Freesteel Blog » The Right Choice for old technology

The Right Choice for old technology

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 1:55 pm Written by:

While working on our new trouble-making website project The Straight Choice, I kept accidentally typing the DP Technologies’ Esprit CAM software’s slogan “The Right Choice”. They also like to add the plainly false statement:

The most powerful CAM software ever.

One distraction lead to another, and I was soon surfing their webpage and finding their recent customer spotlight PDF document: Trochoidal machining cuts narrow slots in hardened steel at 12x normal rates.

Let the record show that back in 2006 Martin and I were fruitlessly wandering around the Euromold trade fair in Frankfurt with our one page brochure of our amazing new cutting algorithm, attempting to sell it to various CAM companies who weren’t particularly keen, because they seemed totally happy with their own technology already thank you very much, not interested in anything new.

Chuck Mathews of DP Technology writes in the above article:

Cutting narrow pockets in hardened steel has long been one of the most difficult machining tasks…

Trochoidal machining provides a potential solution to this problem. The basic idea is to move the cutter around in a circular pattern with each circle advancing into the cut…

Conventional CNC programming software cannot generate a program to perform Trochoidal milling. In the past, the only way that it was possible to perform Trochoidal milling was for the programmer to manually code the very complex tool motions involved. This is a very challenging task and there is no way for the programmer to visually check the program without running it on a machine. For this reason, Trochoidal machining is currently used only very rarely…

DP Technology recently added a special routine for Trochoidal milling to ESPRIT Mold software. This routine greatly reduces the amount of time required to produce a CNC program for Trochoidal machining… The user simply defines the solid model of the part that will be cut… The user then selects “Trochoidal milling” and is prompted to enter the diameter of the circle and the advance per resolution. The software then generates the program for machining the part.

Bizarrely, for a four page article about a new type of toolpath, it includes no image of the toolpath in question.

Fortunately, the bottom of the article reports: “This story appeared in the October 2008 issue of Cutting Tool Engineering magazine”, so I was able to look it up and download the October 2008 CTE magazine and find it on p66:

cuttingroundincircles11

It’s a bit fuzzy, pixelated, but you can see it looks simple-minded enough that it ought to have been a ground-breaking machining feature back in 1978, not something that the “most powerful CAM software ever” would be showing off to the world in 2008, two years after we’d been trying to earn an honest couple of bucks having created the full general purpose solution that rest-roughs and works on different levels with a minimum of configuration and no geometric limitations.

Whatever.

It’s specific, detailed narratives like this which prove to me that the so-called free market in innovation is a total myth. I cannot accept the usual excuse of: “you failed because you obviously weren’t any good at marketing”, because this is an entirely self-referential explanation that deduces our inadequacy from the fact that we failed, and therefore no further information is required.

Of course, you can believe this explanation if you want to, if you’re not interested in challenging the political dogma of our time, but the following observations ought to be important.

Firstly, people at all levels of the engineering industry (from customers to CAM software suppliers) appear to obtain their actionable knowledge from publications such as Cutting Tool Engineering, and not as a result of following their own intellectual curiosity. We’ve never received any questions inquiring about how the algorithm works or offering to collaborate with us on some very detailed cutting experimentation.

Secondly, the articles in magazines such as Cutting Tool Engineering are all written by openly self-interested employees of the companies who advertise, and no one seems to mind. We don’t have resources to buy this space, and anyway it’s not a game anyone should be playing.

What ought to exist are articles reviewing the (now about three) different trochoidal machining algorithms that are available in the market, with critiques from the different cutter makers describing the pros and cons of each approach, and the precise resulting characteristics.

But you don’t ever get that, because every article is by a trade industry man who says theirs is the most powerful CAM software ever (when it clearly isn’t), and spins a line as though nothing else has ever existed. What is the point? Why does there appear to be no hunger for actual information?

Working within this unbelievably defective information environment that defies rational explanation would be known as “good marketing”.

Anyways, since about half of that Cutting Tool Engineering magazine appears to about producing machinery whose sole design purpose is to massacre human beings at a distance, this issue hardly bears any importance.

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