In this perspective, IDC Manufacturing Insights reviews the recent SOLIDWORKS World Conference held over February 9-11, 2015, where some 5,500 live attendees in Phoenix, Arizona were introduced to a series of product updates, workshops and use cases, and a partner pavilion introducing the latest in manufacturing technology.
The opening of the doors to the plenary session saw a "rock concert" rush of people running to claim their front-row seats. This allegiance to the product is something that Dassault Syst?mes (DS) should be extremely proud of, with over 2.8 million SOLIDWORKS users scattered around the globe. This community has doubled in less than four years, and has seen partner growth of 38% and revenue growth of 50%.
The big announcement at the show from an organization standpoint was the announcement of Gian Paolo Bassi as new CEO of SOLIDWORKS, replacing Bertrand Sicot, who is promoted to Company Vice President Sales, Value Solutions for parent company DS. Bassi comes from leading the SOLIDWORKS research and development group, which will stand him in good stead as SOLIDWORKS continues its convergence with the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, and shift to cloud.
The showcase featured many 3D printing companies including Makerbot, Markforg3D, Stratasys, Formlabs, Airwolf 3D, and EnvisionTEC. 3D printing was also mentioned extensively throughout the event, with a new feature in SOLIDWORKS 2015 enabling one to print with just two clicks by leveraging the Microsoft 3D Printer Driver (3MF). One thing that apparent from the show, was that although 3D printing is still evolving, the massive disruption that IDC Manufacturing Insights thinks it is going to have on traditional manufacturing was somewhat downplayed, with greater emphasis being placed on rapid prototyping -- during the keynote the focus was on rapid prototyping "revolutionizing the production of prototypes."
With the Industry 4.0 manufacturing initiative emanating from Germany and other similar approaches (i.e., "Smart Manufacturing" in the United States) taking hold globally, DS introduced the idea of Engineering 4.0. Mirroring the development of Industry 4.0, the four stages identified for Engineering 4.0 are: