Technological innovations in 3D CAD software has allowed designers to become magicians as they create products out of thin air. This year at SOLIDWORKS World, that magic was literal as the conference kicked off in Los Angeles with death-defying illusions. Illusion Projects INC partners Justin Flom and Tim Clothier challenged Gian Paolo Bassi, “would you trust your life to SOLIDWORKS?” Bassi put his head under the 26-inch, track-mounted buzzsaw designed with dangerously tight tolerances, designed with SOLIDWORKS.

Photo Credit: SOLIDWORKS

The conference continued to dazzle by showcasing innovations using SOLIDWORKS such as NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s asteroid redirect robot, scheduled to be finished in 2021. NASA is developing a first-ever robotic mission to visit a large near-Earth asteroid, collect a 15-ton boulder from its surface, and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon, technology that can help prevent a real life Armageddon. The spacecraft will demonstrate a planetary defense concept by using an enhanced gravity tractor to very slightly deflect the asteroid's orbit. Once in orbit, an astronaut crew in an Orion vehicle will dock to the ARRM spacecraft and conduct two spacewalks over a five-day period.

Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer and the first astronaut of Iranian descent, shared her vision of life in space. Our future in space will include a reliance on 3D printing, being able to produce parts and tools that a space station needs, when they need them. In 2014, the first experimental printer was sent to the International Space Station. 3D printing has allowed astronauts to be more self sufficient by printing tools or spare parts, cutting down on resupply missions. These are important steps to working towards a future where we can colonize other planets.

Back on planet Earth, the SpaceX Hyperloop project seeks to revolutionize ground transportation with a competition to build a system that can travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than an hour, travelling at speeds up to 700 miles per hour. The purpose of the competition was to help accelerate the development of functional prototypes and encourage student innovation by challenging university students to design and build the best high-speed pod. Based on the high-quality submissions and overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding the competition, SpaceX is moving forward with a second installment of the competition: Hyperloop Pod Competition II, which will culminate in a second competition in Summer 2017 at SpaceX’s Hyperloop track. Hyperloop Competition II will be focused on a single criterion: maximum speed.

Dassault Systemes is helping to cultivate these disruptive technologies, expanding their 3DEXPERIENCE Lab to the United States in May 2017. They will be providing an innovation laboratory and startup accelerator in collaboration with MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. The lab will nurture entrepreneurial projects that have the potential to transform society through a one or two year program that accelerates their product development. The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab shapes a new framework of open innovation that merges collective intelligence with a cross-collaborative approach to foster entrepreneurship and bring new experiences to life, as well as to strengthen society´s future of creation.

Jason Silva, the Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s #1 rated and Emmy-nominated series, Brain Games, shared his vision of the future in an impassioned speech. "We are the species that transforms and transcends." He believes that we’ve moved passed traditional evolution, "we have truly decommissioned natural selection and now we must decide what we will become."

Silva invoked Moore’s Law, stating that "we live in a world where technology is happening at an exponential change." This change isn’t to be feared, but embraced. "The speed of change is not something we should be apprehensive about but something we should be excited about." 

Bassi shared similar sentiments. "The only constant in life and business is change. The very nature of product design is changing."

Next year’s SOLIDWORKS World will again be held Feb. 4 to Feb. 7, 2018 in Los Angeles.

SolidProfessor provides next generation learning for teams, schools, and individuals to keep up with rapidly evolving engineering tools and technologies. Their online learning resources include video tutorials, hands-on exercises, and skills assessments to provide an engaging and effective learning experience.