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New shop considering NX Cam.

CTFL

Aluminum
Joined
Nov 8, 2023
Location
Houston, Texas
Hello All,

I have tried to do my due diligence and have scoured all threads containing NX Cam.

We are starting a new shop. One machine. Okuma Multus mill turn, dual spindle, sub-turret (probably with live tooling)
Have current product line from customer well suited to that machine. Parts are oil and gas components (relatively simple)

My native softwares are Solidworks and SolidCAM.

General goals:
- totally optimize starting product line to run lights out.
- branch into aerospace ( we have connection with a company) and obtain 5x Mill.
- AS9100 certification for new connections to aerospace/defense companies

General found NX consensus:
- powerful, top of class, amazing CAD, expensive, customizable, strong templates, big learning curve.
- main worry --- moving towards (?) or is now subscription based. Prices i have seen are very high if that is yearly cost.

Questions remaining from forum search:

1. Has anyone switched from SolidCAM to NX CAM and have any regrets about that choice?

2. Is it true that i-Machining can be purchased as a module and used within NX CAM, and if so, is NX adaptive milling strong enough to not need that additional purchase?

3. Is NX post processor open sourced enough to create user defined procedures and be referenced from main post? (SolidCAM is 100% open)

4. Assuming complicated aero and defense parts, does NX meet or exceed your expectations of value?

5. Have you found an exclusivity to owning NX CAM? As in, is your shop afforded opportunities to work with certain companies as opposed to a shop that uses SolidCAM/MC/Fusion, etc...

6. A reseller I spoke with said they may even be able to place me into contact with companies who are searching for shops using NX. Selling point or does this have known merit?

7. what in the world does "VAR" stand for? Verified application reseller?? I just could not find that answer.


Probably no one person can answer all the questions.
But if you do have info and could shed light on any of the questions, it would be helpful and appreciated.
Thanks All.
 
Hello All,

I have tried to do my due diligence and have scoured all threads containing NX Cam.

We are starting a new shop. One machine. Okuma Multus mill turn, dual spindle, sub-turret (probably with live tooling)
Have current product line from customer well suited to that machine. Parts are oil and gas components (relatively simple)

My native softwares are Solidworks and SolidCAM.

General goals:
- totally optimize starting product line to run lights out.
- branch into aerospace ( we have connection with a company) and obtain 5x Mill.
- AS9100 certification for new connections to aerospace/defense companies

General found NX consensus:
- powerful, top of class, amazing CAD, expensive, customizable, strong templates, big learning curve.
- main worry --- moving towards (?) or is now subscription based. Prices i have seen are very high if that is yearly cost.

Questions remaining from forum search:

1. Has anyone switched from SolidCAM to NX CAM and have any regrets about that choice? sorta, i started programming in solidcam but havent used it in 5-6 years, no regrets about losing/not using solidcam

2. Is it true that i-Machining can be purchased as a module and used within NX CAM, and if so, is NX adaptive milling strong enough to not need that additional purchase? https://www.imachining4nx.com/en-us/ this says yes. IMHO there's no need for the plugin.

3. Is NX post processor open sourced enough to create user defined procedures and be referenced from main post? (SolidCAM is 100% open) depends on who you get the post processor from, some companies lock them down 100%, some leave things open. you can also create your own post from scratch if you wanted to, i wouldnt recommend it.

4. Assuming complicated aero and defense parts, does NX meet or exceed your expectations of value? there is nothing 'magical' about aerospace/defense parts that makes 1 cam system better or worse for programming them, all up to the programmer on how well he knows the system he's using, and how creative he/she is

5. Have you found an exclusivity to owning NX CAM? As in, is your shop afforded opportunities to work with certain companies as opposed to a shop that uses SolidCAM/MC/Fusion, etc... no comment

6. A reseller I spoke with said they may even be able to place me into contact with companies who are searching for shops using NX. Selling point or does this have known merit? no idea

7. what in the world does "VAR" stand for? Verified application reseller?? I just could not find that answer. Value Added Reseller


Probably no one person can answer all the questions.
But if you do have info and could shed light on any of the questions, it would be helpful and appreciated.
Thanks All.

did what i could
 
Value added reseller. So, software doesn't come with a manual anymore, you can buy training from them (adding value) in addition to reselling the software.
OH Yeh. And value add they do, for themselves. Beware of Fear/Uncertainty/Doubt tactics to get you to spend almost as much on training and support as the license itself. Usually the ideal (for you) amount of additional cost is about one tenth of what they first pitch to you.
 
