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Esprit Cam, a review

FWIW, autodesk charged me, IIRC, £1400 in 2020 for a 99% functional Featurecam post for our NTX2500, full 5 ax. including machine simulation after I passed along a model of the machine for them to work with. I thought that was pretty reasonable.

99% functional being, posted programs ran and didn't crash anything, but I needed to add a few things for full functionality of the machine.

I demoed Esprit once sometime around 2014 but wasn't blown away. I requested a quote in 2020 to go along with the purchase of the NTX because I was desperate to cut ties with autodesk, and they failed to follow up in spite of me contacting them several times, so fuck them.

I have never dealt with Hexagon, but they have a reputation somewhat similar to autodesk, so I am not optimistic that anything will have improved.

I am still firmly of the opinion that Featurecam is the all round best cam system for B axis millturn machines. Shame autodesk don't care to develop it.
 
I'm starting to get the impression that everyone else has had autodesk experiences similar to mine. For all the complaining I'm doing about Esprit, I will say that they mean well. Autodesk, on the other hand, can be just plain malicious in dealing with their clients. Unequivocally, they are the biggest assholes I've ever dealt with in my tenure as an business owner.
 
Hi DaisyChain:
You wrote:
"Unequivocally, they are the biggest assholes I've ever dealt with in my tenure as an business owner."

Now THAT was the most robust positive endorsement I've seen in a while, for the pleasures of the Autodick experience! :D

I fully expect a mountain of poor benighted Fusion 360 users to begin with either murderous or suicidal rants on here as soon as those assholes find the best way to fuck them over now that they have them firmly hooked.

This is going to get ugly!

It's one of the reasons I have walked away from HSMWorks (Fusion's predecessor) although it is good 3 axis milling software (sadly it's also orphanware now those dickweeds have their mitts in it).

I was seriously considering Esprit for my own use because I have a wire EDM and they have a great reputation for their wire EDM CAM software.
From your post I'm glad I didn't...something about the smugness and condescending attitude of the sales weenie when I asked price, just put me off.
I went with Mastercam instead, and although I've had to fight its glitchiness at times, at least I don't have to put up with the bullshit that you've had to deal with.

I'd rather have slightly crappier and more cumbersome software than deal with a pack of asswipes and be enraged every damned time I contact them.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
 
I have never dealt with Hexagon, but they have a reputation somewhat similar to autodesk, so I am not optimistic that anything will have improved.
They're not too bad. I'm familiar with Hexagon because of WorkNC. I would say the biggest issue I see (with regard to WorkNC only) is the lack of any kind of support for their product. Training material is 5 years old, for example. I don't know what they're doing with Esprit as I stay out of that, but hopefully they put a little more effort into it.
 
Not that anyone asked, but I'm not a fan of Esprit's training. My employer sent me to a week long training class that covered 3 axis, millturn, and 5 axis last year. The guy teaching the class had only been using Esprit for a little over a year and had zero machining experience.

Funny thing is, I went to IMTS last year and was given a free training session with an application engineer and was pretty excited. I came prepared with a list of questions that weren't covered in the class, and when I walked in the room for my training - it was the same young guy. During the training session, he refused to switch licenses from millturn to 3 or 5 axis to answer my specific questions because "he knew millturn better". Millturn is THE ONLY THING I DON'T USE!! :wall:

I have no problem with the software. I've been using it for about 9 years now and it does the job. I will be learning strictly from experience and my co workers from here on out. I think they're switching all training to online now anyways.
 
Hexagon has lost $170,000 in revenue from one customer just this year. We vote with our dollars. That is the only thing that will change their bad execution of a poor business model. At some point they will realize that customers won't pay for their high opinion of themselves and they will improve the value to cost of the product including service OR better yet not return enough capital to the investment morons who own them and get stripped and sold off. Best wishes.
 
I don't know why everyone is so surprised when they get fucked over by a CAD/CAM company. At the end of the day they are software companies and use the standard policy of never addressing the actual issue but instead upgrading with more features that have more glitches than before. Absolutely on par for them to use the customer for testing and to make sure that they accept responsibility for nothing. I'll paraphrase Mark Twain and say the US has no true criminal class apart from software salespeople.
 
You know, guys, I've come to think we may all be a bunch of crusty old cynics...where's that fresh faced naivete we should all be having? :D
The kind where robber baron capitalism is all good, so long as we're on the winning side of it.

I've watched the steady erosion of the customer service experience over the decades, notably by the software companies led admirably by the "Fuck You" model adopted enthusiastically by Carl Bass and The Autodicks (among others).

He touts himself like this on his Linkedin profile:
"Dynamic entrepreneurial thinker and accomplished business executive with 30+ years of business leadership, sales management and corporate operations"

There's the problem right there...in my world that translates to " greedy self-absorbed asshole" and although I may be doing him an injustice, that is the mentality of too many in the corporate world where customer service is a quaint notion for the naive and not too bright, and corporate strategy is all about "who can we bend over and for how much?".

Thankfully there are still wonderful people all around us who are decent honest folk... well worth knowing and enjoying.
I prefer to spend my time with them.

The corporate geniuses are dirt under my feet...I wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire.

