I have to admit that, when I found out that this year’s 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Industrial Applications Global Summit was going to coincide with EuroMold, I had to think long and hard about participating directly. Last year’s event set the scene and provided an incredible amount of background information on 3D printing for the incredible 12 months that have followed, but would it be the same again this year?
After attending, I am certain that participating was the best choice, not just because I got to listen, at no charge, to information and presentations that many other participants have paid a considerable fee for, but also because this year’s event gave me a further confirmation that we really are only in the beginning of something that is changing the world in so many different areas. On top of that, this year, I could view all the information provided from a much more informed point of view.
In fact, I was particularly pleased to see that one of my recent articles (I know it was mine because I was the one who broke the news from the source, CRP Group) was mentioned by head of R&D for tennis rackets and supplies manufacturer HEAD, Ralf Schwinger – fortunately, not as an example of media overhyping as much as one of designer “wishful thinking”. So, this year, I did not just wonder in awe at all the information thrown at me about the different AM processes and materials, but could actually approximate a little bit of an analysis into what they meant in the grater scope of the 3D printing world.
The truth is that the level of the presentations for the conference organized by London Business Conferences, which costs between £800 and £1000 to attend is getting higher and that the event is masterfully organized, with highly prepared professionals speaking about true and very practical aspects in almost every single sector where 3D printing matters, from automotive to design, from aerospace to future technologies.
Quite a few big bits of news came out of this conference that I did not know about before and that I will cover in detail in the upcoming days, but hearing it directly from the people behind some of the most fascinating projects in 3D printing is definitely worth the ticket price. I was only able to attend on the first of the two days, which means that I got to hear talks such as the aforementioned HEAD experience in sports apparel, but also very detailed accounts from companies and universities discussing their use of SLM, Laser Cusing and EBM technologies, or Materialise’s Hans Vandezande explaining how to best implement 3D printing in a traditional manufacturing workflow.
A pleasant surprise, as it was not initially scheduled, was the presentation by Professor Neil Hopkinson, from the University of Sheffield, on the High Speed Sintering system he and his team are developing. We had “met” on Skype as I had interviewed him on a few months ago and I can confirm that HSS is one of the most exciting new developments toward additive mass manufacturing.
What I particularly appreciated about the days that I attended is that the cycle of conferences began with a mass manufacturer, such as HEAD, very realistically outlining the advantages of AM for rapid prototyping and as realistically facing its limits on mass production of geometries such as rackets. It then evolved into discussing advanced plastic and metal applications and, then, touched up on design with a talk by Lionel T Dean, Founder & Creative Director of Future Factories. All of it built up to the talk by Economic Advisor for the UK Intellectual Property Office, Nicola Searle, on what is certainly one of the hottest and most controversial topics in 3D printing today: how to protect creativity while fueling innovation.
While I spent the following day fighting with cancelled flights on my way from London to Frankfurt for EuroMold (which, luckily, lasts four days), the conferences continued touching upon many more topics, with more detailed talks by Ajay Purohit on the use of AM at TATA Motors and by Xavier deKestelier from Foster Partners, on one of the most fascinating future applications of 3D printing: building lunar colonies.
A full panoramic on 3D printing buildings came from Sam Stacey of Skanska and Richard Buswell of Loughborough University. Meanwhile, another “old acquaintance” from the 3D printing world, designer Bryan Oknyansky – of Shoes by Bryan and one of the first designers ever to actually market consumer 3D printed products – also explained his vision on the second day (fortunately, I had a chance to meet him in person on the first). As a registered member I get access to their presentations outside of the event and will be sure to analyze them in detail, searching for new article leads. Now, it’s time for Euromold. I will certainly be looking at all of these new 3D printers a lot differently, once again.