SolidWorks World 2016 – Day One

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Welcome to the packed halls of SolidWorks World 2016 – Dassault Systèmes giant user event for its ever popular CAD software.

We’ve been told to expect product updates for the coming year, as well as news that there’s something secretive looming on the horizon to be announced over the coming days.

Follow todays proceedings live as they happen below the line:


Today’s Keynote Speaker

Today’s keynote is Fuseproject kingpin Yves Behar – a Swiss designer, entrepreneur, who’s designs often seem to capture the headlines.

His recent work includes some realisations of retro classics like the Soda Stream and Kodak’s Super 8 camera, yet his most lauded work was the brilliant work for the One Laptop Per Child project.

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Plus you know he’s good because he has a moody black and white head shot.


8.25 – Entry to the hall is underway – As is now par for the course at software events, the hall is filled with stomach-unsettlingly banging dance music, sadly less Parisian rave and more Vegas nightclub mash-ups… I expect the US office got it’s way this year… that or Skrillex is about to be named CTO…

8.30 – A generic product video starts things off, showing how SolidWorks tools affect the world around us… Seems like they had to cram in a helicopter at the end of it with some dodgy CGI.

8.36 – Gian Paolo Bassi is welcoming us – still the chants of ‘GPB! GPB!’ fail to materialise. I’ll be working on getting that going this week

8.37 – “We’ve a lot of announcements to make” – We’re ready GPB, we’re ready…

8.38 – “Make great design happen: ‘Make great design’ is about the creativity… ‘happen’ is about the execution

8.42 – Apparently a recent survey revealed 34 per cent of the American workforce see themselves as freelancers – SolidWorks are looking to connect these in every aspect of the production line.

8.45 – Here’s DS CEO Bernard Charles with a big banner behind him saying thank you for users spending $1Bn on SolidWorks… I assume he turned up this morning on a solid gold chariot…

8.48 – Netvibes – remember that name – apparently it’s DS’s $26M secret weapon in the IoT battle that every CAD software company seems to be creeping into (unless you’re PTC when you’ve just dived into it in a massive way)

DS is targeting the AEC market heavily – Bernie has made a big claim that DS will be the ‘Number One!’ very soon.

8.50 – The 3D Experience is getting it’s first airing of the day – changing how traditional business is done is at the core, seemingly with the Cloud powering it.

8.57 – Faraday Futures – using DS tools to help with everything from design and styling to electrical designs – get’s a brief mention, although I’m pretty sure DS are hanging onto that story and not letting SolidWorks have at it.

“The world of innovation is changing” says Bernie, “Innovation + Business = Success” is his sign off… but intact he’s not leaving the stage, he’s introducing Monica Menghini, Chief Strategy Officer.

9.00 – “Experience requires thinking that goes much further…” Monica is giving an update on the future strategy… Not going to lie, I’m a little lost by this presentation.

“New TRIBES are needed” – it sounds like some new marketing speak from DS – hopefully influenced by this:

9.07 – GPB is back on stage with some more positivity – “In addition to the depth of the products… we wanted to expand the breadth of our portfolio”. GPB is talking of course about SolidWorks Visualize, it’s rendering product announced last year, based on its RTT acquisition.

9.09 – NEWS – GPB has just announced SolidWorks PCB: “It will allow you to design the products of the future.. A very powerful but simple to use technology”

This seems to have (partly) come off the back of SolidWorks’ involvement with the FabFoundation out of the MIT Centre for Bits and Atoms. The Centre’s head, Neil Gershenfeld, is on stage now explaining more about the FabFoundation.

According to some study or other, the businesses that have great out of MIT are the worlds 8th largest economy. Between Germany and Russia. Wow!

A cool bit is its basic machine building project, and how this area as a low cost FabLab project into now figuring how to build future machines.

9.24 – GPB is back on stage introducing a mini customer story (sponsor slot) Sindoh, a Korean 3D printing company that’s pushing for more automation (FDM cartridges and direct printing from SW).

9.26 – ‘The SolidWorks Innovation Platform’ – today’s key phrase.

9.27 – NEWS – Manufacturing Services, a marketplace where users and fabricators can connect “to make it as easy as buying a book online” says GPB. And with that brief announcement we’re off onto the next topic… GPB isn’t hanging around today…

“We’re not going to force upon you the methodology.. We also want to be flexible in our business models… it is evolving and becoming more flexible…” We’re talking licensing now.

Perpetual licenses are staying. Term license and Online Trials are new – Term involves a lower upfront cost with flexible scaling, Trials is where we’re going to see SolidWorks in the browser.

9.37 – ONLINE! GPB is excited to show us a technology preview – “New ways to design things!”

Kishore Boyalakuntla, SW brand UX leader, joins the gaffer on stage – he’s explaining XDrive – you get 5Gb of cloud space – and it will come free with every SolidWorks 2017 subscription.

