SolidWorks World 2014: Monday General Session Recap

SolidWorks World 2014 kicked off this morning with a nearly 6000 people gathered together to celebrate their love of engineering and design. As the lights dimmed in the session hall, the eatART Mondo Spider took the stage and welcomed CEO Bertrand Sicot. Bertrand addressed the crowd to talk about where the SolidWorks community is today, and where it’s going. He spoke about SolidWorks’ success in helping people “design without limits”.

With over 2.3 million users and counting around the world, the SolidWorks community is the biggest in the 3D CAD industry. Bertrand discussed his belief in “inspired people create inspired designs,” and the idea that the community is what makes the company and the products so powerful. “SolidWorks World is a great opportunity for our users to connect with new friends and come up with new, better ideas just by interacting with each other,” Bertrand said.

Today, the SolidWorks product portfolio has expanded to cover 3D CAD, simulation, data management, sustainable design and documentation tools. In recent years we’ve added new tools for plastics and electrical design, as well as free tools such as eDrawings and DraftSight. Bertrand went on to announce two new products coming to marketing in the coming months: SolidWorks Inspection and eDrawings Meetings (both of which we’ll cover separately).


Bertrand also talked about, the new community website launched last year. My.SolidWorks is a great resource for finding all of our community content in one place, and later this spring, we’ll be launching an update that adds even more content and ways to learn about the tools in the SolidWorks portfolio.

The SolidWorks team has also been working on new products built on the Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. For those of you unfamiliar with the 3D experience platform, it is a cloud-based service that enables 6 services:

  • Search
  • Tagging
  • Collaborative Sharing
  • Messaging
  • Cloud Storage
  • Live dashboarding capabilities

It integrates seamlessly with SolidWorks, to make your design experience the best possible. And we are now offering the first SolidWorks application available on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform: SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. The new SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual platform resides on four basic pillars: instinctive, conceptual, social and connected. All of this was made possible by the research and development team at Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks.

Bertrand went on to discuss our recent Ocean Cleanup design contest, recognizing winner Dr. Amir Sadjadpour, as well as Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat. Boyan is an avid diver and he recognized that plastic was clogging up our oceans, so he set out to create a machine that clears the ocean of plastic waste.

Bertrand also discussed the Commonwealth Games, which is the 3rd largest multi-sport event after The Olympics and Asian Games. Designed by 4c Design, The Queen’s Baton is similar to the Olympic torch and carries a message from Queen Elizabeth.

Another interesting story involved a group of MIT students and their Copenhagen Wheel, which turns an ordinary bicycle into a smart electric hybrid. It learns how you pedal & captures energy when you brake or go downhill, giving you 3x power of a normal cyclist. The Copenhagen Wheel can connect to your smartphone and customize the wheel for you. The “Flatten My City” feature adjusts the wheel’s technology which simulates a flat terrain and helps you ride through the city with ease.

Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles, the company chairman for the past 17 years, took the stage next, talking about how far Dassault Systemes has come in the past 13 years by transforming the world of manufacturing and design and connecting process with product. This past year, Dassault Systemes was ranked number 3 in the Software & Engineering category on the Forbes list of Most Innovative Companies. Bernard then announced three new DS product offerings: Exalead OnePart, HomeByMe, and 3D.By.Me.

SolidWorks VP of Product Management Aaron Kelly took the stage next to give a demo of SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. You can learn more about SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual in an entry published earlier today or on the SolidWorks website.

The day ended with a keynote speech from Hugh Herr, an engineer, biophysicist and rock climber who lost both legs beneath the knee after being caught in a blizzard for three days while climbing New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in 1982. Rather than resign himself to a life without climbing, Hugh designed his own prosthetics, eventually reaching the same level of climbing ability that he enjoyed before the accident.

With a B.A. in Physics from Millersville University, a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University, Hugh Herr has founded his own company, BioM, and is the head of the Center for Extreme Bionics at MIT, which specializes in the design and research of smart prosthetics and exoskeletons. Hugh has a vision of a world where there is no such as thing as debilitating disabilities, a world in which prosthetics and exoskeletons become an everyday mode of transportation for us. “I’m in the transportation business”, Hugh joked.

The BioM prosthetic legs mimic the movement of natural limbs by adapting to a person’s walking speed and the terrain of the land to help the prosthetic propel the person naturally. Using a battery source and springs for energy, the prosthetic legs augment a person’s ability to run and walk and normalize their pace as they move while enhancing stability and controlling for fatigue. The knee acts as an additional energy regenerator for prosthetics that are above the knee. To demonstrate the limbs in use, Hugh showed a video of a double amputee soldier from Iraq running up a hill without losing breath wearing the BioM prosthetic legs.

A user of his own product, Hugh Herr said that he sometimes calls himself a “glorified power tool” . He said that on days when he has not had his coffee, he has put his right prosthetic on his left leg. Usually the energy of the battery in the prosthetic allows him to walk about 3000 steps. When designing his legs, Hugh realized that his legs need not look human as long as they operated optimally. Combining 3D printing technology with neurobiology, Hugh was able to create a technology that would allow him to move around freely every day and continue to pursue his love of rock climbing.

“The great thing about these BioM artificial limbs is that I can adjust my height to anything I want it to be, if I’m going on a date for example. I can be 6 feet tall if I want to be!” Hugh said.

Hugh also mentioned that his lab is working on creating exoskeletons to create extra-mobility for athletes with normal limbs to allow people to train on different terrains without ruining their joints. He concluded his presentation with his cover photo on Wired magazine featuring Amy Mullins, a double amputee American athlete. He said that the photo shows her acceptance and pride in her disability which has allowed her to achieve amazing athletic feats.

And with that, the first general session of SolidWorks World 2014 ended. Be sure to check out our other blog entries covering the products announced.


Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.