This is the transcript for See How the SOLIDWORKS Ecosystem Delivers on Design Innovation.
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Hello everyone and thank you for attending today’s webinar, “See How the SOLIDWORKS Ecosystem Delivers on Design Innovation” brought to you by Design World Magazine and SOLIDWORKS. We would like to thank our presenter, Brad Williamson, for being here today. I’m Leslie Langnau and I’ll be your moderator.
Just a couple of housekeeping details before we get started. You will see several boxes on your desktop, all of which can be moved around to suit your preference. Initially the Q&A box is at the lower left, but this is where you will enter your questions for the Q&A session at the end of the presentation. Another box to note is the additional resources, which is initially at the lower right-hand corner of your desktop. These resources are here for your informational needs. You can check up various things, the websites, and other information. We also have a Tweet box right on the desktop, so feel free to tweet at any time, any interesting points that you find here in this presentation. There is a list of hashtags available here for your use.
Now I’d like to present a little information about our presenter. Brad Williamson is a SOLIDWORKS senior technical manager and a CAD industry veteran with more than twenty years’ experience. After starting his career using the supporting PPC and Ansys products, Brad joined the SOLIDWORKS community in 1996. He has personally trained and supported countless customers, from a one-person startup shop to some of the largest SOLIDWORKS accounts in the world. As I mentioned earlier, Brad will be available to answer questions after the presentation. Without much further ado I’m going to hand over the mic to Brad.
Thank you Leslie, it’s my pleasure to be with you today. It was nice talking to you before we went online. It’s my privilege to be presenting to this audience today on the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem. Just to reiterate, my name is Brad Williamson and I am a technical manager for Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS, and I’m coming to you today from the Music City, Nashville, Tennessee. Now, what we mean by the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem and how it streamlines product development is really the focus for today. I won’t be doing any live software demos for today’s program, but I still hope that our audience will find this material informative. For anyone who’s still curious to learn more, I’ll have lots of good suggestions for you at the end of the presentation.
For me, I think it was Mrs. Hardy’s fifth grade science class when I first learned that term “ecosystem”. As I recall it was defined something like this: It’s basically a system involving the interactions between the living, the non-living things, the harmony and balance in any kind of given environment. That’s good, but how does that relate to SOLIDWORKS? Over the last twenty years, SOLIDWORKS of course has grown from being simply an easier, more affordable 3D CAD design program to really becoming a true ecosystem. I mean by that an interconnected system where the platforms, the people, and the products all work together.
Each of the members of this ecosystem influences each other, and each is required to maintain a harmony and a balance within that system. I think from a macro type of a view, I think of it like this: There’s three layers to this ecosystem. We’ve got the products, the communities of users and consumers, and then of course the technology environment where, at the heart of the ecosystem still is always a design.
We talk a lot these days about the “sharing economy” that we all participate in, and this sharing economy is like a business ecosystem. I think it just means the way that people meet and share ideas and experiment, trade products. Everybody has some kind of a mutual, economic, or intrinsic value. In fact, to borrow a quote from Victor Wong, “When an ecosystem thrives, it means that the people have developed patterns of behavior – or culture – that streamline the flow of ideas, talent, and capital throughout a system.” Well certainly SOLIDWORKS has an ecosystem, and it has its own culture, but there’s also a consistent pattern of behavior where we’re always striving to a more streamlined approach to solving problems.
In that SOLIDWORKS ecosystem, the streamlined flow of ideas really starts from having an integrated set of professional design tools. Today the SOLIDWORKS brand of products represents dozens of different solutions that really do make great designs happen. This happens when multiple design teams can work together in the same environment, they can shorten their design cycles, improve innovation, and ultimately save time and money for their company and for their customers.
Let’s look at a couple scenarios where this applies. For some design and manufacturing jobs, only a few disciplines may be involved, and the core SOLIDWORKS CAD software itself may be sufficient, but what about a little bit more complex design, like in the consumer products industry? Well, there’s more disciplines involved right off the bat, such as industrial design and assembly documentation and marketing renderings. There’s more simulation involved for doing molded plastic part design for example. In situations like that, we need more complex solutions.
