VX is now part of a Chinese company called ZWCAD Software Co. Ltd. All of the IP and the company were purchased last year.
Yesterday I had the chance for a 45 minute demo of their new software called ZW3D, 2011 version, available in 4 options: ZW3D for $2500 with 2D and 3D modeling and loads of import capability, ZW3D Professional adds mold and die capability, ZW3D Premium adds machining, and a 5 axis machining option. Prices range from $2500 to $12,000.
Bob Fischer, VP of Marketing, ran the demo and answered my numerous questions about the software and their new strategy. He explained that the former VX 20 man team located in what he called Space Coast, FL, was now buttressed by nearly 400 developers in China. The new offering as a result has been greatly enhanced, making it easier to use, using a feature tree based form of direct modeling, incorporating a workflow based machining method that recognizes and machines features (better than using templates), improvements to the mold and die applications, and the ability to manipulate and machine directly from STL or mesh scans.
Here is an example of direct modeling:
Asked about their differentiators, Fischer cited their ability to directly import a great variety of geometry sources, a built-in training system, an all-in-one package that can go from design to machining, and a single support organization that can handle design to machining questions. ZW3D uses the proprietary kernel developed by VX and since enhanced.
My take is that ZW3D is optimal as a point solution for machine and mold and die shops. The usability appears better but seems mired in the last generation, for the most part requiring icon pick from a large variety of icons, many with drop-downs. The exception is in direct modeling where picking directly on the geometry allows instant modifications.
The beta version is available to test at http://zw3d.zwcad.org/.
Your take is correct and outside of this narrow market they fail badly. My primary use for cad is MCAD. ZW has basically no sheet metal capabilities once you step away from all but the most basic shapes. Alibre’s $1,000.00 cad version is much better for example. No routing and assemblies are problematical.
I have been a user of direct editing in SE from ST1 to ST3. In trying the ZW3D2011 beta I was sadly disappointed in how crude and rudimentary the direct edit implementation was especially considering that this release was over two years in the making. I know what direct editing can be and this is not it.
Most machine shops have both lathe and milling but VX/ZW3D steadfastly refuse to do more than milling so for most shops you have to look elsewhere. Post editing is useless and I believe you still can’t even post code to your mill. This was certainly true up to 2010 as after all these years I am still using my dnc from an old seat of Surfcam to do this with. After all theses years still the only program I know of that can’t communicate with your mill.
I started with VX in V9 and went till ZW3D2010 as a paying customer. The beta of ZW3D2011 was it for me and I am in all likelyhood gone forever. To many shortfalls and problems many of which I have not touched on here because I just don’t care any more beyond giving potential buyer a warning to investigate very carefully before you buy.
I think ZW is doing great, and now it is only VX, they have more collaborations. I got free transmagic, and now it works both in lathe and Mill. I think ZW3D 2012 could help Dave a lot for his question.
I’m not that good at sheet metal, but ZW does have sheet metal module, and what I like most is the hybrid modeling, which other CAD system doesn’t have. As a user, I don’t care which system I’m using, and I do love ZW3D, because it just do what I expect.
Comparing to VX, after I upgrade to ZW, but I have transmagic included, Partsolutions included. I could import Catia file, Solidworks file, NX file, I could use thousands of Library from PARTsolutions. What is more, now they are providing the more professional Mold module which is very nice. That is why I stay with ZW3D. It just works in my part and Mold.