DEVELOP3D LIVE 2018 show report

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Generative design, electric vehicles, automated factories, Virtual Reality: DEVELOP3D LIVE had it all. But along with the buzzwords, there was plenty of substance, too. As well as an intriguing peek into the future, participants also plenty of practical advice on putting new technologies to work today.

In short, this was an event with both its feet firmly rooted in the real world and, from the very start, proceedings on the main stage encapsulated this approach.

The opening keynote was given by Mike “Mouse” McCoy, CEO, co-founder and creative director of digital industrial start-up Hackrod, which is aiming to redefine the way that vehicles are designed, engineered and manufactured.

He began his address with the briefest of looks at the past, back to a time of hot-rodders and a culture of individuals designing and making the things that they wanted to design and make. But he then took off at speed, describing how the company is using generative design to create an entirely new kind of car, capable of crossing what he described as the “Valley of Death”– the chasm between a great idea and real-world manufacture.

It’s a place, he noted, where many ambitious product start-ups meet untimely deaths, but Hackrod’s chief technology officer Slade Gardner, formerly of Lockheed Martin’s Skunworks advanced manufacturing division, was on hand to offer evidence that Hackrod is really lining up to clear this canyon.

In particular, the Hackrod team announced its latest partnership with Siemens PLM and took the opportunity to showcase some of the results of that collaboration for the first time – in the form of a generatively designed chassis for Hackrod’s car (see picture below).


From the same field of future-facing automotive development, meanwhile, Lucid Motors outlined the company’s thrust into the growing field of electric vehicles and its development work so far.

In particular, the company’s use of software from Ansys for multiphysics engineering simulation and analysis was impressive – but the presentation also provided valuable insight into how it is scaling up its operation at speed.

Main stage presentations

The ability to sit in one seat at DEVELOP3D LIVE and have representatives of all the major CAD software companies take to the same stage, one after another, is still unique in this industry. It’s something that we believe makes this event truly special.

The vendors know that, too, which is why they choose DEVELOP3D as the venue at which they make big announcements and stage major new product launches. Onshape, for example, announced new moves to shake up the world of data management. PTC launched Creo 5 at the show.

After all, where better to get some attention for your products and services than at a show packed with attendees chomping at the bit to learn more about them?

Later, Ocado Engineering’s Vipin Pillai gave an eye-opening account of how the online grocery retailer designs and engineers its own automated factories, where over 260,000 orders are picked and packed every week in a digitally monitored process. In short, the message was clear: modern retail, like many other industries, requires a huge range of engineering skills and vision these days.

The changing face of design and engineering in the modern world was a theme echoed at the end of the conference, too, by Design Council CEO Sarah Weir, who left attendees with a terrific view of where our industry is going.

Her final points about education, talent, quality and equality, ethics and longevity will have provided many attendees with food for thought, long after they left for home.

Visualise the future

The DEVELOP3D LIVE event crammed in so much this year that it literally burst out of its traditional confines and into new, nearby space on the University of Warwick campus.

A new section of the event dedicated to Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and the transformation of visualisation software, for example, took over an entire building, demonstrating the speed at which these technologies are maturing from future-facing luxury pipedream to must-have kit.

Seymourpowell wowed the assembled crowd with a live demonstration of its Reality Works VR sketch tool for automotive design. The tool allows designers to put on a head-mounted display and sketch in 3D at full scale, with a view to bridging the collaboration gap designers and modellers.

Lightwork Design used the event to launch its new Slipstream immersive VR design review software, taking industry-standard CAD data and automatically optimising it for use in game engines such as Unreal and Unity.

Not every activity required a set of goggles, however. For example, Swatchbook focused instead on redefining how we use materials libraries for rendering products – something that sounds simple, yet has huge implications in a wide range of industries.

Elsewhere at the event

The track for hardware start-ups made a great return in 2018, with the Design Council leading the line-up and explaining its Spark initiative. Inspirational tales and sound advice also came from a supporting line-up featuring Naturebytes and CEL Robox.

Later in the day, the modern renaissance of data management would be the big topic under discussion in the same room, with execs from OpenBOM, Kenesto, Onshape and DDM all giving their takes on the latest technologies to benefit from the cloud.

Additive manufacturing talks, meanwhile, took place throughout the day, with the practicalities of generative design being brought to the fore by experienced heads from the likes of Croft AM, KSWP and leading software companies on hand to help attendees learn more about the benefits of additive.

Next up for DEVELOP3D LIVE

Few events fill out a full day with such a sustained buzz as DEVELOP3D LIVE did this year. With its tweaked layout and new themes, the show remained as fresh as ever.

Over 40 speakers brought genuine expertise, passion and great ideas to the crowd – and, as with all the best events, the audience was equally clued-up but always eager to learn more. Many attendees, for example, were more than happy to wait around, long after presentations had finished, in order to quiz speakers further and chat with their peers.

The networking, in fact, is the part we enjoy most, and there was no shortage of that at this year’s event. There’s nothing like filling an enormous exhibition space with all the latest software and hardware and letting a crowd of designers and engineers get up close and personal with that kit. If the job of the event is to spark ideas and ‘what if? moments, then I think we can safely say that the event was a massive success.

And there’ll be more of this to enjoy later in the year, when DEVELOP3D LIVE returns to the US, bringing its full-throttle circus of technology, design and engineering to Boston, Massachusetts. If you’re on that side of the Atlantic on October 2, then I can happily guarantee you now that you most certainly won’t want to miss out. |

Catch up on this year’s talks on the DEVELOP3D Youtube channel

Every year, we try to capture as much video content from our DEVELOP3D LIVE events, both in the UK and the USA, and make them available for you to enjoy after the event, whether you missed a session or couldn’t make it at all.

This year, we’ve already got the main stage talks up online, so you can enjoy keynotes from Hackrod, Lucid Motors, Ocado Engineering and the Design Council.

You’ll also find this year’s presentations from CAD executives from Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks, PTC, Autodesk, Onshape, Altair and Siemens PLM.

In addition, we’re also able to offer presentations and highlights from previous years’ events in both Warwick and Boston, so if you missed Martin Enthed talking about VR and visualisation at Ikea, or Phillip Norman talking robots and non-linear thinking, or Leila Martine from Microsoft UK talking augmented reality, there’s much on which to feast your eyes and ears.

We also have a bunch of curated playlists, which aim to bring together some of the best and most informative video content that we’ve found out on the web.

A few of the highlights

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