Well, the dust has finally settled from all the excitement in Orlando this year as thousands flocked to the fifteenth annual SolidWorks World at the Dolphin Hotel at Walt Disney World. Between the amazing guest speakers (Art Thompson, Technical Project Director for Red Bull Stratos for example) and exciting announcements (Mechanical Conceptual, Augmented Reality eDrawings), there was something for designers, engineers, and anybody who gives a hoot about design and manufacturing. Hold onto your socks as we dish out some highlights in this year’s SolidSmack #SWW13 Smackdown.

The Big News

Image: courtesy Matthew Lorono
Image: courtesy Matthew Lorono. Not official Dassualt SolidWorks photo.

As reported earlier by SolidSmack, the biggest news at this year’s event was the announcement of Mechanical Conceptual. The idea behind MC is to literally take snapshots of your ideas digitally in an even and communicative manner. It allows you to quickly create 3D concept models, get feedback, and organize the iterations before deciding which one to pursue. According to SolidWorks:

    -31% of project time is spent on conceptual mechanical design
    -3 out of 4 engineers are engaged in conceptual mechanical design
    -On average there are six conceptual and four design iterations in a typical project
    -There can be more than three internal and two external stakeholder groups involved in the concept phase

bertSolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot talks with SolidSmack about V6 and the new Mechanical Conceptual Concept (exclusive interview next week)

When considering that 31% of the time is spent on conceptual mechanical design, it definitely makes sense for SolidWorks to have a napkin sketch-based tool. I’m looking forward to seeing how people use this.

Additionally, Director of Product Innovation Rick Chin announced a new eDrawings update that among other changes, allows users to harness the power of augmented reality to present clients or colleagues a ‘real life’ image of their model, projected onto any surface. You may have seen something similar at Lego stores, where if you hold a complicated Star Wars model up to a screen it shows you the completed model as if it were sitting on top of the box. In a private meeting with Chin, I was quite pleased with his ability to show me two completely different models with completely different scales, sitting on the table right in front of me with the ability to rotate, move in and out, and otherwise ‘play’ with it’s presence in our setting.

rickDirector of Product Innovation Rick Chin talks with SolidSmack about the latest eDrawings iPad app featuring augmented reality (exclusive interview next week)

This will do wonders for engineers and designers who are sick of saying “yeah….your product is about…..(looks around room)…….the size of this water bottle here”. Now, you can literally put the model right next to an existing water bottle on the table and the client can see it in context to the real world. Neat!!! This should be available as an update to the eDrawings app in a couple weeks in the iTunes store.

Also reported by SolidSmack is the addition of My.SolidWorks–a new social platform for the rapidly growing SolidWorks Community (on a separate note, DS also announced that they surpassed the two million license mark). My.Solidworks is intended to pull the popular content off the web and slap it into it’s own place. From blogs, to YouTube, to Facebook and Twitter, My.Solidworks will act as a ‘hub’ of sorts for everything SolidWorks related:


Keynote Speakers

The speakers this year were so friggin’ cool and inspiring that I wish every other row of chairs was a table so I could get crankin’ on a model in Mechanical Conceptual (well, had it been released). All of the speakers expressed using SolidWorks in their designs (duh), but not only that, they also talked in detail about the technologies they were working with in such a way that the SolidWorks you used to know all of a sudden became a whole other tool—-depending on how far your innovative mind can travel. Speaking of traveling, the first keynote guest was the Technical Project Director for the recent Red Bull Stratos jump, Art Thompson:

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To see the Day 1 General Session in it’s entirety, check the video below:

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Day 1 General Session Keynote (includes SolidWorks announcements)

Day 2 offered a whole other ballgame of in-your-face, flying-around-the-room action (literally!)–First, there was an emphasis on the SolidWorks community and a brief awards ceremony. Following the awards were two presentations that got the semi-hungover room of thousands standing up and cheering at 9 am:

First up was University of Pennsylvania’s Engineering professor mastermind Vijay Kumar. You may have seen this viral video of his and his students’ quadrotors playing the James Bond Theme Song:

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Vijay’s quadrotors are quite possibly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Him and his students have programmed them in such a way that they can mathematically sense each other and the surrounding environment to navigate in harmony through walled environments, as well as be thrown and return to the sender’s hand like a boomerang, among other impressive feats.

Next up was the Head of Corporate Bionic Projects at Festo and industrial design mastermind Elias Knubben. Among the projects he presented was this bird that was thrown…and flew around to the amazement of everybody seated underneath:

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To see the Day 2 General Session in it’s entirety, including the award ceremony, check out the video below:

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Day 2 General Session Keynote (includes SolidWorks announcements)

Day 3 brought along the final General Session and speaker–Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation’s Tom Atchison. Mavericks is the world’s leading pioneer of civilian space exploration and their goal is to enable ‘the common man to build vehicles and conduct space exploration missions independently, launching the personalization of access to space.” Tom discussed Mavericks and the current state of personal space travel…all with the help of SolidWorks of course:

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Day 3 General Session Keynote (includes SolidWorks announcements)

By the end of SolidWorks World 2013, it was quite obvious that everybody left with some crazy new ideas in their head, and I already can’t wait to hear what they’ve come up with next year.

Stay tuned as we deliver more SolidWorks World 2013 coverage next week–including a SolidWorks PowerSurface Plug In tutorial from Paul McCrorey and a first look at MCor’s Iris 3D printer (the one that’s going into Staples)…not to mention we have SolidSmack interviews with Bertrand Sicot (SolidWorks CEO) and Rick Chin (SolidWorks Director of Product Innovation) on what these exciting news announcements mean and where they’re going to take us.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.