After buying HSMWorks assets for an undisclosed sum, Autodesk plans to “integrate the HSMWorks technology with its industry leading software and cloud services for manufacturing,” according to the announcement. It will continue to “make current HSMWorks products available for purchase and HSMXpress available as a free download.”
What distinguishes HSMWorks is its network processing function — the option to use distributed computing to speed up toolpath generation. The software’s architecture allows you to take advantage of multicore CPUs, but, perhaps more important, also the computing cores distributed across the entire network. According to HSMWorks, it does so by “automatically utilizing idle PCs on the local network to reduce toolpath calculation time. Distributed CAM is automatically used by Autodesk HSMWorks when installed on selected PCs and requires no additional setup or interaction from the user.” (For more, read “Put your idle computing cores to work,” August 2010.)
From distributed computing in a private cloud, it’s a small leap to move into distributed computing in the public cloud, the backbone of Autodesk’s new on-demand offerings branded as Autodesk 360.
The company recently launched Autodesk Simulation 360, a line of cloud-augmented analysis modules. For the most compute-intensive portion of analysis jobs, users of Autodesk Simulation 360 can tap into cloud-hosted processing power, delivered on demand, to speed up the process. The same setup could be deployed to repackage HSMWorks into what might be called Autodesk CAM 360, augmented by cloud-hosted computing power.
Currently HSMWorks is a Gold-certified partner product for SolidWorks, a rival of Autodesk. HSMWorks’ relationship with SolidWorks will likely remain for the foreseeable future, but Autodesk may also implement strategies to make the Inventor-HSMWorks combo a more appealing alternative to the SolidWorks-HSMWorks combo.