When it comes to communicating product information, Shaun Mymudes, national sales director for SolidCAM, thinks printed collateral pales in comparison to DVDs.
“At WESTEC (trade show produced by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers), I was walking the floor on set-up day, watching competitor after competitor – all the big guns in the game – pull out box after box of printed literature. And I thought to myself, one of the reasons we can be so competitive is because we don’t do that stuff.”
SolidCAM relies on DVDs for much of their sales and marketing efforts. Communicating the capabilities of software that controls machine operations in three-dimensional space is a difficult task if you’re limited to two-dimensional printed material. Mymudes finds it far easier to use video to depict the five-axes capabilities of their computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, and DVD offers an ideal medium for helping customers visualize the range of motion and kinds of operations supported by the software application.
“Those people who were hauling out all that literature – I’m thinking of all the money that goes into that – the shipping, the updating, and all the manual labor,” he continued. “We don’t do any of that. We are being far more successful, and we can be more of a competitive company, just by putting everything on electronic media. At that show, we went through close to 300 DVDs and we gave out maybe 15 tech sheets, for people who just said they didn’t have a player.”
At trade shows, a 42-inch monitor, running the latest DVD presentation, draws customers to the SolidCAM booth.
“To get maximum exposure, we do a lot a trade shows using a 42-inch display running our DVD video. So, as people go by, they know what they are getting on the DVD. This is who we are. Now here is the DVD showing who we are – you can take it home and learn more about us. Plus, there is all the other information on the DVD about our products.”
Short-runs discs and full-production DVDs
SolidCAM ships demo software, training materials, and marketing presentations on DVD. As a dependable workhorse in his marketing communication efforts, Mymudes has relied on a Disc Makers Elite Micro duplicator, typically generating hundreds of discs each month and then replacing the drives when they’ve exceeded their normal service lifespan.
“We do save big money by sending and handing out DVD’s instead of printed collateral. I also like being able to do short runs, as opposed to large-run printings which get dated quickly with a high scrap rate. Instead of having to take these materials to a print house – I am the print house. I don’t have to wait, especially since our home office is in Israel. They don’t have to worry about the English translation or the English format being different. I just get the files and use my little Elite Micro, which is way overworked. In half a day I’ve got discs that I can start sending out to customers.”
Mymudes also had occasion this year to put Disc Makers’ replication services to the test when he needed 4,000 discs made for the SolidWorks World 2010 trade show at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.
“For distribution in the giveaway bags at the show, we designed a flyer about SolidCAM and what it can do,” Mymudes said. “For the image on the DVD, we took a portion of the flyer graphics and had Disc Makers print it on the DVD. When you mounted the DVD to the flyer, it just blended right into the graphics. I was a little leery about how the discs would look, because we took a very complicated image from the flyer and imposed this graphic onto the disc itself. But the replication went beautifully. It looks great.
“Prospective customers turn to our DVDs and our website videos – they’re able to go a level deeper and actually see the software in action and get a much better sense of the capabilities of SolidCAM solutions.”
The only downside to the approach that SolidCAM has used with DVDs is that their competitors are noticing what they’re doing and gearing up to try the same techniques. “One of our competitors at SolidWorks World came up to our booth and said, ‘We’re taking your idea for our next tradeshow. We’re going to have DVDs and a large monitor.’ But, at least they’re stealing our idea because it’s a good one.”
Putting SolidCAM to Work
SolidCAM customers include a wide range of companies, from small custom shops that produce one-of-a-kind machined parts, to manufacturers that supply components for the automobile, aviation, or marine industries.
Frencken Brno s.r.o., a Czech firm, uses SolidCAM in their process chain to produce complex, intricate parts for customers with applications in the medical, precision instrument, aeronautics, and aerospace industries, including the aircraft maker Airbus. SolidCAM plays an important role in the machining of hundreds of parts used in modern aircraft designs, including the A 380 from Airbus.
Grodås Mønsterteknologi, based in Norway, leverages the manufacturing efficiencies of SolidCAM to dramatically reduce the time required for CAM programming through the close integration of SolidWorks (the 3D design system) and SolidCAM. From a company that started in a basement, Grodås now has a well-established factory and has grown substantially as their technological capabilities have increased.
On recent process improvements, the owner of Grodås, Håvard Haugen, commented, “Today we are heavily armed with both experience and high technology”.
The end results of SolidCAM workflow are on display, both in videos that appear on the DVDs shipped by the company, as well as exhibits that travel to the trade shows. One of the videos shows a CNC machine cutting out a chess set. “We actually had that chess set at a recent show,” Mymudes noted. “It’s a beautiful set – very ornate. It got a lot of attention.”
A popular exhibit at tradeshows, this chess set, machined with the help of the SolidCAM application, shows the precision and capabilities of the product.
Communicating to customers via DVDs has worked so well for SolidCAM that they are making plans to use discs as part of a new product launch. “Whenever we release a new product, we have a demo version that goes out on DVD. Not only do we get to do all the promotion and talk about the product and do videos that show how it works, but we also are able to put a demo version of our software on the DVD. That has been a huge, huge thing for us, because people get this DVD and they expect it to have the usual PDFs and stuff like that, but we actually put our demo version right on there. Our big strategy is to get as many of these DVDs into as many hands as possible.”
For more information, visit www.solidcam.com.
Lee Purcell writes about technology topics – including ray tracing, parallel computing, alternative energy, and open-source software – from Arlington, Vermont. Visit his blog at lightspeedpub.blogspot.com for spirited insights into energy advances.