The internet is loaded with websites and articles offering a wide variety of opinions on CAD and CAM software, but most of these are bias to particular needs, software companies, or the author. Furthermore, many of the articles focus on sales rather than the technical capabilities of the software. So how do you, the user, determine which CAD or CAM software is best for your needs? In this article, I will offer you a simple, yet reliable, method to achieve this goal.
Marketing vs. Reality example:
If you want to do an honest evaluation, of CAD or CAM software packages, you need to avoid getting sucked into the marketing. Software companies spend a lot of money to entice you into buying their products. For example, it is common to see them promote their seat count. The logic being that their package sells the most seats, therefore it must be the best product. If you buy into this marketing ploy, then you are also less likely to compare with any other software packages. The reality of this marketing is as follows:
1) Seat count does not equate to capability or performance. For a comparative example, let us look at the fast food industry. If you ask anyone who sells the most hamburgers, most people will say MacDonald’s, which would be true. According to cheatsheet.com, they sell 75 hamburgers per second. Now ask the same people, “Who makes the best hamburger?” I think most would have a different opinion.
2) How are the seat count numbers obtained? My late granddad use to say that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Companies will always look for statistics that bolster their product, but how are these numbers really obtained? For example, does the seat count represent active seats only, or is it every seat ever sold. How do they count educational seats? I know of one CAD company that counts every education license as 500 seats. Do the numbers only include the main package, or do add-ons and companion products get added as well?
3) Companies can also artificially boost their numbers. Several years ago, we lost an opportunity to replace a 2D package with Solid Edge. Why? Because the 2D vendor offered to provide them with their new 3D package for free if they paid the maintenance renewal on the original 2D package. The Engineering Department had done an evaluation of several 3D packages, and chose Solid Edge as the best. However, the owner ignored this recommendation and opted for the free software.
As you can see, seat numbers are unreliable indicator of a CAD or CAM packages’ capability or performance. Furthermore, this is just one example of how the vendors try and convince you to buy their product. The bottom line is that no company will ever use negative information to promote their product. So, if you can’t rely on marketing, how can you get an honest comparison? The obvious best way is to try every product yourself, and pick the one that works best for you. But this is unrealistic… or is it?
Real time comparison:
Over the last several years we have adopted a somewhat different approach to demonstrating our product to prospects. Most resellers are happy to show canned demonstrations, which are smooth and fast. Unfortunately, they may not relate to your products or needs. Instead of using this approach, we ask our prospect to provide us with a typical product that they design or manufacture. Furthermore, we get detailed information on how long it takes to complete the project using their current software. We then prepare a demonstration which does the following:
1) Provides an overview of the software, focusing on the aspects that they require to do their work.
2) Demonstrates the software using their product(s).
This approach sounds simple, but it requires extra effort on our part to prepare these unique custom demonstrations. However, the results have more than justified the extra effort. The prospect gets to see how their product works in our software. They don’t waste their time watching someone design a table taw, and try to guess how that would work on their products. They also get a real time comparison without any costly upfront training or software purchase.
The results of this approach have been eye-opening, even for me. I have been with Designfusion for over 16 years, and I am admittedly bias to our products. I have always felt that they were powerful and reliable. The results of these custom demonstrations have not only supported my beliefs, but strengthened them.
For example, I had one prospect state that the time savings in are draft environment alone justified the cost of replacing his current 3D design software. Another group of designers provided me with a thumb drive of an assembly. I opened the assembly from another 3D CAD package and made a significant change to the assembly in under 3 minutes. The designers just stared at me in shock. Finally, one stated “You just did that a hundred times faster then we can do in the assemblies native CAD package!”. A third prospect, who bought Solid Edge, sent one of his users to training. At the end of the week long course he noted that not only was Solid Edge a better overall design package, but he was amazed that it had not crashed once in the entire week.
These results are not restricted to our design packages. I have personally demonstrated our NX CAM and Solid Edge CAM Pro packages to prospects with similar results. In one case I showed a company that I could create their CAM program 4 times faster with more efficient tool paths, leading to less machine time.
Dare to compare
These results have motivated me to write this blog. I want to challenge anyone who reads this to compare your current software with ours. Even if you are already using our software, contact us about our design audit service. In a design audit, we look at your processes and products to ensure that you are using the software in the most efficient way. Companies that have used this service have all seen positive results. For example, one company saw over 20% improvement in the Engineering Departments output after implementing our suggestions from the design audit.
As a Value-Added Reseller for Siemens PLM Software, Designfusion strongly believes in working with our prospects and customers to ensure that they get the best CAD/CAM software available, and that they use it in the most efficient, cost effective ways. We don’t want to waste your time with misleading marketing. We prefer to show you how our software will work directly on your product. So if you really want an honest comparison, just contact us at [email protected] or call our toll free number at 1-888-567-EZ3D(3933).