By Maria Conrado
RAPID + TCT hosted its largest, most comprehensive event yet May 20 to 23, 2019 in Detroit, MI. Nearly 9,000 manufacturing professionals from around the world joined together for North America’s most influential additive manufacturing (AM) event.
“We’ve been attending these shows from the ‘90s, so from the very beginning our CEO saw the value of collaboration inside of AM. RAPID + TCT has done a great job of bringing these conferences and exhibitions together so that people can partner and collaborate to drive the innovations forward in the industry,” shares Bryan Crutchfield, VP/GM, Materialise North America.
Patrick Boyd, marketing director, EOS, agrees. “I think this is the most important event of the year for North America. If you are trying to understand how AM fits into an advanced manufacturing environment, this is the place.”
The RAPID + TCT show floor spanned 112,200 square feet and hosted 434 exhibiting companies, a record high. Attendance—5,203 conference and exhibits-only attendees—increased 47 percent over the 2018 event. Attendees were pleased with the overall atmosphere. “It’s my first show and I am blown away. I am just happy to walk around and see what everybody is doing in all forms of AM,” reported Jim Hall.
Above: The RAPID + TCT show floor spanned 112,200 square feet and hosted 434 exhibiting companies.
After a day filled with AM workshops led by industry leaders, attendees gathered for the RAPID + TCT 2019 opening event, hosted by SME’s AM Technical Community advisors. Erika Berg of Carbon and Vittorio Bologna of Riddell delivered the opening keynote presentation. The two companies collaborated on Riddell’s new Diamond helmet, which features a 3D printed lattice liner developed using Carbon Digital Light Synthesis technology.
After the keynote, former AM Technical Community Chair Todd Grimm took the stage to explain some of the top new products in 3D printing and scanning and give attendees a better sense of what they needed to see on the show floor.
Announcements ranged from various new hardware in both non-metals and metals categories. For hardware – non-metals Stratasys announced V650 Flex, Formlabs showcased the Form 3 and Form 3L, and Carbon displayed the L1 and M2D printers—all vat photopolymerization devices; in the powder bed fusion category EOS brought the Integra P 400 and HP its Jet Fusion 5200.
For hardware – metals ExOne showed the X1 250PRO binder jetting machine. New directed energy deposition devices included Formalloy’s Ally Development Feeder, Optomec’s 860 Hybrid CA, and Spee3D’s WarpSPEED. Aurora Labs, Additive Industries, and SLM Solutions introduced powder bed fusion products.
Software for both the pre-process and processing of AM pieces was another show highlight. Vendors like AlphaSTAR introduced pre-process solutions like the company’s new GENOA 3DP. Further down the production chain, Sigma Labs demonstrated PrintRite 5.0 and 3YOURMIND exhibited Agile MES/Part Identifier.
Following Day Highlights
To kick off the second day of RAPID + TCT 2019, Christoph Schell, president, 3D printing and digital manufacturing, HP, Inc., held a special presentation about 3D printing’s role in the fourth industrial revolution, and announced a collaboration between HP and SmileDirectClub, a producer of teeth-straightening clear aligners. SmileDirectClub plans to deploy 49 HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems running 24×7, producing more than 50,000 unique mouth molds a day.
The Wednesday keynote speaker was Dr. Naomi Murray, director of additive technology solutions, Stryker. Dr. Murray talked about how Stryker uses AM methods to create its Tritanium technology, which is utilized in several FDA-cleared orthopedic implants. According to Dr. Murray, Stryker uses AM because of design freedom. It creates hybrid structures, functionally located porosity, complex and hard to machine geometries, and geometries that cannot otherwise be made. AM also helps understand patient needs and put in design features that help make patients better.
The final day of RAPID + TCT 2019 was themed Automotive Day and this and it carried through to that day’s keynote address. The keynote speaker was Dr. Dominik Rietzel, head of AM (non-metals), BMW Group. BMW has used AM for prototyping for decades—EOS received its first order from BMW 30 years ago—and uses AM to produce foam-like parts during prototyping to mimic actual production parts.
One way BMW uses AM in production is to personalize the interior and exterior parts of the MINI. Customers can upload a customization on their phone and BMW prints it. An automated production cell with two robots and two Carbon M2 printers helps to achieve this. With this setup, BMW can produce 504 pieces per week on each machine versus 120 pieces in a manual production setup.
If you missed the conference, panels, or other presentations at RAPID + TCT 2019, the Digital Package is an ideal option. For $200 receive access to select conference presentations, keynotes, thought leadership panels, and more for one year. Details on how to purchase the digital package are posted on rapid3devent.com.
Mark your calendars for RAPID + TCT 2020: April 20 to 23 in Anaheim, CA.
Maria Conrado is the senior event manager for RAPID + TCT at SME. She has been a manufacturing event manager in the industry for more than 20 years. Conrado received her education from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.
Sep2019, Industrial Print Magazine