Freesteel Blog » Report on the Euromold show

Report on the Euromold show

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006 at 12:24 am Written by:

It took three days, and Martin and I visited every target and then some, attempting to press our Adaptive Clearing CAM 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, because I don’t know a word, and had to stand by without interrupting as Martin introduced ourselves and Vorsprung Durch Techniqued at the corporate operative who had come out from the stand to greet us.

Years ago when I went to these shows as an NC Graphics employee, proud of my toolpaths in Machining Strategist, it got pretty boring because no one from the competitive CAM companies wanted to show me their products, fearing that I would steal their ideas and harm their competitive advantage. What they ought to have done was see if they could have offered me a job. I wasn’t generally happy being in Cambridge year after year, and I’d have probably taken it. But, as it is, programmers are so far below the radar that it never occurred.

Anyways, today we have something to give back, so most of the responses were positive, as they should be. We are offering trials of our unique machining toolpath generator free of charge to anyone, with an option to buy at substantially below the cost of development. I tell them that even if they believe they already have the best toolpaths in the world — as many companies do — and they have no intention of buying anything from us, they should get their programmers to examin it, and replicate it — at a guarenteed higher development cost. We offer this because we believe that if more people have this machining algorithm, more people will want it, so it is completely counter-productive to keep a tight control on the technology when it has so little market penetration and we lack the resources to advertise it. And anyway, advertising wouldn’t work because if the larger more respected companies didn’t have it, they would tell everyone it’s crap.

Because I have such extensive experience in the area of Z-level clearing algorithms, I can see the directions that programmers in other companies have developed the standard offset clearing toolpath to overcome its deficiencies. Unfortunately, CAM toolpaths are seen as extremely specialized, so usually there was no expert on the stand who could talk about this. Sometimes we got told to come back when the professor was there, and then we could discuss these esoteric matters.

Of all the companies we visited, Euklid wins the prize for being the most miserable gets, whose boss told us to go jump in a lake; they already have the best toolpaths and don’t need to look. There’s very little documentation on their website.

You expect that kind of behavoir from Tebis. We lasted about 13.5 seconds on their stand when we introduced ourselves. “We develop all our software ourselves.” They also make offset toolpaths with not very clever linking, and therefore can only use them to cut shallow layers.

One other company said: “No thanks, we don’t even look at our competitor’s stuff because we aim to go higher than them” — even if they are deliberately ignorant about what they are higher than. Since they were otherwise polite and gave me a freebee (“I tried to sell them some software and all I got was this T-shirt”) I can’t be bothered to overcome my irrational instinct not to put names to people in this blog. Later in the day we sat next to two of their guys while watching Tebis demonstrate their retro X-windows style software.

So, plenty of follow-ups to do. Blag blag blag. I’ve picked up a number of ideas, some of which will probably void all that excitement I was having about the Z-level machining within waterline areas. I was genuinely surprised when I saw Vero Software’s spiral rest area toolpaths. It reminds me not to become complacent. As usual, webpages for all these companies are universally poor, so I hadn’t noticed this development, and it’s not really shown off in any of their pictures.

I don’t particularly care if none of it follows through. I play this game to maintain my at-times flagging levels of interest in this normally thankless work. All this stuff should be done in some open academic institute where experts come at the problems from different angles, compare approaches, and share ideas; rather than by an uninterested class of programmers who are fragmented and isolated into little units for the duration of their working lives by this deranged market that favours technological stagnation over progress, when the former is more profitable. Come on guys, we’ve managed to get it together over C++, OpenGL, and many other kinds of common technology. Why can’t it work for the basic elements of machining algorithms? I’ve got to write up a big essay on offset ellipses to set the donut rolling. At least one company I saw is unaware of these calculations.

1 Comment

  • 1. Freesteel&hellip replies at 29th April 2009, 1:55 pm :

    […] the record show that back in 2006 Martin and I were fruitlessly wandering around the Euromold trade fair in Frankfurt with our one […]

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