I have been an active user of Microvellum Toolbox, and their various other applications, or the better part of the last decade.
While I have researched many alternative solutions over the years, I firmly believe Microvellum offers the best solution for my team of millwork engineers.
That is not to say that it is without flaws or shortcomings, or that other packages don’t have any advantages over it, however for my money, and my employer’s money, it is the best singular solution, and here are my top 5 reasons why.
1. It integrates seamlessly with AutoCAD
Despite many worthy competitor’s best efforts to gain market share, Autodesk’s AutoCAD is the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the industry. Every trade out there, ranging from the architects, interior designers, general contractors, and MEP engineers, use AutoCAD or one of Autodesk’s related products. So, being able to produce shop drawings, as well as fabrication drawings and models in one software platform, taking us from the submittal phase through to production release, is the best-case scenario.
Additionally, Microvellum’s product libraries are configured to produce your 2D drawings and your 3D models. This streamlines the drafting process, while minimizing mistakes from disjointed drawings and models of other software solutions.
2. It is machine agnostic
Many available CAD/CAM solutions are designed for use with, and sometimes owned by, specific machine manufacturers. What this means is, they will integrate very well with certain machines made by preferred manufacturers, and their support will be limited for other machines. Beyond that, certain packages will also work very well for saws, but less so for nested based CNCs, or vice versa.
Microvellum is machine agnostic and can integrate with saws, nested-based CNCs, vertical machine centers, and point-to-point CNCs as well as boring machines, robotic arms, and more. They are also willing and ready to develop new post processors and machine connections specific to your company and situation. Additionally, if you are already invested in a certain optimizing software package, they can produce a tool file that outputs all the necessary data in the correct format for importing and optimizing there.
3. The product libraries are open and completely configurable
The newer versions of Microvellum’s software are based on an SQL database, however the product libraries are still fundamentally the same as they have been for years, in that they are based on a series of spreadsheets and workbooks that can be accessed and fully customized by the end-user. These spreadsheets recognize basic and a long list of advanced Excel functions, which allow for extensive development of parametric formulas and logic-based operators.
While supporting and providing access to this level of development for power users, the product comes complete with a fully functioning library out-of-the-box and does not require you to ever interface with this side of things to effectively use it in a manufacturing setting. To me this is the best of both worlds, by supporting the needs of both new and power users.
4. It includes a built-in report designer
Microvellum’s software comes equipped with a built-in report designer. This powerful and robust addition allows for completely customized and user-specific reporting from every level your project. Additionally, they provide the ability to link to external data sources and to create relationships between the internal and external data sources. What this does, is provides a way to natively report from both Microvellum, as well as your other software solutions, such as ERP, or MES packages your company may already be using, and produce those reports all from one location.
5. They actively solicit and act on user feedback
Microvellum hosts a very helpful Knowledge Networkwebsite that is used by users fromaround the world.The community site and knowledge base portion of the site is open to the public, allowing users, educators, students, and others in our industry to ask questions, learn from their peers, and even submit ideas for new software features. The forums are actively monitored and responded to by Microvellum’s support and product management team. Feature requests that have been approved are given a status and when the development and testing is complete, they incorporate those ideas into their active software release cycle. I have personally submitted multiple ideas to help improve our process and use of the software and seen them released in updates.
While there are many other great reasons why I choose Microvellum for my organization, these are my top five. - Jacob Edmond, VP of Engineering at USA Millwork
To learn more about Jacob Edmond, find him on LinkedIn: @JacobEdmond