CAD/CAM Software for the Large Shop

      A 100-employee cabinet and woodwork business considers whether to move to Microvellum. November 30, 2009

We are considering purchasing Microvellum. We are a strictly commercial shop, in business for 30 years. We do approximately 16 million in sales, have around 100 employees, have around 10 drafters/engineers and currently use a hybrid approach of Cabnetware for boxes and AutoCAD for custom work. We are a strictly custom shop - whatever the architect/ID draws, that's what the end user will get. That said, we do a lot of boxes that are similar in style (european style, concealed hinges, slab doors) for schools, hospitals, commercial offices, etc. But, we also do a lot of custom pieces, like teller lines, nurse's stations, reception desks, etc, so our product lines range from standard boxes to crazy custom one-offs. We have two Holzma panel saws, two Weeke CNCs and one Homag CNC that will require links from the new software. We have been using Cabnetware for approximately 15 years and have simply out grown it. We needed to replace it many years ago and are just now getting around to it. Will MV be the last drafting/engineering software that I will need to purchase? I'm willing to spend the money and time to implement it and set it up properly, but I want to make sure that MV solves my issues. A colleague and I are going to the introductory MV training class next week before we actually buy the software to make sure it really does everything the salesman says it can do. I would appreciate any feedback on this topic and I thank you in advance for your time.

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor A:
I too, am considering making a Microvellum purchase and am expecting MV to be a long term solution for the problem solving needs of a custom woodworking business. Likewise, I am scheduled to attend a class December 11th in New Mexico. I'm hoping Shawn will be there to provide some important information for a feasibility study required by my sponsor. I'm very interested in this particular thread because MV is expensive and I also want the feedback. 3 Space modeling with minimal downstream value is expensive regardless of how "visually explict" and impressive the feedback is. This was, and is, an issue during this particular industry's board drafting era.

From contributor B:
As per your description, I believe that Microvellum may serve you well up to 80% of the time. I did attend a one week class in NC last December. I find it to be a very good program for companies with your profile, not for a smaller custom shop. I caution you to be ready for great challenges. It is a formula-driven software and requires very good knowledge of Excel and much training. One or two weeks at a class will not cut it. Be careful of people who claim they will set you up in a few weeks or days. Also, be ready to train a few people very well, since they will become vital employees.

From contributor C:
In reading your post I would say there is no need for upgrading to MV. Your numbers are inline with margins outlined by AWI Cost of Doing Business. I say that because you have pushed 16m through with your current set-up, including CNC equipment, and you state that you will see a negative impact due to learning curve especially with the number of Engineers on board. We are 5-7m, doing similar work. MV has been our software for about 4 years. We do not have a repetitive product outside euro boxes. The program is powerful but the limitation is the learning curve and length of engineer time (typically it takes more time to create a new single use product than a simple AutoCad drawing). Find 3 shops (from a third party or from this site) currently using MV and go visit their facility. It will be money well spent.

From the original questioner:
Drafting/Engineering is one of our biggest bottlenecks right now. We struggle to push work through these areas and continually make mistakes in engineering that aren't caught until the shop floor. You don't think MV will help with this bottleneck, after the learning curve? All of our engineers are already adept in AutoCAD. Is there still a large learning curve?

From contributor A:
To contributor B: Will you please flesh out the 20% from a 4m base and the statement that 20% of the time MV may not work?

From contributor D:
I suggest before you give Microvellum your money, have them create a custom product from scratch that is not from the library, such as a chair or something to challenge them. See what is involved to create a custom product.

From contributor E:
Microvellum will work for a company like yours because you have a dedicated engineering department that can deal with the issues that will come up as you implement it. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Have half of the drafting crew implement MV and leave the other half with their current set up until the MV crew have it down and are producing your drawings and manufacturing data in an efficient manner.

From contributor F:
To answer your question about learning curve, it's huge. That doesn't mean it won't work for you. I'm just being realistic. Contributor E is right about incorporating MV gradually. Some people will get it right away, others will take longer. It takes awhile to become efficient. I'm not impressed with MV's drafting tools. We still do our client drawings in plain vanilla AutoCad.

