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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

Countering the Rumors: Autodesk Inventor HSM Express 2014

 
November 4th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe

Virtually since its inception, the CAD/CAM industry has always had its proponents, detractors, champions, pundits, and naysayers, and this diverse group of industry watchers continues to flourish today.

One of the most heated and opinionated debates that I’ve seen in quite some time came when HSMWorks was acquired by Autodesk a little over a year ago. Rumors circulated that HSMWorks was toast because Autodesk was going to kill it, owing to the fact at the time that the vast majority of HSMWorks CAM customers were also using it as an integration with SolidWorks. Well, as often happens, the rumors turned out to not exactly be as disastarous as claimed (or hoped for).

As it turns out, the companies HSMWorks products are alive and well with a promising future ahead.

I recently caught up with Anthony Graves, formerly the Marketing Director and Product Manager at HSMWorks, now Autodesk’s CAM Product Manager, about the events of the past year and a brief look into the future.

Contrary to what what was largely rumored at the time of the Autodesk acquisition, HSM actually filled a large void in the Autodesk manufacturing product line, and HSM became Autodesk’s first CAM product.

Since CAM is a relatively new focus for Autodesk, Graves was happy to report that the size of the HSM staff has tripled since the acquisition — so it’s getting the resources necessary to move forward in the future.

Graves said that he, along with staff members and an increasing number of customers are comfortable with the decision to be acquired by Autodesk.

He said that Autodesk has declared the CAD wars over and is always looking for opportunities for new tools to expand into new areas of design and manufacturing, hence the reason behind the HSM acquisition. For furthering its Digital Prototyping philosophy, Autodesk felt that had design and simulation at least covered, but machining was a major gap that it wanted to fill.

While HSM is indeed an Autodesk property, Graves said the company fully intends to keep it “open,” meaning that the technology will remain available to customers using competing CAD products (at least for the foreseeable future). As examples to this approach, Graves gave Moldflow and T-Splines, both Autodesk acqusitions, but available to CAD users beyond the Autodesk MCAD line.

According to Graves, and even after the Autodesk acquisition, 90%+ of HSMWorks CAD agnostic, meaning that (at least theoretically) it could be integrated with any MCAD application, beyond Inventor and SolidWorks. The remain 10% is, in fact, CAD specific. Graves said this illustrates that Autodesk has made a commitment to design tools in general, not just CAD.

Unlike several competitors in the CAM Graves feels that HSM technology is accessible and affordable with what he termed a “transparent workflow.” In other words, he feels that especially for a CAM product, HSM is approachable, easy to use, but also something that manufacturing customers won’t outgrow.

Autodesk Inventor HSM Express 2014 is testimony that Autodesk so far is delivering on its promise of comittment to HSM staffers and its customer base. Autodesk Inventor HSM Express 2014 is available as a free download to Inventor 2014 and Inventor LT 2014 users. Also, expect to see a cloud-based CAM product that expands the Autodesk 360 family.

Without providing any details, Graves the company would be making a big announcement in a few weeks at Autodesk University. We’re attending this year’s AU in Las Vegas and are anxious to see what Autodesk/HSMworks announces.

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