CTFL,

Regarding questions 4 and 5, I've designed quite a few 'complicated aero and defense parts' and never once cared what CAM software the machine shop was running.
Exclusivity? I'm sure it exists somewhere, but outside of the dubious software resellers promises of contacts you aren't going to run in to them yourself. The only situation I've ever seen that 'legitimately' demanded NX was when engineering was CADing in NX and production was CAMing in NX - all under one roof. Even then the benefits over mixing up CAD and CAM are marginal.

FWIW Despite having heard claims to the contrary, when I had SolidWorks and NX CAD on the same machine, NX didn't do one thing that SolidWorks couldn't do and SolidWorks was way easier to use. The guys that used NX CAM loved it, but I have no experience there.
 
Value added reseller. So, software doesn't come with a manual anymore, you can buy training from them (adding value) in addition to reselling the software.
Thanks.
They are giving away nothing it seems. Even a microwave has a manual when you buy it.
 
CTFL,

Regarding questions 4 and 5, I've designed quite a few 'complicated aero and defense parts' and never once cared what CAM software the machine shop was running.
Exclusivity? I'm sure it exists somewhere, but outside of the dubious software resellers promises of contacts you aren't going to run in to them yourself. The only situation I've ever seen that 'legitimately' demanded NX was when engineering was CADing in NX and production was CAMing in NX - all under one roof. Even then the benefits over mixing up CAD and CAM are marginal.

FWIW Despite having heard claims to the contrary, when I had SolidWorks and NX CAD on the same machine, NX didn't do one thing that SolidWorks couldn't do and SolidWorks was way easier to use. The guys that used NX CAM loved it, but I have no experience there.
I see. Good point about about the engineering in NX.
I just got off the phone with a reseller and they said something to that effect.

GM was company and entire car assembly was designed in NX. They only worked with shops using NX as they did not want to invest in translating that assembly into a different software.
 
CTFL,

Regarding questions 4 and 5, I've designed quite a few 'complicated aero and defense parts' and never once cared what CAM software the machine shop was running.
Exclusivity? I'm sure it exists somewhere, but outside of the dubious software resellers promises of contacts you aren't going to run in to them yourself. The only situation I've ever seen that 'legitimately' demanded NX was when engineering was CADing in NX and production was CAMing in NX - all under one roof. Even then the benefits over mixing up CAD and CAM are marginal.

FWIW Despite having heard claims to the contrary, when I had SolidWorks and NX CAD on the same machine, NX didn't do one thing that SolidWorks couldn't do and SolidWorks was way easier to use. The guys that used NX CAM loved it, but I have no experience there.
i will always disagree on the marginal claim. even if only doing cam work, i use cad quite extensively for programming, having it all native is a HUGE deal.
one tiny example: when you put in threaded holes in a part, it stores all the data in the background, so when you go to program it, all the thread parameters are automatically pulled in to the toolpath, minimizing user input. this is just one tiny example of how having stuff in native environment is very useful.
 
i will always disagree on the marginal claim. even if only doing cam work, i use cad quite extensively for programming, having it all native is a HUGE deal.
one tiny example: when you put in threaded holes in a part, it stores all the data in the background, so when you go to program it, all the thread parameters are automatically pulled in to the toolpath, minimizing user input. this is just one tiny example of how having stuff in native environment is very useful.
Agree with this 100%.

I have all my threaded holes configured, when I get a SW native file, which is 95% of time time, my CAM software knows. It pulls in all the correct data, spot drill ( including chamfer size, or diameter created), drill size, chamfer mill if needed (based on my tooling) and tap, this is across the board for cut or roll form taps, and thread milling. Any Hole Wizard created feature it will do this for me.

It's not a huge deal with non SW native part files, its a quick selection after it groups them all together, but it sure is efficient when it can do it all on its own.
 
i will always disagree on the marginal claim. even if only doing cam work, i use cad quite extensively for programming, having it all native is a HUGE deal.
one tiny example: when you put in threaded holes in a part, it stores all the data in the background, so when you go to program it, all the thread parameters are automatically pulled in to the toolpath, minimizing user input. this is just one tiny example of how having stuff in native environment is very useful.
Another example:

The engineers at the place I work at LOVE doing asymmetrical tolerances (+0/-.003). Thank God my CAM is integrated into solidworks so I can quickly change the model to the midpoint of the tolerance band.

I really don't get why they like doing this. Maybe one day I will try to explain that I always aim for exactly the midpoint because then it gives me as much cushion as possible thus reducing scrap. I CANNOT and will not attempt to guess design intent based on how you set up the tolerances.
 
Another example:

The engineers at the place I work at LOVE doing asymmetrical tolerances (+0/-.003). Thank God my CAM is integrated into solidworks so I can quickly change the model to the midpoint of the tolerance band.

I really don't get why they like doing this. Maybe one day I will try to explain that I always aim for exactly the midpoint because then it gives me as much cushion as possible thus reducing scrap. I CANNOT and will not attempt to guess design intent based on how you set up the tolerances.
That is a nice feature. Just recently I had to remodel a complicated pocket and boss w/grooves. There was a mixture of symmetric and asymmetric tolerances. Part would have been out of tolerance, possibly scrapped, if programmed directly from the model.
 
Another example:

The engineers at the place I work at LOVE doing asymmetrical tolerances (+0/-.003). Thank God my CAM is integrated into solidworks so I can quickly change the model to the midpoint of the tolerance band.

I really don't get why they like doing this. Maybe one day I will try to explain that I always aim for exactly the midpoint because then it gives me as much cushion as possible thus reducing scrap. I CANNOT and will not attempt to guess design intent based on how you set up the tolerances.
The engineers are doing that (assuming they know what they are doing of course) because a size bigger than specified is unacceptable, where as slightly smaller is ok. Most likely they are trying to make something fit properly and either need a specific amount of interference or don't want any interference (depending on if that tolerance is on the male or female part).

For instance, our spec size on some 1/4" fastener holes is just what you said, (+0/-.003) and that's because there needs to be an interference fit between the fastener and the hole. If you combine it with the fastener tolerance range, it works out to be a minimal interference of 0.0005" to a max interference of 0.0055". Which gives the performance that is needed. Its still nominally a 1/4" hole though, so they don't want to model it as a 0.2515" hole.

The engineer doesn't give a shit what you shoot for, they care about what the part actually turns out as. And you certinaly should not be trying to guess design intent, you should be making sure you hit the tolerance as specified.
 
CTFL, looks like you all touched on the cad aspects a bit. Unless your guys are frequently modeling parts, you won't need a lot of cad seats so I would encourage you to compare cam to cam prices; you'll probably be surprised.

I seem to recall either Siemens or Saratech mentioned NX uses iMachining for it's Adaptive Milling but I'm not certain. Empower and Emgo, can you guys verify it? Also, it also comes down to how well a given software uses licensed products. One software's implementation can vary wildly to the next.

NX postprocessing is very site customizable. You can make a song and dance whatever you want it to do. Someone on your staff will need to learn it of course, or you could hire a 3rd party. Your choice. Same for creating machines for sim, you can learn it, hire it out or buy turn-key machine kits.

As for modeling capability, modeling and manipulation of prismatic designs is a no-brainer; any software can do it. If you have a need to do complicated 3D work then there is no comparison between SW and NX whatsoever. Period. NX has way more capability designing the wildest parts from the ground up and if you need to manipulate dumb models, NX Synchronous modeling is a God-send. Some people like to use Synchronous modeling features on native models but personally I don't use it as such. If you are going to do aero and def parts I assume you will be receiving most of your models from your customers so you won't need a lot of cad seats.
 
CTFL, looks like you all touched on the cad aspects a bit. Unless your guys are frequently modeling parts, you won't need a lot of cad seats so I would encourage you to compare cam to cam prices; you'll probably be surprised.

I seem to recall either Siemens or Saratech mentioned NX uses iMachining for it's Adaptive Milling but I'm not certain. Empower and Emgo, can you guys verify it? Also, it also comes down to how well a given software uses licensed products. One software's implementation can vary wildly to the next.

NX postprocessing is very site customizable. You can make a song and dance whatever you want it to do. Someone on your staff will need to learn it of course, or you could hire a 3rd party. Your choice. Same for creating machines for sim, you can learn it, hire it out or buy turn-key machine kits.

As for modeling capability, modeling and manipulation of prismatic designs is a no-brainer; any software can do it. If you have a need to do complicated 3D work then there is no comparison between SW and NX whatsoever. Period. NX has way more capability designing the wildest parts from the ground up and if you need to manipulate dumb models, NX Synchronous modeling is a God-send. Some people like to use Synchronous modeling features on native models but personally I don't use it as such. If you are going to do aero and def parts I assume you will be receiving most of your models from your customers so you won't need a lot of cad seats.
NX does NOT natively use imachining. they have their own strategy.
synchronous modeling makes me cream my draws...
 