What about a more complex design yet, like Baxter? This is a robot from our customer Rethink Robotics. To design, build, and sustain Baxter requires really dozens of design and engineering tasks all performed by different teams, and the design data itself is often consumed by multiple different stakeholders, a lot of whom are not even SOLIDWORKS CAD users. This is where it’s really important to have that integrated set of professional design tools. That is why the SOLIDWORKS brand has expanded over the years. It’s the ability to give customers a way to create and validate and manage and document and extend that design data all across the enterprise.
SOLIDWORKS is introducing new products faster than I’ve ever seen, and of course all our products are complimentary to our flagship CAD product, but what is significant to note here is that more and more of the SOLIDWORKS product portfolio can also function independent of SOLIDWORKS CAD, like our industrial designer software, SOLIDWORKS Visualize. Our electrical schematics and PCB design for example. This truly makes the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem an open system that will continue to thrive and expand.
In coming soon, SOLIDWORKS introduces Xdesign. This is our next generation browser-based platform that will not only help designers make things easier and faster, but it’ll help provide insight onto what the design should look like in the first place. It’s really remarkable. Of course products are important to the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem, no doubt about that. I think they’re kind of similar to the natural resources that we would find in an environmental ecosystem, but the products themselves are meaningless if there’s no community of users to take advantage of them. The SOLIDWORKS ecosystem has a vibrant community composed of all different participants. Let’s take a look at some of the different categories that populate the SOLIDWORKS community.
The SOLIDWORKS ecosystem really does have something for everyone. The newly announced SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids is coming soon, and it’ll provide curious young minds with an easy on-ramp to turn their imagination into reality. Right this minute, a room full of kids are visiting our headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts and are beta testing this exciting new set of apps. It’s built on the same technology as our commercial products, and Apps for Kids is going to be a fun and easy way for kids to dream, create, and build.
Engineering students have access to all kinds of design software, but the best students, the most competitive ones, use SOLIDWORKS to design. In fact, over 2.5 million students use SOLIDWORKS today in over twenty-eight thousand schools. To prepare students for professional careers in engineering, it’s really important they use the same tools that are used in industry. That is why 94% of US engineering colleges use SOLIDWORKS, and in fact 84% of engineering schools worldwide. SOLIDWORKS also sponsors many student design competitions like Formula SAE, Baja, the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, and even at the high school and middle school level we support STEM, and are a [Crown 00:09:25] supplier to the first robotics competition. Students who train on the best tools used in industry eventually get the best jobs with our commercial customers.
How about this exploding startup and maker space? I think this space, combined with the mainstream availability of 3D printing, it has more and more casual users showing an interest in 3D modeling and design. This phenomenon is really creating this whole new culture of inventors and startup product designers who previously might’ve had a really good idea but just no way to get it built and no way to bring it to market. A recent survey showed 70% of hardware startups are already using SOLIDWORKS to design their products, but we can do better, and that’s why SOLIDWORKS has several new initiatives to make the ecosystem more accessible for this community.
The SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs program makes it easy to access the SOLIDWORKS Premium Design Suite at almost no cost. If you’re in this category let us know in the questions pane. Later this year, SOLIDWORKS will also introduce term licensing, which is going to provide yet another level of flexibility in licensing options for the entrepreneurs and casual users. Finally, one that I’m really excited about is our new online product trial program. This program provides a browser based, zero installation instant access to try SOLIDWORKS products at no cost. You can ask your SOLIDWORKS reseller how to get started, or let us know in the questions pane and Leslie can push a URL to you where you can get started right away with the new online product trial.
I know there are lots of free, low-cost software programs that cater to the casual user, the maker, and the startup, but here’s the thing: Those tools are of no use to you if you can’t do 100% of your design, and that’s why it’s important for this community to have access to professional design tools. The community of startups and makers, it’s important to the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem. Dassault Systèmes is listening, and we’re actively involved in giving solutions that cater to this new community.