Rant now off my chest..."Stiff upper lip and carry on", as they say.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
 
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We had a really rocky start with Esprit too, back in the DP days. Reading the original post brought back a lot of bad memories. It took 26 iterations of the post before we had one that would run our Integrex, and one of those crashed our machine and cost us $23K to fix. Of course, DP refused to accept any responsibility for that even though it was their post that crashed the machine. But that was a long time ago. Hexagon owns Esprit now so I would hope things have gotten better. Our reseller was a big factor in our failure with Esprit, but that's improved now too. I guess my point is that you need to be careful with Esprit. Their claims are pretty cocky, but once you get a good post (eventually) the software will do a pretty good job. The new TNG version looks really good, but the cost to upgrade has kept us using the old version with it's Windows NT era toolbars and icons created by pre-schoolers. :)
Not trying to pick a fight....and on rare occasions I will agree with the statement....".it was their post that crashed the machine...."
On the whole I have to disagree. (not an Esprit user). A good set up / machinist can prevent most crashes. Communication with the programmer will help him avoid those crashes. Its not easy....nor cheap to negotiate through post edits.
I had a new post/ new machine and the OPERATOR (this doofus was not a machinist) came to me an hour after I gave him a program and said the machine crashed. Turned out after starting the program he had everything at 100% and was taking a pee when the thing crashed.....
Your issue may be different.....it just sparked that memory.
 
This all sounds like an expensive $$$ nightmare to me, regardless of which software vendor, glad at this point I'm just 3 axis (using 5 axis module for advanced paths though)and lathe with GibbsCAM $.
I'm like $20k haven't had any issues, but don't have 5 axis machines, or mill turns. Even though I have 5 axis modules.
Looks like I'll take the plunge into this nightmare world next year though, hope GibbsCAM holds up. fingers crossed.
 
This all sounds like an expensive $$$ nightmare to me, regardless of which software vendor, glad at this point I'm just 3 axis (using 5 axis module for advanced paths though)and lathe with GibbsCAM $.
I'm like $20k haven't had any issues, but don't have 5 axis machines, or mill turns. Even though I have 5 axis modules.
Looks like I'll take the plunge into this nightmare world next year though, hope GibbsCAM holds up. fingers crossed.
Sounds like you already have the software needed for Mill turn and 5 axis.......likely post processors is all you will need.
 
That is the opposite experience I had with Esprit.

I'm not going to go through each of your points, but ya, exact opposite for everything you said. They have free posts like any other software, certain ones will be paid. Tech support is same day. Simulation was bang on. Feature based is way faster specially when you factor in any automation. Esprit is one of the best platforms for CAM automation. Sometimes it comes down to the user. How much seat time do you actually have in the software? Sounds like you are just parroting what someone else is telling you.
Maybe the machines your posts were for are/were from machines that a great deal of their customer base uses. Which would almost guarantee something that is workable in your situation. I dont know the situation, the machines or Esprit's sales volume towards that particular Machine model or brand.
 
So I have a dumb question. There's threads and threads, posts and posts here about bad or missing or promised-but-never-delivered post processors. People even change their cam program just to (hopefully) get a working post, for $40,000.

There are at least two and probably more companies who have done nothing but post-processors for forty years. Have any of you guys looked into that ? If so, what was the result ? If not, why not ?
 
So I have a dumb question. There's threads and threads, posts and posts here about bad or missing or promised-but-never-delivered post processors. People even change their cam program just to (hopefully) get a working post, for $40,000.

There are at least two and probably more companies who have done nothing but post-processors for forty years. Have any of you guys looked into that ? If so, what was the result ? If not, why not ?
I have not used any personally, as I have not had issues with my reseller being able to provide what I need, but have spoken to a few that have used one out of Florida and they have been able deliver exactly what the customer wanted.

I see a lot of people blaming the actual software for posts issues, but in reality most the time its the reseller not being able to deliver. I know some CAM software are direct, but for me with CAMWorks, I have been 99% happy with my post results with Hawk Ridge Systems, but I do know, more so lately, if you are looking for something more than a standard mill up to 4 axis simultaneous, or turning post, something more complex, mill-turn, 5 axis, synchronized , dual turret, dual spindle, whatever it may be, the reseller being cut out and the post being built directly by the software company. So for CAMWorks, HCL CAMWorks will build the post themselves and in every instance of hearing of a user going this route, no complaints, posts comes out right.

So my recommendation is if your reseller can't get it right, get your money back and go above them, or try a third party company, don't settle for "it wont work".
 
So I have a dumb question. There's threads and threads, posts and posts here about bad or missing or promised-but-never-delivered post processors. People even change their cam program just to (hopefully) get a working post, for $40,000.

There are at least two and probably more companies who have done nothing but post-processors for forty years. Have any of you guys looked into that ? If so, what was the result ? If not, why not ?

I think this is a really big factor. All the machine simulation in the world doesn't count for anything if your post sucks, or you don't put good data into the sim. You're better off using Fusion 360 and a $10k post than a $60k software with a garbage post.