CTFL, looks like you all touched on the cad aspects a bit. Unless your guys are frequently modeling parts, you won't need a lot of cad seats so I would encourage you to compare cam to cam prices; you'll probably be surprised.

I seem to recall either Siemens or Saratech mentioned NX uses iMachining for it's Adaptive Milling but I'm not certain. Empower and Emgo, can you guys verify it? Also, it also comes down to how well a given software uses licensed products. One software's implementation can vary wildly to the next.

NX postprocessing is very site customizable. You can make a song and dance whatever you want it to do. Someone on your staff will need to learn it of course, or you could hire a 3rd party. Your choice. Same for creating machines for sim, you can learn it, hire it out or buy turn-key machine kits.

As for modeling capability, modeling and manipulation of prismatic designs is a no-brainer; any software can do it. If you have a need to do complicated 3D work then there is no comparison between SW and NX whatsoever. Period. NX has way more capability designing the wildest parts from the ground up and if you need to manipulate dumb models, NX Synchronous modeling is a God-send. Some people like to use Synchronous modeling features on native models but personally I don't use it as such. If you are going to do aero and def parts I assume you will be receiving most of your models from your customers so you won't need a lot of cad seats.
Thanks Areo,
You are correct. Most of the CAD will be strictly to support CAM. Of course fixture modeling and file repair/manipulation to aid CAM.
When you say surprised....good or bad kind of surprise?

I think the whole issue is determining which software we want to start building a foundation upon.
-Editable or ability to build on post is a must (thanks for affirmation)
-API, which NX has NX open
-Strong and intelligent CAM package. (as in not notorious for lacking power to tackle complicated parts)
- even the small niche aspect of possibly being industry recognized is a bonus.

SolidCAM still looks to be in perpetual license business model w/yearly maintenance. Huge plus in my book.
NX CAM seems to only be subscription based and if those yearly numbers are correct (finding out today via meeting), it looks pretty darned expensive, and never-ending. Worrisome.
 
Thanks Areo,
You are correct. Most of the CAD will be strictly to support CAM. Of course fixture modeling and file repair/manipulation to aid CAM.
When you say surprised....good or bad kind of surprise?

I think the whole issue is determining which software we want to start building a foundation upon.
-Editable or ability to build on post is a must (thanks for affirmation)
-API, which NX has NX open
-Strong and intelligent CAM package. (as in not notorious for lacking power to tackle complicated parts)
- even the small niche aspect of possibly being industry recognized is a bonus.

SolidCAM still looks to be in perpetual license business model w/yearly maintenance. Huge plus in my book.
NX CAM seems to only be subscription based and if those yearly numbers are correct (finding out today via meeting), it looks pretty darned expensive, and never-ending. Worrisome.
the good thing is, the CAD capabilities that come with a CAM seat are MORE than plenty for just about anything you'd need to do outside of complex surface modeling etc.
i'd reach out to a VAR re perpetual licensing. i believe you should still be able to buy it outright unless something changed recently. but best to talk to a reseller.
 
If you have a need to do complicated 3D work then there is no comparison between SW and NX whatsoever. Period. NX has way more capability designing the wildest parts from the ground up
Keep in mind that SW and NX are not intended to be competitors. At the high end Catia is the competitor to NX, and in the mid-range Solidworks competes with Solid Edge.
 
I learned CATIA when I was 17, about 37 years ago on dedicated IBM hw available to me at a university.

Because I loved CAD/3D for many years, and was willing to go through the hoops and pain of the interface and the innumerable variations in everything.
300+ study hours ..
I later learned most 3D CAD systems to some extent and 3D Studio very well, and much later Rhino 3D, which I use.
300+ study hours ..

NX seems to me similar to CATIA.
Immensely powerful, endless options, and very good connectivity for db/workgroup/industrial manufacturing with parts libraries, multiple people working on multiple parts of an assy, multiple revisions, all sorts of stuff.

Rhino 3D has essentially none of this, in comparison, it´s just very easy and fast 3D cad with great organic modelling, and some plugin stuff for really cool things.
Some cool stuff can be done with rhinoscript programming, but it´s not comparable on any level.

IF You went with NX, You would almost certainly have clients, and jobs, because it´s not a common platform that everyone and their garage-based neighbour has.

But it will probably be harder than You think, more complicated than You think, and more expensive in learning hours than You think.
And extremely frustrating at least 100 times.

