Help Your Customers See What They Want
Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS’ newest software addition is SOLIDWORKS Make, a personalization platform for brand owners and retailers that will make it easier for them to enable their online customers to personalize products. Make is a cloud-based service (SaaS) that expands the reach of the company’s previous programs to include personalized-by-consumer branded products. A 3D model can be created with SOLIDWORKS or other design software and presented to the customer in a widget on the brand or retailer web store. Once personalized, the branded product is placed into the existing shopping cart of the brand or retailer ecommerce platform. Make is a white-label platform. Customers from the general public directly interact with the online widget.
A Make widget in an online shopping cart demo. The tools and easy-to-use selection options are at the bottom of the screen. (Image courtesy of the author.)
Make is SOLIDWORKS’ answer to consumer customizability of 3D-modeled products. Make does not change the manufacturing process; it supports 3D printing, assembly, soldering, laser cutting, laser engraving, CNC and many other processes.
Make does not create any content. Only the brand can create content. Content is imported into Make and the brand uses Make to modify the shape and create configurations of various imported components. This ensures that the personalized products will respect the brand identity and proper manufacturing of the personalized product.
Custom eyeglasses created online with Make. (Image courtesy of ClearVision and Dassault Systèmes.)
The introductory videos available on the Make site do a good job of highlighting the advantages of the program’s simple format. The program is able to isolate different features within the preset design intent while still allowing the consumer to access the customizable features. For example, in one of the video tutorials, each part of a pair of glasses has interchangeable options. The consumer selects different materials for the rims and earpieces and different colors and shapes from three clearly identified buttons. Each option has a corresponding slide displaying the choices in a clear format. The consumer can change the tint or shape of the glasses themselves, as well as alter the tints and materials of the frames. All the while, the program is well designed to maintain the desired shape and function of the glasses. The interactive design maintains the designers’ integrity, while the consumers make it their own.
The consumer even shows off their personalized product in a live video demonstration that allows them to continue to change visible preset features. Trying on the glasses virtually, the consumer is ready to go.
The system is broken down into three steps that securely and automatically separate the consumer and designer/producer: import, personalize and produce.
Import allows you to import the default shape of the branded product and associated metadata but not the native solid model-based product.
Next, you, the brand designer, define and—well—design the acceptable shapes, decorations, configurations and dependencies using templates. Before anything is added to the online, interactive store, import allows you to define materials and select your own set of customizable constraints, including clear plastic, metals, logos, colored gems (as in one introductory video) or features from within your preset patterns. This is not accessible to the general public.
Third, the consumer goes to one of the web pages of the brand or retailer website to personalize a product. Your product goes live on your online store, where the customer can interact within the boundaries you, the designer and brand, have chosen to offer. This step is key to the revolutionary consumer market that SOLIDWORKS hopes to spearhead. For Make to be a marketable product to designers, it has to market itself to the final consumer. For Make to be usable by its intended market of designers and producers, it has to be intuitive to the final customers: the consumers.
The online consumers will enter the website of the brand or retailer and, with a few clicks of a button, should walk away with the purchase of a personalized product coming to their door. For that to happen, the consumer must be able to identify their options and the provided tools quickly and accurately.
To highlight its intuitive tools and programs, SOLIDWORKS has created a cute little commercial (see below). A young girl shows her class how she designed and printed a plastic cowboy hat for her little brother’s teddy bear. This commercial does not specifically highlight Make; however, it does charmingly reinforce one of the most important features of projects that Make, even more than previous programs, will rely on: accessibility and intuitive tools.
The company claims intellectual property will be protected by providing the consumer limited access to the product data. Only the brand and the manufacturer will have full access to the data that will finally turn the 3D picture into a physical object in the consumer’s hand. The data provided on the cloud-based website is degraded to the minimum required format for the customer’s viewing and customizing.
SOLIDWORKS is quick to highlight the biggest advantages for the designers and producers: space, time and money. When 3D printed, it is printed on-demand to the consumer’s specific needs. In order to provide the fast customizable final product, the raw materials need to be stored on-site with the printer. Ordinary wire, plastic and glass are transformed into hundreds or thousands of different designs at the press of a button—and customized within your brand/design parameters. As a producer, storage and materials can be minimized, saving you money and time while you maximize profits.
Make prints to your preferred fulfilment provider.
You are only limited by the materials and your imagination. Just how clean and seamless the widget will be in various shopping carts remains to be seen. However, it does look as if the interactive design features highlighted in the demos will overlap into a professional final product.
For more information, check out the Make website.
About the Author
Esme Gaisford is a molecular biologist and classically trained philosopher. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has written for a variety of science blogs and industry partners. She has worked in a variety of wet labs including Cancer Biology at Temple Medical School, Tumor Immunotherapeutics at City of Hope Hospital and Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Chicago.