With what seems like forever, we have witnessed the ongoing and perpetual consolidation of the CAD industry as companies continue to get swallowed up by others. Some of the acquisitions have been successful and some, well, not so much. We’ve witnessed CAD companies acquiring CAD companies, simulation companies acquiring CAD companies, and other types of technical software and service companies acquiring CAD companies. With all the attention seemingly focused on the CAD side, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there also has been a significant consolidation through acquisition on the CAM side, as well the past several years. Let’s take a quick look at a few of these acquisitions as the CAM circle continues to get smaller.
As impressive as it is, last month we gave 3D printing a bit of a dressing down based on personal experience. The blog post was a reality check and a look at the technology not through rose-colored glasses. That’s not to say, though, that 3D printing is still one of the biggest innovations on the manufacturing front, if not the biggest, in recent memory.
Even with the major advances that have transpired in 3D printing, there are still a number of skeptics who view the technology as little more than a promotional stunt or gimmick.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 took place this week. It’s an annual tech festival that began in 1967 that today attracts more than 160,000 attendees checking out about 3,500 exhibitors. Over the years, some of the more significant technologies first released at CES have included:
1970 – VCR
1981 – CD player
1985 – Nintendo Entertainment System
1998 – High-definition TV
2000 – Satellite radio
2003 – Blu-Ray DVDs
2015 – 3D Printing(?)
We didn’t attend CES this year, but we have been monitoring the activities in a pavilion dedicated to innovative technologies, including 3D printing.
Next week, along with what is expected to be over 9,000 attendees, we’ll be in Las Vegas for Autodesk University (AU). Yes, it’s an Autodesk vehicle, but it’s also much bigger than that.
AU is analogous to a big box store (ironically, it starts on Cyber Monday – December 1) with one-stop shopping for technical software for a broad range of industries – manufacturing, media/entertainment, GIS, AEC, and so on.
If you’re coming to Las Vegas for AU, it’s always a good idea to know your objectives for attending and what you hope to get out of it. In other words, come with an agenda based on asking the following questions on behalf of yourself and your company looking ahead five years:
What are you working on now and what do you want to be working on?
What will be the core competencies of our company and our competitors?
What technologies are our competitors acquiring and implementing, and are they new or complementary?
What technologies will emerge and be vital to our business?
Will our company be able to use methods and technologies from other industries?
Will our company grow strictly by organic means, or through partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions?
How will our company’s staff differ from todays and what skill sets will be required?
How will we deal with data – interoperability, legacy, management, etc.?
These are all important questions, because regardless of position today, no company can afford to remain complacent if they hope to remain competitive.
AU is always a good place for monitoring industry and technology trends, market direction, future requirements, industry rumors, and R&D within Autodesk and many of its partners.
AU, like other live software/technology events are great for meeting with Autodesk folks, exhibitors, peers, and potential customers. It’s also an opportunity to learn at the myriad industry-specific classes that are offered, as well as unparalleled networking. With all that we do via email, texting, phone calls, Skype, Web meetings, etc., AU is a great venue for face to face discussions and conversations before, during, and after each day’s formal events. Some of the best inside “dirt” (ranging from successes to frustrations) we pick up on is outside the confines of the conference itself, and we always look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
Always expect the unexpected at AU, because you might just hear, see, or learn something that will drive a solution to a problem, or a new direction for you, your company, and your career.
So, if you are going to AU 2014, don’t just go for the sake of this year, but also for considerations down the road.
Autodesk, Inc. announced that it will be investing up to $100 million in 3D printing companies over the next several years. The Spark Investment Fund, which will be operated within Autodesk, is the first of its kind for the 3D printing industry and will invest in entrepreneurs, startups, and researchers pushing the boundaries of 3D printing technology and accelerating the third industrial revolution.
Check out the video below from May 2014 at the MakerCon Bay Area event where Carl Bass, the president and CEO of Autodesk, announced the company’s first venture into digital fabrication hardware:
Autodesk Spark Demonstration With Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO
Coming about six months after its major Windows releases, Autodesk, Inc. announced today the releases of AutoCAD 2015 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2015 for Mac.
Although Autodesk estimates that only 1-3% of all Macs run CAD software, this is still a significant milestone for AutoCAD for the Mac platform, now in its fifth release. Significant because in the five years since the first release of AutoCAD for Mac, the Mac platform base and presence has expanded from about 15 million to today’s approximately 80+ million. A nice increase in potential market.
We just returned from one of the most interesting events of the year for us and one that we always look forward to – SIGGRAPH 2014. SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) is the name of the annual conference on computer graphics (CG) convened by the ACM SIGGRAPH organization.
The first SIGGRAPH conference was in 1974, and this year’s event was held in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.
As usual, we found the most interesting aspects of the conference to be the SIGGRAPH Emerging Technologies program and the exhibit floor.
In just about any industry or market segment you can think of, the words “cloud,” “mobile,” and “app” are about as ubiquitous as it gets. PLM is proving no different, although acceptance and implementation seem slow in coming. However, the tide is beginning to turn.
PLM, of course has received considerable support from large organizations, and is finally being embraced by significant numbers of SMBs. To date, the two biggest obstacles for SMBs considering PLM, much less implementing it, have been cost and complexity – whether real or perceived.
Although hardly the first or only one, a couple years ago Autodesk launched a major effort to bring PLM to the SMB masses with the introduction of cloud-based PLM 360. More recently it launched a PLM 360 app for iOS and Android mobile devices.
If you’ve been around the technical/engineering software business as long as I have, as with any business, nothing stays the same. This includes founders, executives, and other major players who were once prominent in the industry, but for many reasons have moved on. Some, to other companies in the industry, some to other industries, and some who have just plain disappeared. History never stands still and the CAx industry is no exception.
