There was no sophomore slump today at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 as day two kicked off in another high-energy General Session and maintained the pace of innovation and excitement throughout the day. At this morning’s General Session, the team from Dassault Systémes again presented an enthusiastic composite of various aspects of the team and customers to present insights into the community that has formed around SOLIDWORKS from users around the world — and at every skill level.
Suchit Jain, Vice President of Strategy and Community with SOLIDWORKS, showcased several key demographic sectors of the community:
- Certified SOLIDWORKS users
From CSWE-level experts to students who learn CAD young and go on to become entrepreneurs to makers such as Jonathan Tippet with his desert racing mech to the 121 partners exhibiting here this year, the community is broad, encompassing people from all walks of life and forming a truly global community of users. As we moved through the two-hour presentation, we met Siddarth Palaniappan, Senior Manager Graphics, R&D Deployment, at SOLIDWORKS, who is working on integrating AR and VR into the software (and users were invited to check this out at the partner pavilion, viewing and interacting with their own designs in virtual reality); Marie Planchard, Director of Education and Early Engagement, who introduced Amir and Lyle from Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy to showcase their students’ exceptional work in high school engineering; and Chinloo Lama, Senior User Experience Design Engineer, who stated that “education should be accessible for everyone” and noted a partnership with Sindoh geared toward bringing 3D printing to the cloud to easily share digital designs and print them anywhere. Following the focus on education, the SOLIDWORKS User Group Network Awards honored user groups and leaders from the global community. We also heard from the team at Motiv Space Systems and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and then it was on to the Robo Rumble. SOLIDWORKS helped to design battle-ready robots that duked it out to take top honors.
Check out the final of three rounds (the bout begins at about 3:30):
Following Team Fast Electric Robots’ ultimate victory in the Robo Rumble, it seemed that the day had already peaked — at 10 am. Fortunately, this was not the case, as SWW17 continued to deliver.
I started my morning off talking with John Kawola, North American President, Ultimaker, and got my first up close look at the Ultimaker 3 (which one of our writers is currently testing out), introduced in October. With North American operations having only really ramped up within the last year, Kawola was optimistic about the Dutch company’s growth in this market. The team present were obviously enjoying their time at their second year at SWW.
“Reliability and consistency are rising to the point where we can show at places like SOLIDWORKS World, showing to professionals,” Kawola said of their attendance this year. “The Ultimaker 3 is part of the attempt to break more into the professional market, with its WiFi, automatic bed leveling, and dual extrusion capabilities. It’s been on the market for about a quarter now, and it’s been very well received. The professional market values the ability to push a button and pick parts up off the bed. This year we have another year behind our belts in this market.”
I stopped next to check out the Mcor ARKe 3D printer, chatting with Tom Poudrier, Sales Manager, Americas at Mcor. I last saw the ARKe at TCT Show back in September, and now it’s even closer to market — in fact, it’s already shipping in Europe and several units have made it out to customers in China as well; it’s still undergoing UL testing in the US and is expected to be available soon. The headline with this machine, Poudrier told me, is versatility.
“No one has a printer that can do everything. We certainly don’t,” he said. “But this is a really efficient machine. It offers full color, rapid prototyping, investment casting, at a speed and price point that make it valuable for rapid prototyping.”
Mcor has some tricks up their sleeve planned for 2017, including working more toward full-color design capabilities in SOLIDWORKS and the development of their own design repository for color parts. They already have “a lot” of designs ready to go, targeted toward such users as educators who would like to use 3D printed models in their classroom (for example, a dinosaur skull or East African masks) but do not have the resources to develop their own projects.
In the early afternoon, I attended HP’s press conference, where Sean Young, Worldwide Product Development Segment Manager, introduced the HP Z Workstations and discussed several of HP’s recent advances targeted toward the CAD community. He touched on their Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing system as well, as part of the blended reality experience that the company is offering. Software — and voxel by voxel design control — remains a primary area of interest to the company as they continue to work in 3D technologies and workstations geared toward design. HP has also invested in DAVID Laserscanner, enhancing their access to high-quality 3D scanning.
Sitting down later with Dassault Systémes’ Frédéric Vacher, I learned more about the company’s history and where the recently introduced expansion to the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab fits into the overall picture. The company’s progress is “ambitious,” Vacher told me, as the 3DEXPERIENCE Labs seek to provide the community of innovators with access to disruptive technology. We chatted about 3D printed organs and architecture, and how SOLIDWORKS capabilities are positioned to bring more to the world of innovation.
“We innovate now as we were not able to before,” he told me. “The value is that working together, we can do it better. The value in 3D printing is to create things that were impossible before.”
I then talked with Stratasys’ team to learn more about the just-introduced F123 Series of rapid prototyping solutions, sitting down with Patrick Carey, Senior Vice President, Sales, and Roger Kelesoglu, Director, Sales Enablement.
“Wow, Stratasys is talking about prototyping again,” Carey deadpanned. “Stratasys has been the leader in 3D printed prototyping, but most of the work is still done with traditional technologies… Why isn’t prototyping growing beyond that quarter of the market? Our focus became on offering a solution.”
“The Fast Draft PLA mode is a real game changer for volume,” Kelesoglu added. “It can be up to ten times less expensive and five times faster than previous capabilities; it’s not just a new material or a new price point. No one really wants PLA but they do want the ability to quickly create accurate prototypes — especially for less than $20,000 on a system that will last ten years. We’ve matured a lot as a company since launching the Dimension in 2002.”
The F123 series is available now for order, and will be shipping in March; however, as Carey pointed out, “a lot of dealers already have demo units out now.” One of these units is housed at FATHOM’s Seattle office, and I stopped by their booth to talk more about their offerings. Their booth has been busy with intrigued visitors, pulled in by both the DragonFly 2020 from Nano Dimension and a 3D printed model of the DNA shoe most had only seen before as a digital rendering. Among the models on the table was a game controller shell that had been made on the new F370, sitting next to a few anatomical models we’ve seen before created on the J750 Stratasys introduced last year.
At the Markforged booth, I chatted with CEO Greg Mark and saw the Metal X for the second time in about a month. The company has been hard at work, “laser focused on this machine” lately; Mark noted that they had “sold a bunch of these things” since we talked at CES. Desktop metal 3D printing is opening an unimaginable amount of doors, especially at a price point notably under the $1 million price tag many machine shops had come to expect from metal additive manufacturing systems.
“At $1 million, machine shops couldn’t afford metal 3D printing. At $100K, now they’re eating them up,” he said. “You can print a part, then do that thing you already do to finish it. It fits into a workflow they already do and already know well. This is the first time metal AM has been cheaper than CNC and it’s been fun — and it’s been a lot of work.”
Also notable about the team at Markforged is the makeup of their team, which happily represents a diversity not often seen in 3D printing yet. With a significant female presence, the well-balanced team also all bring backgrounds to the operations that enhance their standing; for example, while we do often see a largely-female marketing team, this particular group is also mostly engineers. “We think it’s a strategic advantage,” Mark noted.
At the Proto Labs booth, Vice President and General Manager Rob Bodor walked me through some of the company’s history and global presence. Offering eight technologies that are now digitized, Proto Labs positions itself as a customer-focused company. They offer 3D printing services alongside CNC and machining, and listen to their customers’ longer-term plans to ensure that they guide them to the right process for them for intended volume and actual use.
“We’re relatively agnostic to the technology we use as far as OEMs who make it are concerned,” Bodor explained. “We use 3D printers from Concept Laser alongside those from 3D Systems and Stratasys, as well as several for other technologies. We work with whatever technology will offer the best for the customer and the service so they make the right choice.”
We’ll be continuing to offer closer looks at the companies showing at SWW17, including those mentioned here, as the conference has one more day to go — and the announcements made here and insights gathered beg a closer examination. Stay tuned for all the latest in 3D printing and 3D design![All photos taken by Sarah Goehrke for 3DPrint.com]