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  1. #21
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    Probably the best post I ever saw from You.
    Agree 100%.
    Well said.

    Where You are programming that type of work the ability to consistently adjust parameters is crucial.

    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post

    3- Guys like Dystr and I who came to NX with extensive CAD/CAM experience and were looking for more advanced tools to solve complex problems.
    - He is doing crazy 5 axis work under tight deadlines,

    - I'm programming Speedios for production of complex parts in 7 figure annual volumes.

    When you come to NX from that perspective, what would look like bullshit complexity to most folks actually looks like tremendous capability and power.

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    OP here: there have been questions about my background: limited machining experience, Stanford electrical engineering degree, founded several computer software/telecom companies, have personally written maybe 2 million lines of code over the years....when I look at CNC machining, my first inclination is to just write G-code, and I was attracted to the fact that NX can be customized with C code My biggest challenge will be dealing with learning curve on the machining side. I'll have some mundane stuff I want to mill, but am also interested in pushing the limits in terms of really unique and aesthetically pleasing shapes on the CNC side....this is not a production shop situation.

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    You doubtless have the wherewithal to buy the software and the smarts to learn it. If you do, it would be great to get some posts from you as you go along giving tips on what's working for you and how you got there. Maybe a video or two.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanermo View Post
    Writing one in bcpl.
    Holy cow! I did a bit of maintenance of some BCPL code back in the 1980's. For those who never heard of it, BCPL is one of the precursors to C (not C++), and considerably more primitive than C, which is saying quite a bit in the 2010's.

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    drcoelho - I for one am looking forward to seeing what you do with your machines, and hearing about your adventures!

    FWIW I took a look at the user created post processors for NX available on the Siemens GTAC site, but didn't see anything for Brother. Perhaps you could get a reseller to give you access there to read the forums, I did see posts about Brothers in the brief search I did while looking for post info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drcoelho View Post
    OP here: there have been questions about my background: limited machining experience, Stanford electrical engineering degree, founded several computer software/telecom companies, have personally written maybe 2 million lines of code over the years....when I look at CNC machining, my first inclination is to just write G-code, and I was attracted to the fact that NX can be customized with C code My biggest challenge will be dealing with learning curve on the machining side. I'll have some mundane stuff I want to mill, but am also interested in pushing the limits in terms of really unique and aesthetically pleasing shapes on the CNC side....this is not a production shop situation.
    Oh... I thought the Dr. was of the MD type (or you could also be a Stanford EE + MD, in which case, thanks for being an overachiever).

    You know what? Get NX. You'll climb the learning curve just fine, and I'll sign up for classes from you next week!

    When you get it, shoot me an email and I'll have a super crazy dialed in S300 post for your machine

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    NX online learning advantage is actually pretty good. It's not free, but it covers a lot of the product, and you can learn a lot from it, especially if you are a little familiar with some other package.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    People's opinions of NX is highly dependent on how they come at it.

    1- You have 19 year olds in engineering schools that force NX on them the way Catcher in the Rye is forced on 9th graders. They are attempting to learn basics of CAD/CAM, and are spending more time fighting NX than they are getting actual work done. The moment they step into something like SolidWorks or Fusion, they feel tremendous relief and wonder why the hell they were forced to use such an "awful" piece of software.
    I work at an engineering school. We start the freshman on NX during their first semester here and gradually build them up over the course of their time here. By the time they are seniors they have a pretty good grasp of it (especially on the FEA side). Most of them still don't like it though. I normally use Inventor/HSM here, and I'm finding myself limited on the multi-axis side. I've told myself I'm going to teach myself NX over the summer when things slow down here, we'll see how it goes.

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    I agree with jeffj about Siemens' Learning Advantage. It is a good starting point for training new users but I am not sure of it's capability for advanced training. It used to be about $200, not sure about it currently, and that's inexpensive training IMO.

    I have not had post training nor Tcl-Tk however I have developed 99% of my posts without it. Basic customization can be done graphically in post configurator or post builder and I needed outside help for only a few custom commands and UDE's. If you need a unique post from scratch there are a lot of sources for hire.

    As for the learning curve I don't believe its reputation is all that accurate these days. I have discussed this at length with our mastercam programmers and the consensus seems to be new users should be able to get the MC basics down quickly. However now days, with so many options in MC, its learning curve to know it inside and out is so much higher than it used to be which IMO erodes the claim of NX having a steep curve. If you are learning NX modeling, assmeblies and drafting at the same time then yes it is steep but then you will bask in warm knowledge you are learning and doing things many other softwares cannot do at all.

    As for specific cam features NX varies wildly with many configurations available ranging from basic cam to the sum of knowledge of the known universe.

    By the way, I believe there are a number of current NC licenses which have machine probing included in case you are interested. Also, the top licenses are very similar but vary between them with features such as impeller/blisk machining, additive machining, wire edm and turning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qwan View Post
    I agree with jeffj about Siemens' Learning Advantage. It is a good starting point for training new users but I am not sure of it's capability for advanced training. It used to be about $200, not sure about it currently, and that's inexpensive training IMO.

    I have not had post training nor Tcl-Tk however I have developed 99% of my posts without it. Basic customization can be done graphically in post configurator or post builder and I needed outside help for only a few custom commands and UDE's. If you need a unique post from scratch there are a lot of sources for hire.

    As for the learning curve I don't believe its reputation is all that accurate these days. I have discussed this at length with our mastercam programmers and the consensus seems to be new users should be able to get the MC basics down quickly. However now days, with so many options in MC, its learning curve to know it inside and out is so much higher than it used to be which IMO erodes the claim of NX having a steep curve. If you are learning NX modeling, assmeblies and drafting at the same time then yes it is steep but then you will bask in warm knowledge you are learning and doing things many other softwares cannot do at all.

    As for specific cam features NX varies wildly with many configurations available ranging from basic cam to the sum of knowledge of the known universe.

    By the way, I believe there are a number of current NC licenses which have machine probing included in case you are interested. Also, the top licenses are very similar but vary between them with features such as impeller/blisk machining, additive machining, wire edm and turning.

    Maybe that was my problem and why I insist it has a terrible learning curve! We were handed the software and had to learn the cam side obvisously, but also how to model with it, use constraints, and get that all into drafting (not just a part drawing, part, fixtures), which included dual dimensions, datums, etc. Also they wanted templates made and tool libraries.*
    For a small example, I struggled with creating a break out section view. I watched youtube, used the internal help, but it was still hit or miss. In solidworks, which I had no training, I used the breakout section with ease on the first try, and it works every time I do it. Now there are certainly other things that are better/worse....

    Not that any one of those are 'super' challenging by themselves, with time to work on it and figure it out and get instructions. But try completing a 'package' of everything with zero experience on the software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    I may be wrong, but the OP's application is 4th axis indexing to get access for intensive 3D paths on organic shapes.

    What I am not wrong about is that 4th axis simultaneous motion is a giant pain in the ass. Primarily because it is so very rare in practice that the tool sets for it suck; most work that would be 4th axis simultaneous goes to shops with full 5 axis machines. All the CAM guys are putting their efforts into full 5 axis tool sets and not bothering to circle back to 4th axis stuff.

    Fusion is a prime example of that; Swarf has a 4th Axis Limit option that has been in beta for a long time, yet still doesn't work (it will spit out 5 axis motion). For the big project I'm on, we attempted to output 5 axis motion and manually delete the (minor) 5th axis motion, to no avail.

    NX has great tools for 4 axis motion, but they rely heavily on geometry that has been explicitly created with this kind of tool path in mind. It is very easy to make what looks like basic 4th axis swarf geometry, only to find that the underlying structure of the surface is a spaghetti pile; all the multi-axis tools use the underlying surface structure to tell them where to point the tool, and if that underlying geometry is not *very* clean, the algorithms shit the bed.

    Just to give you an idea of how challenging this sorta stuff is and why NX is such an absurdly good tool, this is how my NX reseller worked on our challenge (I would be the customer in his example, though he isn't using our geometry for this demo):

    YouTube
    holy shit thats incredible and insane!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    I may be wrong, but the OP's application is 4th axis indexing to get access for intensive 3D paths on organic shapes.

    What I am not wrong about is that 4th axis simultaneous motion is a giant pain in the ass. Primarily because it is so very rare in practice that the tool sets for it suck; most work that would be 4th axis simultaneous goes to shops with full 5 axis machines. All the CAM guys are putting their efforts into full 5 axis tool sets and not bothering to circle back to 4th axis stuff.

    Fusion is a prime example of that; Swarf has a 4th Axis Limit option that has been in beta for a long time, yet still doesn't work (it will spit out 5 axis motion). For the big project I'm on, we attempted to output 5 axis motion and manually delete the (minor) 5th axis motion, to no avail.

    NX has great tools for 4 axis motion, but they rely heavily on geometry that has been explicitly created with this kind of tool path in mind. It is very easy to make what looks like basic 4th axis swarf geometry, only to find that the underlying structure of the surface is a spaghetti pile; all the multi-axis tools use the underlying surface structure to tell them where to point the tool, and if that underlying geometry is not *very* clean, the algorithms shit the bed.

    Just to give you an idea of how challenging this sorta stuff is and why NX is such an absurdly good tool, this is how my NX reseller worked on our challenge (I would be the customer in his example, though he isn't using our geometry for this demo):

    YouTube

    Since empwoer bumped the thread and quoted this, it caught my eye. Watched most of the video - interesting application and part geometry.

    It's not a ruled surface, I see what the issues could be, being restricted to only 4axis motion. If the deviation allowable is to simply follow the upper and lower curves exactly, then what the fuss is about?

    Can you not simply use a "parallel to curve" swarf move, use the the teal surface for driving geometry, following the lower edge, then using a gouge-checking strategy to respect the top edge by using the top surface as a check surface? Seems like that should do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    A lot of snivelling by people who have never used NX. I'm a Pro/E guy but I-DEAS and Unigraphics were similar.

    It's a picnic. Whatever the cheap crap can do, NX can do better. (Although my I-DEAS friend hates it and wants his I-DEAS back. Thanks, software companies. Customers ? Who gives a shit what they want ? He preferred the appearance and workflow of I-DEAS, he's not whining about how difficult Unigraphics is. But if you want stoopid, you could always go to HP)

    Even Pro/E with the famous "vertical learning curve" was simple to get the hang of. Of course to this day I cannot use everything that's in the program, there's too much there for one dummy to master. But it does everything I need and it's fun to use and not any more difficult than all this cheap crap.

    So if you want NX, buy it. There's tutorials out there for everything !
    22 years of working with EDS IDEAS / NX tells me that this guy is correct, NX is stable, it builds confidence, some CAD programs are so bad that you are left feeling that none of the dimensions are stable and the reduction in confidence leaves the whole system of Engineering in turmoil.... NX is the best and once you learn it you will only wonder why others choose lesser CAD programs !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tornado220 View Post
    22 years of working with EDS IDEAS / NX tells me that this guy is correct, NX is stable, it builds confidence, some CAD programs are so bad that you are left feeling that none of the dimensions are stable and the reduction in confidence leaves the whole system of Engineering in turmoil.... NX is the best and once you learn it you will only wonder why others choose lesser CAD programs !
    A lot of people in the NX Cult will say stuff like this. Yes, NX is incredibly powerful and is the definitive tool for complex problem solving in a CNC machine. It does have extremely useful tools (Generic Motion, 5 axis drive stuff, crazy post processor tricks, etc) nobody else does.

