Introducing SOLIDWORKS 2015: Designed by You

By Bertrand

The world of design has changed in many ways since I joined SOLIDWORKS in 1997. Computer hardware becomes faster and more powerful every year, which is changing the way that our customers do their jobs. These days, engineers are required to wear many hats. When I visit customers, I often see situations where one person is doing work that would have been spread across an entire team twenty years ago, from designing and drafting to FEA and data management. It’s probably not a surprise to hear that these changes influence the development of SOLIDWORKS, and, in particular, this week’s release of SOLIDWORKS 2015.

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From the start, SOLIDWORKS has been a user-driven product, and relies on feedback from a global community of more than two million users to shape the future of the tools they use. It’s true that some users are more vocal and honest than others, but understanding and responding to this feedback—both good and bad—is important. Listening to end users lets us understand how our products are being used; our product team has to be 100% certain that any new feature or enhancement provides real benefit to the SOLIDWORKS community before it goes into development. Our user-centric focus has not changed in SOLIDWORKS 2015, nor will it change in the future. In fact, SOLIDWORKS 2015 includes more than 200 new features and enhancements, and 90% of them are the direct result of requests and other feedback from end users.

Our first promise was to “put the power of 3D on every engineer’s desktop.” But that’s not a big enough challenge anymore. Our new promise is to continue developing 3D solutions that let you to meet modern engineering challenges head-on. It’s not enough to focus on making the software faster. We need to give you the tools that inspire you to design products that change the world. SOLIDWORKS 2015 is one step to fulfilling our commitment. As we continue to develop SOLIDWORKS to meet new and emerging needs, we’ll also look to expand the power of 3D and push its capabilities to the limit. Your success is our success.

I invite you to visit our launch website to explore the powerful new enhancements found in SOLIDWORKS 2015. I am certain that they will help improve your everyday productivity, optimize your work process, reduce operations costs, and let you solve more design challenges. Let’s go design!

SolidWorks 2015

Designing Solutions for a Less Wasteful Life

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar

Lego bricksThe future of design looks a lot like Legos.

Modular design allows a product to be assembled from easily replaceable or interchangeable parts. Most people are familiar with it in architecture and furniture. However, it’s also being applied to other things, from nuclear-power plants to shoes, submarines and guitars.

Modular design is gaining traction thanks to the convergence of several trends. Mass customization is pushing industries—from consumer products and electronics to automobiles—to find ways to deliver customized solutions without sacrificing economies of scale. Tighter environmental regulations are prompting companies to find ways to reduce waste caused by their products. And consumers, fed up with a throwaway society, are looking for products that manage to last yet which can be upgraded as needed.

Take mobile phones: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans disposed of 129 million mobile devices in 2009 and sent 11.7 million for recycling.

I was thinking about stuff and why we throw it away,” says Dave Hakkens, who invented Phonebloks, a modular design for a mobile phone. “All our electronics are disposable. If a bike has a flat [tire] you fix it, you don’t throw it away. But if a phone part is broken, you have to throw [the phone] away.”

old cellphonesIn wanting to reduce electronic waste, Mr. Hakkens considered several alternatives. “Should I make a phone that could last 100 years?” he asks. “I like technology and the way it evolves and can improve our lives. If I make a phone that lasts 100 years, I won’t be able to upgrade it. But if it has modules that I can upgrade, I can throw away only a little part.”

Unbeknown to Mr. Hakkens, Motorola Mobility had been working on a modular mobile phone as well, called Project Ara. Google, which acquired Motorola in 2011, is expected to unveil its prototype of Project Ara next year. The goal: a phone that can be customized and upgraded at will.

Mr. Hakkens, who came up with the idea of Phonebloks as a graduation project from the Dutch Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, has linked up with Project Ara.

It’s hard to make a phone and it’s a tough world—you need patents, lawyers, you have to compete with big companies,” he says. “I don’t want to build a phone myself. I don’t want to start a phone company. I want to push industry to start a new way to make phones.”

Phonebloks

Mobile phones might be just the beginning. “The Phonebloks concept could be extended to all electronic devices: cameras, TVs, computers,” he says. “You could have building-blocks for electronics, with components that can be exchanged among them and can be upgraded.”

In such a world, it’s possible that new entrants would design the ultimate camera module, while others would specialize in the smallest, lightest battery, and still others would focus on packing more capacity into the memory module. Just as now, you can buy specialized software to meet your needs: in the future, you may be able to buy pieces of a phone to put together the mobile device best suited to your uses.

While some companies choose modular design for competitive advantage, others might find themselves pushed in that direction by environmental-protection laws. The Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) for the European Economic and Social Committee of the European Union is working on ways to stop planned obsolescence.

For example, a decade ago the EU banned chips in printer cartridges that signaled the cartridges were empty when they still contained ink. Now it’s taking aim at things like batteries in phones that are impossible for people to replace themselves—and which are so expensive to have fixed by the manufacturer that most people just buy a new phone instead.

“We’ll have less waste,” says Jean-Pierre Haber, delegate of the CCMI consultative committee. “We now create 500 tons of waste per person per year.”

The CCMI proposes five requirements for consumer goods:

  • a minimum two-year guarantee
  • replacement parts available for at least five years
  • certification on the nature and life cycle of all products, no matter their country of origin
  • manufacturer-trained repair shops, which could generate 450,000 jobs in Europe
  • an orientation toward an economy of functionality, so that rather than buying a product, you buy a service, and companies would see incentives in designing goods that don’t break.

Overall, the thrust is to promote the design of goods that can be repaired or upgraded, rather than requiring purchase of a completely new item.

The online community iFixit, which encourages repair over replacement, suggests design features such as product cases that are easy to open, or that have doors to allow access to the inner workings; making the most breakable parts the easiest to access; making some internal components standardized and replaceable by commodity parts; making repair instructions free and publicly available.

We need lots of innovation,” Mr. Haber says. “But we need innovation that gives added value for the consumer and that doesn’t create problems for the environment.”

We need innovation that gives added value for the consumer and that doesn’t create problems for the environment Tweet: “We need innovation that gives added value for the consumer and that doesn’t create problems for the environment”

For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join The Future Realities discussion.

SOLIDWORKS Partners with FABLABS and FAB Academies

By Marie

SOLIDWORKS partners with FAB Foundation to sponsor the global network of FABLABS and FAB Academies.  At FAB10 Conference, Disseny Hub Barcelona, I have been fortunate to work with Sherry Lassiter, director of FAB Foundation and to meet many FABLAB coordinators from around the world.

#FAB10 Barcelona

The FAB Foundation facilitates and supports the growth of the international FABLAB network.

FAB Car

The first FABLAB started at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms under the direction of Neil Gershenfeld.  FABLAB’s mission is “to provide access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything.”

#Fab10 Audience

FABLABs and FAB Academies impact is felt everywhere and shared this week at the FAB10 Conference.  Helping to create new jobs, educating the young and the not so young, developing the entrepreneurial spirit, FABLABs growth rate is exploding – doubling every 18 months.

FAB10 Fashion

SOLIDWORKS 3D Design software will be an integral part of the FABLABs and FAB Academies registered with FAB Foundation.  SOLIDWORKS supports the FAB Foundation’s efforts in 3D design, manufacturing, teaching and learning.

FAB10 Kid's Fest

This post originally appeared on the SOLIDWORKS Education Blog.

Marie PLANCHARD is Director of the Education Community for SOLIDWORKS. You can reach her @mplanchard1.



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