From contributor A:
I'm getting the feedback that's fleshing out the "20% of the time MV doesn't work". Can I use standard and custom ACAD functions(tools) to "dress up" MV created products?

From contributor F:
The short answer is yes, but my main problem with MV drafting is that they control everything. I like to set my own line weights, colors etc. I understand that they relate layering to machining but some choices should be left to the user. The sections don't always reflect what you've drawn and aren't necessarily updated when you make changes. You can do real sections but that just adds time to the project. We've found there's no "one size fits all" solution for drafting and machining. I draw in AutoCad in 2D, 3D and Isometric to get whatever we need to describe the product in the most attractive way. Then we use MV to crank out the products in the most efficient way without regard to how the drawings look, because this is what works best for us. MV works well but not for everything. The very best system for your company is what works most efficiently for you now, and it may change next month or next year.

From contributor A:
To contributor F: I want to pick out the very best and the very worst in MV. For the moment I'm looking at MV as a Drafter/Product Engineer platform. Just as a pure ACAD drawing without side effects can overburden a PE, submittal drawings that become "the design process" are overburdened by frontloading the presentation with parametric information. A lot of this doesn't have to do with the product at all. Information is sifted through to help make a better choice, and your information is helping.

From contributor F:
We do a lot of custom work so there may be several iterations in the "styling phase". It's not unusual to do a couple of complete redesigns. This is not really practical in MV. We use a variety of tools in the shop to get the best results. We use a variety of CAD tools for the same reason. The best fit is what is most timely and cost effective. MV gives us the most "bang for the buck" on commercial jobs. If we have to spend a lot of time bending the MV
library for a single item, then it's faster and easier to pull an AutoCad layout straight into WoodWop. It's not about right or wrong, but what fits your business.

From contributor A:
To contributor F: Your words prove the need for a manufacturing platform in the custom woodworking industry. I've been talking about this for awhile.

From contributor B:
I believe that contributor F has answered the question about the 20%. If straight AutoCad 3D has been the most efficient for complex custom parts, then, as a draftsman, I agree with contributor F about the drafting. I can produce much better drawings faster outside of Microvellum. That would not matter if the combined time of drafting and extracting manufacturing information would be less for every piece you fabricate. That is the reason that Microvellum, although being a very impressive program, does not fit every business, particularly a small business with a limited budget.

From contributor A:
In a very general sense, that's the difference between manufacturabilty and conceptural design, which is, as far as I'm concerned, our focus.

From contributor G:
We have a 20 man shop, with the opposite work mix. 80% is quite custom and changing from month to month. 20% would be "standard" items. We were in the same boat of using Autocad 2d to make submittals and feed info to a Homag router running woodwop. I knew we had to get to 3d CAD to get more info automated to the machine. I looked at Microvellum and the Excel based Acad system and decided it was too costly and cumbersome for the custom items. We purchased 2020CAD 3 years ago. It is based upon Autocad 08, but with a built-in browser window for when you choose to draw parametrically, which is more often than you might think. You can still use the program as plain Autocad 2D or 3D with full control about layer lineweights and colors.

Make no mistake, parametric modeling takes a lot of effort to perfect. But if you need submittals and data to machines, it works quite well. It has a few drawbacks. Reporting still seems a bit of a pain and is not automated enough for my taste. They have a large user base in Europe so they are not going anywhere. We are very satisfied at this point. We bought a second license and dropped our Autodesk subscription, as we were not getting anything out of Autocad that we could not do in 2020CAD.

From contributor A:
To contributor G: Will you please define "quite custom" and "standard" so I can better understand how you are classifing your 80% quite custom and 20% standard?

From contributor G:
On the commercial front, our work ranges from flush architectural paneling to radial and elliptical reception desks to small batch fixtures such as hotel lobby interiors, sporting built-ins, radial mouldings and stile and rails wainscottings. On the residential front we do library and kitchen casework that has beaded faceframes, stile and rail pilasters, beaded back panels, also custom entry doors with jambs, usually full room projects including walls, extension jambs etc. We have done palladium style windows . But every item we draw may not be fully parametric. You always have to make a judgment call about how much effort you want to put into a model, and fully parametric if you plan to do something regularly. Parametric parts, with non-parametric positioning, work for many very custom items.

