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3D Printing at SolidWorks World

February 14, 2009

Filed under: additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE,event — Terry Wohlers @ 09:03

I attended this week’s SolidWorks World 2009 in Orlando, Florida. If the event had a theme, it would have been 3D printing. You didn’t have to look far or listen long to see or hear about it.

In his keynote presentation, Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks, discussed a start-up company that had designed a wind turbine for homes. The model that Ray showed was produced on a PolyJet 3D printer from Objet Geometries. Ray gave the model to special guest speaker Sir Richard Branson, the English industrialist best known for his Virgin brand of more than 350 companies.

Jon Hirschtick is a founder of SolidWorks, was the company’s first CEO, and continues to serve as group executive. In his keynote, Hirschtick named 3D printing as one of four key trends that will impact the future of CAD. The other trends were touch/motion user interfaces, on-line applications, and video game technology.

Two SolidWorks customers—New Balance and Sony Ericsson—presented after Hirschtick’s keynote. Both talked about the value of 3D printing and showed example after example of its importance. And then, an individual from toy manufacturer MEGA was recognized and this recognition showed MEGA’s work with 3D printing. I was beginning to think that I was at a 3D printing event. The Partner Pavilion (i.e., exposition) included machines and parts from Envisiontec, Dimension/Stratasys, Objet Geometries, 3D Systems, and Z Corp. And, a few service providers were also on hand.

And, when I thought I saw it all, two engineers/entertainers from Discovery channel’s Prototype This appeared on stage. Mike North, a mechanical engineer, and Joe Grand, an electrical engineer, showed and demonstrated some of their inventions from the television show. What else did they discuss? You guessed it: 3D printing. When the producers of the show discovered the power of 3D printing technology, they wanted to build everything with it.

I walked away with the distinct feeling that CAD companies are finally “getting it.” Hirschtick stated that 3D printing will become a key part of the CAD designer’s daily experience. “If you haven’t seen 3D printing lately, you haven’t seen it,” he said.