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Posts Tagged ‘RAPID + TCT’

RAPID + TCT 2018: Metal and Post-Processing

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

This past week I had the pleasure of attending RAPID + TCT 2018, a conference and exhibition that showcases 3D printing/additive manufacturing with a myriad new technologies, materials, and processes. The event, put on by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is a highlight of the year for us, and again, we came away overwhelmed (in a very good way) by all that we witnessed.

Much like last year, if there were three words to describe the SME’s RAPID + TCT 3D Printing & Manufacturing Event they would be metal, metal, and metal — machines producing metal parts were everywhere. This year marked the 28th event and seemed more like a mini IMTS than an additive manufacturing show with exhibitors ranging from material suppliers to post processors to traditional machining companies. There were, of course, the industry heavy hitters, but there were also a lot of startup companies exhibiting for the first time that made things really interesting.

Post-processing also got a lot of exposure as companies providing these technologies had more of a presence and recognizing that this important aspect of AM needs to be an integral part of the production process, and not relegated to being an afterthought.

This year’s theme was “3D In 360°,” meaning the industry is starting to come full circle in terms of capabilities and potential, and this theme was clearly evident in the technical sessions and on the exhibit show floor. This year continued a distinct change of industry direction from one-off rapid prototyping of parts to production quantities in the hundreds and even thousands.

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That’s A Wrap: Divergence and Convergence

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

The spring season seems to be the time of year when many companies and professional organizations hold their annual conferences, and this spring was no exception. I’ve attended several events in the past few weeks and noted striking differences of two of them — divergence at RAPID + TCT 2017 and convergence at LiveWorx 17 — and that’s how I want to wrap up our spring 2017 trade event tour (although I have one more next week).

Divergence at RAPID + TCT 2017

Diverge (dih-vurj, dahy-): To move, lie, or extend in different directions from a common point; branch off. To turn aside or deviate, as from a path, practice,or plan.

3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) are about making something digital into something analog. Although the technologies are 30+ years old, many things are still being done as they were in the beginning, such as building 3D models, exporting STL data, etc. However, several aspects of AM are diverging from its historical roots.

For example, the first AM materials were polymers, and they still account for ~85% of all materials used, but metals are coming on strong and now account for about 14% of the materials used. The range of materials being used, though, is constantly increasing — everything from ceramics to composites to food to living tissue.

Panel Discussion at RAPID + TCT 2017

Volume quantities are also diverging from one-offs or small quantities for rapid prototyping to real production quantities where the costs can be justified when costs go down and production speed goes up.

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