Rainbow Play Systems playground set installed on White House lawn. March 4th, 2009
First daughters Malia and Sasha Obama got a big surprise after school on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009: a brand-new swing set from Rainbow Play Systems, a Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. and Alignex, Inc. customer.
The "Green Friendly" set, which Rainbow Play Systems have dubbed, "Malia & Sasha's Castle includes features for both active and passive play, including a "penthouse" with a double bubble, overhead monkey bars, shimmy bars, four standard swings, a race car tire swing, rock wall, step chain ladder, slide, binoculars, periscopes and chalkboard. The design of the set was reversed from the standard design model so that the "double bubble" faces the Oval Office, where President Obama can keep an eye on his daughters at play.
The design for the "Rainbow Castle" branded system was accomplished utilizing SolidWorks 3D Mechanical Design (CAD) software. This industry leading manufacturing software is unrivaled in power and ease of use and allowed the designers the flexibility to develop multiple configurations of parts and subsystems that makes customizing the final design layout a simple process. "SolidWorks helps us provide the customer with the exact play system they are looking for," said Jon Mattson, Product Design Manager for Rainbow Play Systems.
The 100 percent North American Cedar and Redwood structure was an important selling point due to President Obama's drive to promote green energy. Rainbow Play Systems markets these materials as an "environmentally responsible choice". Original Rainbow Play Systems contain only "Certified" lumber from 3rd party inspected mills that comply with all Local, State, and Federal harvesting regulations.
A factory crew from the Brookings plant installed the play set along with a "Presidential" picnic table. The massive wooden table sits near the swing set and features brass plates etched with the names of all 44 presidents.
A plaque on the play system reads:
Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, were said to have greeted the swing set with "squeals of joy", according to White House staff. The girls played on the set for almost an hour in chilly weather that afternoon. Their mother went for a swing, too.
About Rainbow Play Systems
Rainbow Play Systems has grown from a small custom job shop in Minnesota to a high-tech manufacturing facility on 130 acres in the heartland of America-Beautiful Brookings, South Dakota. While the scale of our operation has changed over the last 24 years, our focus has not. We continue to pride ourselves on manufacturing the safest, most durable and highest-quality play systems available in America.
About Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.
Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., a Dassault Systèmes S.A. subsidiary, is a world leader in 3D solutions. The company develops and markets software for design, analysis, product data management, and documentation. It is the leading supplier of 3D CAD technology, giving teams intuitive, high-performing software that helps them design better products. For the latest news, information, or an online demonstration, visit the company's Web site (www.solidworks.com) or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).
About Alignex, Inc.
Alignex is an Engineering technology company that assists their customers in improving their manufacturing process, whether through software solutions or engineering services. Serving Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and western areas of Wisconsin and Illinois, Alignex has been the premier SolidWorks Reseller in the Upper Midwest for 11 years and in business as an engineering technology provider for nearly 20 years. Alignex has helped over 1000 companies make the transition to SolidWorks from a wide variety of 2D and 3D CAD formats.
Upper Midwest SolidWorks reseller Alignex, Inc. was acknowledged multiple times for their wide ranging efforts in 2008 at the SolidWorks World User Conference in Orlando, Florida from February 8-11, 2009. The International User Conference & Exposition is the largest annual worldwide 3D CAD event and allows SolidWorks Users, Resellers and Employees to gather, learn, share and celebrate SolidWorks' industry leading family of products and those that bring about its success. These awards included SolidWorks Presidents Club, Elite 190 Club, SolidWorks User Group Network Reseller of the Year and Top SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Reseller for North America. Please read on for more information on these awards.
Alignex was honored with the Presidents Club award for a fifth consecutive year, given for exceeding SolidWorks performance expectations across all of their product lines. Along with strong sales in SolidWorks Simulation, 3DVIA Composer and astonishing success with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, Alignex continued to grow the installation base of SolidWorks 3D Design Software, the centerpiece of the SolidWorks family of Products. "In the economic climate we're faced with, it is satisfying to continue to surpass the expectations placed on us." said Steve Keinath, Alignex owner and award recipient. "This will continue to drive us to keep our streak going in 2009." Paul Oliver, Midwest Regional Sales Manager for SolidWorks added, "Alignex achieved the SolidWorks President's Club award because of their commitment to helping their customers get every ounce of efficiency out of their engineering processes. Alignex grew their Simulation & Data Management business by large double digit amounts in 2008 by focusing their efforts where their customer's needed them most."
In addition to the Presidents Club award streak, Alignex also received the prestigious Elite 190 Club award for the third consecutive year by exceeding the highest standards for customer retention, subscription renewals, and software subscription sales for new licensees of SolidWorks. Alignex was one of only three SolidWorks resellers in North America to receive this distinction for 2008. "It is a testament to the consistency and dedication that our Application Engineers have for our customers and the SolidWorks products we support," said Mack Rasmussen, Alignex Director of Technical Support. "We are pleased that our customers continue to value the software updates from SolidWorks as well the support that is provided by Alignex.
SolidWorks customers also played a major part in another award presented to Alignex. This one did not come from SolidWorks corporate; instead it came from the independent SolidWorks User Group Network (SWUGN). For 2008, Alignex was named the SolidWorks User Group Network Reseller of the Year. The award is presented annually to the SolidWorks reseller organization that demonstrates the highest level of support for user groups. Resellers are nominated by user group leaders from around the world, and based on those nominations; the winner is selected by the vote of the SWUGN Committee. "Alignex has consistently provided outstanding service for our sales and technical needs. We have had sales consultants take the time to help out with technical issues, even those outside their scope of expertise. Alignex always follows through with ensuring customer satisfaction. In addition, as leader of the Twin Cities Simulation User Group, I can always count on Alignex to step up and provide excellent technical presentations for our meetings," said Anne Yust, Exlar Corporation. Richard Doyle, User Community Manager from SolidWorks added, "Congratulations and thanks to Alignex for your outstanding support of SolidWorks User Groups."
