Today, the biggest news for CAD/CAM in years happened. Autodesk announced it has acquired HSMWorks. That Autodesk acquired another company isn’t surprising. What is surprising is this–HSMWorks is a CAM Solution for SolidWorks. If you use it, you also know it’s the best integrated CAM solution for SolidWorks. Obviously, Autodesk sees this, loves this, wants this integration in their own product and with the popularity HSMWorks achieved by offering a free version of their CAM Solution, HSMXpress, they’ve built an strong user base in the CAM industry. It’s an industry Autodesk was lacking in and this acquisition is a strategy that compliments every level of their Manufacturing product line. So, with the influx of Autodesk funds, what’s the future of CAM? And exactly, what does this acquisition mean for the SolidWorks user?
Autodesk… for SolidWorks
First, what’s happening to the SolidWorks product? The press release is pretty straight forward.
“Existing SolidWorks customers using HSMWorks will continue to receive support and product updates.”
The HSMWorks forums say the same.
“Autodesk HSMWorks will continue to be developed and we will continue to release updates…. Autodesk HSMWorks represents the very best of integrated of CAM for SolidWorks and there are no intentions of discontinuing the product.”
What’s weird is this…
Autodesk HSMWorks for SolidWorks. Not that Autodesk isn’t capable of creating software plugin for a competing company’s software–it’s just, you don’t see this happening (except with Autodesk.) “But isn’t it helping to sell SolidWorks seats?” No, I don’t think so. I’ve always thought companies creating plugins or complementary product for a competitive software is smart idea. SolidWorks users of HSMWorks, now see Autodesk branding and, I would imagine, options for other Autodesk products/services… but that’s not what you’ll see, not yet. Install HSMWorks and you see “Autodesk HSMWorks” on the install screen, but that’s it. No other branding except for when you pull up the About HSMWorks.
CAM! Get thee to the Cloud!
In the HSMWorks Forums, you’ll see announcements for both HSMWorks customers and HSMXpress customers. They announce new compatibility for HSMXpress and SolidWorks 2013 and give some clue as to the future of the product within the Autodesk product line.
What are Autodesk’s plans for the HSMWorks technology?
Autodesk intends to integrate HSMWorks technology into the Autodesk portfolio of software, suites, and cloud services for manufacturing.
When asking Autodesk’s Noah Cole about this he said,
As we’ve done with PLM and Simulation, we’re using the cloud to make some of these previously inaccessible/expensive technologies more available to a broader set of users and want to do something similar with CAM.
Ok, CAM on the Cloud peeps. Who’s interested? Let’s put it into perspective. You’ve got to get some models to manufacturing. What if you could upload one model, have the toolpaths/g-code churned out, while you continue working on the others, then get the batch sent off to your manufacturer of choice? If it’s on the cloud, do you need it integrated in the software? Well, there’s the set-up and checks–nothing a few options and visuals couldn’t solve.
On another level, this has got to have InventorCAM, GibbsCAM and other Autodesk compatible CAM programs worried. Where do you sit? Are you a SolidWorks user of HSMWorks? Or, are you an Inventor user that has been waiting for an integrated CAM tool from Autodesk?
There has been some rumours that Autodesk cut all the HSMWorks employees and SolidWorks cut off HSMWorks. Here’s what we’ve confirmed. All (100%) of the HSMWorks employees are now part of the Autodesk CAM Group (including some contractors.) SolidWorks, if you check on their site, has pulled HSMWorks from their Partner Products section, thus their status as a GOLD PARTNER. The Partner channel is another story. All resellers are still listed on the HSMWorks site. Resellers are reporting on the HSMWorks forum that they had no knowledge of this. One reseller says he “found out about this when a customer forwarded the announcement email to us.” This is a letter sent out to customers of one HSMWorks reseller:
Dear valued HSMWorks user,
As many of you may already be aware, HSMWorks and all of its holdings have recently been acquired by Autodesk, Inc. As a reseller for HSM, and more importantly on behalf of CADD Edge and the integrity and honesty with which we run our business, I personally want to reassure each of you that we had no prior knowledge of this acquisition. Unfortunately, HSMWorks personnel made this decision without informing their territorial resellers and we, like most of you, became aware of this acquisition news via the Press Release.
As a result, our contract with HSMWorks has been discontinued effective immediately with the ability to provide product support through 10/31/2012.
With that said, CADD Edge personnel will be here to complete any outstanding technical issues that you may have had. We understand that there may be questions in terms of product development and platform support. Quite frankly, we are not privy to any of that information and have not been made aware of any further plans by HSMWorks or Autodesk, aside from the FAQ’s listed below.
Finally, we believe it to be of paramount importance to remind you that CADD Edge had every intention of a long and mutually beneficial relationship with HSMWorks. Much time and effort was spent by many in researching and implementing what we believed to be the most advanced, integrated and powerful CAM software for your SolidWorks systems. It is most unfortunate that the decision has been made by HSMWorks to continue in a different direction.
We appreciate the opportunities to work with your organizations and remain committed to your future success.
Brendan J. McKenna
HSMWorks Business Development Manager
Note that this does not mean reseller support is ending or that Autodesk is immediately stopping any support for the product within SolidWorks. If you recall, Autodesk also acquired Moldflow and T-Splines, both products that are still currently available for use with SolidWorks models.