3D Printing User Conference Goes Nuts
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on April 13, 2016 |
Bigger than ever, AMUG conference updates on 3D printing . . . and we learn how Stephen Colbert turn...

The Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) is a users’ group created to educate and advance the uses and applications of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. The group has a rich history that has evolved over 28 years. Initially built around 3D Systems, the 3D printing company, it was known as the North American Stereolithography Users Group and focused solely on the advancement of stereolithography. Eventually the group decided to expand the users group to support users of all additive manufacturing technologies and adopted the name AMUG.

Every year the group hosts the Additive Manufacturing Users Group Conference. The conference was developed as a way for people in the AM industry to share ideas, information and their knowledge with other users. This year’s conference was 30-40 percent larger than last year’s with more than 1,000 attendees. Additionally, 40 percent of the attendees were first-time attendees.

Over the course of most of a week, the conference included keynote presentations, technical sessions, workshops with hands-on training, competitions, vendor breakout sessions and the AMUGexpo. The expo ran the first two nights of the conference and was a trade show-style setup featuring more than 100 exhibiters and a place where those who attended discovered new services, materials, systems and peripherals.

The keynote sessions provided real-world examples and advice on AM from industry experts. It was led by Todd Grimm of T.A. Grimm & Associates with a presentation titled, “AM—Age of Innovation.” Grimm has 24 years of experience in the AM and 3D printing industry and was named by TCT Magazine as one of the 20 most influential people in the AM industry. Grimm’s session covered the origins of 3D printing, where we are and where we look to be going. Grimm discussed the need to counterbalance risk in the industry, especially as the hype bubble has seemed to burst, landing the industry in the “trough of disillusionment,” where interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.

3D printing in the “trough of disillusionment, according to industry analyst Todd Grimm. (Image courtesy of Granter.)
3D printing in the “trough of disillusionment, according to industry analyst Todd Grimm. (Image courtesy of Granter.)

Grimm goes on to explain why this might be a good thing. With the hype gone, it lets those in the industry focus on the things that matter, leading to more applications and moving us toward new innovations. Grimm labeled the next ten years as The Age of Innovation.

The Age of Innovation. (Image courtesy of the author.)
The Age of Innovation. (Image courtesy of the author.)

Grimm explained that creating a plan with realistic expectations, and using critical thinking to gather insight and information while making sure we constantly identify what’s important, will be what guides us successfully through The Age of Innovation.


Another keynote session, titled “The Legacy of Reebok Innovation in Partnership with Additive Manufacturing,” was given by Paul Litchfield, president of Ware Solutions LLC. His presentation discussed how, during his time with Reebok, they used AM to improve time-to-market with rapid prototyping. Litchfield started with Reebok in 1985 and created the Advanced Concepts Group in 1989. The CAD department was established in 1995 and, in 1997, the Reebok Rapid Prototyping (RP) Lab was formed. First out of the chute were prototyped shoe soles using materials from 3D Systems and Somos, a manufacturer of materials for additive manufacturing. The very next year, in 1998, the first 3D-printed Somos outsole was created for actual athletic use. Reebok found additional uses for their 3D printers as well. They created a part to fix an in-house elliptical machine in the workout room, and also planned the layout of the RP lab.

3D-printed layout of Reebok RP Lab. (Photo courtesy of the author.)
3D-printed layout of Reebok RP Lab. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

Reebok has also used 3D printing for research and prototyping for impact-dampening systems in athletic helmets. Most recently was its introduction of the Reebok CHECKLIGHT, a measurement tool of impact force designed to help with impact assessment.

Legacy Effects

Jason Lopes, lead systems engineer at Legacy Effects, also gave a keynote session titled “Creating Clones.” He discussed how 3D printing was being used in Hollywood for the entertainment industry. One example he listed was how 3D scans of people were being turned into 3D prints to create castings and masks. The pistachios commercial featuring Stephen Colbert during the 2014 Super Bowl is one such example.

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