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  1. #1
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    Default Updating our CAD Software

    Hey all!

    My name is Jack from SDS Engineering in LA. My dad and I are thinking of upgrading our CAD/CAM software but don't know where to start. We don't want to spend a ton. I don't really want to go towards Fusion 360 since it is not ITAR compliant. Ideally we would like to have a software that works offline, and can have on multiple computers in the shop and at home, and not spend a ton and something with a possible 5 axis capability for when we start upgrading our machines. Wanted to see what you guys would recommend. I was thinking about getting an old version, if there are individuals and retailers selling. Thanks.

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    I would recommend you get your checkbook out. If you think MC is a ton, you're not going to find anything better for less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackatSDS View Post
    We don't want to spend a ton.
    SolidWorks + MasterCAM 3 axis is going to run you about $15,000, and about $2500 a year in maintenance. This is a known quantity. SolidWorks is easy to learn and MasterCAM is very well supported everywhere.

    The NX CAD/CAM 3 Axis bundle will cost you about the same, and be better (best CAD made, top tier CAM, total integration), but the learning curve is vertical.

    Your cheapest option is probably SolidWorks Professional which now has 2.5 axis CAM for about $6000, and you can upgrade the CAM for another $4000 to something actually useable. SolidWorks signed a deal with a company called CAM Works to include 2.5 axis, with the option of adding on additional capabilities. CAM Works was not exactly burning down the industry with success, as it is 100% feature based, which is kinda weird to work with as your only paradigm.

    If you have a Fusion subscription, you also have HSM Works to plug into SolidWorks. You could get the bare bones SolidWorks seat (you'll want assemblies, but probably don't need much beyond that), and use the HSM Works for a while. It isn't getting much/any development, but it is a very high-quality 3 axis milling package that would get you through until you can step up to something better.


    I don't really want to go towards Fusion 360 since it is not ITAR compliant. Ideally we would like to have a software that works offline, and can have on multiple computers in the shop and at home, and not spend a ton and something with a possible 5 axis capability for when we start upgrading our machines. Wanted to see what you guys would recommend. I was thinking about getting an old version, if there are individuals and retailers selling. Thanks.
    Which brings us to the current pickle - Fusion >>>>> lots of money >>>> Everything Else. There really is almost nothing in the gap between $500/year for Fusion and $10,000 for anything else of real quality. Yes, there is a whole raft of junk software that exists between those two price points (SprutCAM, CamBOOM, some other horrific stuff), but Fusion is hollowing out the middle of the market - I think most of that sector is on life support right now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    SolidWorks + MasterCAM 3 axis is going to run you about $15,000
    Why would he need Solidworks AND Mastercam ? Mastercam will do modelling, yes ? We don't know where he is coming from because he didn't say but just going from Bobcad to Mastercam would probably be as much upgrade as he describes needing.

    and about $2500 a year in maintenance.
    What do you get for this $2500 a year ? Do you roll the software in and they change the oil, grease the suspension, check the u-joints ? The software is thirty years old, if it ain't fixed by now it's never going to be ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    Why would he need Solidworks AND Mastercam ? Mastercam will do modelling, yes ? We don't know where he is coming from because he didn't say but just going from Bobcad to Mastercam would probably be as much upgrade as he describes needing.
    If their modeling needs are pretty slim? Sure. If they are just importing solids from customers, MasterCAM's CAD can probably handle it.


    What do you get for this $2500 a year ? Do you roll the software in and they change the oil, grease the suspension, check the u-joints ? The software is thirty years old, if it ain't fixed by now it's never going to be ...
    Well, that is the rub... now CAD/CAM makers tie major features into maintenance subscriptions. You think Fusion is bad? Stop paying SolidWorks maintenance and your CAM stops working. They do that because everyone knows SolidWorks maintenance is a joke.

    MasterCAM? I couldn't tell you. Seems like everyone I know using it buys once, uses it till it runs into the ground, and buys fresh seats when the time comes.

    NX is a different animal. Having a relationship with Siemens is an unalloyed benefit. I get bugs fixed, solutions to problems (including Siemens engineers providing hacks/workarounds/beta feature access), and new features are added almost as fast as Autodesk does with Fusion.

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    Why would he need Solidworks AND Mastercam ? Mastercam will do modelling, yes ?
    It will but it absolutely is bottom of the barrel on the CAD side. I'd rather have my wisdom teeth pulled while listening to fingernails on a chalk board as to have to draw with Mastercam...

    Super clunky, nothing about it seems to flow. even basic sketching is an absolute waste of time. I actually think I prefer Bobcad over mastercam for the CAD side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    It will but it absolutely is bottom of the barrel on the CAD side. I'd rather have my wisdom teeth pulled while listening to fingernails on a chalk board as to have to draw with Mastercam...

    Super clunky, nothing about it seems to flow. even basic sketching is an absolute waste of time. I actually think I prefer Bobcad over mastercam for the CAD side.
    That's what I meant by real user comments This is not what we heard during the Mastercam - Surfcam wars, you know !

