We go to and participate in several engineering software conferences every year, and one of our favorites this year (as it has been for several years) is SOLIDWORKS World 2015. This year’s event takes place February 8-11, 2015 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, AZ.
At SOLIDWORKS World 2015, we’ll be in Booth #405 covering the show from wire to wire. We’re also recording video interviews of Dassault Systemes personnel, as well as several exhibiting partners. If your company is exhibiting at SOLIDWORKS World 2015 and you would like to arrange a video interview, contact Sanjay Gangal at 408.850.9202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, we can’t say that 2015 in the MCAD industry has started off on a dull note.
With what many in the industry I’m sure consider a surprise, this morning Dassault Systèmes announced that Gian Paolo Bassi has been appointed CEO of its 3D design software brand SOLIDWORKS. Gian Paolo Bassi replaces Bertrand Sicot, who will become Vice President Sales of Dassault Systèmes’ Value Solutions sales channel.
The press release says Bertrand was “promoted,” but going from CEO to VP doesn’t exactly seem like a promotion to me. However, this isn’t the first “promotion” of this type. Sicot’s CEO predecessor, Jeff Ray, endured a somewhat similar fate about four years ago when he became Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations, at the time a newly created position within Dassault. I guess, just chalk it up to “business is business.”
Paolo Bassi will lead the development of SOLIDWORKS’ future product and technology strategies designed for the desktop and the cloud, as well as continued collaboration with the brand’s user community.
Going back just a year, in the following video Bertrand Sicot, then CEO of DS SOLIDWORKS, speeds down the Lake Placid sled track at 95 mph in a bobsled designed in SOLIDWORKS by Bo-Dyn Bobsled.
SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot’s Bobsled Ride for SolidWorks World 2014
Last month we attended the Spatial Insider’s Summit 2014 and got a good look at the company’s technologies, current position, and future direction.
From its inception, Spatial, a Dassault Systèmes company, has been a developer and provider of software components – modular software packages that perform a set of specific and related functions. This class of software is designed to work as a functional component of a larger application, such as CAD, CAM, or CAE. The goal of component software is to standardize the interfaces between software components so that they can work together efficiently
Although far from the only issue of concern, reusability also is a vital characteristic of software components. Ideally, software components should be designed and implemented in such a way that many different applications could reuse them. This is not an easy task because it takes significant effort to write software components that are effectively reusable. To succeed, components need to be:
Designed knowing that they inevitably will be put to unforeseen uses.
In developing its software components, Spatial has always realized, too, that the best modeling components excel at modeling with imported data, and through data reuse, data import is more prevalent than data creation. With regard to the second part of the statement, Spatial understands that design data reuse is much more than just data exchange.
Spatial Software Components in Fabrication and Manufacturing
Dassault Systemes announced this week that it has acquired simulation technology provider SIMPACK in an all cash deal. The transaction was completed on July 10, 2014. Not surprisingly, financial details of the deal were not revealed.
With the acquisition of Munich-based SIMPACK, Dassault continues to expand its multiphysics simulation technology portfolio to include multi-body mechatronic systems.
SIMPACK has more than 130 customers in the energy, transportation (primarily automotive and rail), and biomedical industries, including Alstom, Bombardier, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, MAN, and Vestas.
For a truly unique spin on solving an age-old problem, Dassault Systemes recently unveiled the first 3D realistic simulation model of an entire human heart. Developed with a multidisciplinary team of heart experts to help combat cardiovascular disease, the Living Heart Project is launching the next frontier in diagnosing, treating, and preventing heart conditions through personalized, 3D virtual models.
The Living Heart project, launched in January 2014, unites cardiovascular researchers and educators with medical device manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and practicing cardiologists on a shared mission to develop and validate personalized digital human heart models and establish a unified foundation for cardiovascular in silico medicine. These models can serve as a core technology base for education and training, medical device design, testing and regulatory science—thereby creating a path for rapidly translating cutting edge innovations into improved patient care.
At the center of the project is a 3D heart model powered by SIMULIA applications to develop a comprehensive 3D heart model, capturing the electrical, mechanical, and fluid behavior of the heart in a realistic way. Other DS products used for the project included SolidWorks for modeling the heart and 3DVIA was used for animations and demonstrations.