    The problem is that 99% of machining isn't this kind of work! While everyone shows off the bling bling parts, the vast majority of machining stuff is straightforward, and this is where NX starts to get whipped like the nerdy school boy because everyday machining tasks are (unless you are an NX veteran) unintuitive and slow. Give me a basic 3+2 part without any trickery on it, and I can probably get it programmed in half the time in Fusion. Want some examples from someone who bounces back and forth between NX/Fusion/HSM Works?

    - Chamfers. That's right, in the 40+ year history, nobody on that team ever thought machinists might ever need to break an edge with a chamfer, so there is no chamfer operation. Using planar profiles isn't horrible for simple chamfers, but woe be the programmer who needs to chamfer up against a corner (now you are dealing with path member lengths and and finicky bullshit). Don't even get me started on all the offset curves and bullshit required to do a chamfer that isn't planar! Fusion is about 4 clicks to add a chamfer (modeled or unmodeled), with intuitive options for tip offset and manipulating the size of the chamfer, all with collision detection and edge pullback automatically.

    - Corner Rounding End Mills. Setting up this common machinists tool is a bullshit fiasco where you need to dimension a print of the tool, and go through this Etch-a-Sketch thing where you lay out every segment. It is tedious and horribly inefficient. Fusion? Just plug in about 4 numbers and your corner radius mill is done. Form tools? Forget about it; just feed Fusion a sketch.

    - Tool Library. In NX the tool library is straight outa 1984. You can't even attach basic feeds/speeds to a tool without going through some horrendous re-configuration of the system and plugging in this hacked up second text file that has F/S data that attaches to the tool. This thing was groundbreaking in 1979; but it is fucking archaic in 2019.

    Look, I like NX a whole lot. Every CAM software has its warts and frustrations. I think the core problem with NX is that the folks who use it have drunk the kool-aid long ago and likely haven't touched modern CAM software since. In the subsequent time period, everyone has caught up with most of NX's tricks, and evolved them to the point where they have become intuitive (or at the very least, way more efficient). Put more simply, Fusion is adding powerful features faster than NX is getting efficient.

    BTW- none of the above is true on the CAD side, where I constantly have my mind blown by how amazing NX CAD is. You have *so many* tools to slice and dice geometry, and those tools have an unprecedented amount of reliability.

    Hell, aside from the tool library (which is probably a huge effort to re-do), if the NX CAM team took a release or two to focus on usability and efficiency in basic 3 axis tasks, it would be a god damn monster. As it stands though, I absolute keep Fusion around for 70% of my programming because, unless the parts really require NX's high-end bag of tricks, I know I'll get the job done way faster in Fusion.

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    I'd say there is plenty of kool-aid drinking on the fusion side as well.

    Turing is still basically not worth using. No tangential extensions, inability to predictably add or control leads. No way to control the first pass thread depth. Tools roll over the corners past where confinement is set etc.......

    Drawings as no where near ready for real use either. Still no hole callouts.

    Hole tool does not allow for adjusting holes for standard fasteners for things like head clearance.

    Sketching is still buggy. Not to mention every time you reference model geometry it projects it into the sketch as a magenta line. Completely clutter sketch. I know you can turn them off but not sure I have ever seen any modern software project them in like that. Must be new and cutting edge.

    No way to assembly tangent joints other that crazy sketches and work around.

    I don't want to hear about how new the software is. Onshape is equally as new and has managed to add those core features such as hole callouts, better drawing environment, configurations etc.....

    I use fusion on a daily basis and it is great at 3+2, that is where is shines. Beyond that not so much.

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    OnShape is also $2k a year versus $4-500 for Fusion. If you just want 3+2 CAM and decent 3D modeling, Fusion is great. I have to reevaluate OnShape versus Solidworks in the next few months, last year when I tried them out I wasn't blown away by any means. But I'm also very used to my SW workflow (and my keyboard shortcuts).

