Rapid + TCT event preview

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

The annual RAPID event, held in different locations each year, has long been a staple on the North American 3D printing calendar. This event has serious longevity in the additive sector and this year marks its 26th edition. The organizer of this event, SME, has an even longer history of working with and for manufacturing engineers dating back more than 80 years.

This year marks a new era for the RAPID event as SME joins forces with Rapid News, owner of the TCT brand, hence the new name: RAPID + TCT. 

The venue for 2017 is the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, which can accommodate the recent year-on-year growth of the event. I will be making the transatlantic journey to Pittsburgh and anticipate great things.

The show kicks off on Monday, May 8th, running through until Thursday, May 11th. Workshops and industrial facility tours are available Monday morning, while the conference sessions get underway later that afternoon with a series of keynote presentations and a panel session. These activities are all a day ahead of the opening of the exhibition on Tuesday, May 9th, which then runs in parallel with multiple conference sessions over the three days, featuring more than 200 speakers and presentations.  

A particular highlight is the panel discussion during the afternoon session on Monday. This session features four participants, namely Vyomesh Joshi, chief executive officer (CEO) of 3D Systems, Stephen Nigro, president—3D Printing at HP, Greg Morris, additive technologies leader for GE Aviation, and Fried Vancraen chief executive officer (CEO) of Materialise. Serious kudos to the organizers for getting these individuals around the same table at the same time.

Other highlights of this year’s event include a ‘Smart Manufacturing Hub’, featuring automation, advanced materials, 3D printing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and 3D scanning.

Rapid + TCT is unashamed in its industrial focus on 3D printing and additive manufacturing, which is why the (now annual) 3D Fashion Show feature strikes me as rather an anomaly for this event. That said, it will likely still provide an eye-catching showcase and provide the many engineers and manufacturers in attendance with something to be cynical about (I might be speaking from experience there!).  

There will be plenty of new launches. Desktop Metal will be there, which is a must visit following the recent announcement, providing evidence of a growing trend in cost-competitive metal additive systems. OR Laser, which launched its ORLAS CREATOR platform in Europe at the end of last year, will also be introducing its low-cost, high-performance metal 3D printing system to the North American market. Moreover, I have it on good authority that 3DEO is also going to lift the lid on the commercialization of its novel, low-cost metal 3D printing system. And, of course, Mark Forged is exhibiting too.

There are also new developments coming from industry incumbents Stratasys and EnvisionTEC—I can’t say more at this point, but they are set to disrupt things even further.

Other companies specifically on my radar are Rize, Carbon, XJet, 3MF, Roboze, Electro Optical Systems (EOS), Renishaw and GKN. That’s in no way exhaustive, and while I don’t for a second imagine I can get close to 300, I suspect I am going to get sore feet.

Unfortunately, Nano Dimension is not featured on the exhibitor list. That company would have been near the top of my list for a visit to catch up on the tech advances and the new board member.

Interviews and a full review will be published on Disruptive Insight post show. If you will also be in attendance and want to meet up for a chat, feel free to drop me a line: rachel@disruptivemagazine.com

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.