Monday, July 25, 2011

How Gibbscam Lost Marketshare Because Of How They Do Business

I've started a new LinkedIn group called CADCAM Technology Leaders. It's already got over 950 members and it's very active. If you wish to join the group and start a discussion or comment you must be prepared to state in detail why you think what you wish to discuss is leading edge CADCAM technology:

Here are the rules I've established for CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn:

Comments should explain in sufficient detail why the technology you are discussing is a leading edge technology. Comments like "xyz CADCAM is the best!!!" or "abc CADCAM sucks!!!" will be deleted. Fact based comparisons between different products are acceptable and welcome. Here is an example of what I consider to be an acceptable comparison:

"Solid Edge ST has direct modeling tools that allow me to work quickly and easily on non-native solids. SolidWorks has no direct modeling tools and I find Solid Edge ST much better because our shop mostly works with non-native solids."

No personal attacks of any kind will be permitted.

For many years Gibbscam has refused to make complete and well written documentation available for their product. An example is how the SolidSurfacer history tree works and best practices. I've met a fair amount of Gibbscam users in both the Phoenix, Arizona area where I use to live as well as the San Diego, CA area where I now live and none of them had a decent understanding of SolidSurfacer's history tree. Almost all of them, myself included, will transfer a solid model that needs to be modified to a CAD product like SolidWorks or Inventor and modify it there because they really don't understand how SolidSurfacer's history tree works.

A couple of years ago Gibbscam started to do a video series documenting their product. This video series is only available to Gibbscam customers on current maintenance. I've taken the time to view all of these videos and they are at best very basic and even the basics still aren't properly covered. For example, SolidSurfacer modeling isn't covered at all! To make matters worse for years no independent has created a comprehensive video training series on Gibbscam like has been done by Mike Mattera (Tips For Manufacturing) for Mastercam. I own all of Mike Mattera's Mastercam X training CD's and they are just excellent and I highly recommend them to any Mastercam user.

Gibbscam has been steadily losing market share for years and one of the reasons is because they have almost no real educational support. In the Gibbscam spring 2009 newsletter Bill Gibbs claimed real educational support was on the way. This newsletter has since been removed from the Gibbscam website because it's so embarrassing and because I've pointed out that it shows how Bill Gibbs and Gibbscam don't follow through on their promises.

As way of example of just how bad Gibbscam educational support is, in Gibbscam's own backyard (California), the closest one can take affordable Gibbscam classes in San Diego for the kind of reasonable rates that a Community College charges is 2 hours each way (without traffic) at Cerritos Community College. This has resulted in a lack of knowledgeable Gibbscam users in the San Diego, CA area and because of this several Gibbscam shops switched to Mastercam because even though Mastercam is an inferior product in just about every way compared to Gibbscam plenty of affordable training for Mastercam is available.

I've been asking for a Gibbscam student version since 1993 and been met with nothing but lame excuse after lame excuse. Back in 1993 the excuse was that Gibbscam was so simple no one needed training on it. Over the years Bill Gibbs switched his story to it's very expensive to create a student version. Bill Gibbs was right about that because not making a student version available on top of bad marketing cost Bill Gibbs his independance as Gibbscam was forced to sell out to Cimatron when sales volume dropped. Take a look at this request to the official Gibbscam message board back in 2004. Notice the second post shows this guy was "Banned". Over the years Gibbscam has banned and censored so many users and posts to their message board that I've lost count.

Gibbscam is in many ways brilliantly designed. It's the most non-modal CAM software I've ever used which means you don't have to constantly open and close dialog boxes to move around the software. Gibbscam has a very cohesive feel to it and doesn't ever feel like it's a cobbled together system.

I've read many Gibbscam users complain that Gibbscam doesn't fix what's broken with the product. That's bullshit. What is true is that there are plenty of items left to fix that should have been fixed a long time ago. The reason they haven't been fixed by now is that if you don't market properly you are always looking for the next big thing... MTM, etc. This is especially true if you don't have enough capital and enough profits. There is a reason Gibbcam had to sell out to Cimatron. Sadly many lessons still haven't been learned from the past and they just keep making the same kind of mistakes that got them in trouble in the first place. How the Gibbscam Message Board is run is a perfect example of how poorly Gibbscam is run. So is their use of Twitter. There is no concept of how to properly work with independent non fanboi users of their product who are realistic and know the CADCAM market. The Gibbscam attitude can be described as: This is what we give you and if you don't like it that's just too damn bad. Compare this to HSMWorks and their user forum and you will see a huge reason why Gibbscam will have to be dragged kicking and screaming like a spoiled little child into the new world of fully integrated CADCAM.  New fully integrated CADCAM companies don't have the legacy code problems and they also have a much better understanding of how to deal with smarter CADCAM users who aren't satisfied with the lame excuses they have gotten in the past from legacy CADCAM companies and as a result are now demanding more than traditional CAM companies are willing to provide. 

