Programming at SWW17 Presented a Broad Vision of a 3D Future


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20170206_191908SOLIDWORKS World 2017 has come and gone, and now that we’re all nestled safely back at home behind our own computers, those who attended this year’s event hosted by Dassault Systèmes in Los Angeles are surely still abuzz with thoughts gleaned from the programming-heavy show. While I was only in LA for three nights, the show’s four days provided food for thought enough to endure much longer. We’ve been keeping up with the news released during the event — notably including the launch of Stratasys’ F123 3D printing series, the development of ceramics 3D printing capabilities from Nano Dimension, the newest 3D printer from BCN3D, opening of the first 3DEXPERIENCE Lab in North America, and several newly formed partnerships — but away from the humming partner pavilion, it was the planned programming that ensured SWW17 would be a can’t-miss stop on this year’s calendar.

Many attendees of SOLIDWORKS World are regulars, coming back each year to catch up with other SOLIDWORKS users, learn more to continue their certification, try their hands at design contests, and bond over bacon and coffee — and beyond the networking, special events, and splashy fanfare they come for the heart of the event: the planned programming. Never let it be said that Dassault Systèmes doesn’t know how to put on a show. From Sunday night’s Kickoff Event to the close on Wednesday, SWW17 kept attendees running with sessions all day and events each evening.

20170205_162758Each of the three mornings of the full show days started off with a nearly two-hour-long General Session. On paper, that didn’t sound like the end-all-be-all of excitement… but then they brought out execs from Dassault alongside magicians, musicians, educators, astronauts, and battle-ready robots. Any of these stage presences would have been enough to ensure my bum in a seat for it, but being able to catch all of this at one event was an unmatchable experience to kick off each morning.20170206_080925

We know that SOLIDWORKS is capable of producing designs to tight tolerances; it was another thing altogether to watch the CEO of SOLIDWORKS, Gian Paolo Bassi, stick his head into a table saw-containing piece of machinery as illusionist Justin Flom asked him to trust his life to something having been made in the design program on the first day of the show. Of course, we know it was a successful illusion (otherwise headlines would have been quite a bit more sensational all around). Still, bringing the magic right into the audience gathered, with a 360-degree view of the raised stage, ensured that the design quality was high enough to pass muster in front of a live — and lively — crowd.

There’s no actual magic (sorry) to stage illusions created by magicians like Justin Flom and companies like Illusion Projects Inc., whose CEO Tim Clothier was on hand to discuss how SOLIDWORKS has already enabled the creation of numerous never-before-possible tricks designed to mystify audiences, including the appearance of an elephant in a crowded room. We did not see (nor address) that literal elephant in the room, but the design capabilities in such applications took attention throughout the General Session.


Designed in SOLIDWORKS

“The magic is built with the design,” Clothier said.

It was fitting then, with such a dramatic start, that the theme for SWW17 was: “Create the new. The next. The never before.” While this tagline was repeated enough times during the show’s three days to become almost an underlying drumbeat behind the event, it was appropriate for the caliber of projects Dassault had on show, as well as the technologies on display in the Partner Pavilion.

Among the other organizations and technologies employing SOLIDWORKS to be displayed in this first General Session were: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, MIT, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and nTopology, Tiny Love, Zahner, Joby Aviation, Delft Hyperloop, Brain Games, and PRS Guitars.

“I love to geek out about the future,” Jason Silva, host of Brain Games, said. “Technology is how we turn our lives inside out… 30 linear steps gets you to 30; 30 exponential steps gets you to a billion.”

Silva introduced the reconceptualizing of a “billionaire” as “not just a person with one billion dollars, but one who touches one billion people.” As a “techno-optimist,” Silva uses his platform to showcase Shots of Awe demonstrating where technology can take us. This look at the future was echoed again in the next two days’ General Sessions, as we continued to look forward to “the new” and “the next” that SOLIDWORKS can help to bring about. On the second day, Suchit Jain, Vice President of Strategy and Community with SOLIDWORKS, showcased several key demographic sectors of the community:

  • Students
  • Certified SOLIDWORKS users
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Makers
  • Partners

Each of these segments hold in common not just the use of SOLIDWORKS, but their potential to shape the future as, for example, students graduate into advanced uses and form their own startups. Or, of course, there are the student projects that serve to engage in technology and design development that might turn into longer-lived passion projects, because who doesn’t love battling robots? In the Robo Rumble, we were treated to several student teams battling it out in a robot cage fighting match judged by experienced BattleBots participants.

On the final morning of SWW17, we heard from additional case studies of SOLIDWORKS in real-world design applications, as Kishore Boyalakuntla, Senior Director, Product Portfolio Management and Brand User Experience Leader, SOLIDWORKS updated us on SOLIDWORKS Make, which had been introduced at last year’s event and this year introduced several new updates to the Design to Manufacturing Ecosystem, Data Management Ecosystem, Simulation Ecosystem, and IoT Ecosystem.

Looking again to the future, we were introduced to Jon Friedman, President, Co-Founder, Freight Farms, and to sustainability expert and social visionary Duane Elgin

“My dream is to be more like SOLIDWORKS and build a platform of growers,” Friedman said of his company’s work with the design platform. “What IoT can bring is a new level of transparency. IoT can be the scaffolding for a new food ecosystem.”


I checked out Freight Farms’ 10-foot display unit Sunday night at the Partner Pavilion

Freight Farms offers a model of sustainability in food cultivation, providing a shipping container (10′ or 40′) as the basis for a vertical urban farm that can benefit communities, restaurants, and more. Elgin noted that with projects like these, “We can design our way into a more sustainable future.” The 40′ unit from Freight Farms can, on a weekly basis, produce 1,000 viable heads of lettuce, the equivalent of a two-acre garden patch, with 20 hours of physical work.

“Our world is in a time of profound transition, great transition. We’re turning because of one simple fact that changes everything: the circle has closed. There’s no escape, there are no frontiers left, we’re going to have to cope with what we have created as an entire human family,” Elgin said. “There is enough design intelligence in this room to tip the world toward sustainability and collaboration.”

Friedman added to this, “The same way we brought manufacturing across the world with 3D printing, with small batch volumes… what 3D printing brought to manufacturing, we can do the same, to bring production across the system.” He continued of the design potential, “The tech is there right now. We have the tech in our hands right now to be untethered… The people in this room, behind this stage with people blabbing on about shit, are the people who are going to change this world.”

Moving forward, we were next treated to what was honestly the most inspiring keynote presentation I have had the pleasure of sitting in on in quite a long time, as Anousheh Ansari, First Female Space Explorer and Co-Founder, CEO, Chairman, Prodea Systems, took to the stage to discuss her eight-day trip to the International Space Station and how today’s technologies and opportunities made real the dreams of a young girl in Iran.


Anousheh Ansari, Co-Founder, CEO, Chairman, Prodea Systems

“I was born a long time ago, in a country far, far away — a country that’s on the list right now, Iran. I grew up looking at the night skies, imagining myself flying up to those shiny objects up there,” Ansari said. “My career took a different path, I became an engineer. But I always thought I would go to space.”

Forging on in the path that would indeed ultimately take her out of this world, Ansari became involved in the XPrize, launching the Ansari XPrize. The privatization of space is coming because “government space agencies are not moving fast enough,” and it is the “people with great imagination who work hard” who will be the ones behind humanity’s progress toward the stars. The Spaceship One design that won the Ansari XPrize, chosen from 26 teams’ entries from 7 countries, is now in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Ansari noted several key points regarding the future, as it is:

  • Unpredictable
  • Personalized
  • Augmented
  • Engineered
  • In Space

“When I look at the future, it excites me to know there is so much individual power in making the future better for all of us,” she said. “Space will play a very major role in our future… You have the power in your hand. There is technology that is available for each and every one of you to design for the future.”

Pointing to the personalization inherent in her vision of the future, Ansari touched as well on the importance of 3D printing, such as in projects from Made In Space and the 3D printing of food and human organs in the future.

Outside of the hall where the General Sessions were held, attendees had the opportunity to hone their skills in SOLIDWORKS and work toward and test in additional (or initial) certifications. The sessions held throughout the busy event were dedicated to several tracks of focus. Available on the full agenda were learning paths dedicated to:

  • IoT
  • MBD
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Subtractive Manufacturing

20170207_143301Adding further focus to the agenda were categories to plan an agenda around preferred areas including:

  • Customer Success & Integrated Solutions
  • COLLABORATE – Design Communication
  • CREATE – Design Automation
  • CREATE – Electrical
  • CREATE – Modeling Essentials
  • CREATE – Productivity Tools
  • DraftSight
  • EXTEND – Leverage Designs
  • MANAGE – Data Management and Administration
  • SOLIDWORKS in Education
  • VALIDATE – Design Simulation
  • New Products
  • Entrepreneurship Track

Because my focus was on telling the story rather than technical training for myself, I did not have the opportunity to attend any of the myriad technical training sessions, though many of the breakouts were certainly of interest and contained looks into AM technologies as well as futurists’ views of what is to come.

I did, however, enjoy the evening festivities planned throughout the event. I was in LA for three nights and had three nights’ worth of activities lined up, including the Super Bowl Tailgate Party Sunday night, a media/analyst evening on the Monday to talk more casually to those gathered (including Dassault Systémes’ Head of Innovation, Frédéric Vacher, who I later sat down with to talk about more of Dassault’s activities), and the Tuesday night Special Event held at Paramount Studios complete with a live band, huge Lite Brite setup, and further opportunity to chat with companies, designers, and other attendees — all on the streets of faux-New York City.

The entire event was one not to be missed, and I was certainly glad for the opportunity to spend a few days in not-actually-sunny Los Angeles. The city was announced as the site for SOLIDWORKS World 2018, too, so while I still don’t know yet where I’ll be spending next New Year’s, I know where I’ll be next February! SOLIDWORKS World hosted a great deal of innovation and insight into 3D design — which is, more and more, bringing to light future innovations in 3D printing, as so many presenters noted that the future lies in our hands.


[All photos/videos taken by Sarah Goehrke for]

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