Disruptive Insight editorial comment, Issue 1

It’s 2017 and across the world big changes are in motion. A new President resides in the White House, and Brexit and the triggering of Article 50 looms on the horizon, along with a number of general elections across mainland Europe. Partisan opinions aside, the one thing that we can be certain of is that the world is dealing with a variety of unknown quantities. For some it’s exciting and for others it’s terrifying. I find myself, probably like most people, somewhere in the middle.

And yet at that same macro level the world keeps on turning and the sun keeps on rising and we keep on moving within the microcosm of our own lives. For me, that’s all about the ups and downs of family and the similar undulations of the additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing sector.

Within the sector, 2017 has seen a more cautious transition into the new year. The swarming masses that traditionally attend the CES event once again descended on Las Vegas during the first week of January. However, while 3D printing technologies were much in evidence, this year it did not come anywhere close to the fevered attention it has garnered at this event in recent years. Rather, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) reigned supreme in this respect.

Moreover, there were noticeably fewer 3D printing company/product announcements coming from CES, although some that did were certainly worthy of note, such as: Mark Forged unveiling a new and innovative metal AM platform; the ceramic developments from Formlabs; and the eye-catching application of an additively manufactured interactive golf club from CRP Group. More than a few people have directly commented to me that it’s been a ‘slow start.’

As 2017 beds in though, here at Disruptive we’re being true to our name and aim to do things differently this year. I am being joined here at Disruptive by the lovely Ellie Valero (we have previous history) and together we want to create something with real value for our readership, which is growing quite significantly month on month. This will be done under the guardianship of the highly talented Tarsus editorial team and the plans are exciting.

With purpose, we are distancing ourselves from the voluminous and trite news streams that feed the AM and 3D printing industry. The white noise and, quite honestly, fluffy marketing stories that are often regurgitated each day do little but drown out the very real and positive industrial developments across this sector. This is a disservice, I believe, so at Disruptive we are going back to basics to offer our readership a vault of discerning and valuable information. This will be done through two Disruptive products—Disruptive Headlines and Disruptive Insight.

The aim is to filter out that white noise, and to delve deeper on the news side of things, with Disruptive Headlines focusing on real developments and industry concerns. Disruptive Insight will provide a monthly digest of features focusing on sharing experience and expertise from across the industry and disseminating it as widely as possible.

The overarching thrust of Disruptive is to support businesses of all shapes and sizes in understanding and applying the ecosystem around AM, and to provide timely and valuable information. Both early adopters and members of the community with significant longevity will find value here and get involved with sharing their insights.

Issue one is off to a great start, with feature articles from Sophie Jones, the new general manager of Added Scientific, and Jason T Ray, an informed and proactive AM industrial strategy consultant. And that’s a well-earned title—Jason was instrumental in facilitating the US Navy’s use of AM technology in a previous life. He understands strategy, not to mention how to apply AM and the business drivers. Jason is going to be a regular contributor for Disruptive Insight and we’re lucky to have him on board. I highly recommend you read Sophie and Jason’s features in this first issue.

This issue of Disruptive Insight also presents an exclusive feature interview with the leadership team of OR Laser—a company that introduced a new metal AM system at Formnext at the end of last year. What’s fascinating about this system—and the company behind it—is the motivation to democratize the use of metals. Again, that’s not just rhetoric, as you’ll see in the interview. Moreover, with a large order book, the system is already in production courtesy of the company’s twenty-year history in manufacturing laser equipment. This is not a start-up, with millions of dollars of venture capital funding, a good idea and a moving launch date—it’s happening now.

I really hope this issue of Disruptive Insight does engage you—either way, please feel free to give me feedback. Contact me any time with thoughts, ideas and contradictions. And if you want to contribute insights into your own experience or expertise, let me know that too. 

About Rachel Park

Rachel is a passionate advocate of additive manufacturing/3D printing technologies and the industry that has sprung up around it. However, as the hype and hyperbole has gathered momentum, her aim is always to offer a reasoned voice in the midst of inflated expectations and to cut through the noise in order to provide a realistic outlook of how things are.