SolidWorks World: Monday General Session

Sorry it has taken so long to post this. It’s been a busy day and there hasn’t been much time to write. On top of that I had four pages of notes from the General Session and I wanted to include everything.

P1010002P1010006_1 Even though SolidWorks World officially began yesterday with the Welcome Reception and Super Bowl party, the first General Session always feels like the “real” beginning to the conference. SolidWorks COO Jeff Ray kicked off the session by reporting that SolidWorks World 2007 has over 3,500 attendees. In addition to that, over 125 members of the press were in attendance as well.

The top three industries represented at this year’s conference were Mechanical Equipment, Consumer Products, & Medical Products (respectively). The most attendees from one company were sent by WL Door who had a total of 13 people at the conference.

Cosmic Blobs has been picked up by The Learning Company and will now be available at Wal-Mart, Target, & many other retail stores.

PDMWorks Enterprise was mentioned as the fastest growing SolidWorks product. SolidWorks is now a 300 million dollar company. SolidWorks has 125,000 new users since last year’s conference. An independent study was conducted of MCAD jobs posted on the internet. 33% of the postings referenced SolidWorks. This was the largest percentage of the all the CAD software referenced.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Design with Vision”. Each day this theme will have a particular focus. Today’s focus is “Embracing Challenges”.

Two quick examples of this were shown in the form of some SolidWorks customers who have played key roles in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Vermeer sent some of their tree shredding equipment along with some volunteers to help in the cleanup effort. Moving Water Industries built piping equipment for the city’s infrastructure that can pump 4 million gallons a minute. (That can fill a swimming pool in 7 seconds.)

P1010008_1 Next up was Col. Lewis F. Setliff III who is the Commander for Task Force Guardian. Task Force Guardian is the Army Corps of Engineers rebuilding effort of the city’s hurricane protection barriers. Col. Setliff was tasked with leading the project to rebuild the city’s floodwalls and levees by the next hurricane season following hurricane Katrina. This was such a devastating storm for this city. I remember hearing media reports saying that it will be years before levees and floodwalls would be put back up, but Col. Setliff and his team got the job done in just under a year. It was an absolutely amazing story. I don’t think SolidWorks could have found a better example of how to “Embrace Challenges”. After his presentation Col. Setliff received a stand ovation from the crowd.

Next up was a presentation by MIT student Anna Jaffe. She is helping organize a second Vehicle Design Summit (VDS) with the goal of producing cars powered by alternative energy sources. In the first VDS, four vehicles were produced in a span of 8 weeks. One of the goals of the second VDS will be a 200 mile per gallon vehicle.

P1010010_1 It was mentioned that an MIT freshman was ready to drive one of the VDS vehicles up on stage. As we all waited for a vehicle to appear from somewhere, one suddenly appeared from a ramp behind the stage. That “freshman” driving was John McEleney. John sprang out of the vehicle and immediately started his presentation.

First up was an overview of some of the innovative products being designed in SolidWorks. Tesla Motors is in the production process of an all electric powered sports car. What is truly amazing is this car can go 0-60 (mph) in less than 4 seconds!

P1010013Saw Stop is another SolidWorks customer that is introducing a truly innovative product. This table saw uses electrical current detection to prevent injury when a hand or finger comes into contact with the saw blade. The product was demonstrated live on stage! (No, they didn’t use someone’s finger. They used a hot dog) I read about this product several months back in Design News magazine. Truly amazing!

SolidWorks Labs was officially announced. See my other blog post about some of the exciting products users can test.

That brings us to SolidWorks 2008. More will be shown in the Wednesday General Session but we got quite a few great looks today!

Starting in SolidWorks 2008, ABAQUS will have an add-in that runs inside SolidWorks. ABAQUS is a high end FEA analysis and simulation product that is part of the Dassault Systemes family of products.

Two new “Express” products were revealed. DFM Express (Design For Manufacturing) is a tool that will analyze models to validate the manufacturability of a design. DriveWorks Express was also announced as a Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE) application that will automate the production of parts, assemblies, and drawings for core designs with varying size parameters.

P1010014_2One of the first things shown to the crowd in the interface of SolidWorks 2008 was the enhancements to graphics. RealView type real-time rendering has been enhanced to not only look better, but to perform faster!  The entire User Interface looks to have been updated. The items that were the most noticeable were a P1010015 redesign of the Command Manager which now includes the use of tabs to switch between different toolbar sets. Toolbar buttons in each category are now arranged in an effort to maximize toolbar space. In addition to this, the right-click mouse menu is laid out differently with more graphical content. You can now do some really cool things with scenes that effect model reflections without using PhotoWorks.

P1010017 Another exciting feature shown was the new interactive drag handles that allow you to modify the model real-time. This does WAY more than our “Move/Resize” feature does today. With this feature enabled you can pick different parts of the model to resize interactively. One of the options shown included a virtual ruler that helps determine the size of your modification.

P1010019P1010020What really amazed me was when this tool was used to pick an extrusion/fillet combination and turn it into a cut-extrude/fillet feature. A picture is worth a thousand words on this one. (See surrounding images.)

The Live Section tool was also shown. This section tool turns the model to a transparent mode and outlines the section based on your input plane with a colored “slice” of the model. In this mode you can still use the interactive drag handles to modify parts of the model!

Large Assembly improvements were shown next. Fast Preview is an option that is now available in the Open dialog box which immediately pops up the feature tree upon opening the document. You can start working on the model right away while all the rest of the parts are loading. Selection Mechanism was shown off as a way to select assembly objects using a 3D bounding box. A multitude of hide/show options were used with this box to display the assembly in various ways.

3DContentCentral has been redesigned and the new site is now live. Check it out when you get the chance!

P1010022 At the end of the session we were treated to a demonstration of the Moo Bella ice cream maker (of course designed in SolidWorks). This machine allows you to pick from various flavors and makes FRESH ice cream in about 45 seconds. They have three machines in the Partner Pavilion and I am sorry to say I haven’t gotten to try it out as of yet. Everyone I have talked to said it is wonderful! I’ll have to make that a priority tomorrow! One interesting fact that was mentioned is that most ice cream in your grocery freezer is about 6 months old! Wow…didn’t know that.

Whew….that is all for now. Sorry for the long write up but I had quite a few notes.

As I always say….Stay tuned for MUCH more!