And You should expect to have 2-3-4 revisions of Your test/startup 3D model before You have a semi-decent model linked into an SQL dB which You will definitely want.

1.
For a suggestion, plan to make a window frame in flat steel, as a library/parts series, so you can parametrically create drawings and models from it.
Add chamfers to edges, to corners, and rounded edges as an option, and size of edges as an option.
Add version numbers.
Add a remore user who can make specific one-offs for a specific series of jobs/parts.
Bill of materials, tools, expected times, might follow from this.

2.
For a suggestion plan a 3D model to make a hex bolt in a turning center with C axis and live tooling.
Corner rounding, accurate 3a/3b threads.
From hex bar.
Parametric, for size, length, different strengths of the bar perhaps, 12l14 or prehard stressproof.

NX and CATIA are good for this type of work.

Solidworks can somewhat be bent to this, if you have good sql skills and experience.
You may run into endless instances of models, with various often undocumented features that are not attached to them in any structured way.

Suggestion:
Think about Your possible future clients.
If You want to sell aerospace and or 5 axis stuff You want to demonstrate sample parts and libraries You have made, can make, with variations, traceability, families-of, specific features, where made, materials used, etc etc.

A 3G geegaw to give to a prospective client made in 3 different sizes, in maybe alu, brass, and stainless, with a small printed card about each one, and a 2-page spreadsheet about detailed specs, tolerances, materials, availability in time, would make You stand out.

It is very very complex to do efficient structured manufacturing.
It is not hard.
But each sub-strand has endless gotchas.
 
I learned CATIA when I was 17, about 37 years ago on dedicated IBM hw available to me at a university.

Because I loved CAD/3D for many years, and was willing to go through the hoops and pain of the interface and the innumerable variations in everything.
300+ study hours ..
I later learned most 3D CAD systems to some extent and 3D Studio very well, and much later Rhino 3D, which I use.
300+ study hours ..

NX seems to me similar to CATIA.
Immensely powerful, endless options, and very good connectivity for db/workgroup/industrial manufacturing with parts libraries, multiple people working on multiple parts of an assy, multiple revisions, all sorts of stuff.

Rhino 3D has essentially none of this, in comparison, it´s just very easy and fast 3D cad with great organic modelling, and some plugin stuff for really cool things.
Some cool stuff can be done with rhinoscript programming, but it´s not comparable on any level.

IF You went with NX, You would almost certainly have clients, and jobs, because it´s not a common platform that everyone and their garage-based neighbour has.

But it will probably be harder than You think, more complicated than You think, and more expensive in learning hours than You think.
And extremely frustrating at least 100 times.

And You should expect to have 2-3-4 revisions of Your test/startup 3D model before You have a semi-decent model linked into an SQL dB which You will definitely want.

1.
For a suggestion, plan to make a window frame in flat steel, as a library/parts series, so you can parametrically create drawings and models from it.
Add chamfers to edges, to corners, and rounded edges as an option, and size of edges as an option.
Add version numbers.
Add a remore user who can make specific one-offs for a specific series of jobs/parts.
Bill of materials, tools, expected times, might follow from this.

2.
For a suggestion plan a 3D model to make a hex bolt in a turning center with C axis and live tooling.
Corner rounding, accurate 3a/3b threads.
From hex bar.
Parametric, for size, length, different strengths of the bar perhaps, 12l14 or prehard stressproof.

NX and CATIA are good for this type of work.

Solidworks can somewhat be bent to this, if you have good sql skills and experience.
You may run into endless instances of models, with various often undocumented features that are not attached to them in any structured way.

Suggestion:
Think about Your possible future clients.
If You want to sell aerospace and or 5 axis stuff You want to demonstrate sample parts and libraries You have made, can make, with variations, traceability, families-of, specific features, where made, materials used, etc etc.

A 3G geegaw to give to a prospective client made in 3 different sizes, in maybe alu, brass, and stainless, with a small printed card about each one, and a 2-page spreadsheet about detailed specs, tolerances, materials, availability in time, would make You stand out.

It is very very complex to do efficient structured manufacturing.
It is not hard.
But each sub-strand has endless gotchas.
Hanermo,

Thank you for the in-depth look into capabilities of NX.
I hope one day we will have so many parts to keep track of that the functionalities you mentioned can be taken advantage of.
Many of the ideas are outside my current scope of understanding but I appreciate learning about areas to study and learn more about. I've seen SQL referenced a few times in my career. Seems time to learn more about it!
 








 
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