Dassault Systèmes Promotes Cloud-Centric 3DEXPERIENCE Works, Promises to Keep Desktop SOLIDWORKS

The company also announced two new SOLIDWORKS offerings, SOLIDWORKS for Makers and SOLIDWORKS for Students.

The company also announced two new SOLIDWORKS offerings, SOLIDWORKS for Makers and SOLIDWORKS for Students.

Dassault Systèmes, which in 2020 had hosted one of the last in-person engineering industry conferences to be held before the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, hosted its virtual 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021 (3DXW2021) event in February. Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.

By Kenneth Wong and Brian Albright

In February, Dassault Systèmes3DEXPERIENCE World 2021 (3DXW2021) came online. In 2020, the annual event (which had been rebranded from SOLIDWORKS World) was one of the last in-person engineering industry conferences to be held before the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to live events. 

According to Gian Paolo Bassi, CEO, SOLIDWORKS, the global pandemic also affected the way customers are using the 3DEXPERIENCE World suite of solutions. “It has accelerated the transformation of many businesses toward cloud platforms,” he said in the opening general session on Feb. 9. “Physical presence was not possible. Many started using our platform of integrated tools instead of disparate products.”

Bassi provided an overview of the 2020 SOLIDWORKS Grand Challenge, which saw more than 500 employees from across the company and around the world collaborating online to design a digital space station. The station includes more than 11,000 parts. A scale model will be fabricated and displayed at the SOLIDWORKS corporate campus. 

The company also announced two new SOLIDWORKS offerings, SOLIDWORKS for Makers and SOLIDWORKS for Students. The Maker version includes 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Professional, 3D Creator and 3D Sculptor applications, as well as access to a new global makers community called Madein3D that will be curated by Dassault Systèmes with the participation of makers, influencers and innovators. 

In rebranding the conference to 3DEXPERIENCE World, Dassault Systèmes signaled a desire to transform SOLIDWORKS from a largely independent subsidiary revolving around a single product into an integrated part of the larger ecosystem. This began with the introduction of 3DEXPERIENCE Works, a suite of ancillary products to augment the flagship CAD package SOLIDWORKS. This year, the transformation continues.

“Products are beyond their physical characteristics. They integrate experiences to establish true and loyal relationships between the customers and the brands,” said Florence Hu-Aubigny, executive VP of Research & Development, Dassault Systèmes, in a general session. “You have to define not only the sketches and the designs, but also the necessary behaviors to deliver the expected experiences.”

Holding on to the Old; Heading Into the New

In the fireside chat with the executives during the conference, the top voted questions were about the future of the classic SOLIDWORKS software. Will it continue to be available for workstations? Will it evolve into cloud-hosted software? Will the R&D team continue to refine it?

“3DEXPERIENCE Works is the same SOLIDWORKS but connected and better,” said Manish Kumar, SOLIDWORKS Research & Development VP, Dassault Systèmes. “The investment in SOLIDWORKS is not changing.”

Bassi added, “Any intent to transition SOLIDWORKS to a completely cloud-based product? There is no such intent. But the cloud is our optimal method to give our customer amazing new possibilities, like high-end simulation. How else can we offer this capability? We will offer you the ability to work on desktop as long as you want. But just like today nobody can think of a household without internet, the entire world is going in that direction [of cloud-hosted products].” 

2020 SOLIDWORKS Grand Challenge focused on designing a digital space station. Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.

Under the newer 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS (3DEX SW) licensing plan, the company offers three tiers. 

  • 3DEX SW Standard: 3D Creator, 3DEX SW Standard and other ancillary features;
  • 3DEX SW Professional: 3D Sculptor, 3D Creator, 3DEX SW Professional and other ancillary features; and
  • 3DEX SW Premium: 3D Sculptor, 3D Creator, 3DEX SW Premium, 3DEX SW Simulation Designer and other ancillary features.

3D Sculptor, a subdivisional modeler for creating complex shapes, and 3D Creator, a quick concept design program, are cloud-hosted products. The SW CAD package included in the tiers remains a desktop product, with some cloud-hosted features. 

The company also allows you to try out the full-featured SW software from the browser, indicating there’s no technical barrier to offering the product as a cloud-hosted product. 

The 3DEX SW bundle is comparable to how Dassault Systèmes’ rival Autodesk offers its flagship CAD package Autodesk Inventor with other complementary titles under the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection. 

Connecting with Customers

In the general session on February 10, featured customers included Skinny Guy Campers, which offers truck-mountable camping structures, and Square Robot, which designs, builds and operates autonomous robots for inspecting oil storage. 

“We’ve got team members from out of state, and those who need to work from home, so the ability to be on the cloud with easy access helped,” said Rob Miles, Engineering Design & Technical Documentation lead, Skinny Guy Campers. “Being a small startup, we don’t have internal IT resources, so the simplicity of downloading the apps we need helped us tremendously.”

“We really needed a mechanism to control and organize revisions and CAD data in the cloud. We looked to 3DEX to do that,” said Charles O’Connell, senior mechanical engineer, Square Robot. “It’s enabled us to synchronize our local CAD data sets over distances. We no longer had to archive and pack [the files] to go. Multiple users can easily exchange high-level vehicle models.”

Hybrid as the Future

The virtual event attracted 37,000 registrants, estimated Bassi during the live fireside chat with executives. The number includes 12,000 students, according to Suchit Jain, VP of Strategy & Business Development, Dassault Systèmes. 

While the in-person events attracted largely a North American crowd, the virtual event attracted a worldwide audience, giving the executives new ideas.

“What we have learned is, the future might be some kind of hybrid events. Physical connection is important but we have now found a new way to connect with people worldwide,” said Jain.

Kenneth Wong is DE’s resident blogger and senior editor. Email him at [email protected] or share your thoughts on this article at digitaleng.news/facebook.

Brian Albright is editorial director of Digital Engineering based in Cleveland, OH. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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