SolidWorks World 2014: Tuesday General Session Recap

The second general session of SolidWorks World 2014 was all about the user community and customers. This past year, we had 14 new chapters for the SolidWorks User Group Network and over 800 people attending the SWUGN Summit events (they’re like miniature versions of SolidWorks World).

The general session kicked off with a customer presentation featuring eatART, an organization that “fosters art research with a focus on large-scale, technically sophisticated art by supporting both independent and internal art projects,” led by Suchit Jain, Vice President of SolidWorks User Advocacy. Jonathan Tippett, founder of eatART, talked about their vision which was instrumental to the design of the Mondo Spider (demoed on stage yesterday).

eatART Mondo Spider on stage at SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session
eatART Mondo Spider on stage at SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session

Since its start, designing and building a walking machine made out of junkyard parts for a competition, eatART has designed Daisy the Mobile Lounge, a regular at Burning Man; the Mondo Spider, featured on Discovery Channel and in the Fox comedy Enlisted; the Titanoboa, showcased at CES and Maker Faire; and the Prosthesis, an anti-robotic walking machine still in the design phase. For eatART, all of their projects start with a vision that is then assigned to different teams, Jonathan said.

eatART demoing the Mondo Spider after the SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session
eatART demoing the Mondo Spider after the SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session

Aaron Kelly then went on to announce the 2014 Beta Winners: Bettina Walker (SolidWorks), Yoshinito Dobashi (Simulation), Masanosou Higashino (EPDM), Muneki Okano (Composer), Michael Malow (SolidWorks) from SolidWorks Russia, Charley Saint (EPDM) from Hawk Ridge Systems, Andrey Aliamovsky (Simulation) from SolidWorks Russia, and a tie for Composer between Ludmila Starovero from SolidWorks Russia and Scott Woods from Hawk Ridge Systems.

Then, SolidWorks User Group Network leader Richard Doyle presented the SWUGN awards. The San Diego SolidWorks user group snagged the User Group of the Year award, and Jeff Holliday of the Mid-Atlantic Region Independent SolidWorks User Group was named User Group Leader of the Year. And finally, Deepak Gupta was presented with the Community Award. You can get more detail about the winners on Richard’s blog post from earlier today.

That was followed up by more presentations from two amazing customers: MarkForged and BoDyn Bobsled.

Gian Paulo Bassi, Vice President of Research and Development, welcomed Greg Mark, Founder and CEO of MarkForged, the company responsible for designing the world’s first carbon fiber 3D printer. The printer heads and the aesthetic design of the MarkForged 3D printers are what makes the printer unique. Using kinematic fixtures, the printer can consistently locate the build stage within 10 microns.

MarkForged on stage at SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session
MarkForged on stage at SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session

Popularizing composites, MarkForged originally started out as a company called Aeromotion which engineered a carbon fiber wing for a racetrack Ferrari. “Shaving two seconds off the two minute lap could be the difference between winning and losing,” Greg said.

MarkForged worked with an industrial design firm to optimize the appearance of the printer. The customer was able to exchange design options using eDrawings. Greg went on to discuss the company vision: “With the carbon fiber 3D printer, we wanted to make something beautiful that people want to see on their desk next to their desktop computer.”

Then, CEO Bertrand Sicot introduced the BoDyn team: Geoff Bodine and Bob Cuneo, who are behind the design of the Night Train 2 bobsled that the US team is taking to the 2014 Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia. Bertrand had an opportunity to visit with the team last year in Park City, Utah, and even got to take a ride down the track. He showed some video documenting the experience, and the team discussed what goes into designing a bobsled used in the winter games.

Bertrand Sicot with BoDyn Bobsled at SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session
Bertrand Sicot with BoDyn Bobsled at SolidWorks World 2014 Day 2 General Session

Bertrand said that when he was in the bobsled he felt like he was “the driver, passenger, and the sled while being squished into a very tight space that could go up to 5 Gs down the racetrack”.

Geoff talked about his decision to become a bobseld driver citing his Nascar racing days as the source of his inspiration. Winner of the 1984 Daytona 500, Geoff became obsessed with bobsledding and knew he needed to apply his trade knowledge to help the US bobsled team optimize their designs and start winning races. He hired Bob Cuneo, a famous engineer and designer, who he knew would be right for the job.

Since then, the US team has won numerous medals including one at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 and the 2014 World Cup. “To optimize the sled we studied the rule books and the parameters to try to fit them into our design. We played around with helmets and the inner mechanics – the bobsled is not just a sled on skis because there is a huge emphasis on control and aerodynamics,” Bob said.

BoDyn was able to use SolidWorks to model the behavior of the sled on the track and it saved the company a bunch of iterations in their design. “We work with our field engineer, Jim “Cheech” Garde, who reports on the results of the races and the sled’s performance. One year at a race in Germany, our bobsled had an unfortunate wreck. Cheech got back to us right away and we were able to redo the carbon fiber. Within one week, our sled was fully restored and ready for racing,” Geoff said. Working with the athletes, BoDyn Bobsled customized the sled design to make it perfect for steering and control.

We wish the US Olympic Bobsled team luck in the coming weeks at the Sochi Winter Olympics!

Matthew West

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.