Immediately following Labor Day, I, along with about 35-40 other CAD and business journalists and bloggers were invited to Dassault Systemes’ North American headquarters in Waltham, MA for the launch of the SolidWorks 2014 products. The HQ is situated across a freeway from the beautiful Cambridge Reservoir, owned and operated by the city of Cambridge, MA, and provides a nice contrast to the perpetual string of office parks that line I-95 in the area.
It was an interesting event because after a general session by SolidWorks’ CEO, Bertrand Sicot, that included all invitees, we were split up into two groups – journalists who witnessed a day of presentations and demonstrations (from SolidWorks employees and some marquee customers), and bloggers who had an all-day hands-on experience with the new products. I would have preferred a little bit of both, but that’s just me.
As you might imagine, the company line for the new SolidWorks 2014 release is that it delivers “major productivity and usability gains for pushing innovation to the forefront.” According to the company, the major new and enhanced features and capabilities fall into the following four areas:
Advanced Shape Control – New Style Spline functionality, automatic Sketch Picture scaling and Conic Fillet controls allow users to create complex surfaces and organic shapes faster, easier and with more precise control.
Faster Drawing Detailing – Perform faster and more automated drawing detailing.
Sheet Metal Improvements – New sheet metal features enable faster creation of sheet metal geometry and improved data output for manufacturing. Users gain improved control over corner treatments, the ability to create stiffening ribs such as the indented design seen on mounting brackets used to reinforce the weight and force placed on the part.
SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Streamlined Workflow – Easily manage more data with the new Microsoft Office integration and enhanced Web Client with graphical preview.
SolidWorks Electrical Improved Integration and Performance – Enhanced integration with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and eDrawings allows users to optimize, share and track electrical designs more easily for improved project collaboration.
Design Communication and Collaboration – With new support for Android devices, mobile users can expand their viewing choice beyond iOS mobile devices.
Streamlined Cost Estimating and Reporting – Users are able to cost parts faster with less setup, then share cost data more effectively with their business value chain. For example, key product development data for assembly can now be sent to Microsoft Excel allowing for easy sharing with departments such as manufacturing and purchasing.
Streamlined Simulation Setup – SolidWorks Simulation automatically leverages engineering data for re-use in simulations, eliminating duplication of effort and improving design collaboration.
Enhanced Assembly Performance and Visualization – Creates assemblies faster and easier with the new in-context Quick Mate tool bar and Slot Mate. For assembly in section views, users can include or exclude selected components allowing for a fast creation of more impressive section views.
Aaron Kelly, a long-time SolidWorker in a new very visible role as VP of user experience & product portfolio management did a good job talking through the SolidWorks 2014 product lines and answering questions. It’s good to see Aaron in this tough role as one of the company’s primary spokespersons for addressing customers and the press at a critical time for the company.
Granted, there are some nice changes to SolidWorks 2014, but much smaller incrementally than the new features and capabilities found in most previous versions. SolidWorks, of course isn’t alone here, as most other CAD products’ improvements become relatively smaller and smaller the more mature a product becomes. That said, SolidWorks is still an important cog in the DS machine, generating approximately 20% of Dassault’s revenue.
Interestingly, there seemed to be more attention paid to the new kid on the block who has yet to make an actual appearance – SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (SWMC). We heard from Bertrand that there are “Topics still to address” before it can be released. However, he said that is in production testing now with about 10 customers. Also still in the future; pricing and packaging for SWMC will be presented at SolidWorks World 2014 in late January.
Making it perfectly clear by the product management team, SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual will be a design product for design professionals, not hobbyist/consumers. This hints at the product’s complexity and price point. The management team was also careful to point out that SWMC will be “Mechanical Conceptual”, not “Industrial Conceptual,” so will not compete with Autodesk’s Alias for conceptual industrial design and styling. It still remains to be seen what SWMC will actually be, but it has gotten a lot of attention.
A 2D tool that also deserves some attention is DraftSight 4.0. It will still be available as a free version, but there will also be some licensing schemes that will be paid, and the prices are very reasonable for a capable 2D product that is good at what it does (creating, editing, and viewing DWG files). Not surprisingly, if or when the need arises, DS SolidWorks has also provided a relatively smooth path for moving from 2D with DraftSight to 3D With SolidWorks.
