SOLIDWORKS World 2019: The Times They Are a-Changin’

Next year SOLIDWORKS World will be a new 3D experience.

While nothing was thrown on the stage and I couldn’t hear any outright boos, the announcement made on the first day of SOLIDWORKS World 2019 that starting next year, the event’s title won’t include the word “SOLIDWORKS” didn’t exactly resonate with the crowd. In the future, what has always been known as SOLIDWORKS World will become 3D EXPERIENCE World.

I’ve seen this evolution and change coming for several years and wasn’t really surprised by it. What I was surprised about was that the event wasn’t renamed “Dassault Systèmes Universe,” although everything is subject to change.

Day 1 of SOLIDWORKS World 2019. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Day 1 of SOLIDWORKS World 2019. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

According to SOLIDWORKS, this year’s conference attracted over 6,000 attendees (out of a worldwide user base that is claimed to be more than six million), and Dassault Systèmes’ hope is that, ultimately, the revamped event could attract over 30,000 people. That’s three times the size of Autodesk University! I don’t know how realistic that figure is, but somebody’s thinking big about the future.

So, what did we learn at SOLIDWORKS World this year? Actually, several things, but I’ll quickly cover what I considered to be some of the highlights of this year’s conference.

3DEXPERIENCE.Works Initiative and 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

On the first morning of the opening day of SOLIDWORKS World 2019 the company introduced 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS, which is designed to extend the ease of use and reach of SOLIDWORKS. 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS is actually a new category of offerings on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that comprises simplified DS applications. Dassault Systèmes created 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS following its acquisition of IQMS, whose manufacturing ERP software portfolio for midmarket manufacturers has since been rebranded as DELMIAWORKS.

3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS is targeted at the SOLIDWORKS community as a way to transition users to an introductory level of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS will allow small and midsized companies to perform their work using a single cohesive digital environment instead of using a complex series of point solutions that require jumping between applications and interfaces. 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS connects data and streamlines product development processes by providing dashboard templates, managed services, access to industry-focused communities and user groups, and applications specific to a variety of job roles.

With other complementary DS products (brands), 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS is intended to cover the product development lifecycle and its phases with specific functions provided by the brands:

  • Plan—ENOVIA
  • Simulate—SIMULIA
  • Manufacture—DELMIA

According to Gian Paolo Bassi, CEO at SOLIDWORKS, “Connected 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS will help us lead the way for an Industrial Renaissance.”

How all this will be integrated and made palatable to the traditional SOLIDWORKS user remains to be seen, but it’s a definite change in direction for presenting the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to an audience, which to date, has been reluctant and resistant to accepting it. However, 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS is cloud based, so it will provide computing horsepower and may well promote collaboration due to its accessibility.

RIZE3D Printing Investment

During the second day of the show, RIZE Inc., an additive manufacturing company, announced that it had formed a strategic business partnership through an investment by Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS. This investment was part of a bigger Series B round of funding that raised $15 million for RIZE.

With the partnership, SOLIDWORKS and RIZE will work together to explore integrating SOLIDWORKS software and RIZE printers.

With its production of zero harmful emissions, using relatively safe, recyclable materials and with minimal pre- and post-processing, RIZE is hoping its Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) process will drive adoption and sustainably among its users.

Included in the announcement, and not too surprisingly, is an offer where, until December 31, 2019, every RIZE ONE 3D printer purchase will include a coupon redeemable for a SOLIDWORKS license.

“Dassault Systèmes is the world leader in driving sustainable innovation. We are delighted to partner with them to ensure that every part that is designed in SOLIDWORKS comes with a haptic experience that enables everyone in the value chain to collaborate, communicate and innovate,” said Andy Kalambi, president and CEO of RIZE.

“Design for additive manufacturing is one of our priorities, and to get it right you need the rich set of applications from generative methodologies, material science and advanced simulation available on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform,” said Bassi.

SOLIDWORKS CEO, GianPaolo Bassi, looks out at the crowd before taking the stage. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

SOLIDWORKS CEO, GianPaolo Bassi, looks out at the crowd before taking the stage. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Both companies said jointly that one of the goals of their partnership was to make additive manufacturing more inclusive, not exclusive. Both parties also said that RIZE’s capabilities and UI will be an add-in for SOLDIWORKS, and that 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS would be vital for the success of RIZE, although no details were disclosed on exactly how this would work.

After the investment announcement was made, several SOLIDWORKS employees we spoke with, from the CEO on down, stressed that RIZE presented a unique opportunity and that the company would not be shopping for another direct partner in the hardware business.

RIZE won a 2019 Frost & Sullivan award for Best Practices in Technology Innovation in the Zero-Emission Polymer Material Additive Manufacturing industry, and IDC named RIZE a 2018 Innovator in 3D Printing.

What’s Coming in 2020

Although there are never any guarantees about the features and capabilities coming in future software releases, there are a number of interesting ones that might make the cut for SOLIDWORKS 2020 that were presented in what has become known as SOLIDWORKS Technology Preview. In brief, they include:

Flexible Parts—these parts can be made physically flexible in an assembly, and they update automatically as their references change. Multiple instances of the same part are handled without configurations, equations or separate files.

Markups—available in parts, assemblies and drawings using touch-enabled devices as well as eDrawings.

xApps—built on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, xShape is a 3D subdivision modeling tool, and xDesign is a browser-based 3D parametric modeling tool (but is not SOLIDWORKS in the cloud).

Demonstration of SOLIDWORKS xShape. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Demonstration of SOLIDWORKS xShape. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
Demonstration of SOLIDWORKS xDesign. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

Demonstration of SOLIDWORKS xDesign. (Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

3DEXPERIENCE Platform Connector for SOLIDWORKS—provides interoperability between SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE Platform apps.

Routing Mass Properties—properties for wires, cables and coverings include mass properties that update assembly mass properties.

Torsion Continuity Sketch Relation—provides a G3 or C3 continuity relationship for splines used to create high-quality smooth sketches that support creating surfaces.

Some of these features and capabilities are pretty cool, especially the app-related stuff, but most of the others are relatively minor incremental enhancements.

xDesign really caught my eye because it has taken a long time to get to this point in its development—it was first announced in February 2016. I sat in on an xDesign presentation that had an SRO crowd. Like other apps that are part of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, xDesign is cloud based and its modeling environment doesn’t have traditional parts and assemblies, but instead has database components. Automated design guidance is also part of the xDesign scheme, and I’d like to test-drive it myself soon.

Next year’s event, 3DEXPERIENCE World, is scheduled for February 9-12, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

This promises to be a pivotal year for SOLIDWORKS because so much is changing on so many levels. Change is inevitable, but I’m wondering how much of these changes will be accepted and embraced by what is arguably the industry’s most loyal and adoring fans—SOLIDWORKS customers. Only time will tell, but the times they are definitely changing.