This week 3D Printing Industry is in LA for Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS World.
The French software developer and 3D design expert’s annual event saw 5,000+ assemble for a grand opening in the Western hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC). After making a grand entrance, riding an autonomous vehicle style breakfast table, SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi took to the stage to tell an excited crowd about 5 new announcements for the 3D CAD software.
Bassi asked the audience, “how can we help you become the leaders of the next industrial revolution,” before offering the phrase “industrial renaissance” as an alternative term. While the distinction in terminology may seem minor, around the conference and expo it is such vision from the leaders of this company that many attendees admire – and therefore should be considered as important.
Returning to SOLIDWORKS World announcements, first came the news that the 3DEXPERIENCE platform will now include a Social Collaboration Service. This tool is intended to encourage cross departmental teams to collaborate on ideas from an early stage, but without losing structure. The Social Collaboration element of design is seen as increasingly important in an era of shortening product life cycles.
Jetboards and 3D printed electric trikes
Next, SOLIDWORK PLM services and Product Design were announced. Around the expo area, termed the Partner Pavillon here at the LACC examples of many products designed with SOLIDWORKS are in abundance. These range from the Mako Slingshot Jetboard to the Icon Explore three wheeling adaptive trike – an electric vehicle capable of keeping pace with the most ardent of mountain bikers.
Alex Chittock from Mako Boardsports says, “We decided at the beginning that we wanted this jetboard to be visually captivating, and therefore the aesthetics of how the final jetboard would look were so important.” SOLIDWORKS Premium, “gave us the surfacing capabilities on which we relied to create and edit the surface geometry to ensure the right harmonious proportions, clean-cut lines, bold contours and crystalline features of the carbon fiber hull.”
Icon Outside explained that, “With 19 pivot points moving simultaneously in the front end alone we relied heavily on the power of SOLIDWORKS assemblies to make sure we had optimized geometry and that the three main systems of steering articulation and suspension would work both independently of and in synchronicity with each other.” 3D Printers from Markforged are, “also playing an increasingly important roll in our R&D as well as some production parts we learned on the power of SOLIDWORKS even more to design complex 3D printing worth parts that help keep us ahead of the curve.”
Announcement number 4 is SOLIDWORKS xDesign. This browser based 3D design software is lightweight enough to be used on a tethered/hotspot phone. Ed Gebo, an Engineer and SOLIDWORKS user, recounts his experience with running the software over such a low-bandwidth experience, with no noticeable issues. XDesign also has 3D printer manufacturer Sindoh among users, as the South Korea company are early partners for the cloud print service. Sindoh are also exhibiting their 3D WOX range of FDM/FFF 3D printers, together with a forthcoming 3D printer with a substantially larger build volume.
The final announcement made by CEO Bassi, was the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace Make service. Around the conference, and at events running into the evening this was the announcement that most people were talking about. The vision is to create the largest qualified eco-system of qualified vendors in manufacturing. Marketplace Make will allow buyers to order 3D designs made by manufacturing service bureaus.
To date over 50 service bureaux are using Marketplace Make says Suchit Jain, VP Strategy and Business Development. Making an analogy using fake news, Jain says, “fake news may be found on Google, but Wikipedia is more vetted,” SOLIDWORKS will ensure vendors are “verified and qualified”. Marketplace Make does not require – for now at least – vendors to enter an exclusive contract and service bureaus can still win business outside the platform. Jain says that Materialise, Xometry, 3D Systems and Sculpteo are all offering services through Marketplace Make. The key, Jain says, is flexibility and “SOLIDWORKS is a pencil, we inspire users to write poetry.”
The move to linking the end-user of a 3D printing service bureau, or other manufacturer, via SOLIDWORKS taps into a growing realisation that the business model offered by 3D Hubs is been replaced by a demand for higher quality and/or volume services. 3D Hubs themselves acknowledged this with their pivot towards the industrial/professional user. However, Dassault Systemes will not be alone in this market.
The battle for the digital manufacturing platform
When Xometry increased their funding haul to $38 million in 2017, 3D Printing Industry wrote about the “battle for the digital thread and end-to-end platform”. In 2018, Siemens is scheduled launch a service bringing on-demand product design and 3D printing production to users. Last year we also reported on MindSphere, a Siemens product, but using the SAP HANA Cloud Platform. With Ariba SAP has a cloud based B2B marketplace used by over 2.5 million companies for over $1.3 trillion in commerce. In 2017, SAP announced early access to Distributed Manufacturing, a “new application resulting from its co-innovation with customers and service providers to make 3D printing a seamless part of digital manufacturing.”
The announcements today at SOLIDWORKS World illustrate that competition to become the digital manufacturing platform may begin to seriously ramp up in 2018. Taken together, Bassi says his company’s announcements, and SOLIDWORKS existing capabilities mean users can take ideas from “dream to doorstep.” Going further, Florence Hu-Aubigny, Senior Vice President 3DEXPERIENCE, tells the audience Marketplace Make, “will transform the industrial world as Amazon has transformed the retail world”.
Bernard Charlès, CEO of parent company Dassault Systemes provides some final well received, words, “Digitalisation of the past is not sufficient … the world of innovation is changing.” Telling his audience in LA, “You are the workforce of the future and we collectively can make this planet great again.” While the platform battle may just be getting started, in terms of vision it looks like Dassault Systems and SOLIDWORKS have won round one.For all the latest 3D printing industry news and insight, subscribe to our free newsletter. You can also follow us on social media on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
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Featured image shows the SOLIDWORKS World Hashtag. Photo by Michael Petch.