    Still, the CAD part is easier to solve than the CAM part, I think. Even I could find some stuff I was happy with, and I'm a seriouos grinch about software ("Did you really mean to close down ?" No, you fucking morons, I moved my cursor to the titlebar, dragged down to 'shutdown' then clicked that specifically because I wanted to order a kosher hot dog with sauerkraut and a side order of cole slaw. wtf do you think I wanted to do ? get out of my life !

    God, I hate software. Apple may be the worst, but Loonix is catching up fast.)

    Nice to hear you like Blobcad, I use Bob 14 (DOS) for quick and dirty sketches myself. Or for grabbing geometry, it's great for that. Doubt that our op would consider that an upgrade tho

    What else can he use for a low-cost step up then ? Smurfcam and the rest have gone the way of all flesh ? I like Wildfire but you guys get pissed when I mention the $1.50 price

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    I re-licensed one seat of PTC CREO with the Pro/Manufacturing module in October 2019. The yearly subscription of CREO was about $2,500 and the manufacturing license for 3 axis milling and 4 axis lathe was about $710. PTC allow two additional seats of software when you purchase one seat. Therefore you can have three computers running CREO, but only one machine can be running the manufacturing license. This is far under the $10,000 mark. The manufacturing license for 5 plus axis machining was around $2,480. I use CREO because my customers use CREO, and I have been a long time user.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post

    Which brings us to the current pickle - Fusion >>>>> lots of money >>>> Everything Else. There really is almost nothing in the gap between $500/year for Fusion and $10,000 for anything else of real quality. Yes, there is a whole raft of junk software that exists between those two price points (SprutCAM, CamBOOM, some other horrific stuff), but Fusion is hollowing out the middle of the market - I think most of that sector is on life support right now.
    There is one more, it seems to be a well kept secret. Smartcam came back to life about 15 years ago and I'm looking at trying it again. Once upon a time it was the premier mid range CAM challenged only by Mastercam, then it was purchased and killed by Camax in the '90s. I replaced it at the time with Edgecam and still have Edgecam. I was quoted a new purchase earlier this year by Smartcamcnc.

    Production Milling (2.5 and 4th axis milling is $1800 perpetual or $900/yr lease. Advanced Milling (4/5 axis positioning and direct from solids) is $3600/$1800 which is pretty attractive.

    I'm taking a hard look at it to either replace or supplement Edgecam because of the complete control it gives you over every piece of toolpath geometry, I miss that dearly. The tradeoff is that the toolpath is not associative to the solid model. In other words, you can create toolpath by choosing solid model features to machine, but when you edit the model it does not automatically edit the toolpath, you have to tell it what to do. There's a huge base of code generators for Smartcam in the public domain built by end users and VARs that have been proven out over many years, that's also attractive because CGs already exist for every machine I own, with Edgecam I have to build my own or have them built, they don't give you anything that you can use without spending more time/money.regardless of the sales pitch about the "library of available code generators" available.


    I use Solid Edge for CAD - It's a direct competitor for solidworks but better, sort of an economy NX. cad module. Because of that I'm also interested in Solid Edge CAM which seems to be a subset of NX. I don't have prices on that.

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    This is not what we heard during the Mastercam - Surfcam wars, you know !
    HAHA, I remember those days. Visit another shop and it could almost turn into a physical brawl if you compared Master and Surf.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    It will but it absolutely is bottom of the barrel on the CAD side. I'd rather have my wisdom teeth pulled while listening to fingernails on a chalk board as to have to draw with Mastercam...

    Super clunky, nothing about it seems to flow. even basic sketching is an absolute waste of time. I actually think I prefer Bobcad over mastercam for the CAD side.
    If you think the CAD side is that bad, you never bothered to learn it OR you just refuse to do/learn something new. Sure, it's not great, but I draw/sketch/model with an old version (which is admittedly well behind X9 and the 20xx releases!) and I get my job done fine. (and yes, I have used others, NX, Solidworks, Creo, Surfcam, Autocad...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    If you think the CAD side is that bad, you never bothered to learn it OR you just refuse to do/learn something new. Sure, it's not great, but I draw/sketch/model with an old version (which is admittedly well behind X9 and the 20xx releases!) and I get my job done fine. (and yes, I have used others, NX, Solidworks, Creo, Surfcam, Autocad...)
    Why the hell would I want to spend a huge portion of my time using tools that "it's not that great" and "I get my job done just fine?"

    If CADing up parts and throwing tool path on them is some sort of occasional endeavor in your world, that might make sense. If this is what you hustle on for 50% of your work-week, you are insane to not make the pittance of an investment in tools that are more capable, more efficient, or (god forbid) just nicer to sit in front of all day.

    I have one of the nicer CAD/CAM packages on the market today because I spend way more time in front of it - and derive a multiple times higher ROI - that I do in my car. Yet, NX cost me about 1/2 what my car costs. When you get down to it, that is probably the best single investment I've ever made...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    Why the hell would I want to spend a huge portion of my time using tools that "it's not that great" and "I get my job done just fine?"

