Sunday, June 2, 2019

It's not just a job, it's a wardrobe

It's not just a Job, It's a Wardrobe

One year absence

If you are one of the three people subscribed to this blog, then you may have (though I doubt it) noticed there have not been any new posts in a while. 

There's a reason for that. 

Changed Jobs

If you read this blog in the past, first I'd like to thank you. You may remember I worked on the CAM side of things with Autodesk. Well, that's not the case anymore. My position was one of the 1,100+ that in late November 2017, Autodesk announced would be cut. Kind of a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas announcement. 

I was very fortunate to be able to find a new position at Siemens PLM, working on the team doing Additive Manufacturing software, and started in March of 2018. I have not posted new blogs because I've been learning NX, and, frankly have been very busy.

The last year and a half took me to Rapid, IMTS 2018, Materialise Expo, business trips to Denver, California, and several locations in Germany. I've taken training for Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) development methods. It's been challenging, rewarding, and fun. I can safely say we have one of the best teams possible. 

The Wardrobe

I've been involved in the CAD industry since 1990, many of those years working directly for the software developers. Often in an Applications Engineer or similar technical role. This required travel to customers and trade shows. Going to shows means getting company shirts. Hence, we would often make a joke that it's not just a job, it's a wardrobe. My closet has been full of shirts from previous employers. When one company was purchased by another, it became an opportunity for a new wardrobe. 

In fact, that last stint with Autodesk was not my first. I actually worked for Autodesk back in the early 1990's from their acquisition of Micro Engineering Solutions. When switching jobs, I usually throw out the shirts, to make room for more, but kept this one, because I thought it was very cool.

Solutions 3000 was the product of MES, and was somewhat unique in that you would pick first, then issue the command. The NURBS surfacing first became AutoSurf, then eventually the NURBS surfacing of Mechanical Desktop. (All products are part of the graveyard I believe)

After purchasing Micro Engineering Solutions, Autodesk purchased Woodbourne, which was the parametric solid modeling for AutoCAD, and the solid modeling portion of Mechanical Desktop, and I believe most of that team was involved in the creation of Inventor.

However, Solutions 3000 was not just a CAD product, but also included CAM functionality. At the time, Autodesk did not want to be in the CAM market, and actually let Camax (makers of Camand) resell it. Camax was eventually purchased by SDRC, which as a competitor to Autodesk ended up allowing the contract to resell Solutions 3000 be canceled. SDRC was of course eventually purchased by Unigraphics, which was eventually purchased by Siemens. 

CAM Software

For the longest time, Autodesk shied away from CAM software and manufacturing.  Certainly, CAM  sales are only a small percentage of CAD sales. There were many who said no one at Autodesk actually knew about manufacturing, as they have never had, "a chip stuck in their shoe." 

Autodesk's reluctance to compete in the manufacturing field changed sometime after Carl Bass became CEO of Autodesk. The company acquired manufacturing products like HSMWorks, Delcam (PowerMill), NetFabb (3D Printing software), TruNest (nesting and fabrication software), and probably a few others. Including some really good people with a solid manufacturing background.   

This is why I was recruited to work at Autodesk back in 2015, because they were making a bigger push into manufacturing.

Which leads me to my latest group of shirts I need to clear out. I've been waiting, but now need the closet space. 

One thing that is interesting is the branding, bundling, and product names during that short time. As evidenced by the various shirts. There was Autodesk CAM, which wasn't the name of an actual product, but rather what they were working on. People didn't like that name, and some new internal marketing was called "Autodesk Advanced Manufacturing". That name was liked less. 

HSMWorks was the name of the SolidWorks version, and Inventor HSM was the name of the version for Inventor, and they were sold separately. This is the same CAM software inside Fusion by the way. Next, a bundle named Autodesk HSM came out, where you got both the SolidWorks and Inventor versions. At some point, that stopped being a separate product, and you had to buy the Product Design and Manufacturing bundle to get CAM. 

Since then, Inventor HSM has been renamed Inventor CAM which is not to be confused with InventorCAM by iMachining. Yes, I guess that space makes a difference.

With so many changes in branding, naming, bundling in such a short time one might still wonder if Autodesk really knows what they want to do with manufacturing. 

Happy for the Opportunity

It may sound like I'm dumping on Autodesk, but that's not the case. I enjoyed working there, learned a lot, and they were a good company to work for. The people were pretty much great and helpful. During the reorg of 2017/2018 I was surprised to learn popular, long term employees, like Lynn Allen, were also reorg'd out. Her classes at Autodesk University were the largest, always packed, and had standing room only. 

My team had some great times, like when we brewed and gave away beer with a manufacturing theme. I was saddened to hear some other people I know from the mfg side have been cut since, or left for new opportunities.

Additive Manufacturing

With all that said, Siemens is doing some really kick-butt things with Additive Manufacturing. Both flatbed and multi-axis. You can find out more at Realize Live (the Siemens PLM customer event) or the one day track on Additive Manufacturing.

Now, I have to find out where my shirt for the event is....

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