I’m strolling around the vast site of SOLIDWORKS 2019 and am having some thoughts.
It’s quite busy here, as there are often multiple sessions underway and a largish tradeshow filled with vendors providing products related to SOLIDWORKS and its expanding ecosystem. Apparently something close to 7,000 attendees are present, most being either direct users of the popular CAD tool or resellers of same.
I’ve been bouncing between set sessions, press conferences and visiting countless vendors on the show floor. Today I learned quite a bit about the ever-growing set of web-based “xApps” provided by SOLIDWORKS.
It seems Dassault Systemés may be gradually beefing up their cloud ecosystem offerings, perhaps with the ultimate long-term goal of replacing SOLIDWORKS itself. But no one is saying that; in fact they do say quite the opposite. However, they did happen to change the event name of “SOLIDWORKS World 2020” to “3DEXPERIENCE 2020”. Makes you think.
On the show floor there are relatively few 3D printer manufacturers present, whereas there are plenty of SOLIDWORKS add-ons, plug-ins, tools and associated functions. But we did visit all of the 3D printer vendors and quite a few others.
There were some significant developments from Rize, who announced receiving a significant US$15M investment. That’s big money for a small company, but the even more interesting thing is that a key investor in this new raise is none other than Dassault Systèmes, makers of SOLIDWORKS.
My thoughts are still developing on this matter, but I suspect there is something extremely interesting afoot here, as this apparently is the first — and so far only — time SOLIDWORKS has invested in a 3D printer manufacturer, or any hardware vendor for that matter. Stay tuned for a long post on this topic.
I spent considerable time with Korea-based Sindoh, who sought some advice on their new resin-based 3D printer, the A1. They have a very interesting product that seems to be targeting a very different market than their usual buyers. We’ll have more details on this later.
One surprising aspect of this event is that many of the participating 3D printer vendors have literally nothing new to announce. Several told me they are still presenting things they announced months ago. I guess this isn’t one of those events where everyone feels compelled to announce new products, but at the same time many of the attendees have likely not seen the new products anyway.
One company that did have a new, at least to me, and actually quite interesting product was Desktop Metal, who demonstrated something they call “Fab Flow”, a powerful cloud-based print job management tool that we’ll describe in more detail in an upcoming post. You’ll be pleased to know they plan to release the basic version of Fab Flow at no charge to the public soon, and I think a huge number of prototypers will latch on to it.
Speaking of Desktop Metal, their flamboyant CEO, Ric Fulop, suddenly approached our team today out of the blue and proposed a rather interesting idea for a future hardware business that we definitely won’t describe here. It’s not every day that a US$1B+ CEO casually walks up and drops a half billion dollar idea on you.
And it’s not all business either, as our team did manage to perform some recreative activities during the day. Everyone needs exercise, don’t they?
The fate of major 3D printing conferences in 2020 is unclear with the ongoing virus outbreak. We have thoughts on what it could mean.