Relatively speaking, rectangular boxes with doors are the easiest thing to model and engineer because they frankly don't vary that much from month to month. For those who are unsure if Microvellum is a good fit, I think 2020CAD is worth a look.

From contributor A:
First, solutions to MV problems could be user-created using Lisp and other programming tools, I've known about this for awhile. You touch on it by mentioning MV "control". Second, as with all of this particular family of applications, much of the editing only affects the output, limiting its capability. I believe that Microvellum's master plan includes finding out where switch statements should be added and to what extent.

From contributor H:
I've been wanting to post on this thread since it started but haven't found the time until now. I believe what contributor F is eluding to isn't as easy to modify with lisps as one would think. I have been working with MV for three years now, implementing it at two companies, and worked with the beta (now public) combo library and have heavily modified that library to do most of what I require from it. Literally anything is possible with MV from a drawing standpoint. After all, it's still ACAD. But, here's the situation. Say, for example, you don't like the fact that the 2D plan view of an upper cabinet shows up on 2D dashed layer. A normal user will only be able to change the layer with ACAD, meaning that every time you revise that product, MV will work against you by placing the plan view back on the 2D dashed layer. It's not as easy as changing the layer property, because many things draw on that layer. The "correct" solution is to edit the library and how it shows the uppers in the 2D plan view, which is easier said than done and requires more skill and time than most average users have. This is just a small example of the numerous quirks you'll face if you want MV to draw "your" way. However, if you do this, I think it will be the fastest way to draw, hands down. The challenge is getting there. Once you go through all of these hoops to get the library data there, you'll never want to update and lose all of it.

From contributor I:
The shop I work out of uses Microvellum, has about 80 employees, about 6 drafter/PM's and we do all of our drawing in Autocad. Then our cut lister takes the information from the drawings and enters it in to make the cabinet cut tickets. Those go to 2 Multicams and a beam saw.

Why don't we use it to draw? Because it's slow, and to make changes from field verification takes forever. I can stretch cabinets in a few minutes, but to do it in Microvellum takes all day.

Also, to do custom stuff like reception centers, the drafter draws it first in a plan view, using different layers for diffent materials. I then take these parts and hand nest them and apply tooling to them in the Microvellum 2d part editor.

For making cut tickets for standard cabinets, it's a great product and really simple to use. If you have a working library, you can teach anyone to grab the cabinets and enter sizes. Making the library is what takes the time, but I think it's worth it, if you do enough of the same style of cabinets.

From contributor F:
Then MV comes along and makes some undocumented change and trashes your carefully crafted library. My personal pet-peeve is their inadequate manual that rarely, if ever, gets updated. The new manual looks good and appears to be well written but lacks the depth needed to actually be very useful.

From contributor J:
I've been using MV about as long as it's been on the market. I used to sell and install it. I still do independent consulting. Obviously, I like it a lot. I'm sure your company will be way more productive with it than without it if you implement it properly. I do know some companies, both large & small, that never got the drafting crew on board and simply stockbill and code with MV. Most use it properly by drawing with the Library where possible.

You will need at least one lead drafter who enthusiastically dives in and learns the nuts and bolts. That person should be good with Excel and AutoCAD. The basic use of the program in ACAD is not difficult at all. In fact most of my clients build their drafting team over time with guys from the shop. It's harder to teach cabinetmaking to drafters than ACAD/MV to cabinetmakers.

Regarding the new Library and update problems, if you have a working library, why update? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I have clients who haven't updated their MV Library since 2000.

If you want to update, have the lead guy work with the new release until it's ready to go, then distribute it. Like any other production software you don't bring it online until it's bulletproof. That's just common sense.

It's ironic the number of millwork company posters who complain about the learning curve and "slow" drafting. How many articles each year do the industry magazines generate regarding the need to train the next generation? If your drafters can't handle AutoCAD/MV now, how will they handle it in 10-15 years when all CAD is parametric 3D?