Although it’s a bit dated and based on a research project, check out the video below for a very short recap on the history of CAD:
A Short History of CAD
During the coming weeks and months we’ll try and track down players who were formerly very prominent in the MCAD arena and see what they’re up to now. Some of these folks include:
John Walker – Autodesk
Mike Riddle – Autodesk
Carol Bartz – Autodesk
Dominic Gallello – Autodesk
Dick Harrison – PTC
Steve Walske – PTC
Jim Meadlock – Intergraph
Joe Costello – Think3
Pat Hanratty — MCS
Martin Newell – Ashlar
Jon Hirschtick – SolidWorks
John McEleney — SolidWorks
Jeff Ray – SolidWorks
Jason Lemon – SDRC
Fontaine Richardson – Applicon
John Wright – United Computing (later Unigraphics)
Thomas Curry – MSC Software
Robert Bean – CADKEY
Obviously, this list only scratches the surface of possibilities. If there is anyone currently or formerly renowned in the CAD/CAM/CAE/CAx industry you would like to see us track down and update what they’re up to, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line that reads, “Where Are They Now?”, and we’ll do our best to respond in an upcoming blog on a person’s whereabouts and more recent accomplishments.
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a series of four evaluation articles of CAD/PDM systems for SMBs.
Autodesk Vault Profession is one of three levels available from the company. Also available are Vault Basic and Vault Workgroup.
Vault Professional is a standalone application providing access to vault data. Integrated add-in clients for CAD and non-CAD applications are used to manage data. When working on files managed by any vault-type system, it is important to note that copies of files that are stored in the vault are checked out. Files are never directly edited in the vault; these files are read-only until they are checked out. In effect, copies of files are checked out of the vault for editing. In a vaulting scheme, a file can be checked out only by one user at a time. Changes made to checked out files are sent back to the server when a file is checked in.
Over the course of the past year, Autodesk has gotten heavily involved with the CAM side of product development.
As a case in point, relatively recently, Autodesk has made it clear that it intends to become a major force in CAM to round out its Digital Prototyping philosophy that also includes design and simulation. As examples to this CAM commitment, in the past year or so it has acquired HSMWorks (a relatively small step in CAM), and more recently announced its intention to acquire Delcam (a relatively giant leap in CAM).
It was really big news when, Autodesk announced its intention to acquire Delcam, one of the world’s leading suppliers of advanced software for manufacturing. The companies offer complementary ranges of software, with Autodesk’s programs for design (CAD) and engineering (CAE) able to be combined with Delcam’s strengths in manufacturing (CAM).
On completion of the acquisition, Delcam will become a subsidiary of Autodesk. It will maintain its focus on continued growth of its market share in the manufacturing sector, counting on added strength that will come from becoming part of a larger organization.
Both Delcam and Autodesk invest heavily in product development, and this will likely continue after the acquisition, as there is likely to be little overlap and duplication of effort.
Delcam is a publicly traded company and will be purchased with cash that Autodesk has stashed outside the U.S., keeping it there most likely for advantageous tax purposes and for opportunities for transactions like this one.
GibbsCAM and Autodesk Inventor Interoperability
Cimatron Limited, a developer of integrated CAD/CAM software for toolmaking and manufacturing, announced this week that its GibbsCAM software has been certified for Autodesk Inventor 2015 under the Autodesk Certified Apps Program. This marks the fourteenth consecutive year that GibbsCAM has been certified under the program.
GibbsCAM directly opens Autodesk Inventor part models, allowing CNC programmers and machinists to program machine tools from the models, extending cost reduction and efficiency through the programming and machining processes. GibbsCAM provides integration with Autodesk Inventor, by directly reading Autodesk Inventor IPT (part model) files, preserving all color information, features and attributes assigned within Inventor to provide continuity in recognizing and communicating part and feature attributes. Alternatively, with the GibbsCAM Autodesk Inventor Add-in, Inventor users can transfer files directly into GibbsCAM with the “Transfer to GibbsCAM” menu option of Inventor software running on the same workstation. Once machining processes are defined in GibbsCAM, they are automatically updated when the Inventor model is revised.
“We are gratified for our continuing partnership with Autodesk and for Autodesk’s recognition of GibbsCAM interoperability with Autodesk Inventor,” said Robb Weinstein, Senior Vice President of Sales and Strategic Planning of Gibbs and Associates, a Cimatron subsidiary. “Our commitment to joint customers around the world remains unchanged, despite changing marketplace dynamics, as we continue to optimize the CNC-programming power and flexibility GibbsCAM provides Autodesk users.”
“We are very pleased to have Gibbs and Associates affirm their continuing dedication to interoperability with Autodesk Inventor through Inventor certification for GibbsCAM,” said Carl White, Senior Director, Manufacturing Engineering, Autodesk. “Having companies like Gibbs and Associates as partners is highly beneficial to our manufacturing customers.”
In 2008, Gibbs and Associates merged with Cimatron Ltd., and is now operating as a wholly owned subsidiary.
The GibbsCAM product line supports 2- through 5-axis milling, turning, mill/turning, multi-task simultaneous machining and wire-EDM. GibbsCAM also provides fully integrated manufacturing modeling capabilities that include 2D, 2.5D, 3D wireframe, surface, and solid modeling. GibbsCAM is either offered or endorsed by a number of leading worldwide control and machine tool manufacturers, including GE Fanuc, Infimatic, Siemens, Doosan Infracore, DMG MORI, Haas, Index, MAG, Mazak, Mitsubishi, Okuma, and Tornos.