What I AM surprised about is that the CAM providers all absolutely SUCK at proving out their own posts. They should have rigorous and fairly standardized routines to do so - basically a series of test parts that they require you to program, set up & run in order to check all the geometric features work as intended, all the canned cycles and default retracts etc work properly, work envelope is correct, blah blah. There's only so many types of machine out there, they don't have THAT many differences in layout or control, and at the prices that these software suites cost, there is absolutely no excuse for the haphazard bullsh*t they pull. I've considered buying NX, SolidCam or Esprit in the past (currently using Fusion) but realistically most of our problems stem from difficulties with the post (and the fact that we're using Fusion for programming 2-path machines etc, but that is actually way less problematic than you might think). If I'm going to outlay that kind of cash there's just no f'ing way I'm paying them until they've proven the post, yet the sales guys will never agree to that for some reason.
 
I think this is a really big factor. All the machine simulation in the world doesn't count for anything if your post sucks, or you don't put good data into the sim. You're better off using Fusion 360 and a $10k post than a $60k software with a garbage post.

What I AM surprised about is that the CAM providers all absolutely SUCK at proving out their own posts. They should have rigorous and fairly standardized routines to do so - basically a series of test parts that they require you to program, set up & run in order to check all the geometric features work as intended, all the canned cycles and default retracts etc work properly, work envelope is correct, blah blah. There's only so many types of machine out there, they don't have THAT many differences in layout or control, and at the prices that these software suites cost, there is absolutely no excuse for the haphazard bullsh*t they pull. I've considered buying NX, SolidCam or Esprit in the past (currently using Fusion) but realistically most of our problems stem from difficulties with the post (and the fact that we're using Fusion for programming 2-path machines etc, but that is actually way less problematic than you might think). If I'm going to outlay that kind of cash there's just no f'ing way I'm paying them until they've proven the post, yet the sales guys will never agree to that for some reason.
It’s necessarily the CAM company itself that is the problem, in most cases it’s the reseller building the post. Yes there a few you buy direct.

I run CAMWorks and Hawk Ridge is my reseller, I had the best post builder for many years, he left a few years ago, he know CAMWorks and the post side inside and out and I never had a post complaint or problem. Since he’s been gone I’ve come across a few complaints with Hawk Ridges posts.

I’ve also learned that one can have a post built directly from HCL CAMWorks and have heard from many they function exactly how they should.

That tells me there’s a disconnect from the actual software company to resellers.
 
Having used posts ...and having worked for a cam reseller I will throw a few things out there...not arguing the point....just telling what I saw,
The reseller I worked for created 0 posts....every post and every post edit was handled by the software company.
Here is the biggest Issue I saw....
Customer...this code is wrong
Cam company....what should the code be?
Customer....I dont know, but this is wrong.
Cam company....tell us what you want it to post.
Customer....I dont know, thats why I bought cam software.


I get it. At this point the best resource is the the machine manufacturer to get the neccesary code.
BTW...I saw 2 "identical" machines that wouldnt run the same exact code from the same exact post because the machines were set up by different people and critical parameters were set differently between the 2 machines.

But here is my favorite exchange I ever had....
Customer....this post is posting bad code.
Me....show me the project.
customer.....why do you need the project? I want the code changed.
Me...please send the project so that I can look at it and verify what you are trying to do.


Customer then sends project....

Me....ohhh well see here...it was programmed wrong in the software. This is how it is supposed to be done and the code comes out correctly.
Customer......Thats not how I want to do it.
Me...thats how the software has worked for decades.
Customer.....I want the post to interpret what I am doing to post that code....or you need to let the software company know that they are doing it wrong and get the software changed.

Me ...(in my head) do you really think the software company is going to change their entire package because one guy doesnt want to apply his toolpaths the same way that thousands of other people do? AND.... do you really want your post changed so that when you do it incorrectly....you get correct code? ....AND if they do that, who knows what else wont work in the future for you to not like.
 
Customer then sends project....

Me....ohhh well see here...it was programmed wrong in the software. This is how it is supposed to be done and the code comes out correctly.
Customer......Thats not how I want to do it.
Me...thats how the software has worked for decades.
Customer.....I want the post to interpret what I am doing to post that code....or you need to let the software company know that they are doing it wrong and get the software changed.

Me ...(in my head) do you really think the software company is going to change their entire package because one guy doesnt want to apply his toolpaths the same way that thousands of other people do? AND.... do you really want your post changed so that when you do it incorrectly....you get correct code? ....AND if they do that, who knows what else wont work in the future for you to not like.
Who determines the "correct" way to program at toolpath? If the software allowed it to be programmed and it shows what the user is looking to do correctly in the software and simulation but doesn't post out "correctly" would that not be a post edit?
 
Who determines the "correct" way to program at toolpath? If the software allowed it to be programmed and it shows what the user is looking to do correctly in the software and simulation but doesn't post out "correctly" would that not be a post edit?
I would say if the people who create the software say....this is how that toolpath needs to be set up in our software in order to get good code...I am not arguing speeds feeds depth of cut or direction of travel etc....simply the software markers need to be like this...tool description like this...in order for it to work correctly. Then it probably needs to be that way. The instance I referenced was from an individual who refused to take training because they "taught" themselves.
 








 
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