My thoughts from SolidWorks World… As always SolidWorks puts on a great conference. The venue provides an opportunity to meet with customers, partners, SolidWorks and Dassault employees. Perhaps most importantly I get to see and catch up with good friends. It also allows us to stay current by learning what is new in the market while, at the same time, having some fun.

Although I would say there were no groundbreaking announcements from the conference, I thought that Bernard Charles (President and CEO of Dassault Systemes) delivered a very practical vision of the 3D Experience. His presentation and introduction of 3DExperience was the best I have seen so far as it was accompanied with movies showing a combination of new tools and how they fit into the 3D Experience vision.

In my opinion, some of the SolidWorks new products and features also fall under the same vision. Talking to a few of my colleagues and customers I realized that the SolidWorks community is starting to absorb these ideas and the Dassault 3D Experience vision. Another impressive indication of customer approval is that SolidWorks doubled its customer base to two million users within three years. This was a noticeable accomplishment that SolidWorks is very proud of.

The following presentations / topics came up that I think are of particular interest:

The introduction of my.solidworks.com. This is a web portal designed as a single source location to find information regarding all SolidWorks products and solutions. I can personally attest that there are simply too many places you need to go to find information on SolidWorks. For instance, you have their website, YouTube, various blogs, etc. My.solidworks.com is designed to be the single entry to find the information you are looking for. You can personalize the site by setting up filters and search options, check out the latest posts and look for new apps and tools provided by SolidWorks and its community. The solution is powered by Dassault’s other brands… Exalead and Netvibes.

The introduction of SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. This is a new product by SolidWorks. SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual will, optimally, let engineers and designers develop and design conceptual designs in an efficient way without the need to spend time creating a detail design though the core SolidWorks product. Some of the features of this solution will be:

  • Ties into social media to allow stakeholders to get access to such designs in an easy manner. This will allow such stakeholders, whether it is internal or external, to provide their feedback to the very early stages of the design. As we all know the earlier we can access a design and make changes to the product the more money and time we can save down the road.
  •  The ability to create and manage many iterative designs until the best design is determined to move forward with.
  •  Intelligence based on how parts our used. When a part in placed in assembly, the tool learns by how that part was placed before and based on this intelligence places it with the assembly
  • The ability to perform motion and structural analysis
  •  The ability to take what is designed and import it into SolidWorks allowing the designer to continue with the detailed design and develop the to be the production part.

While it was not explicitly mentioned, my take on this is that this solution is built on the Dassault V6 (3D experience) platform. The solution will initially be a cloud based solution provided by SolidWorks.   SolidWorks is currently looking for customers to start testing and using the solution immediately. The official release of the tool is scheduled for October of 2013.

SolidWorks also demonstrated some of the new features that will be available with SolidWorks 2014. Two interesting ones are the ability to run eDrawings on Android devices (eDrawings already works on Apple devices) and the ability to have augmented reality working with eDrawings. Essentially you are videotaping someone holding a cardboard piece of paper with what appears to be bar code information. In eDrawings it appears that he is holding a 3d object. The ‘virtual’ 3d object is able to move, rotate per the user holding the Cardboard. In my opinion this is another feature clearly associated with the 3D Experience.

In addition to the new features incorporated into solutions from SolidWorks and Dassault, there were two customer type presentations where they discussed some of the advance work they are doing in the area of robotics and of course these products are being designed with SolidWorks.

The first was a presentation by Professor Vijay Kumar at the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, University of Pennsylvania. He and his team designed a set of miniature helicopter robots. These robots work and fly in unison without crashing into each other or other obstacles. Real life scenarios for such a ‘team/swarm’ of robots could be used for search and recovery, building structures and interesting enough playing music. Here is a fun movie on how they have programed the helicopter robots to play music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNFA4Q4lGPU

The second presentation was about the Festo Company which manufactures factory and process automation equipment and technology. In addition to its main area of business, Festo has a biotech group that specializes in learning about biology and nature and adapting those concepts to the development of technology and robots. At SolidWorks they described how they designed various robots based on what they learned in nature. One of the robots they developed was a flying bird…which they call SmartBird. They actually brought this bird to SolidWorks and had it fly around the main hall of the conference center. More information and the movie of the SmartBird flying can be found at: http://www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/11369_11378.htm#id_11378

Finally, xLM Solutions sponsored a booth at SolidWorks World. This booth gave us an excellent opportunity to meet with new prospects, partners and existing customers. We had a lot of fun meeting with them and discussing their PLM / PDM requirements and issues. We were able to provide advice and determine if we can be of help. Whether our advice related to one of our generic solutions such as Batch Print or Data Migration or a more custom solution for a specific need or simply general configuration, support or training, it felt good to know we are making a difference and helping customers out.

Feel free to contact us if you would like any additional information regarding this blog or SolidWorks world.

~Marc Young

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