Four of the Vectric team were in (not so sunny) Las Vegas last month for the 2013 Vectric User Group Meeting. We hosted two jam-packed days of CNC design and production related software presentations, discussions and ideas. Once again, this year's meeting was busy with over 100 people making up our attentive and lively audience. As well as a healthy number of previous attendees, it was nice to see a lot of new customers making their first appearance at the meeting.
Brian Moran the CEO of Vectric opened the meeting by giving a brief overview of the business, highlighting the continued growth of the company as well as virtually introducing the newest members of the Vectric team who have joined over the last year. Edward Powell then gave an overview of some of the planned new features for Aspire V4.5 and VCarve Pro 7.5. Even though much of this work is at an early stage, the planned enhancements were very well received.
After a break and a first chance to network with the other attendees, James Booth worked through a session on drawing tools, looking at 3 examples to show precision vector drawing, sketching for modeling and using an imported image to fit vectors to. After a substantial lunch James also presented the next session working through a selection of modeling examples. This included creating a dished flamingo carving based on an image, how to setup a part to be molded and finally modifying a piece of the Clip Art that comes with Aspire to create the base model for the top of a large decorative key.
"Everyone associated with this meeting went way beyond expectations. We don't feel that a moment of our time was wasted (even during the breaks)." - Allen and Nancy Billings
"It was all very good. Well prepared and well thought out and very structured and organized. This was my first user group meeting so I didn't really know what to expect but it certainly exceeded my expectations."
- Steve Kraak
"The humor and camaraderie of the Vectric team made the meeting pleasant as well as informative. Thanks." -
Edward then took another session on working with external file formats, covering everything from different types of vector and image files and their pro’s and con’s, through to working with imported 3D data. Finally after another short break James worked through the basic theory behind the new Multiple Component Combine Mode that was added in Aspire V4 and some practical ways to use it for different modeling effects.
The first day was concluded by some excellent customer presentations. Randall Newcomb gave us 5 tips for successful VCarving, then Dale Hellewell discussed different project ideas, how he blends CNC with traditional skills and various tips and tricks for success. Next David Kerksiek showed us examples of some of the fantastic work he has done in his woodworking business with Aspire, TJ Christiansen from ShopBot discussed the process of using the CNC to make more complex parts to reduce finishing and assembly time and finally Michael Tyler (who creates Vectric’s monthly projects) gave an overview of the process for creating a silicon mold and moldings derived from a CNC cut master part. Vectric would like to publicly thank everyone who took time to prepare and deliver these presentations, as always they covered a lot of different topics but were very informative.
Day 2 started early with James spending an hour covering Toolpath Tips and Tricks, showing a number of ways to optimize vector preparation with toolpath strategy to create more efficient ways to get a better surface finish from the machined part. He also looked at specialist toolpath applications such as combining Prism carving with the texture toolpath, fluted curved seat shapes and 2 sided machining setup.
After another break and networking session James looked in detail at the Extrude and Weave function added in Aspire V4. As well as reviewing the basic way the tool works he examined the different Clip Art weave vectors that came with Aspire and how to get the most from them along with a number of examples showing more unusual ways to use the new tools to create more organic and free-form modeling shapes.
After another hearty lunch Edward took on a very technical challenge and worked live through an example of how to setup and program a customizable Vectric Gadget. Although this was a complex subject, a number of people commented that they found it interesting to see the process and there were a few who were keen to start developing their own ideas using what they had seen.
"I'd go every year if it is anywhere near me. Believe me when I say there are few companies where I look forward to and enjoy meeting the CEO and his team. You are 110% by me and in this day and age, its rare and a treat."
- Gary Roberts
"Thank you for putting on the event. Clearly a lot of hard work, practice and energy was put in by Vectric, all of you should be proud of your accomplishments. Thank you." -
The final couple of sessions covered some Tips and Tricks on Rotary setup and machining along with an in-depth drawing, modeling and toolpath example showing how to create the central decorative spindle on the giant key example and then to finish we highlighted some of our favourite examples on the forum before Brian wrapped up the meeting.
Once again we have had feedback saying how much the attendees got out of the meeting and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who joined us. Plus an additional thanks to those who have completed the feedback survey - more than 92% of you rated the meeting as 'Excellent' and the remainder of the attendees as 'Good'. We will be sending a reminder email and would appreciate it if those of you who attended but have not yet responded can complete the questionnaire so we can aim to do even better next year.
As always, we were inspired by the enthusiasm of everyone we met and delighted by the achievements of those who brought along show-and-tell samples, or pictures of their work. Hearing about your experiences with the software is an invaluable part of our product development process. It always results in new ideas and, ultimately, new features. Similarly, we hope that the topics we present, and the other like-minded people you meet, lead you into to new and exciting areas for your hobby or business.
"You guys are amazing! I left the second day motivated, educated, and ready to try new things. The fact that you recorded each session ahead of time and took even more time to explain the concepts was amazing. I started reviewing the videos as soon as I got home Sunday. By Sunday night I had carved a 3D figure using the clipart and the skill steps I'd learned. Thanks for the energy and investment in time you place on making this one of the best user community events I've ever attended.
Again, your excitement and passion were hugely motivating and helped really connect me with the skill steps you were teaching." - Chris Cappelli
Thanks again and see you next year!
For those of you who could not make this year’s meeting we will be publishing videos of some of the material covered on the website over the next few months. Keep an eye on our monthly newsletter for information on this and when it becomes available.
Finally Vectric would also like to thank Tim Merrill, Steve Godding and Michael Tyler for their advice and practical help in cutting and finishing many of the samples of the different projects that we had at the meeting. These really help to make the examples as real-world as possible and to illustrate the points of the tutorials.