Transitioning from Mastercam to UG NX for 5 axis work.
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    Default Transitioning from Mastercam to UG NX for 5 axis work.

    It has been a while since I have posted on PM. Anyways, here goes. I am not an owner but a Machinist at a shop that does mostly high end Aerospace work. Management has always pursued a very aggressive agenda of keeping up with the state of technology in this industry in order to keep our customers happy and maintain an edge over the competition. Most of the endeavors have worked out well, with a few duds here or there.

    That being said the latest thing that they are trying to roll out with is a transition from Mastercam to SIEMENS NX specifically for our 5 axis work. MC would most likely stay for 3 Axis. I have been one of the few employees who has volunteered to Beta test the software and provide feedback to management to better help them make a decision on whether to implement it shop wide or abandon using NX entirely.

    We are a mid size shop with around 75 full time employees. I should add that I have been using Mastercam for approx. 5 years. I feel it is adequate for everything I have had to do. I have been using NX for a month. So far I find the learning curve with NX very steep and I feel that for 5 axis work it is marginally better than Mastercam. For simple toolpaths like pocketing, facing, contouring,3 axis drill etc. I feel Mastercam is way better and offers more control. We are job shop so the ability to turn parts quickly is important....

    Ultimately I am wondering what does NX have (or doesn't have) that Mastercam doesn't that gives enough justification to switch to NX?

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    Quote Originally Posted by zberto View Post
    It has been a while since I have posted on PM. Anyways, here goes. I am not an owner but a Machinist at a shop that does mostly high end Aerospace work. Management has always pursued a very aggressive agenda of keeping up with the state of technology in this industry in order to keep our customers happy and maintain an edge over the competition. Most of the endeavors have worked out well, with a few duds here or there.

    That being said the latest thing that they are trying to roll out with is a transition from Mastercam to SIEMENS NX specifically for our 5 axis work. MC would most likely stay for 3 Axis. I have been one of the few employees who has volunteered to Beta test the software and provide feedback to management to better help them make a decision on whether to implement it shop wide or abandon using NX entirely.

    We are a mid size shop with around 75 full time employees. I should add that I have been using Mastercam for approx. 5 years. I feel it is adequate for everything I have had to do. I have been using NX for a month. So far I find the learning curve with NX very steep and I feel that for 5 axis work it is marginally better than Mastercam. For simple toolpaths like pocketing, facing, contouring,3 axis drill etc. I feel Mastercam is way better and offers more control. We are job shop so the ability to turn parts quickly is important....

    Ultimately I am wondering what does NX have (or doesn't have) that Mastercam doesn't that gives enough justification to switch to NX?
    If it was me, I wouldn't recommend switching. I've posted numerous times about my "feelings" with NX.

    If you do switch, make them give you some training classes. And I mean real training, not what I did. My training consisted of sitting in class with an instructor who gave a brief overview of a workbook exercise, then had us do the exercise. All fine and good, but to me it was just mimicking what was in the book- press this button, change this setting, click here, etc. Not a whole lot of learning IMO.

    edit: There are some members here with ALOT more experience with NX than me. I think even they will tell you alot depends on getting NX setup FOR WHAT YOU DO. If you get a 'generic' version with no idea how to set it up you will be in for a awful experience.

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    If I were you, I would ask the higher ups to think long and hard about the overall cost of switching from one high end piece of software to another. Not just in terms of procurement, but training and getting up to speed. You say Mastercam Multiaxis does almost everything you need and you are not that impressed with NX, not to mention the super steep learning curve. Everyone I have talked to tells me how much they have hated NX until they learned really well, which could be years.

    From what I have seen, companies using Siemens NX are companies that make cars, or have to deal with crazy assemblies where the whole design -> manufactured component needs strict oversight and integration between CAD, CAM, and ERP. I can't say for sure, but your use case doesn't seem to fall under this case as you will continue to use Mastercam and whatever CAD system the engineering team uses.

    Why does management want to muddy the waters more?

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    Quote Originally Posted by metalmadness View Post
    If I were you, I would ask the higher ups to think long and hard about the overall cost of switching from one high end piece of software to another. Not just in terms of procurement, but training and getting up to speed. You say Mastercam Multiaxis does almost everything you need and you are not that impressed with NX, not to mention the super steep learning curve. Everyone I have talked to tells me how much they have hated NX until they learned really well, which could be years.

