By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Last December I told you about HSMXpress, a fully-functional 2D/2.5D CAM application for SolidWorks from HSMWorks that’ll cost you nothing. This is not an ad-riddled, dumbed-down, ready to drive you bats evaluation unit. This is the full enchilada that fetched $5k not so long ago — talk about putting your money where you mouth is.
The idea here is that these guys believe that HSMXpress is so good that you’ll then get yourself an evaluation unit of their high-end next-generation CAM system, HSMWorks. Frankly, I had my doubts about this notion. I had seen many a good piece of software languish because it was priced too low. People just doubt that low-cost is up to snuff, so no-cost-ware has an even tougher row to hoe no matter how good it really is. So, eight months later, I wondered how this initiative was going. Through e-mail I heard from Anthony Graves, marketing director at HSMWorks.
"Since last December, thousands of users have registered and downloaded HSMXpress,” Graves writes. He tells me that the downloaders come from all over the company size, experience, and global map: prototype departments at larger OEMs, medium-sized job shops, small design firms just now getting into CNC machining, veteran CNC programmers, serious hobbyists, and young shavers. I have no idea if Mohawk Engineer has a copy, but Graves tells me he gets e-mails daily from users who cannot believe that HSMXpress is complimentary, especially when they just heard of it after shelling out a pile of greenbacks for something with less capability.
And why not? HSMXpress has a compelling allure beyond being complimentary: it supports such standard 2.5D axis machining operations as drilling, facing, and pocketing. It offers advanced high-speed roughing, slot milling, and thread milling. It has solid simulation, graphical setup sheets, a post processor system with a set of standard posts for most common machines, and a CNC program editor with file compare, backplot, and serial communications. It supports form tools that you can wield inside SolidWorks using a sketch and revolve command to create a model of the tool.
I asked Graves about the challenges of releasing a no-cost product. He replied that "the biggest challenge is making people aware the product exists.”
I think I did that just now. If you’re a licensed user of SolidWorks 2010 or newer, hit the link over there, download HSMXpress for yourself, and take it for a ride down a toolpath or three. What can happen? You have absolutely nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering