SAN FRANCISCO, CA - HSMWorks, Inc., was little more than a small band of 12, happily giving away CAM software1 for SolidWorks, until their discovery by Autodesk. The CAD giant saw something they liked (apparently, HSMWorks can make toolpaths in fraction of the time it takes other CAM companies) and bought the company. Autodesk boosted their development staff from 4 to 12. Not a huge deal in the CAD, CAM and CAE world -- Autodesk itself has a few thousand developers -- but the HSMWorks deal was very significant in terms of direction and strategy.
Last week, Autodesk assembled us at Autodesk’s dream workshop in San Francisco's waterfront, to tell us about their kick-ass CAM product: HSMWorks for Inventor. But now you are going to have to pay for it2.
Yes, the SolidWorks version will still be supported. “Since we bought HSMWorks, we’ve updated the SolidWorks version 4 times,”says Carl White, leader of the Autodesk CAM team, which now also includes Delcam. “We’re CAD-agnostic.”
I have to pinch myself. Autodesk has been in a war with SolidWorks that is going into the 2nd decade. Autodesk treatment of resellers who considered selling SolidWorks, when SolidWorks was getting off the ground in the late 90's was like the arch-villain pushing the button to drop dissenters to their death in James Bond movies. CAD Insiders will remember the in-your-face anti SolidWorks ads on every cab at SolidWorks World in New Orleans. Autodesk sued SolidWorks a few years ago over the use of a graphic3.
Is Autodesk support of SolidWorks the 2nd oddest pair of CAD bedfellows? Only Siemens PLM renting its Parasolid geometry kernel to SolidWorks seems weirder.
1. Autodesk claims 5,000-6,000 software free downloads for HSMWorks.
2. An annual license costs $7,500 and includes a seat of Inventor.
3. Both the ad campaign and the lawsuit covered by Ralph Grabowski, see "Adsk vs SW: Comments, " Sep, 25, 2008.