Personally, I prefer drawing in MV. Every case I draw is exactly the size it will be built and is placed in the room exactly where it will be installed. Every section exactly represents what the mill will cut. Isn't that the point of the Engineering Dept.? I think the "old fashioned" idea of doing it right the first time is wiser in the long run. I'm out of step these days as more and more companies cut corners in "engineering" in order to make their submittal deadlines. It's not really engineering if it doesn't work. I draw for a living. I frequently draft and order blueprinted paneling where an error would cost more than my whole contract many times over. Drawing with Microvellum, I know that when the product looks and fits right in my drawings, that the product delivered to the site is correct. That's the point of CAD/CAM drafting.

From contributor F:
To contributor J: I can only speak from my own experience. I've used more than a dozen CAD/CAM packages in a variety of industries, and MV is the only one that isn't completely "upward compatible". When I call MV tech support with a problem, they tell me to load the latest version of the software. That often trashes my library. If you're using the same library for years, are you using the same version of the software? What do you do for tech support?

From contributor B:
To contributor F: I spent some time with Mark yesterday and I'm impressed with Microvellum. So, perhaps the manual should be produced by Autodesk Press. They have tech writing ability beyond what most individuals and small groups have. And yes, components get proprietary and your product development is what makes this product "pop". My question is, is there a series of queries you bool when installing a new version?

From contributor J:
To contributor F: I'm not recommending you not upgrade for years on end. I simply point out that some very productive users don't. As for support, yes, they lose support for the out-of-date versions but they don't need support. It's been working for 4 - 8 years without a problem. Again, I don't recommend it. My point is you don't update your production system that's working unless you've thoroughly tested the update. If Tech Support says an update will fix a problem, then update one station and test it. In my experience MV has always been willing to hand out 90 day registrations for laptops so drafters can practice or work from home. Update one of these non-essential computers and test the update thoroughly with your Library and Toolfile. Most of the time they work fine but every once in a while they break something critical to production. You want to avoid that cost and stress.

As for the manual, it's big but not comprehensive. MV is so flexible and has so many options that a truly comprehensive Manual would be almost ludicrously large. I print out the sections most important to my work - machine token lists, drawing tokens, Library Designer notes, associative machining notes. Then, add to that a good Excel manual strong on functions and light on charting. You really only learn by doing.

From contributor J:
Regarding contributor H's post, specifically, regarding the example of changing the layer a product draws, actually any user can change that layer via the MVToolbox menu in the ACAD menubar. MVToolbox > Tools > Options... Click the "Other Setup Options" radio button; hit the "Open File" button. Go to the Product Category Defaults tab. There you find your Product Categories list (which like most things in MV is infinitely editable). You can map any category products to whatever layer you wish right here. The entry format is: "Category | Layer". Be sure to hit the Apply button after editing the entry.

From contributor A:
To contributor F: Please talk more about the compatibility issues with MV, especially "update".

From contributor F:
To contributor J: I'm trying to be realistic here. The program is way too complex to be learned in 3-4 days of training. The manual is just about useless. That just leaves tech support. You and I may know not to do everything they tell us, but where does that leave a new user? I'm not saying MV isn't a good product or that it doesn't work, but anyone contemplating purchasing such an expensive product needs to have both eyes wide open. So, what's a realistic time frame for becoming proficient?

To contributor A: Programs such as AutoCad have full "upward compatibility". This allows you to continue working on old files after a software upgrade. They even allow you to save back to previous releases. All of the other programs I've used have this feature.

When I mentioned "upward compatibility" to MV's tech support, I had to explain what the term meant. As far as I know, they make no attempt at upward compatibility. Updating your MV software may mean your custom library has to be rebuilt. It may mean the globals work differently than before. You will not be able to reuse old jobs in a new release.

From contributor J:
To contributor F: First, a correction to my layer mapping post. The "Category | Layer" format results in mapping to a layer named "2D_Layer". That's so typical in MV I forgot to mention it.