    If CADing up parts and throwing tool path on them is some sort of occasional endeavor in your world, that might make sense. If this is what you hustle on for 50% of your work-week, you are insane to not make the pittance of an investment in tools that are more capable, more efficient, or (god forbid) just nicer to sit in front of all day.

    I have one of the nicer CAD/CAM packages on the market today because I spend way more time in front of it - and derive a multiple times higher ROI - that I do in my car. Yet, NX cost me about 1/2 what my car costs. When you get down to it, that is probably the best single investment I've ever made...
    1) I use what the shop has. I'd like to have a 5 axis machine too, but that ain't happening here any time soon, if ever.

    2) I don't do CAD "all day", it's just part of what I do as the programmer, sometimes I have to make edits to the model, etc

    3) Yes, if I was "just" doing cad work, or more than 50%, I would want a better CAD software, not necessarily a cad/cam package.

    4) My point was it is "not that bad" (like I said), I draw and model fine with it, but I get paid to program. If it was a huge deal I would send it back to engineering to "fix"

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    Just looking around, as close as I can guess from their price list a basic camtek peps package (cad, cam, couple of posts, a few extras) is about six grand. That's less than half as much as the solid-master combo gkoenig mentions.

    Anyone here ever use camtek peps ? It always looked interesting but doesn't have a big footprint in the US ....

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackatSDS View Post
    Hey all!

    My name is Jack from SDS Engineering in LA. My dad and I are thinking of upgrading our CAD/CAM software but don't know where to start. We don't want to spend a ton. I don't really want to go towards Fusion 360 since it is not ITAR compliant. Ideally we would like to have a software that works offline, and can have on multiple computers in the shop and at home, and not spend a ton and something with a possible 5 axis capability for when we start upgrading our machines. Wanted to see what you guys would recommend. I was thinking about getting an old version, if there are individuals and retailers selling. Thanks.
    How many machines are you planning on using the cad/cam on? Depending on the software you buy you many need some custom posts for certain machines. Second I would check around with some of the main cam packages and see what they offer. Maybe mastercam, surfcam Edgecam, camworks would be outside your pricing but check with them to see what kind of packages they offer. If you program mills only then you wont need a lathe packages and some software companies may offer a stripped down version.

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    4) My point was it is "not that bad" (like I said), I draw and model fine with it, but I get paid to program. If it was a huge deal I would send it back to engineering to "fix"
    For me it cumbersome and requires more time to get from point A to B. I have to do a lot of modeling so I go to the tool that best fits my needs at my disposal. Yes, Mastercam can get you a full on injection mold modeled up but I would prefer something like Delcam Moldflow and Powershape for that situation. When I do automated fixtures I use Solidworks for the simplicity of assemblies. Then If im doing simple DXF's fro the lasers or waterjets I prefer Deltacad<<<< No there is an under rated cad system for $30.00

    Granted I haven't used Mastercam much since I had to sue the hell out of them when their app engineer carved up my table on a two day old Cincinnati Arrow 1000. But I have used it enough to know I hate having to click the back button while sketching to get to the feature tree just to go from a straight line to an arc or heaven forbid looking for the trim feature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    Why would he need Solidworks AND Mastercam ? Mastercam will do modelling, yes ? We don't know where he is coming from because he didn't say but just going from Bobcad to Mastercam would probably be as much upgrade as he describes needing.


    What do you get for this $2500 a year ? Do you roll the software in and they change the oil, grease the suspension, check the u-joints ? The software is thirty years old, if it ain't fixed by now it's never going to be ...
    why would you EVER wish the pain of modeling in mastercam on anyone? shame on you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    If you think the CAD side is that bad, you never bothered to learn it OR you just refuse to do/learn something new. Sure, it's not great, but I draw/sketch/model with an old version (which is admittedly well behind X9 and the 20xx releases!) and I get my job done fine. (and yes, I have used others, NX, Solidworks, Creo, Surfcam, Autocad...)
    sorry, this is one of those things that i'll disagree with you on.
    MC is absolute trash for cad work. you cannot edit sketch dimensions after drawing anything, gotta start over. that alone stops me from doing any sketching in there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by empwoer View Post
    sorry, this is one of those things that i'll disagree with you on.
    MC is absolute trash for cad work. you cannot edit sketch dimensions after drawing anything, gotta start over. that alone stops me from doing any sketching in there.
    See, ones mans honey pot is anothers old battleaxe...
    I prefer Mastercam over Inventor.
    I'll do all sketching in 2D, then when happy turn it into 3D.
    And editing with the push/pull (yeh I know that's Siemens NX inside) is fantastic.

    Obviously only talking single solids here and not multiple assemblies, although i've never had a problem with them either...

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbter View Post
    See, ones mans honey pot is anothers old battleaxe...
    I prefer Mastercam over Inventor.
    I'll do all sketching in 2D, then when happy turn it into 3D.
    And editing with the push/pull (yeh I know that's Siemens NX inside) is fantastic.

    Obviously only talking single solids here and not multiple assemblies, although i've never had a problem with them either...
    you sir, are a glutton for punishment! haha


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