What about our community of business users? There are thousands of companies around the world, there’s over three million passionate users who have made SOLIDWORKS the standard choice for 3D design in companies of all sizes. If you consider the typical engineering department, they’re going to use SOLIDWORKS directly for engineering, R&D, fabrication, but those figures don’t even begin to account for the huge number of people in other departments within a company. You’ve got sales and marketing and purchasing and management. They all depend on SOLIDWORKS either directly or indirectly.
Let’s not forget about our partners as well. SOLIDWORKS partners are vital members of this community starting with our worldwide network of value added re-sellers. Did you know that SOLIDWORKS products are only available through certified local re-sellers? Our re-sellers are staffed and [tenured 00:12:43] with experienced and certified product experts, and they provide the best training, support, and customer service in the entire CAD industry. Hundreds of solution partners provide additional software plugins to complement SOLIDWORKS. Of course, our hardware partners certify that their machines can run SOLIDWORKS exceptionally well so that customers have the best possible experience. Finally, SOLIDWORKS Corporation partners with many nonprofits and charities to give back to our local communities.
SOLIDWORKS users make great products, and they solve big problems. Perhaps the largest population of the SOLIDWORKS community are the people who don’t even know they’re part of it. Just think of the millions of people whose lives are better because of products that were designed in SOLIDWORKS, like the family who saves money on their electric bill because they have a Nest thermostat, or how about the next rock n’ roll idol who’s playing that Paul Reed Smith guitar? How about the Chilean miners, those thirty-three who were saved because of the outstanding engineering and determination of Center Rock?
Let’s take a moment to understand how Dassault Systèmes has a role in this ecosystem. SOLIDWORKS has always been focused on the disciplines surrounding design and engineering, but as that world expands into the realm of connected devices, the sharing economy, that scope of the ecosystem has to expand. Dassault Systèmes has a responsibility to that ecosystem by fostering environment where communities and resources can thrive. Let’s take a look at what I call the technology environments within this ecosystem.
These are … I guess you would compare them to the different habitats that support the different needs of the various audiences that we address. The first environment in this ecosystem I guess would be software. If we look to the left, in the software environment we begin with the desktop platform, and this is what you’ve come to know and love since 1995. This is our core design, simulation, data management, and even today we extend that to a complete end-to-end design solution for the desktop.
As we move to the middle, in order to address those rapid iterations that take place in the front end conceptual phase of a design, before somebody would even start modeling in SOLIDWORKS, we determined that customers told us that they needed a set of apps that would help speed up that conceptual process. We introduced Connected Apps. Conceptual designer, industrial designer, these apps give the familiarity of a desktop installed software, but with flexible cloud storage and collaboration.
Now usage trends move to the right to an access from anywhere type of a model. We’re addressing this space by introducing apps that run completely online on any device. The key here is we’re not just reinventing CAD on the cloud, but we’re solving new challenges. We’re reaching new users, like with our online product trial program, with Apps for Kids, and the new Xdesign product.
Another key piece of this environment is not just the products, but it’s the R&D relationship. It’s about creating a thriving relationship between R&D teams that develop the technology and the users who consume it. Each release of SOLIDWORKS typically includes over two hundred or so user-driven enhancements. Our re-sellers host exciting launch events around the world to introduce each year’s newest technology. If you haven’t been to one of these events, it really should go on the bucket list. The top ten enhancements every year are voted on by users, and historically over the past decade or so 85% of each year’s top ten have been implemented into newer releases of the software. That’s pretty fantastic. Our R&D team is always looking to make one-on-one customer visits to hear about how they’re using the software, and to get ideas on how it can improve. Let us know if you’d like to schedule a visit with SOLIDWORKS R&D.
Another part of this technology environment is creating an infrastructure that provides users access to all kinds of pre-made 3D content. SOLIDWORKS has a platform called 3D Content Central that gives users access to thousands of supplier-certified parts. We also have an online network of manufacturing partners you can tap into. The hardware environment, in design and engineering that usually just meant getting the fastest workstation computer you could get your hands on. Well, the desktop PC of course is still the primary hardware for design and manufacturing, but our ecosystem is expanding to account for mobile platforms, which are great for collaboration and viewing and passing files back and forth. How about device independence and virtualization, like our SOLIDWORKS online product trial and the new Xdesign?