    From what I have seen, companies using Siemens NX are companies that make cars, or have to deal with crazy assemblies where the whole design -> manufactured component needs strict oversight and integration between CAD, CAM, and ERP. I can't say for sure, but your use case doesn't seem to fall under this case as you will continue to use Mastercam and whatever CAD system the engineering team uses.

    Why does management want to muddy the waters more?
    Because someone is getting paid big bucks to "innovate and drive continuous improvement"

    kaizan
    kanban
    5s
    lean

    I'm sure there are other buzzwords being thrown around too...

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    It could also be your customers pushing to get you onto NX or I've seen places where they loudly proclaim to use Hypermill, and they do for some stuff, but quietly use less marketing friendly software for the vast majority of their work.

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    To answer the actual question. NX is a much more powerful CAD tool than MasterCAM. It also has way better options for customization, software integration, etc. It is a premium "cradle to grave" manufacturing suite. It almost doesn't make sense to compare the two, since CAM is just one of many tools NX offers.

    For actual CAM, it is one of, if not the most powerful 5 axis milling software on the market. The amount of control NX provides is insane. The top down integration with CAD, robust posting, simulation, tool management, there's just a ton of depth. All of that control comes with the significant cost of steep learning curve, clunky 3 axis tools, etc... So if you don't need all that extra capability, it's going to be a tough sell.

    Ultimately, I decided that the "cradle to grave" solution didn't bring much additional value to my job shop. I have been very happy with a competing premium 5 axis software. MasterCAM can do almost everything my software does, but the workflow is much slower, and the quality of code/toolpath is much worse.

    So my point is that NX may very well be a poor solution for your business, but that doesn't mean mcam is the best.

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    Wow, all the nay sayers. If your company is doing high end aerospace, the reason to move into something like NX are well established already. I used NX for 4 years before it became NX. It was Unigraphics back then. When the mold shop I worked at decided to switch, I was scared shitless. I was using Smarcam for petes sake!. I was the one that had to beta test it and then get 2 other guys up to speed. Well, I found out quickly that NX was the cat's pajamas for CAM. Steep learning curve? YES!!! but worth every second of it. The best part was control of parts from customer import through mold design into CAM. Part changes and revisions were a breeze. Bring the new part into the CAM side (over simplified, LOL) and regenerate the tool paths. There is so much control in the CAM side it will be easy to over look it but I urge you not to. A lot of really good stuff in there.
    Also, you very well could be working from the same model the designer is working on, or an instance of that model. You see changes as they happen. I would say to you to give it a chance and work hard to learn it. It is well worth it. I wish I was still using it.

    Paul

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    LockNut,

    For the record, I think NX is amazing software. However, if you are really far removed from big OEM aerospace companies (like many of us), it looses some of the appeal that comes with CAD/CAM integration.

    Also, not sure I would recommend any premium software to the typical job shop that maybe dabbles in 5 axis work on a VF-3 with a trunion table. Unfortunately a lot of machinists/programmers won't put in the effort to learn a new software, unless they can be unequivocally convinced that they are being held back by their current programming environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LockNut View Post
    Wow, all the nay sayers. If your company is doing high end aerospace, the reason to move into something like NX are well established already. I used NX for 4 years before it became NX. It was Unigraphics back then. When the mold shop I worked at decided to switch, I was scared shitless. I was using Smarcam for petes sake!. I was the one that had to beta test it and then get 2 other guys up to speed. Well, I found out quickly that NX was the cat's pajamas for CAM. Steep learning curve? YES!!! but worth every second of it. The best part was control of parts from customer import through mold design into CAM. Part changes and revisions were a breeze. Bring the new part into the CAM side (over simplified, LOL) and regenerate the tool paths. There is so much control in the CAM side it will be easy to over look it but I urge you not to. A lot of really good stuff in there.
    Also, you very well could be working from the same model the designer is working on, or an instance of that model. You see changes as they happen. I would say to you to give it a chance and work hard to learn it. It is well worth it. I wish I was still using it.

    Paul
    In bold^

    I don't know the OP said he was doing that. He said high end aerospace, but it may be all job shop work. I've done aerospace before, you get a model and a print and that is it. No revisions of model (or rarely) and you (the shop) aren't doing design work, you are making a part to print.