Gibbscam has started to fix long standing problems with their product like turn the Machining Operation Manager, which was really just a Machining Operation Viewer, into an actual Machining Operation Manager where you can use its spreadsheet like qualities to do quick and easy mass edits. This is a brilliant way to expand the Gibbscam obsolete tile user interface. I also personally believe that a spreadsheet user interface is the best way to do mass editing on machining operations. 

It use to be that Gibbscam had no undo... that's fixed.

It use to be that Gibbscam had very poor and limited use of color... I haven't used the latest version but that problem seems to have been addressed as well.

It use to be that you had no way to dynamically move wireframe or solid geometry... all you could do is enter numbers for coordinates which sucks and wastes time when you want to visually place things like clamps... that's now fixed as well.

Problems that remain are no Tool Library. There is a very expensive Add-In that can do this that should be a base part of Gibbscam. There are numerous workarounds for this and in my view none of them are great choices.

Update 8-5-2011: This was posted today to the Gibbscam official message board by "jkefm" and shows that more and more Gibbscam uses are getting sick and tired of the lame excuses given by Bill Gibbs  in regards to no Tool Library in Gibbscam:

 Update 8-28-2011:

Yet another long time Gibbscam user finally has had enough of no Tool Library and being ignored:

How long has Gibbscam ignored this request? The dates and comments in the following screenshot should give you an idea of how long Gibbs has ignored this popular request and refused to add a Tool Library to Gibbscam.. These comments from five years ago also show how Gibbscam users felt five years ago. Imagine how they feel five years later!

This post from Gibbscam's official message board from years ago shows how Gibbscam users felt even back then about how they were treated by Gibbscam. The treatment Gibbscam customers get has actually gotten much worse since Cimatron purchased Gibbscam because the same horrible management at Gibbscam still exists and they now have Cimatron's money behind them.

Here is a recent post to the Gibbscam Message Board that documents the long standing problem of Gibbscam not remembering where you left pallets when you restart Gibbscam. This problem should have been fixed many years ago and continues to be completely ignored by Gibbscam management. I  personally complained to Bill Gibbs about this problem over ten years ago at a trade show. I really don't think this problem should be very hard to fix, yet it's ignored year after year and never gets fixed:

Gibbscam uses a very unique point based geometry system. People who start with Gibbscam seem to love it. I didn't start with Gibbscam. I started with Cadkey. I don't love it. Point based geometry seems to be unique to Gibbscam and I think a choice should be offered so those that are more comfortable with element based geometry can use that.

Unlike many other CAM companies Gibbscam is far removed from understanding you need very powerful CAD to create toolpaths in the most efficient manner possible. Gibbscam offers no solution for those who want fully integrated CADCAM. Contrast this to the many offerings that are now available that run inside of SolidWorks. Sadly, Gibbscam parent company Cimatron totally understands that fully integrated CADCAM is the only way to go! Gibbscam has no announced plans for a fully integrated CADCAM system whether it means running inside of SolidWorks, porting to the Cimatron user interface, using Cimatron CAD or doing something really brilliant like licensing the source code for SpaceClaim and running inside of a direct modeler.

Even just creating some better trimming and extending tools like SolidWorks has would make a huge difference and this is long overdue. Mention it on the Gibbs Message Board and you are given the lame excuse from moderator "Fisher" that's it's a CAM program. Sorry "Fisher" that bullshit doesn't cut it anymore. Speaking of the Gibbscam Message Board I was banned yesterday once again for writing exactly the kind of things I've written here.


  1. I agree with you completely! Your opinion is correct!

  2. I have never seen a good cad/cam combination. One side is always better then the other. As far as Gibbs goes v10 rocks. No one can touch Gibbs when it comes to post processors. Compost can do things the others can only dream of. You can tweak the post to make happy the crankiest setup guy. Utility markers are my personal favorite feature. I post code that looks like it was hand written by the mold maker him self.

  3. I cover fully integrated CADCAM and its benefits over separate stand-alone CAD and CAM products here:

    I have just started reviewing TopSolid CADCAM. Keep checking back as I have a lot more I'm going to be adding shortly.