Beyond supporting SolidWorks User Groups, the Application Engineer team at Alignex was very busy in 2008 implementing SolidWorks Enterprise PDM (Product Data Management) at customer locations around the world. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software simplifies the process of managing product design changes for distributed design teams. Alignex has had a great deal of success with the product and for their efforts in 2008, Alignex was regognized as the Top Reseller for SolidWorks Enterprise PDM for North America. "Data Management is a solution we pride ourselves on at Alignex, we've been implementing Data Management in various forms for over 15 years. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is a great product with unprecedented ease of use and a proven, quick Return on Investment (ROI)" said Eric Keinath, Consulting Services Manager at Alignex. "We hope to leverage this success by creating even more opportunity for Alignex and Enterprise PDM in 2009 and beyond." Chris Cleary, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Business Development Manager for North America added, "We are thrilled at the effectiveness and efficiency with which Alignex has incorporated E/PDM into their product mix. Alignex has set the standard for successful in-house implementations of Data Management and has developed new methods for data migration as well as systems integration to and from a wide range of ERP systems."
Despite a challenging economy, Alignex has continued to find success, emerging as the Top SolidWorks Reseller in the Central Plains region for 2008. Alignex looks to continue their ongoing success by helping manufacturing companies improve the way they bring products to market and demonstrate significant return on their engineering technology investment with improved productivity, reduced materials costs and developing innovative designs faster.
Major media spouts doom and gloom every night on the evening news. Large manufacturers with billions in overhead and owed pensions are struggling to develop a successful business model for the 21st Century. Meanwhile, with much less publicity, small and medium sized businesses are weathering the current economic storm quite well. In fact some are even thriving in this economy. In the December 28th Star Tribune article entitled Growing UP in a down economy
, several manufacturing companies in the upper Midwest were highlighted as being at capacity and growing. What sets these companies apart? According to the article, there are three key factors:
- Companies thriving in the midst of a global recession tend to be innovative and offer customized, high-tech and engineering services in niche industries.
- "Nimble small companies can take advantage of [this economy] if they have invested previously in their own plants and equipment," said Bob Kill, CEO of Enterprise Minnesota, the quasi-government business assistance group that helps small manufacturers pare waste and raise productivity.
- Cliff Waldman, an economist with the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, noted that today's trendsetters often are firms that previously updated their plant equipment, streamlined production processes or worked to enhance efficiencies, delivery time and ultimately, profits.
At Alignex, we offer a number of technologies that can improve the way manufacturers go to market and manage their engineering process. First and foremost, SolidWorks 3D Design Software
is recognized as an industry lead for its ease of use and productivity tools which helps engineers design better products, faster. Virtual Design Analysis like SolidWorks Simulation
can reduce prototyping costs as well as materials costs by testing new designs as they are being created. Data Management Solutions like SolidWorks Enterprise PDM
can provide the access and workflow for concurrent engineering, making your engineering team more efficient and allowing your organization to better re-use previous engineering in future designs. Documentation tools like 3DVIA Composer
can help bring new products to market faster by utilizing 3D design data for product documentation as well as marketing materials. Design Automation tools like DriveWorks and TactonWorks
helps environments where custom manufacturing yields many "same as, but different" products by allowing for variable engineering specifications to custom configure the design without having to re-engineer it each time. Finally, CAM tools like SolidCAM
allow for machining instructions to be developed in the same window as the design, including the ability to update the machine code immediately after design changes are made.
The bottom line is, if you don't plan to survive this economic downturn, stay with the status quo. On the other hand, if you plan to weather this storm and want to come out stronger on the other end, now is the time to invest in your future. By investing now, you can be in a better position to accelerate your production when the economy gets back on track.
I'm a huge Discovery Channel fan. From Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs and Build it Bigger to How It's Made and Extreme Engineering, there is always something on that network related to how our world works and the people who are making it a better place. In 2005, Orange County Choppers discussed how they use SolidWorks to create and build parts for their custom bikes. They even made a SolidWorks bike (shown).
I saw that bike and the bike they made for HP at SolidWorks World last winter in San Diego and both were sights to behold and very popular with the visitors at the Product Showcase where they were displayed. They will probably both be on display again at SolidWorks World 2009 next February in Orlando, Florida. Click here for more information about how to attend.
Now, there is new show I'm excited about on Discovery Channel called, Prototype This! Each week a group of engineers takes on the task of designing and creating a machine to tackle a theme problem for the show. Last week, they added a hydraulic lifting system with Omni-directional wheels to a mid-sized truck to allow it to park itself in tight spaces and even hoist itself over another parked car when no spaces were available. (See Photo)
These guys are very ambitious and come up with really creative solutions for the problem they are attempting to solve. The reason I bring them up, if you haven't already guessed, is that they use SolidWorks for design and custom fabrication projects. They have a great video on their website that describes how SolidWorks fits into their process. (From the Link, go to the Design Room for the video on SolidWorks.) Watch the show Wednesdays at 9PM Central. This week, they attempt to make a Six-Legged All-Terrain Vehicle.
At Alignex, we're always excited to see what our customers are making with the software and support we provide. We really feel like we're contributing, in our own way, to making our world better. If you have a cool product you'd like to share with us, we would be happy to showcase it on our website and let you tell the story of how it developed and what role SolidWorks and/or Alignex helped make it happen. Contact me directly or tell your Sales or Support representatives about your interest.