I also think the hardware environment extends not just to the hardware that runs our products, but now to the hardware that it takes to make your products. Think about the multitude of commercial 3D printers and consumer-level 3D printers that you can now print to without ever leaving the SOLIDWORKS environment. That’s pretty awesome.
Another key technology environment, I think, is the social environment. Part of this social environment is providing an aggregated space where a user or someone just checking out the community for the first time can get, in one spot, all of the latest happenings within the SOLIDWORKS community. My SOLIDWORKS is that single site where folks can find the latest videos, blogs, discussion forums, tutorials, and even access hundreds of hours of online e-learning. It’s all searchable, customizable, and you can access it from any device. If you haven’t tried My SOLIDWORKS yet, go online, create your free account, and start interacting.
The biggest single event within our technology environment has to be the SOLIDWORKS World Conference. Every year about five thousand or so users get together in a social/educational environment to hear from all kinds of great dynamic speakers, learn about new technology, network with other users, and attend hundreds of technical breakout sessions. If you couldn’t make this year’s event in Dallas, you could even stream the general sessions live. If you missed those, don’t worry, just pop over to My SOLIDWORKS and you can watch them online.
The technology environment also involves providing an infrastructure for users to network with each other. Did you know SOLIDWORKS sponsors over a hundred and eighty-five user groups? That’s just in North America alone. The user group network also hosts day-long technical summits. They’re kind of like a mini SOLIDWORKS World event, and they host them all over the world.
To think about how so many within the SOLIDWORKS community, they use our software all day at their jobs, and then they’ll travel across town to attend a user group meeting after work. That’s awesome, and it’s very humbling to me. I really think it can mean only two things: Either there’s value in that information and networking that takes place, or they’re serving some really good pizza at those meetings. Either way, to us the user group network is an environment that is worth supporting and investing in.
SOLIDWORKS users know that their skills matter, and it’s important to be able to quantify those skills. The certification environment provides a framework to measure and validate the skill levels of students, customers, educators, and our re-sellers. Over a dozen different certifications are available, starting with the CSWA, the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate. Over a hundred and eighty-four thousand certifications have been issued to date to our customers, our re-sellers, and students. Exams are always free for students, and in fact over seventy thousand students hold SOLIDWORKS certifications today.
The certification team at SOLIDWORKS also provides online learning resources through My SOLIDWORKS to help users prepare for the various certification exams. If you’re interested in earning a SOLIDWORKS certification, your first stop should be My SOLIDWORKS where you can enroll in an online prep course. The certification environment is really important, and it’s important to this ecosystem because it provides a way for students and employees to differentiate their skills, but it’s also important for employers to maximize their talent pool.
As we begin to wrap up, I’d like to revisit the responsibilities that Dassault Systèmes has to the ecosystem. We have a responsibility to build on what we already do. That’s our core capabilities. You can always count on us to continue to develop and improve our core desktop products. We also have an obligation to expand into emerging possibilities, address new markets like electrical engineering, PCB design, 3D printing, and to never stop innovating by investing in new technologies, new markets that will serve the next generation of users. We also need to constantly challenge the status quo. Our software can still be easier to use. It can still be more accessible. Our responsibility is to provide our customers the power to tackle any kind of design challenge and maintain a passion for making great designs happen.
Looking back on the last few minutes, I hope I’ve been able to give you some insight into what we think of as this SOLIDWORKS ecosystem. We have the best, most widely-adopted set of integrated software tools, no doubt about that. We combine that with the many diverse pockets within the SOLIDWORKS community, the most passionate user base in the industry, and an outstanding re-seller channel, hardware and software partners, and of course that new and exciting maker and entrepreneur space. There’s a lot of excitement and energy within this ecosystem. All of those communities coexist among the technology environments that our customers have entrusted Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS to steward all these years.
