Behind the Scenes at RAPID + TCT 2018
Isaac Maw posted on April 27, 2018 |

RAPID + TCT, the largest additive manufacturing trade show in North America, just wrapped up in Fort Worth, Texas. As usual, engineering.com was on the show floor, conducting interviews and shooting videos about the latest tech on display at the show.

The show floor was abuzz with excitement as the focus of the show, mirroring the additive manufacturing industry itself, is really starting to shift from the hobbyist to the manufacturer. Instead of small desktop FDM machines building trinkets from PLA, we’re seeing more robust machines like the Ultimaker S5 platform, designed for industrial production and optimized to extrude more than ten polymer materials, including polypropylene, PVA and CPE.

According to Keynote speaker Terry Wohlers, President of Wohlers Associates, “metal is smoking hot,” in the additive industry, and the show floor reflected that as well.

I spoke to one attendee who told me he came to this year’s show for research into metal additive manufacturing for aircraft engine parts. When I asked him whether he was considering manufacturing services such as Xometry or Protolabs versus buying machines for in-house production from a company like 3D Systems or EOS, he pointed out a third possibility: leasing equipment. “The industry is developing so fast, we may not want to buy a machine that could be obsolete in a matter of months,” he mused.

The show is also smaller than the big shows like IMTS or EMO Hannover, and I personally noticed that it was very well lit, which makes my job easier. I wear the videographer hat here at engineering.com, and I thought our readers might be interested in seeing what we do at trade shows like RAPID + TCT.

So, I attached a GoPro to my video camera and shot a timelapse video.  I started the time lapse at registration and went until approximately noon on the first day of the show.

That morning, we stopped by the Stratasys booth to speak to COO Kent Firestone about the company’s new powder metal materials, including copper.

Next, we headed to Markforged to find out more about the new Metal X 3D printing system from Trak Lord, director of communications. The system was announced recently and the company began shipping units the week of the show.

At about the halfway point in the time lapse, we attended the unveiling of GE’s new Arcam EBM Spectra H, a CNC-mill-size machine which can maintain a 1000 C temperature within the build chamber to produce better metallurgical results. We also spoke to experts at GE about different verticals of the additive industry, including materials, machines, and trends.

My team and I will be chained to the editing booth for the next few weeks producing all the great video content we captured at the show with experts from DSM, Essentium, Materialise and many more.

For more on the latest news in additive manufacturing, you can follow Ian Wright, our additive manufacturing subject leader, on Twitter at @IanWright_engcom.



Recommended For You