Regarding the learning curve, no, you can't learn it in 3-4 days. That's just an introduction. MV focuses on 3D work while most commercial shops use 2D ACAD, just like the architects providing them the CAD plans. A certain company just started using AutoCAD and MV last summer. After the 3 day course I gave two employees personal training at the shop and setup their software, labels and barcoding. They got about 10 days of training with MV of 4 hours +/-. One employee monitored all the configuring of the labels, printing, bar coding and code testing on their Biesse A3. That's probably another 4 or 5 days. This employee had MV put on his laptop at home with a temp key registration and put in the time needed to make it happen. They've been cranking out products since last fall without any more training. They plan on more training in '09.

An employee at another Woodworking company was new to AutoCAD and Microvellum about 6 years ago or more. He only had a week or so of training. He also was personally involved when I set up ARDIS, a Meyer saw, a Buselatto Optima and Biesse Rover to handle the MV code output. MV gave him a temp key copy of the program on his home computer and he made it work. He was a shop worker with a little training and with his own effort he was turning out jobs within two or three weeks. He became capable of customizing his products, custom routing etc., in a pretty short time as I recall. He's been the lead engineer/PM ever since.

Every shop needs employees like these. The rest of the guys will be fine as long as they are decent AutoCAD drafters and understand cabinet construction. One of these companies brought in 3 guys to help out the above-mentioned employee over the last couple years. Two of them stuck. They were working on jobs pretty well within a couple weeks. I'd get calls on specific issues every few days but within a couple months these guys were creating jobs in ACAD/MV on their own. The two who stuck were cabinetmakers who had rarely, if ever, used AutoCAD. The one who didn't was an AutoCAD drafter, new to casework. That is more support for my position that it's easier to teach a cabinetmaker ACAD/MV than to teach an AutoCAD drafter to draw good casework.

From contributor D:
If you want a software program that will require you to throw a lot of money and time at it, Microvellum is your ticket. The four day training session, that you pay for is nothing for this program. It covers the basics, and yes, the manual is useless. So what do you do? Invest more time and pay more money for additional training or maybe pay Microvellum people to come into your shop to help you? That is what a shop that was in my training class did a year after we both attended two training sessions. They are still trying to get MV working for them. I should also mention there was a shop in our second training session that had MV for 1-1/2 years and was attending the class. You pay the annual fee so you can talk to tech support and get upgrades. But wait, you don't want to upgrade because of the upward compatibility issue? How much money and time are you willing to throw at it? This is what you need to consider.

From contributor K:
To contributor J: I think if you go back and reread what I posted, you'll find this isn't possible in the MV options, at least in 6.7. The options are very basic, much like the layer manager in ACAD. It doesn't really control what is being placed on what layer. If you can tell me a way to do this, I'd love to hear it.

From contributor A:
I understand. I would be upset as well, especially when what had been implied if not directly stated when purchased is that the software improvements will be forward compatible. Perhaps MV will turn this around and in due time make it pay for those who invested into MV solutions. Of course there's always the position that they had no idea of what the future was going to be like and for those who invested. What do you think?

From contributor B:
I've posted my experience with a few days of MV training. I agree that it is a fantastic program, yet, most of us are wood workers, drafters, business people, not rocket scientists. Millwork is not a high profit business that can afford thounsands of dollars in research and training. As I read these posts, I'm more convinced that MV has created a very sophisticated product that is out of reach to the average shop in the industry who cannot afford a rocket scientist. I believe that their intention was the best, but one can always overdevelop a product to a point that it becomes un-marketable by being only affordable and useful to a very limited sector of the market.

From contributor J:
To contributor K: Specific to your example of the Upper plan view outline, you can edit it via the steps I covered. I did it a couple weeks ago at a client in Glendale. For some reason on recent MV versions, the base and uppers are coming in on the Dashed layer (I'm skipping the "2D_" that's appended by MV to the layer name). I set his Bases | Base, his Talls | Tall & his Uppers | Upper. And it works. This method only affects the 2D plan view product outline.

From contributor K:
To contributor J: Thank you for the post, but as far as I can tell this functionality was removed from Version 6.7. All that I can find in the options page is some layer information.

I posted this topic on the MV boards to see if this option still exists. Version 6 is a vague memory to me to but I do think I have seen what you are talking about. Not sure why it would have been removed, but I can't find it.

