From Dassault Systemes chief executive Bernard Charles, we get a fascinating look behind the scenes of the computerisation industrial revolution. Going back to 1988, DS and Boeing - already long-term partners and having already moved from 2D drawings to 3D design - decided to create the 777 airliner with no physical mock-up. This all-digital process did away with that time-consuming, costly stage.
That project was followed by the advent of Dassault 3D techniques for visualising the assembly, maintenance, operation and eventual disposal of an aircraft - so-called 3D product lifecycle management.
Other industries, such as automotive, have adopted these techniques for optimising design and product performance. The result is that many of the improvements in ease-of-use, environmental performance, low-cost manufacturing, etc that we take for granted in many of the products we use would not have come about without 3D technology. Indeed, Boeing believes it is simply no longer possible to design an aircraft without 3D product lifecycle management.
But now, as the 787 enters service, Charles sees 3D technology as having achieved an altogether greater degree of pervasiveness. If Chinese counterfeiters were to buy a 787 and attempt to copy it, they would never succeed, he says - but if they got ahold of the digital plans, they could do it: "For the first time in humanity, the digital understanding has surpassed the realisation."