New SolidWorks CEO Discusses AI, Generative Design, Virtual Twins

Long-time R&D veteran envisions natural interactions in CAD

Long-time R&D veteran Manish Kumar steps up to become CEO, envisions natural interactions driven by AI

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In February, long-time R&D veteran Manish Kumar took the helm of SolidWorks as CEO, signaling a changing of the guards. As he takes on the new role, he is flanked by two deputies to sustain the momentum in R&D: The development of classic desktop SOLIDWORKS mechanical CAD software is in the hands of John Sweeney, Sr. Director of SOLIDWORKS Development; and the cloud-hosted SOLIDWORKS applications will be overseen by Amit Mandloi, Sr. Director of R&D. 

Though the CAD industry is mature and its norms well-established, Kumar still sees room for breakthroughs and innovation. “Today, we are good at capturing the mechanical behaviors or mechanical aspects of systems. We are horrible at capturing everything around it, like kinematic behaviors,” he observes.

AI-Powered Modeling

While picking up a pen and placing it on the table is an easy task in reality, to replicate the action in MCAD software is still a complex process. “And this is where I think AI is going to be pretty handy,” Kumar says.

At 3DEXPERIENCE World, attendees got a sneak peek of how the software could use AI to predict part placement—something made possible by the cloud-hosted data in 3DEXPRIENCE platform. “We showed that, if you place a fastener in an assembly, based on everything we've learned about your behavior, how things are placed, and how things are mated, we can place 45 different fasteners without you doing anything else,” he says. 

Generative Design

At the recent 3DEXPERIENCE World Conference, SolidWorks customer Exovolar discussed how it used generative design tools to create a jet pack. (Think of Bond's jet pack in Thunderball.) It was a classic example of the design software proposing an option human designers might not have conceived on their own.

“So this is the area where it augments the designers with more ideas, more choices. These may be additional choices to satisfy your constraints,” says Kumar. “And we are not just stopping there. We are also adding design studies or design of experiments.”

Digital Twins

Recently, Kumar also used 3D Creator, a concept modeling program from the 3DEXPERIENCE portfolio, to produce a digital version of his own home, located in the historic district of Acton, Massachusetts. It was part of the preparation for a series of remodeling tasks, he wrote on LinkedIn

“I have no idea why more people don't use virtual twins. By using them, they will be able to stop making a lot of mistakes, even before the foundation is poured,” he says.

For more on Kumar's thoughts, listen to the podcast.

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