Published April 7, 2014 | By Kenneth
Autodesk Inventor HSM is the first desktop-based CAD-CAM bundle to come out after Autodesk acquired HSMWorks in 2012.
The integrated workflow in Inventor HSM lets you create tool paths right from the Autodesk Inventor design environment.
For a long time, HSMWorks for SolidWorks was the envy of Autodesk Inventor users. The computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) program was best known for its tight integration with SolidWorks’ CAD program. Even the “-Works” in HSMWorks, I suspect, might have been the creators’ deliberate tie to SolidWorks in branding. The only way the SolidWorks-HSMWorks integration could have been tighter was for Dassault Systemes, SolidWorks’ parent company, to acquire HSMWorks.
HSMWorks eventually did get bought, but not by Dassault. It was by Autodesk, which owns SolidWorks’ CAD rival Autodesk Inventor. The fierce competition between SolidWorks and Inventor notwithstanding, the new owner vows to keep HSMWorks interoperable with SolidWorks. At the same time, the lack of an Inventor-integrated HSMWorks became an imbalance that needs to be corrected. This week, the correction comes in the form of Autodesk Inventor HSM, a CAD-CAM bundle that includes both Autodesk Inventor design software and CAM features.
Like the free HSMXpress for SolidWorks, Inventor HSM Xpress offers 2D and 2.5 D programming for free, but you’ll need to have your own copy of Inventor to use the plug-in. However, Inventor HSM ($7,500 perpetual or $1,125 a year) and Inventor HSM Pro ($10,000 perpetual or $1,500 a year) both include a copy of the CAD program Autodesk Inventor. Inventor HSM standard includes 2.5D, 3D, and 3+2 milling applications. The Pro edition includes 2.5D, 3D and 3+2 milling, and 2D turning applications. (Note, too, that in the Inventor-integrated versions, the previous “-Works’ has been dropped to differentiate it from SolidWorks-integrated products.)
Currently, there’s no option to purchase Inventor HSM or Inventor HSM Pro without the CAD program. (Purchased separately, Autodesk Inventor Professional costs roughly $7,300; Autodesk Inventor standard edition’s price is unpublished.) The reasoning to bundle CAD and CAM, as explained by Carl White, senior director, Autodesk’s manufacturing engineering product, is that “Users would want a dedicated CAD seat for performing CAM — separate from the primary CAD package.”
Inventor HSM’s competitions are existing CAD-integrated CAM packages, including those from GibbsCAM, Mastercam, SolidCAM, and Edgecam. Inventor HSM is a classic desktop product, to be installed and run on your local machine. It’s different from Autodesk CAM 360, the company’s initiative to offer CAM features as part of its cloud-based Autodesk 360 on-demand services. One advantage of Inventor HSM may be the distributed CAM feature in its code. For compute-intense operations like tool path generation, Inventor HSM lets you run the software on multiple workstations, splitting the workload among the computing cores on more than one machine in a network.