The acquisition of HSMWorks by Autodesk, Inc. created some temporary uncertainty about the future of HSMWorks for SolidWorks. We have been relieved to get many direct and unambiguous commitments from the highest levels at Autodesk on continuing to offer HSMWorks and develop for the SolidWorks Platform. I am glad to report that everyone else I have been in contact with at Autodesk has echoed and amplified this commitment.
Last week I attended my very first AU – Autodesk University. Think of AU as Autodesk’s version of SolidWorks World. The event started off with a keynote by Jeff Kowalski, Chief Technology Officer at Autodesk stating, “At Autodesk we are tool makers. We make tools for you guys -the ones who are imagining, designing and creating a better world.” This statement is profound because represents a shift underway at Autodesk that will have ramifications for all designers, engineers, and manufacturers – and coincidentally, HSMWorks has been a major catalyst for this change.
Jeff Kowalski went on to explain the full meaning of this statement and how it represents a fundamental shift in thinking at Autodesk; from being focused on making proprietary tools to a provider of more open and innovative tools that anyone can use; regardless of which CAD platform they use. This reinforces recent public statements and reflects a real change for an industry whose users have been asking for this type of approach for a long time.
In discussions with various managers I learned that CAM is supported by an entire team of people who fall into one of three categories: CAM Kernel (HSM), SolidWorks Integration, and Autodesk Integrations. Almost all development resources go into the CAM Kernel because it is the underlying technology that is accessed from all of the user experiences; present and future. The HSM guys are the core guys on the SolidWorks integration, and will continue to be. This is great news and just reinforces what we had been told previously.
Perhaps one of the most interesting points made was the importance of HSMWorks and the HSMWorks user community to the development of all Autodesk CAM products. HSMWorks is a stable product with a very strong base of users. Everything added to the SolidWorks version will, at some point, be made available to the rest of the products (give or take). Another important point was that there will be zero functionality added to the Inventor version, when that eventually becomes available for Inventor users, that will not exist in HSMWorks for SolidWorks. In other words, both products will be on parity. Autodesk doesn’t want either group of users to feel short-changed. Again, this reinforces the philosophy of creating CAM tools for users regardless of their design tool of choice.
I was convinced of the long-term commitment to HSMWorks for SolidWorks before last week. And now (having seen and heard more than I have space to discuss here) I really see the value and potential of this acquisition. One thing for sure; Autodesk is bringing resources to the development team that HSMWorks, as a small company, could have only dreamed about. Given that, if anything, this acquisition accelerates development and assures the future of HSMWorks at a time when the consolidation of the CAM industry is just beginning.
In short, I am convinced now more than ever that the future for HSMWorks and our customers is bright – very bright indeed.