From contributor J:
As contributor F said, "let's be realistic". No software is forward compatible forever. I don't doubt you have some personal experience that determines your position but you're exaggerating the update problem, in my opinion.

I'm running the latest recommended 6.7 version. I can produce code (I have a personal license) for companies running libraries dated 2001 through 2007. Yes, MV globals changed in major ways a couple times over that period. The biggest when subassembly references were moved into Lookup Tables in the Globals. Some of my clients kept their libraries as they were and just updated their version software. Some kept the same old Global file; some made revisions to use the new ones. Some simply configured the new stock Library to their parameters and took advantage of the new features.

If you want all the bells and whistles that go along with the product development then you have to move up. Some of my clients think it's worth it; some don't. Companies that make heavy revisions to their product library probably won't be too excited about changing to a new Global and Materials set up. But they still can update the version they're running at least through 6.7.

If you're productive as it is, then you simply figure whether the cost of the upgrade is offset by the new capabilities. If it isn't, stand pat. If it is, go for it.

From contributor J:
To contributor K: I guess you mean 67 not 6.7. I'm running 6.7.704. There were some glitches in newer versions of 6.7 so the tech guys recommended stepping back to 6.7.704 if you're running version 6. There's an update on the MV Download page for 704. So, if you really are running 6.7 as opposed to the new 67 (confusing, no?) then perhaps if you step back to 704 you'll get that function back. It wouldn't surprise me if it disappears in 67 though. The function is in the "DrawingSetupFile.XLS and I know that certain company individuals have wanted to cull that from the program for a long time. I'd bet there's another way to do it but perhaps it hasn't been enabled or documented yet.

From contributor H:
To contributor J: Yes, I'm running Version 6.7, (performance edition) so it is much different then version 6. I agree with what you said about the forward compatibility. One of the biggest hiccups MV faced was moving all of their code to a .net setup for version 6.7. All of the globals and lookup tables have changed midway through the beta testing causing more pain to users.

Another note to consider, anyone with a modified library (older than the most recently released version build 14 frameless or build 15 combo) will not be able to use the new interface Microvellum has created, called cabinetmaker. This is different and in addition to MV Toolbox. Cabinetmaker is set up to quickly create a 3D room, render it, quote it and sell the job, then pump that information to manufacturing. Personally, if I was looking to purchase MV, I'd wait another 3 months. Let them continue to get the bugs out of all the new developments and get the documentation and training caught up. It has become a much more powerful program than it was, with the power of nested subassemblies, starter products, Bay Inserts, etc.

From contributor J:
To contributor H: Thanks for the update on 6.7+. I'm going to have to pony up for some training time on the new stuff. As a production drafter I don't have any desire to be cutting edge in practice but I do need to be getting ready. I know the focus is on 3D solid parametric CAD as the inevitable future. It will be interesting to see when the architects and designers start moving that way. There's a little now but very spotty. I'm sure most of the commercial drafters are designing products or one-offs in 3D, but I don't think 3D will be the default format until the architects and designers move that way. I'd like to get MV's take on how to build an MV job on the foundation of a 3D Autodesk planset like we now build off the 2D floorplans.

From contributor H:
To contributor J: I'm wondering about the move to 3D as well. I still think for commercial casework, 2D is king, but 3D is essential in the residential work I'm now in. One thing I love about MV is that I can draw in 2D, with MV automatically adding dimensions, hatching, text, etc (thanks to my modified library) very quickly. When I'm happy with the design, I can use the MV command "Draw 3D from 2D" and quickly elevate the 2D Plan View into a 3D model.

This allows the best of both worlds for me, allowing the efficiency of 2D, while quickly getting a 3D model for rendering and visualization. This is a feature I think they should be marketing more. They have a video of this process on youtube for those who are interested.

From contributor L:
MV programming should only be used for the drilling and cutting operations of your CNC router, and thatís only after you have created your own custom cabinet designs in the MV format. If you purchase MV, you will end up with two departments, one for shop drawing submittals and one for CNC programming. My company purchased MV about five years ago and was going to use it to do shop drawing submittals and CNC programming all at one time, which is what MV claims you can do. It didnít work, MV is too slow and it takes a great deal of programming and set-up time to get it running for your shop. Autocad should be used for your shop drawing submittals and MV or another CNC program should be used to program the drilling and cutting operations. Being able to create 3D drawings, wire frames and parametric views is great if you're trying to impress a client, but most shops that do bid work and 3D drawings cannot be built off of, and you can not put dimensions to the product.

To give an example of this let me cite a casino project we did. This project was the usual pie-in-the-sky Architect's concept. It was for a feature bar area and had curved, sloping, elliptical booths with downward sloping curved arms wrapping around built-in booth seats, somewhat ĎCí shaped. We hired two outside MV experts/trainers from KC to do the drawing for the booths and to do the programming for the CNC. It took the two of them two months to do the drawings, and they were basically just 3D renderings of the booths, with very little in the way of CNC programming or sections. We eventually had to take their drawings, break them apart and do our own sections in Autocad, to explain to the shop personnel how to put the booths together. It was a total waste of time and money, and they were the experts in MV. The booths could have been done in Autocad, using standard Autocad commands, showing the various sections and developing horizontal sections.

If you purchase MV, expect it to take about two years for the MV user to become proficient enough to be able to keep up with the demands of the shop floor and you will have to customize the MV standard boxes to how you build. You will have to hire more of a computer programmer than an Autocad user. The other big drawback to MV is that it is too slow for making changes once your submitted shop drawings come back from the Architect. As anyone who is in the Architectural millwork business knows, the Architect likes to play designer on your shop drawings, since he didnít do his work on his Architectural plans, and MV is not fast enough and is too complicated to make these changes. Cabinets appear and disappear, change shapes and whole rooms are reconfigured once the Architect gets done marking them up, and
that does not include the changes that are necessary with field dimensions. Itís best to do your shop drawing in Autocad from a library of Autocad drawing and then have the CNC programmer take over. Iíve been doing Autocad millwork shop drawings for 14 years and have watched how the integration of CNC programming has progressed, so I know a little about it.

From contributor J:
To contributor L: I've been doing MV longer than just about anyone and I respectfully disagree. I'm not surprised the company you were working for closed. If they allowed some MV hacks to burn two months drawing a rendering of booths without any production value they don't deserve to survive. A decent sub could probably build the booths in two weeks. I personally did a long, boat-shaped salad bar in MV. It had a prow shape at both ends with curved panels and all the complex cutouts typical for full service salad bars in the casework, subtops and solid surface counters as well as piloting and blocking for the sneeze guard supports. All was drawn in AutoCAD using MV, parts and CNC machining included. My 2D elevations and plans were totally accurate. Did it look perfect in 3D? Hell no. It was darned close but while I got the ribs and decks perfect, I didn't bother to curve the sides or create a 3D sneeze guard or fixtures. I did make sure everythin went to the floor perfect and on budget. A man has to know his limitations.

From contributor L:
To contributor J: As I said in my comment, it takes a long time to learn MV, as you validated by saying youíve been doing it longer than anyone you know. Autocad and MV are completely different animals. You are right, it took the Ďexpertsí we hired way too long and cost us too much for what they did. All I can say is that they were the ones who sold my boss the program and they were the ones who were chosen to do the work. I also have a friend who is now in love with MV who works for a millwork company in KC. He started with Cabinetvision and Drillmate, and when we purchased MV, he started using it. It still took him about a year to get the bugs and fixes into MV, and now after 5 years of hands-on and programming of MV, he loves it.

MV is not an out-of-the-box program that is going to work immediately to solve CNC programming, and itís an add-on to Autocad (at least the version we had was). It was constantly overriding Autocad sub-commands to make them unusable. I would never want to learn MV, because my mind doesnít work that way. Iím not a computer programmer and dislike codes. Nor do I want to know the exact size of every screw hole that has to be programmed. To each his own, I guess.

From contributor J:
I admit it's hard to go back to '94 or '95 when I first used it and put myself in that position. Honestly though, once you've got AutoCAD dialed in, I've seen guys pick it up pretty quickly,in months, not years. It helps to focus on just what's necessary to keep the machines humming.

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