Why does any of this matter? Well, like we said, it’s a sharing economy, and ecosystems are important. Once again, to quote Victor Wong, “The word “ecosystem” is important because it says individuals matter. That their actions can transform industries, even the entire world.” What’s next for you? Well, maybe you’re curious to learn more about the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem, maybe see a demo or get more detail about specific products. Let us know, we’ll point you in the right direction. If you want to get started on your own, check out My SOLIDWORKS or the SOLIDWORKS.com website. Those are great places to start looking around.
Are you interested in trying SOLIDWORKS for yourself? If so, let’s get you started with an online trial. If you’d like to get to know the SOLIDWORKS community and connect with other users, we can help you get in touch with customers, or maybe plug you into a local user group or a re-seller event in your area.
If you’re already a customer of ours, on behalf of SOLIDWORKS, we don’t get the opportunity to say it enough, but thank you for your business. If you’re not yet part of the community, come on and join us, because SOLIDWORKS is everywhere. Thank you.
Thank you, Brad, that was a great presentation. Everyone, just a reminder, this is an opportunity now to add in some of your questions if you would like the opportunity to have Brad answer them. One of the questions that has come in, Brad, is “Do you have a method to set up a lab or a class in a high school?”
Great question. Yeah, the … In fact, the best thing to do would be to reach out to one of our value added re-sellers that cater specifically to education. They have lots of flexible options to help either install software locally or bring a lab to you. If you’d like some help locating a re-seller or education partner, let us know and we can make that connection for you.
Okay, looks like education is going to be a theme here. Another question that has come up is “Are there any plans to get SOLIDWORKS into community colleges?”
Yeah, SOLIDWORKS is used in lots of community colleges. If the questioner has a specific college that we don’t already have software in, let us know and we’ll be glad to talk to them.
Okay, any additional questions? Let’s see. Here we go.
In fact I think Marie is online. Marie, you’re going to help me with some of these education prospects here, I’m sure.
Here’s another question: “Is there any SOLIDWORKS boot camp to earn the CSWA similar to what Cisco has for its DCMA?”
Is there any SOLIDWORKS boot camp? I think what … Looks like this is Brian that’s asking. Hey Brian, the thing to do is number one, go to mySOLIDWORKS.com and create a free account if you don’t already have one, but you’ll see on My SOLIDWORKS that there is a CSWA prep course, and it has several online lessons and even some sample exams that can help you prep for that CSWA. Your SOLIDWORKS retailer can also help you with some additional exercises and might be able to give you some additional guidance. I’ll tell you what, if you’re still … If that’s still something that you haven’t found quite enough information, just email me directly and I’ll get you going. My email address is [email protected] and I’d love to hear from you.
Okay. “You mentioned user groups and stuff. How can people get in touch with user groups near them?”
Great question. The SOLIDWORKS.com website lists all the user groups that might be in a certain area. I see that you’re looking for a group near Charleston, South Carolina. That’s fantastic, because I think that’s an area where we don’t currently have one. Let me … This is Mr. Morris that’s asking here. Yeah. I’ll tell you what …
Is there a way to start one?
There’s definitely a way to start one, and you saw a picture of Richard Doyle in our slides. Richard would be great to talk to about perhaps starting up a user group in Charleston.
Okay. I think you and Brian will probably communicate offline. He has more specific questions.
Yeah, definitely Brian. Let’s talk offline and I’ll get you squared away.
That holds true for anybody else who has a very specific question. Brad, he would be happy to communicate with you offline. He’s given you his email address. Feel free to go ahead and email him and he’ll get you in touch with the right people.
Okay, are there any other additional questions? If not, I’d like to thank everybody again for attending this webinar. We appreciate your interest. Brad, I’d like to thank you again for putting on a great webinar. Just to let everybody know, a link to this webinar will be emailed to everyone who registered, and a link will also be available on the Design World online website in a few days, so you’ll be able to view this again at your convenience. If you have any additional questions or anything, feel free to contact either Brad or me and we would be happy to answer them and get things going for you. Thank you again for attending today’s webinar.
All right, thanks everyone.
Filed Under: 3D printing • additive manufacturing • stereolithography, Networks • connectivity • fieldbuses, Robotics • robotic grippers • end effectors