I’d been looking forward to SOLIDWORKS World 2017 for some time anyway, as the popular conference was sure to draw an energetic crowd together, with attendees eager to share in and expand knowledge of 3D design — but I hadn’t anticipated exactly how busy this show would keep me. As it turns out, 3D printing is everywhere.
Walking the exhibit hall last night for the first time, I was impressed by the sheer volume of 3D printing companies showing off their hardware at this software show. This feeling was only exacerbated throughout the full Monday experience, as from the morning’s exuberant General Session through a day full of interviews and a product-announcing press conference I barely had the chance to sit down. There’s nothing quite like attending a show like SWW, as the conversations had while standing next to the latest technology are incomparable to reading a press release — so I’m doing all I can to bring that experience to you, as our team is sharing everything as we can throughout this show, including on our social channels.
“There’s more to come, especially in 3D printing,” Dassault Systemès Vice Chairman and CEO Bernard Charlès said this morning.
The tone was set early on today, as the General Session introduced executives from SOLIDWORKS, as well as guests showcasing unique case studies of practical experiences using this software to bring their companies’ visions to life — and often including 3D printing. We heard from magician Justin Flom and CEO of Illusion Projects Inc. Tim Clothier, as well as host of Brain Games and Shots of Awe Jason Silva, and a customer mash-up featuring “engineering in concert” with Paul Reed Smith, Managing General Partner, PRS Guitars; Jonathan Wasserman, R&D Engineer, PRS Guitars; and Mark Tremonti, guitarist, Alter Bridge and Creed. These guests, as well as execs from Dassault Systemès and master of ceremonies Tracey Wilson, spoke to many uses in a nowhere-near-comprehensive list at what can be made possible through use of SOLIDWORKS. The morning’s two-hour session included looks into established use cases and projections into the future of what we might see as humanity continues to embrace 3D technologies.
Once the Partner Pavilion opened its doors a little later in the morning, the excitable stampede of SWW17 attendees turned their attention to the floor of the exhibit hall. My first stop of the day was at the booth for Rize, where I spoke with President and CEO Frank Marangell as the company showed off their innovative 3D printer at its first public appearance. As we’ve seen, the Rize One 3D printer seeks to bring savings on time, cost, and materials to the desktop. Marangell pointed out that post-processing is often referred to as “3D printing’s dirty little secret,” but also that it doesn’t have to be that way.
“It’s a desktop unit for a reason,” Marangell told me of the Rize One. “We want to put it in an office, so it has to be designed for an office. It can’t offgas, there are no VOCs, and there’s low noise. It has to be an industrial product.”
The small Rize team, consisting of about 15 members (and holding more than 20 3D printing patents), remains hard at work on the next steps for their technology. The Rize One is with beta customers now, and has only just become publicly available, but that’s no reason to not look to what’s next, as the company looks toward full-color capabilities and the creation of rubberized parts, end-use parts, smoothing, and other advances targeting the market between prototyping and low-volume manufacturing — where one-off customized creations can really capitalize on the benefits 3D printing has to offer — as Marangell pointed out.
“It’s an interesting time now in the industry,” he told me, putting it mildly.
At their press conference, executives from Stratasys introduced their latest end-to-end solution, targeting the rapid prototyping market, with the new F123 Series. Featuring quick material changeovers, an intuitive interface, and a collaborative creation process, the F123 Series of 3D printers includes the F170, F270, and F370 units, supported by GrabCAD Print capabilities and a demonstration of Stratasys’ commitment to listening to what its customers are looking for in their technology.
“We found that our customers are demanding a one-stop shop for rapid prototyping,” Rich Garrity, President Americas, Stratasys, told us. “We believe rapid prototyping still represents a significant opportunity for additive manufacturing… This is designed for the way our customers work.”
I’ll be talking tomorrow with Stratasys’ technical team to learn more about the latest in rapid prototyping from this big name, right from the source.
Continuing to speak to companies in the industry, I sat down next with Jason Wright, Director of Products and Services, and Michelle Stansbury, Marketing, from SolidProfessor. The learning-based company has recently introduced their new technical certificates for those who sign up for courses. By creating a goal for customers to reach, SolidProfessor’s certificates provide an incentive to continue on with training by working with subject matter experts.
“It’s one thing to say you have skills,” Wright explained, “it’s another to be validated by subject experts who are running the classes.”
Having noticed the void in the industry for training and completion certifications, we had a lot to talk about, as 3DPrint.com’s inaugural training courses will be kicking off next month with our Beginner Design Course. The need for increased learning opportunities with expert instruction and recognition of successful completion has been noticed, and 2017 looks to be the year for accessible education.
Back in the Partner Pavilion, I talked with Simon Fried, CBO of Nano Dimension, which is exhibiting alongside partner FATHOM at SWW. Nano Dimension, which today introduced their new ceramics technology, has been keeping busy between our visits, which is frankly impressive as it’s now been just a month since I talked with the team at CES.
“We’ve only had two press releases lately,” Fried said with a laugh following our chats at CES and formnext. “We’re building up our team as the launch approaches, and playing to the strengths of our technology. Inkjet is so well suited for multi-material creation, for things that have more types of function.”
The work in ceramics technology was done by request, as the Israel Innovation Authority requested and financed the project developing 3D printing ceramic technology using inkjet techniques. Though there’s nothing yet to show from the ceramics endeavor, Fried noted that it will ultimately have implications in the aerospace field — particularly if, in the future, it can be successfully combined with their electronics printing capabilities.
“If you want to send electronics into space, it’s probably best to be printed on ceramics rather than polymers,” he said.
Fried, who also visited with Helen Mirren while awaiting luggage at LAX this week, noted as well that the software capabilities afforded by SOLIDWORKS are seeing a convergence with traditional EDA software favored by electronics producers, and that the software world will eventually precisely design circuitry, which is “genuinely a big challenge.” He spoke this morning at SWW in a presentation covering futurism and the Internet of Things, noting his views on the place of the IoT in the foreseeable tech future.
Monday at SWW17 was a busy time, capped off by exclusive press tours of partner areas of the Partner Pavilion that especially showcase organizations SOLIDWORKS is having an impact on, such as Freight Farms and Furrion, creator of the desert mech racing Prosthesis robot, and then a networking evening bringing together VIPs from the press, analysts, and executives from SOLIDWORKS and SWW Platinum Partners. The evening activities allowed for a closer, more targeted look at these areas, as well as the opportunity to chat about tech with those helping to develop it from the ground up.
Tuesday is looking to be another full day of interviews, presentations, press conferences, and networking as the on-the-ground sharing of information continues apace. Keeping the excitement alive, it will also be rounded out by the annual social special event as SWW hits Paramount’s New York City backlot.
Stay tuned to 3DPrint.com for all the latest right from SWW17 — and for more detailed looks from some of these great conversations coming soon![All photos taken by Sarah Goehrke for 3DPrint.com]