Catia V5 vs. NX for manufacturing
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  1. #1
    westk Guest

    Default Catia V5 vs. NX for manufacturing

    Do any of you have experience with both Catia V5 and Unigraphics NX ?

    I have a lot of experience with Catia V5 and am curious how NX stacks up against it for 5 axis part programming. When I look at the NX website it seems as though they have more tool path options and features that Catia doesn't.

    I don't know if I'm just seeing it as the grass is greener on the other side kind of thing, but it seems like Catia doesn't put as much effort into their advanced machining platform anymore and rather focuses on cloud computing and drafting more so.

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    Were it my choice, I'd take NX.
    More choices on how to get something done.

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    I have NX and been using it for about a year and a half. Only 3+2 and 4+1 work though. Never done any full 5 axis moves. JB Solutions is the dealer up here near me. Not sure who handles Southern California.

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    Im just starting on NX (maybe 6 months in) and cut wise I think its far superior. I used Catia at Gulf Stream in Savannah and its focused more towards design IMO. Another pitfall is Catia evolves so fast they had training classes 4 hours a day once every two weeks just to try and keep everybody up to speed. Even the guys in the router shop had to take a whole separate class once a month for simple 2D work. From what I have seen in NX I am going to stick with it since I just do moderate design verses machining.

  5. #5
    westk Guest

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    From looking at the NX website it seems as though they've incorporated all the fancy new tool paths for better trochoidal, volumill and hard metals roughing. Just to name a few of the differences.

    I also like that they have a built in post processor and machine simulation. Catia is so in their dust on that stuff

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    Long time NX programer working in an airframe company that uses both NX and v5 for large complex 5 axis machining. My professional opinion? NX kills it in cam (and for me design and drafting as well). Period. End of story... I have v5 on my system and it's a stinking dung heap of rules and regulations on how you structure your program. No built in post, everything is extra money. And I mean a LOT of extra money (tech support, machine simulation, 3rd party post...). NX gives you machine simulation within the system that runs gcode. It has a killer post builder. Tech support is top notch. In the full 5axis versions they now include the turbine machining package as well.

    But here's the important other part of the story: Boeing and Airbus and virtually every commercial plane builder are 100% Catia users (for design). Most airframe shops are now rolling over and accepting the fact they must use v5 or risk losing work. I would like to say it's too bad but it's just business. I'm getting ready to leave my current employer as they've starting the change over (no they don't offer us training).

    There are some bright spots. The planes engines (Pratt & Whitney) are designed in NX. As are rockets (SpaceX, Rocketdyne). And most automakers have moved over to NX. So, hopefully I'll be moving on soon to more NX adventures!

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    If I'm not mistaken, GE uses NX for their engines also.

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    is the pricing for the two similar? i have this notion that a seat of catia is 6 figures. nx a similar sort of price?

    ( of course sw + options + cam gets about 1/2 way to 6 figures..... )

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_machine View Post
    is the pricing for the two similar? i have this notion that a seat of catia is 6 figures. nx a similar sort of price?

    ( of course sw + options + cam gets about 1/2 way to 6 figures..... )
    NX fully loaded with design and multiaxis is in the mid $20k. (I still think). The equivalent in v5 I believe is 50 to 60k. So most v5 shops share licence options to get it down a bit. The file sizes and shear number of files using v5 is about double that of NX systems.

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    If the standard 5-axis motion options in Catia don't give you enough control you can purchase an option for Catia that uses software from NCL. You should be able to have as much control as you would need. NCL didn't sell all of the possible tool axis modes that you can use with NCL but I think it would give you more options.

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    Quote Originally Posted by upnorth5axis View Post
    If the standard 5-axis motion options in Catia don't give you enough control you can purchase an option for Catia that uses software from NCL. You should be able to have as much control as you would need. NCL didn't sell all of the possible tool axis modes that you can use with NCL but I think it would give you more options.
    Yet another $$$ option... I thought that's what v5's Manual Flankmill was for? NX's NCL like tool is Sequential mill (which comes standard). Drive - Part - Check...

