Freesteel Blog » Mach2006 day one

Mach2006 day one

Thursday, May 18th, 2006 at 11:01 am Written by:

I went to this Mach 2006 exhibition in Birmingham on Tuesday, a day early, because I thought Martin was supposed to be back from his hols in Germany. So I wandered around the place on my own with half our small pile of “brochures” (one double-sided page with pretty pictures) aware of just what a stupid idea this was going to be. Normally I come into these shows belonging to a company, so at least I’ve got a home (the company stand) to retreat to when it becomes all too much.

In absence of that, I went straight over to GS Productivity Solutions, run by a couple of people who have posted onto this blog, who are very new Gibbscam resellers. The problem was they were way too busy pitching and selling, and never had any time to talk to people without any money. This Gibbs software must be really hot. There’s hardly any advertising of it in England. Bizarrely, Gibbs can’t machine STL triangle files, and I don’t know how to write algorithms that machine on anything but STL triangle files. Gibbs, like Delcam, runs a proper bulletin board, which is a Good Thing. AFAIK Vero and NC Graphics don’t, and Mastercam has a password protected one I can’t see. Not hosting one in public is a sign of cowardice and ought to mean the same thing to users as not being willing to publish one’s accounts means to investors.

So I was left alone and accidentally walked past the Vero stand. I accepted their dixie cup of coffee, and from that moment on had a terrible, eyewateringly bad headache until the next morning. It hurt so much I didn’t care about anything, and no longer gave a fig about making a fool of myself trying to tell people about my new algorithm for toolpaths.

I pestered six companies, all of them either machine tool manufacturers, or cutter makers. Although they don’t have any software for which they could buy our algorithm to use as part therein, I said that if they liked it they could tell other people that they should want to buy it, so they could tell the third group of people — the CAM software companies — to buy it from us so they could then buy what the machine tool maker recommended them to buy, and therefore something would get done. I don’t know how often you have to rely on a double-indirection like this in marketing, but those who saw the point of the algorithm were usually sympathetic.

Then I caught the train down to Bristol for the night and had an interesting conversation with my friends who, in between the chuckling at the idea that I was actually trying to sell something, tried to explain why business requires such a thing as “commercial confidentiality”, even though the convention works totally against the customer’s interests which would be better served by a free-flow of ideas and implementable solutions between all potential suppliers so that the options emerge into the market faster and more evenly, and there is better competition. Apparently, unless companies can keep profitable ideas to themselves to cream off as much market share as possible, no one will bother to invest in any new and risky idea because it’s always more profitable to copy it from the others. Therefore nothing will ever get done by anyone.

As with almost all economic doctrine, it collapses so completely whenever you have something which questions it, you should wonder why anyone bothers to believe it. Is no one old enough to remember the story behind the IBM PC clone, of which we — all of us — have massively benefitted? Do you really think the PC would not have been invented if IBM didn’t believe they could do this to all of their competitors? Innovation happens in spite of today’s business practices, not because of it.


  • 1. Garry B replies at 18th May 2006, 12:38 pm :

    Hi there Julian (and Martin),

    Just to prove I am not only a lurker, here I am.

    I had to drive everyone back to Cambridge from Mach, so I couldn’t hang around. I found what was there very disappointing, there wasn’t really anything special there. What I did get from Mach was talking to people I haven’t seen in a while. One thing I need to get hold of is that Machining Strategist Reunion photo.

    I’m currently reading about Python and SWIG on my lunchbreak as per your suggestion.

    I can tell you why NC Graphics doesn’t have a bulletin board. It is way too time consuming and it is hard enough to find the time to do all the work we have already(!) No excuse, I know…

  • 2. Julian replies at 18th May 2006, 2:50 pm :

    Nope. Not a good enough reason! You’ll find that everyone (delcam, gibbs, publicwhip) uses which is free and easy to install on your server. The point is these things can save work and help guide you on what work you should be doing.

    Anyway, someone has to keep their finger on the state of the web-page, which is very frequently (and I consider rightly) seen by complete strangers as a sign of software development and company prowess — more so than booking a grand stand for a week at Mach 2006. You’ve got javascripts written by my sister there, and the fuzzy little pictures purporting to show off tooling algorithms are an embarrassment:

    Just look at this one:

    Hello! We don’t use dial-up internet anymore. Images of toolpaths should actually show the lines.

  • 3. Garry B replies at 18th May 2006, 6:04 pm :

    I have run messageboards in the past and without good moderators it would be easy to fall into a pit of infighting. I know I don’t have the time during the day to participate or run something like that, and I can’t think of many people that could. I know I should certainly have better things to do with my evenings as well.
    I think something like replacing the website that is there with something like a Content Management System would make sense as it lowers the bar for maintenance. Whether anything will happen in the near future I couldnn’t say.

  • 4. Guy replies at 27th May 2006, 8:59 am :

    Hey guys,

    good to see you at MACH – sorry we were so “mercenary” and unable to give you much time – especially as you have no money 😉

    MACH was a bit mental for us, as you say GibbsCAM has been rather poorly publicised in the UK – until now! We had A LOT of interest.

    I’m pushing hard for GibbsCAM to machine from STL files – I still think your algorithm will work well in dental and medical machining markets -let me know how you get on.

  • 5. Freesteel » Blog Ar&hellip replies at 3rd December 2006, 12:23 am :

    […] algorithm into unwilling hands. Martin had translated our single-sheet brochure from the Mach 2006 show into German, and that went down rather well. In fact, the whole German thing went well, b […]

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