Each year, SME and the TCT Group team up to produce the largest additive manufacturing show in North America called RAPID + TCT. It attracts thousands of manufacturers and 3D printing professionals from across the country, bringing industry leaders together to educate and discuss the latest trends in additive manufacturing. The event is designed to bring change and disruption to industries that rely heavily on manufacturing, particularly automotive and medical sectors. This year was nothing short of that and Accucode 3D and The 3D Printing Store were fortunate to get a first-hand look at the different technologies reshaping the industry at this year’s event. Here’s what we discovered.
Origin Unveils Origin One 3D Printer
Overall the show was very busy, and according to the survey of attendees, there was a high number of first-time attendees. This is good for 3D vendors showing off new technologies, one of which was 3D manufacturer, Origin. We have been talking to Origin for several months now and we were excited to see the unveiling of their Origin One 3D printer used for high volume production parts. What’s unique about this printer is its open materials network which gives customers access to multiple materials that can be optimized for specific applications. One of those materials was from a company called Loctite.
Loctite, a division of Henkel Adhesive Technologies, had a significant presence at the show and showed off many materials in addition to their line of adhesives that are designed for 3D printed polymers, post processing equipment and large scale printing using a robotic arm to print floors. We discovered Henkel has a collaboration with our partner EnvisionTEC where they will be exploring new materials. We’re excited to see what new offerings emerge from this effort.
We also looked at a 3D printer from Fabrisonic that was very interesting. It offers both welding of foils of various materials and has a follow on tool head for machining. Even though we were impressed with its capabilities, this sort of technology would need to be sourced for a very specific application. We will be watching this technology closely in the coming years.
Other Notable Solutions
Given our strong focus in aerospace and automotive, many of our customers have expressed interest in 3D printing with ceramics due to its strong mechanical, chemical and thermal resistance properties. Though we don’t have ceramic printing capabilities today, we plan to add them to our stack very soon. One notable company specializing in ceramic materials at the show was a small company from Nebraska called Thethon. They offer a variety of different ceramic materials and live resins, including those used for high-temperature molding and casting of metals.
Essentium is another promising company we came across who brought their HSE 180 • S printer to the show. HSE is short for “high speed extrusion” and they are fully dedicated to both their materials and a better extrusion system. Given how slow extrusion printing processes are today, we were excited to hear the HSE 180 • S is capable of printing parts up to 10x faster than conventional FFF printers. Essentium appears to be pushing the standards for what it means to manufacture at scale without sacrificing speed or accuracy.
Fused Form out of Bogata, Colombia also had a great showing at RAPID + TCT this year. With large build volumes up to 500 x 500 x 600mm and a competitive price, this makes them a suitable option for engineers and schools alike. We had great discussions with their executive team at the show and we’re arranging to become a distributor for their printers here in the United States. Stay tuned for more details.
Catching Up with Partners and Customers
One of the great things about attending a major industry event like RAPID + TCT is it gives us a chance to catch-up with our partners EnvisionTEC, INTAMSYS, Nano Dimension and many others. EnvisionTEC’s annual partner conference coincided with the show, so we not only got to see what they had in store for the upcoming year but had a chance to meet the new area director for our Colorado and Texas territory.
We also got to sit down with the Prodways team. Prodways is another promising 3D printer manufacturer that we are in discussions with, so it was good to get some additional information on their industrial laser sintering printer, the ProMaker P1000. They’ll be coming out with a newer version of the P10000 in Q3 later this year called the ProMaker P1000X.
RAPID + TCT is a show we look forward to each year. This year was a bit different though in the sense that attendees were far more knowledgeable about the different technologies and materials available than we’ve seen in year’s past.
“The number of attendees familiar with 3D printing at the show was impressive. It allowed me to have more meaningful conversations with end users about their specific applications and where additive design and 3D printing would be most impactful,” says Debra Wilcox, CEO of The 3D Printing Store and Accucode 3D. “Those conversations weren’t as easy to have three years ago and I’m looking forward to continuing those discussions at the show in Anaheim next year.”
We also noticed there were just as many material manufacturers at the show as 3D printer manufacturers. That’s because the industry is seeing huge breakthroughs in the different types of materials available for additive manufacturing. What’s exciting is that many of these materials offer new properties ranging from fire resistance to thermal conductivity and RFI shielding. This opens the door for endless 3D printing applications to emerge and we’re excited to be able to help our customers innovate and solve problems in new ways with these advancements.
What was your experience like at the RAPID + TCT show this year? Was there a new material or vendor that stood out to you most? Give us a shout and let’s compare notes.