  4. I read what you said about trying something new. I'll take the Pepsi challenge. I've never used anything but Gibbs. It could be the worst system ever. Since most cam companies offer free trials, I've decided to have Siemens give me a trial version of NX Cam. I'm also thinking of giving powermill a try. Although I agree with ace, V10 is amazing. I read the piece about mastercam releases. They really come that slow? What about updates? Gibbs had an update for v10 as they were shipping v10. Hell, I've got 10.0.9

  5. Gibbscam is not the "worst system ever". Gibbscam is filled with excellent ideas. I consider Gibbscam to be one of the best legacy code CAM programs available. The problem with Gibbscam is how incredibly bad their management is. Robb Weinstein, who has worked for Gibbscam for years, is as incompetent as they come and no one at Cimatron wants to do anything about firing his worthless ass and replacing him with someone who can actually get the job done. Sean Canterbury (Fisher on the Gibbs Message Board)is totally out of touch with reality and censors and bans posters to the Gibbscam Message Board on a wholesale basis. I'm one of those banned because Sean Canterbury (Fisher) can't and won't deal with the reality of who he works for and how Gibbscam does business.

    If you are using something like SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Autodesk Inventor, etc. with Gibbscam I would strongly suggest you look into TopSolid CADCAM. Fully integrated PDM, keeping constant track of the stock model, topology analysis, powerful solid geometry selection and creation, very little chaining needed, etc. are what Gibbscam doesn't have.

    NX is a legacy code CADCAM application and while it's a very powerful CADCAM product it takes far too long to create many types of CNC programs with. NX doesn't keep track of the stock model like TopSolid does and has no topology analysis. NX is not the kind of CADCAM program I'd want to use to create 2 1/2 mill or 2 axis lathe programs with because of how out dated its user interface is. Other than that, NX is an exceptionally powerful program that's mature and well developed.

    Thanks for your comments.

  6. You make a lot of great points, but nothing is perfect, and the only program that will have every feature you want will be the one you design. I ran into your site by way of CNCzone, free advertising sure won't hurt you any. I don't think they should be shutting you up, if you want to speak your mind speak it. I started out on Mastercam but after enough problems switched to Gibbs and am very happy with it. Is it perfect no, but it's lightning speed compared to Mastercam and their posts actually work. I wouldn't get worked up about it, just start a new ID and keep posting! There's a new forum, that seems to be less AD driven maybe a good place to get in the ground floor.

  7. I have been forced to use gibbscam coming from a mastercam background from x4 on up and honestly gibbscam is the biggest piece of shit I've ever seen. The draw package is worthless the tool path section is hideous. Just try and move an origin. 58 flips of the part and the user cs and after you've wasted half an hr fooling around trying to get it to work and MAYBE it's right. the gnomon tool you can snap it to a point and flip the origin to match the surface in 15 seconds. The fact that hat the operations manager has WORDS to describe what the operation is not To contour 58 times in a vertical line. And you have to guess which one does what cut. If you make a change mastercam operations manager has a red X showing its dirty and needs rebuilt. The translate offset and mirror is easier in mastercam. Offset doesn't exist in Gibbs. Points needed at the ends of lines terminating them I have to add this shit in? Wtf is the software that STUPID it cant automatically put points at the end of every line? Properties box in mc I can change a line start and end point coordinates length color and
    Layer in ten seconds. Gibbs you try and interrogate something and it's has no x y coordinate info and try changing anything. Not happening. Just started using Gibbs it's worthless to me. No wonder they have zero market share. Hoping to God they go out of business and our company gets forced to switch to mc. If you've never used cam before maybe Gibbs is good for hobbyists or small shops but the point of mastercam is USER CONTROL being able to modify or DO anything. It's more complicated because you can DO MORE with it. I had to extrude Hills in Gibbs first I had to make solid cylinders sticking out of the top and bottom then control click on every cylinder one at a time and hit extrude - icon to extrude a hole. mastercam has solidworks in bedded in it now. You pick a circle click extrude cut and bam its DONE . AND YOU CAN DO MULTIPLE CIRCLES AT ONCE. Just to be able to snap to a midpoint or endpoint instantly like mc is worth it to me . to extend a cut to pull off of a radius and just add a freehand line you can't snap to the endpoint of anything in Gibbs it's junk. Gibbs cam is a joke it reminds me of freeware or something. Poorly cobbled together piece of shit. Sorry I took this job.