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    I'm currently learning NX after getting pulled off the floor to fill in a programmer position. I originally learned Esprit 2004 in tech school, then learned a bit of MasterCam X4 at the first shop I worked at and later took an official course in X9 from MLC.
    A big plus going toward MasterCam for me was the training cost me $1200 for 3 days, where as NX has no local training for my area and costs $1600 for 1 day for the basic training.

    NX feels like it does things opposite of the other 2. It makes simple things hard, and hard things simple. Starting from scratch is a pain in the ass, where-as in MasterCam it's no problem to throw a program together. However if you do parts that tend to be similar to each other NX makes things amazingly easy. You take a program for another part, save it with your new parts name, replace the component, and NX will automatically grab onto the lines for tool paths and geometry. Often times if you can use the program that is from the parent part that was used to make the part you are working on, all you will need to do is regenerate the tool paths and post the code. If it is different enough you might have to pick some lines up for it again, but all of the other settings will remain.

    Though I do agree with gkoenig on a lot of the points he makes, especially on the chamfers and dovetailing. (GOD DAMMIT JUST CUT ON THE GODDAMN LINE!)

    Another thing that bugs me though is the way the interface likes to change itself around depending on what you are doing. It's made trying to get my role set up just how I want a total nightmare. I also miss the large community that MasterCam has for getting help. You try asking for a problem with NX and you might get 1-2 replies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CAMasochism View Post
    However if you do parts that tend to be similar to each other NX makes things amazingly easy. You take a program for another part, save it with your new parts name, replace the component, and NX will automatically grab onto the lines for tool paths and geometry. Often times if you can use the program that is from the parent part that was used to make the part you are working on, all you will need to do is regenerate the tool paths and post the code. If it is different enough you might have to pick some lines up for it again, but all of the other settings will remain.
    How much control do you have over the toolpath after it is created? Edgecam will also do this automatically, but then you are pretty much stuck with what it created and sometimes the strategy is nonsensical. Doing it manually give you more control but then you lose some of the associativity for loading edited parts.

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    You pretty much can edit it how you please. You can go in change your engage and retract, the angle you are machining from, and if you need to add or remove surfaces that you want it to cut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mud View Post
    How much control do you have over the toolpath after it is created? Edgecam will also do this automatically, but then you are pretty much stuck with what it created and sometimes the strategy is nonsensical. Doing it manually give you more control but then you lose some of the associativity for loading edited parts.
    Everything with NX is very modular, including the individual operations that drive the toolpath. The tool, WCS, method (where things like toolpath tolerance and stock to leave), target geometry, and operation parameters - all of this can be mixed and matched very easily. For example, I'm not great at NX, so my hack around the inefficiency was to build a sample part that has all of the features my parts tend to use, and I programmed the shit out of it. Chamfers, fillets, thread milling, roughing, etc. All the tools and ops are in this one file, and when I go to program another part I just copy the operation, drop it in, reselect the geometry and I'm done.

    NX recognizes that programing an individual operation (what with the byzantine number of options and features available) can be a pain in the ass, so the intent with the software is for you to program once, and replicate your work. More sophisticated users create templates of their common operations. Really sophisticated users can actually create whole operations from scratch that will internally re-define geometry, create their own internal sketches, and do everything you want automatically.

    I've seen demos of 5 axis chamfering templates, made by third parties and sold for $$$, that basically automatically deburr 5 axis parts with a few clicks. NX is a mindblowingly powerful platform...

    But I also think for the tens of thousands of dollars, it is Siemens' fucking job to do some of this work. Seriously - all the core capabilities are inside the damn software, so throw a couple of programmers onto efficiency for 6 months and offer some of these tools out of the box, while smoothing up the workflow for some others.

    Seriously, if I google one more thing about how to do a basic thing in NX, and the first hit is the Siemens forum where some Siemens engineer says "Well, just write an NX Open script!"...

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