Dassault Systèmes’ executives tell us about Design in the Age of Experience

The Scilla concept car is a collaborative effort between the IED, Quattroruote and Pininfarina. Photo by Michael Petch.[April’s] Design in the Age of Experience event at MiCo Congressi in Milan brought together 400 managers, designers and engineers. 3D Printing Industry were in attendance at the conference and expo organized by Dassault Systèmes, and had the opportunity to speak with the CEO and other executives of this leading global software company.

Dassault Systèmes was founded in 1981 to develop the CAD software initially worked on  by parent company, Avions Marcel Dassault. When the first commercial CAD packages began to appear in the early eighties, typical system requirements were a 16-bit computer, with 512 kb memory and 200 Mb storage – the average price was $125,000.

Now with software such as CATIA and SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes tools are used to design and produce 90% of all cars. Furthermore, every 2.5 seconds somewhere in the world an airplane designed using these tools takes off. At SOLIDWORKS World in 2010, Dassault were the first major company to discuss how cloud-based computing would change the way designers and engineers used software.

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Another dimension in printing

I’m delighted to have been published in this month’s Inside Supply Management magazine.  


I t surprises many that 3-D printing is nearly 35 years old. From its early days in the 1980s, it has been a tool for designers, used to create prototypes. But that is changing. Over the last 15 years, new innovative uses have emerged, from making lattices to grow human bladders to producing customized car bodies. The growth trend shows no sign of abating: According to research fi rm International Data Corporation, spending on 3-D printing is estimated to increase from US$13.2 billion in 2016 to $28.9 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of about 22.3 percent.

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3D printing – supply chain magic?

Imagine the time it takes to get a replacement part through a supply chain in a disaster zone or a naval vessel at war. Commercial organisations would keep a full range of spare parts near their operations however this is unrealistic in a disaster zone or on the front line during war. Far better if you can produce what you need when it is needed.

So how to overcome this conundrum? In an effort to overcome such scenarios, the aid community and some militaries are redesigning their supply chains by embracing 3D printing technology. Imagine being able to print components on demand, what impact does this have on your supply chain?

A recent article published in the Economist reports that an “American aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, took two 3D printers on a tour of duty. During the tour the crew devised and printed such items as, better funnels for oil cans (to reduce spillage), protective covers for light switches (to stop people bumping into them and inadvertently plunging the flight deck into darkness).One of the Truman’s maintenance officers reported savings of more than $40,000 in replacement parts, the printers cost $2,000 each”. The article also reports that “Israel’s air force prints plastic parts that are as strong as aluminium, in order to keep planes that date from the 1980s flying”.

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3D printing – don’t believe all the hype

A great article by Professor Richard Hague, measured in his assessment of the reality of additive manufacturing/3D printing.  


Prof Richard Hague, chair of the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference, talks myths and modelling

Additive manufacturingAs someone who’s been living and breathing additive technologies for the best part of 20 years, it will come as no surprise that I am not a fan of all the hype surrounding consumer 3D printing. For me, it’s a relief to see a marked decrease in stories on the ‘wonders of 3D printing’ appearing in the tabloids and mainstream media on a regular basis.

Cynical as this may sound, I have good reason: we are still constantly dispelling the ‘plug-and-play’ myths that have led to frustration, disappointment and unmet expectations with the technology. However, in spite of the confusion it may have caused, I also acknowledge that much of the hype surrounding 3D printing has also played an important role in advancing the technology.

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