New part search tools – ‘We are making the ‘A’ of CAD more powerful’ says GPB.

XDrive is file-based collaboration. When you share a file there are standard permissions you can apply (view, edit etc). “E-Drawings working direct in the cloud” says an excited GPB.

9.46 – NEWS – SolidWorks XDesign – full design product running in the browser. Web-based sketch, feature design, some simulation, assembly and ‘built-in manufacturing features for 3D printing anywhere in the world’.

I’m seeing another musical influence to SW’s marketing department… X gonna give it to ya!

GPB gives an onstage demo of the cloud-based product… our wifi drops out completely – I’m assuming they were taking no risks with that demo… It’ll be available in Beta from May.

10.00 – It’s time for the keynote – Yves Behar, founder of Fuseproject.

‘Technology = Design… technology is commoditised, it’s less about specs and more about design.’

‘Technology is a raw future before design gets to it… Design shapes it and moulds it’

We’re going back to Behar’s early days and the learning shoe, with was an early attempt at how technology could enable more from a design.

‘We have survived for 10,000 years by using all our senses… how do we apply this to products that we work on every day?’ The Hive thermostat, doesn’t want it to be another screen in someone’s life, but needs to be clear to use. So the design team used a special oneway mirror coating that hides everything (blends into the surroundings) until you get up close to use the screen.

Yves is working on a robot projects – including one for babies – and he’s rather excited about them. His remote locking mechanism on his front door, he explains, is also a robot, and it’s a great way of thinking about how they blend into the everyday.

Designing a bridge between tradition (furniture making) and technology (designing the right sized furniture for your room). Behar is showing off a new app they’ve been working on to help anyone design the right table for their room.

The phone app can be used to visualise the product in context through using augmented reality.

Fuseproject’s work for Jawbone’s wearables relates into wider healthcare technology – or as Behar puts it: first world problems vs better global healthcare.

“What I see in Africa is that where infrastructure is lacking, technology helps bypass it.”

We’re ending with furniture and working spaces – Fuseprojects work for Herman Miller – and the technology that allows people to work as individuals or groups (how things are in today’s real world offices).


Press conference with Yves Behar

Behar is telling us about his Kodak project – the return re-crafting products, citing vinyl as a resurrection

AR vs VR – how are designers going to use it to design? ‘Being able to place that object in a live environment is a real benefit’.

He sees AR having more benefits for designers, it can be used for longer periods of time – ‘As designers we’re the lab rats for technological experiments.’

Physical testing is still a requirement though – simulation software is getting better, but the physical testing is still what signs off a design.

A 3D object is only a small part of what a product is – there’s an experience, is it going to be something you can live without, or is it something that needs to be hidden: “What are we aspiring to that nothing else is delivering in this way?”

There’s much more from this session, and we’ll bring it to you in a standalone blog later in the event.


It’s a Dassault Systèmes takeover for the next wee while for the European press, where Bernard and Monica are going to go through the ‘new dimensions’ of the company.

The new platform has been ‘very successful’ in new verticals – with the AEC sector getting another name drop – primarily because of the ability to work on the Cloud.

Netvibes gets another name drop, as well as the agreement DS has signed with Google Nest – “it can be outside the platform or inside the platform… Everything is coming together”

“It was astoundingly easy to create a cloud-based… SolidWorks natively” – we’re shortening the quote here, but this leads to some interesting questions. Hmm…

“The future of our platform isn’t just the engineers” – Monica has come alive to explain that a big part of the platform is now about being able to source AND act on data.

“We have a lot of programs going on with data science,” says Bernie, citing a lot of engineering and manufacturing examples. Monica chips in that every single company is Big Data heavy, and that DS Exalead already handles this well.

PLM Analytics is the ‘new portfolio’ for Exalead – making sense of a lot of this data. Netvibes is set to provide a compatible dashboard. “We’re going to replace many of the companies used today for, if you like, market research” says Monica – it’s a brave new world, but rounds of the platform nicely, given the ability to directly feed this info back into the design process.

Back to design, and specifically the new browser-based XDesign – “not the full SolidWorks capabilities” admits Bernie. XDrive should expand greatly the search powers for designers – similar part finding should be greatly improved, much like Google Photos, says Bernie.

Will this technology transfer to CATIA? It can do, say’s Bernie, but it’s a portfolio decision that has yet to be made, but there are no technology holdbacks should they want to.

According to Bernie, Cloud subscription is the big draw for architects used to using low-cost software. Being able to use a tool where and when they need it is key. “It’s becoming very easy for us to do this as the Platform is already there.”

DS has a partnership with one of the world’s biggest structural engineering companies in China – Shanghai Municipal Engineering – which is a great place to begin realising projects.


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