The whole program is work-arounds, awkward interfaces, and trying to trick the program into doing what you want. Sadly, from what I read on the forums, this seems to be par-for-the-course as far as CAM packages go. I can't believe that these companies get this much money for software that is this badly broken. It's like buying a car and finding out that even though you can only see through half the windshield, two of the pistons are missing, one of the tires run backwards, and some of the buttons randomly do other things, you still have to pay the manufacturer $1500 a year to keep the engine from expiring.​



Interesting, I have been using FC for around 15 years and find it to be a great software with a very easy user interface. The sketching tools are average I agree and im assuming the basic drawing shortcut you are talking about is the draw a rectangle box shortcut. I dont know why FC has never put this in the standard dialog but it is in the create curve dialog. You have to drag it to your regular geometry menu. My only gripe is since EGS sold FC to Delcam the support is horrible. If I had to do it all over again I would still go with FC.
 








 
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