At 15 feet tall, the ABCD 3D Printer from SeeMeCNC is the tallest 3D printer in the world. Throughout the SOLIDWORKS World 2016 show, I found myself going back to their printer, to watch it in action. And to marvel at what they had done, on a whim, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
John Olafson, VP and Cofounder of SeeMeCNC, and I met and spent some time talking at the big Maker Faire Bay Area event back in 2014, so it was terrific to get some maker time with him in Dallas. We talked about how they got to building the huge #PartDaddy 3D printer that you see in this photo.
Since Dassault Systèmes is a client, I was invited to spend a few days at this year’s SOLIDWORKS World show in Dallas. Yes, it was in February, and yes, it took me this long to start digesting some of the many things I experienced at that show. #SWW2016 Dallas – It is a huge show with thousands of 3D CAD experts in attendance.
The highlights, for me, and why they matter now.
Spending 30 minutes one-on-one with, Gian Paolo Bassi, Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS CEO, to explore what they are doing. Sure, I heard him from the main stage, but it is rare for a CEO of a company as large as SOLIDWORKS to devote time to a little guy like me. I was and am honored for that time. I learned a ton that I’ll share a bit in this post and in some future ones.
In a nutshell, Gian Paolo Bassi started me thinking on the huge impact that STEM initiatives have on young (and older) makers and students. We spent some time talking, and I’m going to paraphrase him here, about how software needs to get out of the way and let people create, let them imagine, let them design. Their new Xdesign effort is certainly working towards this as well as the new Apps for Kids programs they are building.
“Design starts when we free people’s minds from the constraint of any program — where the software operates as an aid and not a hindrance so the user can move more thoughtfully through the creation process. When this type of freedom occurs, innovation is more likely to happen. Great design is possible when the digital tools are there to help, to assist (to aid) without being obtrusive.” –Gian Paolo Bassi
Between this conversation with the Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS CEO and working on several other National Science Foundation projects (more on those in a later post, but one that stands out is the STEM Guitar Building Institute), has me thinking deeply about how STEM education is working (or not) to help young people wrap their head around the future of design and making. Specifically, how they do that, intrigues me, and I have a deeper post on some conversations I have had with STEM educators and institutions.
One of the ideas that came to me since attending SOLIDWORKS World was this: These big national software conventions should host and run mini Maker Faires within their exhibit hall as a way to connect to the increasingly important maker community around the event location. More essential, it would allow the area makers to have an impact on the software and manufacturing executives attending from all over the world. If you want to talk about the Future of Design, you could do so with the many minds that are actively doing things with your software, or with the ideas you share. Sure, the customers are critical to that, but why not mingle the two audiences.
I also met with some sharp guys at TechSoft3D.com who basically have used what Adobe PDF made possible, viewing objects in 3D within a PDF, and made it more robust by letting you pull in a variety of CAD data. Pretty amazing.
Already mentioned in another post, from that trip, I talked about the team at Sindoh that is building on its long heritage as a 2D printer company and starting to sell the 3Dwox printer. Had the chance to sit down with Rob Bodor from ProtoLabs about the neat work that company is doing to make it possible for you to do small run production; either injection molded parts, 3D printed parts, or machined parts. Like many up and coming networks, their advanced software lets them keep it affordable for them to produce just one item for you.
Last, but certainly not least, I spent time with my good friends at Stratasys to talk about the many changes coming in 3D printing from one of the dominant players in the marketplace. Their multi-material, multi-color (as in true full color), 3D printers are always impressive.
Oh, and that 15 foot tall delta 3D printer from SeeMeCNC – it was built on a half-joking bet. The company had just received a big shipment of materials to size and cut for their super popular and successful Rostock MAX v2 Desktop 3D Printer Kit ($999) and a Meetup gang that was hanging around the shop commented about the long metal frame pieces (you guessed it, about 15 feet long) and how it would be cool to see if they could make a printer that big… Well, that’s how big ideas come to life. #SeeMeSam is the resulting creation. Photo below.