Additive Manufacturing at RAPID + TCT 2019
Isaac Maw posted on April 26, 2019 |
This year’s conference showcases new innovations and new manufacturing applications.

If you’re an engineer or manufacturing professional interested in additive manufacturing, you’re probably already registered for the RAPID + TCT 2019 conference and trade show.

(If you aren’t, here’s the link.)

RAPID is the longest-running additive manufacturing conference in North America. The first annual show was back in 1990, when the number of key players in the nascent industry was much smaller. Looking back from today, it’s difficult to imagine what that first conference was like. Additive manufacturing, especially as a viable manufacturing process, continues to grow and find new applications.

Take this year’s keynote topics, for example:

  • Creating better medical implants
  • Using AM in automotive production today and into the future
  • Harnessing the disruptive power of the digital revolution
  • Bringing innovation to head protection with the help of AM

Check out my recent article taking a closer look at the RAPID + TCT keynote presentations.

The fourth, newly-announced keynote will feature Erika Berg of Carbon and Vittorio Bologna of Riddell as they describe how recent software, hardware and materials breakthroughs are bringing digital design innovation to helmets and head protection. Riddell’s new Diamond helmet platform is powered by Carbon and features a customized 3D printed lattice liner that is precisely contoured to the athlete’s head.

"The RAPID + TCT stage is the perfect platform for reaching the most important thought leaders and industry movers in additive manufacturing,” said Erika Berg, Head of Application Development at Carbon. “I'm excited to share how Carbon and Riddell joined teams to produce the first-ever, digitally printed helmet liner for the SpeedFlex Precision Diamond football helmet."

These topics represent the cutting edge of what’s possible with 3D printing today, far beyond the limits of 3D printing 30 years ago. Today’s additive technologies can cut costs, reduce time to market, produce stronger and lighter parts, improve production efficiencies, create complex geometries and solve many other industry challenges.

Image courtesy of SME.
Image courtesy of SME.

RAPID + TCT is a watering hole of additive expertise, bringing together over 150 industry experts to speak on the latest processes, applications, materials and research in the field. In addition to the three keynote presentations, this year’s conference will feature a total of 110 technical presentations on topics ranging from Additive Manufacturing for Product Development at Caterpillar to Additive Manufacturing of Resorbable Bioceramics to High-Throughput 3D Metal Printing by Thixotropic Metal-Matrix Composite Extrusion. Presentations are labeled as novice, intermediate, and expert, allowing attendees to prioritize their time and customize a schedule that fits their needs. The full schedule can be viewed here.

Over the years, as AM continues to work its way into value-added applications, the focus of interest in the community is shifting from new innovations to more practical topics such as saving weight and cost in real-world manufacturing. At this year’s event, major manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and GE Additive will discuss how they are using AM to develop and implement production-ready parts. On the R&D side of things, NASA, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and The University of Delaware will all be presenting their latest innovations.

Mirroring the Keynote topics, the conference organizers have identified three key areas of interest for RAPID + TCT 2019: medical innovations, automotive manufacturing and new and emerging AM processes.  Specialized conference tracks have been created for attendees who want to focus on these topics.

Medical Manufacturing Innovations

Medical/biomedical is one of the fastest growing application areas of additive manufacturing. RAPID + TCT’s Medical Manufacturing Innovations Program (MMI) will expand the medical focus beyond what was presented in previous years. View MMI conference presentations and workshops here.

Stryker printed this titanium ribcage implant for a patient in 2015.
Stryker printed this titanium ribcage implant for a patient in 2015.

Additive Manufacturing in the Automotive Industry

Because of the automotive industry’s strong focus on high volume production, additive manufacturing has seen relatively limited adoption there. Nevertheless, manufacturers such as BMW are using AM technologies today to create end-use parts, prototypes, jigs, and other parts.

Attendees will learn how major automotive manufacturers and suppliers are changing the way they plan for tooling and end product applications by adopting additive manufacturing to fit the needs of an ever-evolving industry. View the automotive conference track here.  

BMW printed these custom-designed thumb guards for line workers installing plugs.
BMW printed these custom-designed thumb guards for line workers installing plugs.

New and Emerging AM Processes

Additive manufacturing is finding many practical applications in industry today, but new and emerging AM processes continue to shape the future of the field. A conference track is available for those looking for a window into the bleeding edge of additive innovation.

RAPID + TCT 2019 is taking place at Cobo Center, Detroit on May 20-23. Register here.


SME has sponsored this post.  All opinions are mine.  --Isaac Maw

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