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Here’s how real-life products are being developed in our virtual world

With SOLIDWORKS design software, entrepreneurs, vendors, and manufacturers can finally be on the same page.

Innovation never stops — not even in a global pandemic. Today’s virtual workplace has recontextualized development for all types of teams, but those building prototypes for physical products may be feeling especially upended. Creators of tangible products are heavily reliant on real-world application, field testing, and active, collaborative feedback.

Enter cloud-based 3D-modeling.

What is it?

Manufacturing done virtually, collaboratively, and quickly.

Electric vehicles? Prosthetic limbs? Luxury porcelain?! Products of all sorts are currently being developed by way of cloud-based 3D-modeling. Now more than ever, companies who see the benefit of consolidating production pipelines are being drawn to cloud-based applications for their nimble, collaborative capacities. Solutions from the Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS brand, for example, allows designers to create new worlds from anywhere on any device.

“As we are a technology company building physical products, everything is based on the 3D model,” says Mikael Kajbring, CTO and Founder of Awake, an electric surfboard brand. “We communicate with 3D models and rendering, which are very easy to grasp for everyone in the organization. Then we use the 3D model to extract our BOM which is the core in production, supply chain, procurement, understanding how to save costs and increase margins which ultimately is what makes us profitable and grow.”

Teams who use cloud-based product development platforms have access to a portfolio of applications beyond standard design tools. These additional applications can run simulation models, enable social collaboration, and provide insight based in information intelligence. Basically you get to design your product while also seeing how it will be used in the real world.

For companies like Sparkcharge, a company developing ultrafast charging stations, SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE Works portfolio help to streamline the design process.

“It’s been great to use the same program to simulate the manufacturability, stress analysis, and draft angles as the one used to make the model,” explains Chris Ellis, CTO. “On top of that, SOLIDWORKS’ built-in rev control and custom fields control has made exporting drawings to .PDF a breeze.”

Image Credits: Getty Images

The real sell here is getting everyone within your development pipeline on the same page. That means designers, manufacturers, and vendors can all see the modeling in real time in one place. Many who’ve gone through the rigorous, displaced process of developing a product can see why consolidation is key. There are often many parties using many conflicting softwares.

Without the SOLIDWORKS 3DEXPERIENCE Works portfolio, many teams build on 3-4 disparate modeling programs. The inefficiencies are not just frustrating — they can carve away at the actual development process. Hosting one model on one screen can help to solve development problems, says Hao Wu, Founder of Exovolar, a company building personal flight suits.

“SOLIDWORKS was crucial to our problem-solving process by simply hosting the interactive physical model on the screen,” says Wu. “I would just simply stare at the model, rotate it around, and move the linkages up and down, to get a better understanding of the system. These seemingly the simplest features in CAD offer so much insight into a non-existing product that it took my mind to all sorts of places.”

And it’s not just your eyes on the prize — it’s the entire team. The cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE Works portfolio even provides a marketplace where designers can hire manufacturers, find standard parts, or get support with engineering. If you’re not well-versed in every facet of product development (and let’s face it, most of us aren’t), the platform helps you to increase collaboration and outsource expertise.

How did we get here?

A shift from product to experience.

Image Credits: Getty Images

In 1989, Dassault Systèmes created the first virtual model of the Boeing 777, changing the way automated production looked forever. Since its acquisition in 1997, the SOLIDWORKS brand has grown to more than five million users and has supported more than 6500 startups and 475 incubators and accelerators. The 3D design solution is now a standard for modern innovation.

Then, in 2012, the company pioneered the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which expanded on the idea of virtual modeling to include insight that prospected a customer’s experience with a product.

Bringing the SOLIDWORKS 3D-design solution to the cloud is an obvious shift yet has been a long time coming. Cloud-based development helps designers to better access the core notions of experiential innovation: It helps companies extend beyond product creation to become fuller, wide-reaching business platforms. Cloud-based systems remove intermediaries between buyers and sellers, allowing innovators to build more effective business relationships.

Where to start

Products are best designed on one, consolidated platform — from the beginning.

In its decades of perfecting modeling technology, SOLIDWORKS has to come to learn that it’s best to start off on the right foot. That’s one of the reasons they created the 3DEXPERIENCE Works for Startups program aimed at nurturing disruptive projects from the get-go. Startups admitted to the program are provided with software, training and co-marketing resources to create revolutionary products.

The Startup Program at SOLIDWORKS also partners with accelerators and incubators across the globe — from the world’s leading accelerator programs, to incubators in unsuspecting places — to ensure startup innovation is fostered in every startup ecosystem. The program aims to help startups succeed by extending the network of SOLIDWORKS and bridging connections between the accelerator programs and the startups utilizing SOLIDWORKS.

Right now entrepreneurs who are creating prosthetic limbs, magical wheelchairs, even those developing means to fight COVID-19 are benefitting from the Startups Program.

Working to change the world from home

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve likely been pushed to prospect how a user won’t just use your product, but how they’ll experience your product too. As most of the world establishes remote business, there’s no better time to build using keen, collaborative insight in the cloud. For more information on how to manufacture products in the age of experience, visit https://www.solidworks.com/entrepreneurs.