    Besides, Mastercam has the ability to regen toolpaths when the model changes too. It may not be as slick, and maybe not as 'easy' but it is there - change recognition (used to be called that).

    I worked at a place doing mold designs with NX and we all worked from a central server. It is not all it's cracked up to be IMO, unless your designers are machine/programming savvy (which they were not). I probably learned the wrong way, but we had to make slight mods to the model for programming, which was fine if it had no revisions, but if a revision came and you had to re-do the 'mods' for programming it sucked. Also, something I noticed was the the (newer v11 I think?) hole recognition feature tool did not always function correctly. This could have been a design thing (as it was not done properly in the model tree or whatever), but sometimes the hole would only be recognized one way, and you could not 'reverse' it, say for example a waterline that needed to be tapped/thread milled on both ends. Alot of times I had to use the older style hole tool (forget what it is called, where you select planes and depths...) on those kinds of features. Maybe a small gripe, but something sooo simple as a hole could get screwy is kind of depressing on such "high end" software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boosted View Post
    To answer the actual question. NX is a much more powerful CAD tool than MasterCAM. It also has way better options for customization, software integration, etc. It is a premium "cradle to grave" manufacturing suite. It almost doesn't make sense to compare the two, since CAM is just one of many tools NX offers.

    For actual CAM, it is one of, if not the most powerful 5 axis milling software on the market. The amount of control NX provides is insane. The top down integration with CAD, robust posting, simulation, tool management, there's just a ton of depth. All of that control comes with the significant cost of steep learning curve, clunky 3 axis tools, etc... So if you don't need all that extra capability, it's going to be a tough sell.

    Ultimately, I decided that the "cradle to grave" solution didn't bring much additional value to my job shop. I have been very happy with a competing premium 5 axis software. MasterCAM can do almost everything my software does, but the workflow is much slower, and the quality of code/toolpath is much worse.

    So my point is that NX may very well be a poor solution for your business, but that doesn't mean mcam is the best.
    Here's the key issue: matching the software to the scope of the usage. Too often I see people struggling to use amazing software that can do so many things ... but it is overkill for what they actually need to do. They wind up spending excess time feeding things into the software that will not actually result in anything helpful.

    It can be the other way as well, of course - people can be working way too hard trying to make do with software that just doesn't quite have the horses ... or they are not sure how to use the additional capability, so they just use the 5% that they know how to use, making life harder than it needs to be.

    Bottom line: when you need a sledgehammer, it is an awful lot of work to make do with a carpenter's hammer, and pretty well impossible to use a flyswatter. BUT, when you need a fly swatter, a sledgehammer is horribly tedious to use. Matching the tool to the job results in minimal effort for maximum productivity; the more mismatched the tool and the job, the more effort is required, and the less productive that effort is.

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    One other thing not mentioned yet (or I missed it), why add another software? If you (or management) feels the need to switch, it will be cumbersome to have two softwares, IMO.

    I'm sure the code won't "look" the same, which might cause confusion with the setup guys and/or operators.... OR, you have a 5 axis part that could be programmed with one or the other, but the 'top' guy isn't there so you have to program it this time with MCX, and next time he is going to use NX because (insert reason here)... Just sounds like a PITA overall...

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    I appreciate everyone's input, basically what I have read has confirmed most of what I had originally thought about NX.

    I must admit that after getting some seat time with it I am beginning to appreciate some of the features it has. Also after you stare at a program long enough you begin to get accustomed to it. NX ins't as bad as I had originally thought in terms of learn-ability. I have not mastered every nook and cranny of the program that is for sure, but I can do 3+2 milling fairly decently.

    in regards to a few things people said.. Yes the ability to transition from a CAD to CAM environment seamlessly without importing is nice. Unfortunately, as we are a job shop that makes other customers models to print, it doesn't do anything for us. I feel like that alone is the main selling point of NX and most other things are secondary. In terms of toolpathing, both are MC and NX are very capable. NX might have the edge for turbine / impeller related stuff, but again we don't do that.

    The main reason we would be springing for the software would be for increased productivity. So far I am not sure if NX is faster, assuming it is, it could be a long time before myself or another person can work efficiently enough to justify the switch. Lastly, I am not wild about two CAM programs in one shop, this was mentioned by at least one person.


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