The online pricing and licensing model for DraftSight is new for the company, but has absolutely no plans for carrying this business model over to the SolidWorks side of the house.
Unlike what I had perceived for a while now, the company at this meeting was fairly ambivalent about commitment to cloud-based software, services, or really anything for that matter. Unlike some of its competitors, DS SolidWorks is moving cautiously in this area.
After spending some “face time” in Waltham, there’s no doubt that this is a critical release for the future of SolidWorks, both as a product line and brand for Dassault Systemes. I’m anxious to try out for myself some elements of the SolidWorks ecosystem — SolidWorks 2014 (especially shape control and costing), Enterprise PDM, and Mechanical Conceptual (when it becomes available).
Based on what I witnessed in Waltham, it’s going to be a very interesting upcoming year for the company and I’m looking forward to experiencing the new product line.
I guess it’s just me, but I’m still trying to get used to Dassault calling itself the 3DEXPERIENCE Company with a 3DEXPERIENCE Platform that consists of all of of its product lines. To its credit, though, Dassault recently announced a tangible result with Tata Technologies’ use of its 3DEXPERIENCE platform, based on V6 technology, for developing the small urban electric vehicle study – the eMO (for electric MObility).
Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE Platform
The eMO study was undertaken to demonstrate the feasibility of developing an electric vehicle at an affordable price. Tata Technologies says that the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform enabled its team to complete the project quickly and accurately.
“We needed a highly regarded partner for this project, as we were relying on it to showcase our multi-dimensional approach to vehicle engineering and development,” said Kevin Fisher, president, Tata Technologies Vehicle Programs and Development (VPD) Group. “We have a deep history with Dassault Systèmes and were confident that CATIA and ENOVIA V6 applications would help us leverage the talents of a global engineering team to meet numerous design and cost constraints, as well as create the targeted user experience, including a final vehicle price tag of under $20,000.”
A significant challenge in the development process was the requirement to fit all the required vehicle systems into a small footprint while maintaining spacious seating for four adults. To achieve this, Tata Technologies used CATIA and ENOVIA to develop various studies, allowing global collaboration to rapidly evaluate and optimize possible solutions.
The development of the eMO was a global effort, requiring collaboration among more than 300 Tata Technologies engineers from the U.S., Europe, and India. The data generated by the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform became the common language for collaboration and allowed rapid comparison of proposals, leading to swift decisions and innovative solutions. In addition, it allowed more time for testing of different design features aimed at reducing energy consumption, such as vehicle weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics.
Not a lot of details were given, which is sort of understandable for a feasibility study, but is tangible proof that Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE Platform is being used for real work. It will be interesting to see how eMO evolves and where it goes.
For the past several years there’s been a lot of chatter throughout the MCAD industry about the significance, or rather, insignificance of one of the main software components – geometric modeling kernels. In other words, do they really matter anymore? I contend that they definitely do still matter.
While it is true that few users really care about the origin of the modeling kernel in their CAD tool, software component kernels are good for the following reasons:
They are developed, supported, and maintained by an expert source that focuses on improving specific aspects of the kernels/components.
They allow relatively small software organizations to develop applications relatively economically and lets them focus on what they do best on the application side.
They are updated and released on a regular schedule so software developer customers can time their application releases accordingly and regularly, knowing that improvements have been made to the kernel.
Of course, a counter argument could be made regarding software components, but most of software component software development and end user customers I have spoken with over the years have generally been pleased with the arrangement and results.
At the beginning of December, we saw a news item stating that some technical institutions in Russia were collaborating and investing ~$22 million over three years to build a “national” 3D solid modeling kernel. According to the news release, “Parasolid is indicated ‘as a functional prototype’ for the project.” What this means for the CAD industry as a whole remains to be seen, and I’m not convinced that a “national” 3D solid modeling kernel is necessarily a good thing, but the effort illustrates that component software is still viable today and into the future.
3D software components are the legacy of several component vendors, with components that include ACIS, CGM, Parasolid, eDrawings, and many others. These components and their developers will continue business for a long time to come. As they were in the past, software components will remain significant and relevant into the future for the MCAD industry.