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    BillT,

    Your remarks about fully loaded NX costing in the mid $20K has me curious (or confused)

    In round numbers, Solidworks runs about 5K; a full featured CAM package that runs inside SW would be around $15K. And to do true simulation from code would be a minimum of $10K (NCSimul for example). The same exercise for Siemens 'baby version' of NX (Solid Edge plus CAM Express and a simulation package) works out to a similiar number - say $28K.

    Aside from the fact you can ease your way into Solidworks plus integrated CAM for a small initial investment and add on over time, if your numbers are correct, it would seem that NX is not that expensive (given its capabilities)....or have I missed something??

    Thanks,
    Fred

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    Fred you are right...nx is not as expensive as people think. I'm in it about $32k but I have CAD, 5 axis cam (not impeller stuff), gcode simulation. Now you have to realize that even though you have a simulation license you still need the simulation and post from a reseller. A lot of posts are available from siemens.

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    That's good to know. And now the comparison gets even more complicated - solidworks can also have FEA, various kinds of file management (PDM), tools for mold making, etc.

    Does NX have these things? Is that included in the pricing noted above? (It could be really hard to tell without groveling through brochures, because stunts like SW's including a hyper basic FEA in the base package can confuse the issue.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_machine View Post
    That's good to know. And now the comparison gets even more complicated - solidworks can also have FEA, various kinds of file management (PDM), tools for mold making, etc.

    Does NX have these things? Is that included in the pricing noted above? (It could be really hard to tell without groveling through brochures, because stunts like SW's including a hyper basic FEA in the base package can confuse the issue.)
    It really comes down to needs and existing systems. Is SW the current modeling system? Does the customer demand a certain system (Boeing, Airbus...)Is there legacy data? What is the users largest industry they serve? I think except for make to print shops only, the company rarely gets to "choose" a system based on ease of use or power. It's more market driven for the previous reasons and very importantly what future employees are using in the market. That all said, it's hard to beat an all-in-one like NX a purely value to power based decision.

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    Another one for the NX camp here. The learning curve is pretty vertical at the beginning, but once you get used to how it wants you to input things, its amazing. The biggest problem I've seen for newcomers is the fact that there seem to be a half dozen ways to accomplish any one task. The number of options available at your disposal is mind-boggling. That being said, it also means your tool paths can be endlessly tweakable. I started off in CAM systems with MasterCAM, and one of the first things I noticed using NX CAM was "wow, I always wanted control over that in MC and now all I have to do is type in another dialog box!".

    I'm also stuck in NX6, the newer versions have some pretty major enhancements from what I've seen. Hopefully will get to use NX8.5 or 9 in the coming year *fingers crossed*

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    Thanks for the replies....and apologies to the OP - hopefully some of these comments will still be helpful.

    About a year ago we purchased a 5-axis machining center (DMG DMU 50). As we got up to speed - particularly with regard to 5-axis simultaneous cutting - it became apparent that direct G-code simulation is very desirable. It would allow us to wring out programs much faster, help with tweaks to the post, and even benefit when training others in the company.

    When we add the cost of a good third party simulator to our Solidworks with integrated cam installation we end up at the same investment as Dstryr has in his NX install. However, we don't have an integrated solution that would allow us to build machines (when we acquire new technologies such as horizontals, or mill-turn), add kinematics, etc.

    Finally, we are looking to abandon Solidworks for a hybrid modeler which is better suited to our R&D environment. Having stopped maintenance 2 years ago, we now face the fact that our cam software can't improve since backward compatibility is only guaranteed for two prior versions of cad. In short, this opens the door to considering the advantages of a total environment like NX.

    Looks like we have a lot of research ahead of us, but would appreciate any comments on how the integrated simulation of NX compares with that of the stand-alone solutions (e.g. Vericut, NCSimul, etc.). In particular we would like to know if all the tools necessary to create machines, kinematics for simulation are available with NX or is there a 'gotcha' that forces one to go back to the reseller for such material with the resultant $$$. Thanks again for past and future responses.

    Fred


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