Inside 3D Printing, the world’s leading and most prolific 3D printing conference & expo, landed in Hong Kong for the first time this week. After reporting recent successful shows in Korea and Melbourne the stage at Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld-Expo was set for another great edition. The show’s organizers were operating under their new brand for the first time — the newly incorporated MecklerMedia, OTCQX: MECK (formerly Mediabistro) — and over the two day show reported a total of 1,400 visitors.
The Hong Kong edition of Inside 3D Printing attracted a nice line-up of exhibitors. Stratasys took the lead in this regard as the platinum sponsor with a massive booth set up to display their latest 3D printers and technology. 3D Systems, who at previous editions have dominated the Inside 3D Printing expo floor, on this occasion selected only to utilize distributor representation — Synnex in this case. The Artec Group has become a familiar exhibitor to the Inside 3DP show across the world, and in Hong Kong was demonstrating a full body 3D scanner, which drew a lot of positive attention from the many visitors. Mcor’s full colour paper 3D printing technology was brought to the audience via their Hong Kong reseller and 3D printing service provider, Mings 3D. MakerBot 3D printers meanwhile, were on display through their reseller 3D Forge.
From local 3D printer manufacturers Winbo (FDM), Seve Studio (SLA) and iSun 3D (FDM) Praise Technology (Maker Wise 3D printer, FDM) had their printers on show. On the materials front, Esun Filament had some interesting filament products on show; the new wooden filament and a filament that changes colour when subjected to different temperatures. 3D Printing Industry Ltd. had a booth as well, this time jointly with our Chinese language content partner 3D Tupo.
As is becoming traditional at the Inside 3D Printing events, the conference on Day 1was kicked off by one of the biggest names in the 3D printing industry today: Terry Wohlers. Terry’s vast global knowledge is a valuable asset to open any 3D Printing / Additive manufacturing conference as he is able to tailor and inform his regional audiences as offered by the Inside 3D Printing series in a balanced and authoritative way to set them up well for the rest of the programme. As always, he delivered a world-class performance including a comprehensive overview of the 3D printing industry, what additive manufacturing technology can (and can’t) do, where it is today, and where it is going. Terry forecasted the industry to be a $21B industry by 2020. 3DPI.TV interviewed Terry during the event, so stay tuned for that.
John Hornick, who was up next, has been speaking a lot lately at various 3D printing shows, and he didn’t let Terry’s big shadow disturb his performance, presenting lively, not-so-conservative predictions on the future of 3D printing and what the landscape will look like and how it will effect manufacturing and design — all from an Intellectual Property (IP) point of view. One interesting point that John brought up was the question “are we able to 3D print a smart phone one day,” and furthermore, would that even be a relevant question in the future, as these smart phones might be composed of only a few materials and could look completely different than today? One the delegates will likely be pondering for a while.
Conor MacCormack, CEO of Mcor, was up next with his presentation on 3D printing in full colour. Conor had a slightly new approach to the paper 3D printing technology focusing on the colour aspect and nuances and how to get that right. Always nice to see Conor, although the rest of the Mcor team were missed this time round. Stay tuned for Conor’s interview at 3DPI.TV too, we grabbed him for a chat. Joe Scott, who in 3D printing circles is associated with the Afinia 3D printer brand, gave an interesting presentation that covered ten user profiles whose innovations have been enabled by 3D printing — from a Professor to a Librarian.
Louis Sze from the local Hong Kong Polytechnic University talked about 3D printing in medical applications. Medical applications are developing — and proliferating — really quickly across the world and it’s always interesting to get detailed insight into the latest applications. Louis showed that Hong Kong is working strongly in this field too. One of the great strengths of the global Inside 3D Printing events is the strong local representation on the conference programme. Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been involved with 3D printing since the early 1990’s, with an extensive 3D printing lab run by Dr. Martin Wong and his team, so it wasn’t really a surprise to see a number of the local speakers coming from HK Poly U to provide updates on the extensive progress the team is making across many different areas.
Daniel Tsang had interesting local Hong Kong data to share. According to him desktop 3D printers are now appearing in computer stores in Hong Kong, but haven’t really achieved much in terms of sales volumes. Despite heavy competition in the reseller market, it seems that the consumer market is still new to 3D printing, and lack the prerequisite information to understand or use the technology. But while this is true right now, the outlook is much brighter, with a significant emphasis on education with a drive to place 3D printers into local schools.
Day two of the conference saw Nave Rachman from Stratasys deliver the first keynote speech. He gave an insightful overview of direct digital manufacturing (DDM), and how design and 3D printing enable Stratasys customers to improve their manufacturing processes and further on to resolve the difficult parts design and production challenges.
Then, following on from the successful first investor pitch session at Inside 3D Printing in Singapore last year, Dr. Virginia Cha from the National University of Singapore had gathered her team again to conduct a similar session in Hong Kong. The session was divided into two parts, where the first was dedicated to two presentations from Founders of existing 3D printing startups. Ajay Sharma, one of the pitchers from last year’s session presented how his business, Kloneworld, had grown stronger and how the development in 3D printing technology has made all this possible. Daniel Cowen, one of the Co-Founders of WobbleWorks, the company behind the 3D printing pen 3Doodler told their story starting from a simple idea, that became a huge hit on Kickstarter and has grown to be an established company today.
Part 2 of the investor session covered the other side of the table. Investors from different backgrounds shared their experience and how they make their decisions. K O Chia from Hong Kong Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (HKVCA) shared his views on the Hong Kong startup eco-system for innovation and technology, which has grown rapidly over the past years. Peng T. Ong from Monk’s Hill Ventures focused his presentation on the VC decision-making process and what they are looking for in a startup. His advice for startups was to develop and tell a good story focusing on the end customer.
Jeng Ywan, the Dean of the College of Engineering at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology had travelled to Hong Kong to present at the conference. His presentation covered the various applications and advances of 3D printing in Taiwan and went on to introduce some of the companies in Taiwan with plans to go into 3D printing with significant growth prospects through the use of the technology.
The final keynote of the show was delivered by Michele Marchesan, the Chief Opportunity Officer of 3D Systems. Michele did a good job presenting the latest products, designs and applications that 3D Systems have been working on lately, including some cool customized consumer products and the medical exoskeleton that enabled a woman to walk again.
Overall we had a great time at the show as always, meeting up with friends and colleagues and seeing many familiar faces. So many new people to meet and talk to also made Inside 3D Printing in Hong Kong an extremely valuable event on the 3D printing calendar. The next stop for the Inside 3D Printing show is in Tokyo, Japan from 17–19th September, followed thereafter by a return to Santa Clara, US in October.