An Industrial Perspective: Looking Forward to Rapid+TCT 2019


Aya Bentur  

Roboze Polyamide loaded with carbon fiber for high resistance applications

Just last month we reported from 2 Additive Manufacturing eventsHannover Messe and AMUG, coming up next on our AM (Additive Manufacturing) calendar is Rapid+TCT. Almost 400 exhibitors and 6000 visitors are expected to take part in the event which will take place in Detroit next week. The theme of this year’s show is “Disruption and Change”, a fitting theme as the show returns to the Motor City bringing the city’s automotive heritage towards industry 4.0.

It’s the Era of Applications

Carbon Riddell 3D Printed Football Helmet Liner

From the news building up towards the event, it seems that the event will show plenty of actual use cases, including over 110 technical presentations at the Rapid+TCT conference. The keynote speakers will talk from experience, Erika Berg Head of Application Development, at Carbon together with Vittorio Bologna, Research & Development Manager at Riddell will talk about the new 3D printed protective headgear (above), developed by the two companies. Dominik Rietzel, head of additive manufacturing for non-metals at BMW Group, will also share his experience from the company that has already additively manufactured over a million automotive components (below assembly of 3D printed window guide rail BMW i8 Roadster). As applications become more precise, companies are also developing processes specifically for certain applications. One example is ExOne together with Catalysis Additive Tooling creating a new additively manufactured tooling process. We’re looking forward to seeing more of these specific processes and applications, alongside the machines at Rapid+TCT.

3D printed window guide rail BMW i8 Roadster - assembly

Debuts and Demonstrations at Rapid+TCT

Origin Additive Manufacturing

Beyond applications, there is always something impressive about seeing a machine at work, especially for the first time. There will be a few “firsts” this year at Rapid+TCT. Roboze will make its debut in the US, with its Xtreme 3D printer series (part up top Polyamide loaded with carbon fiber for high resistance applications), Fabrisonic will debut a new system using Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) technology for 3D printing metal, just to name a few. 3DQue will make its debut as well, showing a configuration of nine desktop FFF 3D printers, but what’s more interesting is their automation software QSuite which seems to be not exclusive for their own machines. Another company that will make its debut not just at the event, but also in the AM ecosystem is Origin. This will be the first time the company exhibits and demonstrates its Open Additive Production technology which they have been working on in the past years (part above). Also in the machine department but not 3D printers, are the GPAINNOVA‘s DLyte dry electropolishing solution, winner of the TCT Post Processing Award for 2018, and two new post-processing machines developed by Additive Manufacturing Technologies (below before and after of a post-processed automotive duct 3D printed using HP Nylon 12 – Photo via AMT).

Before and after of a post-processed automotive duct 3D printed using HP Nylon 12 - Photo via AMT

In materials, we expect to see 3D Systems showcase their new materials and printing technology, intended to help manufacturers scale production, the latest alloys by VDM Metals developed for additive manufacturing, the new semi-crystalline 3D printer materials that will be launched by DuPont, and many more. Last month at AMUG, Stratasys announced a new materials partnership with Global science company, DSM – hopefully, we will get to see some of their results as well.

Navigating an Ecosystem of Information

When it comes to technology, there are so many different methods, machines, and materials under the big title of additive manufacturing. In order to help visitors navigate the vast amount of information gathered under one roof, the American manufacturing association SME has created the Interactive RAPID AM Portal – iRAMP. The visitors can turn to the iRAMP kiosks throughout the exhibition space not in order to physically navigate between booths but in order to navigate the AM ecosystem. The platform will enable manufacturers to understand what is the AM method that fits their production needs. Even within the conference (the schedule is overwhelming), presentations are labeled by topic, technology or application, but also by level (novice, intermediate and expert), making knowledge approachable on all levels.

Altogether, it seems that the event is geared less towards shiny announcements and more towards use and user. The chain of events from showcase to industry is interesting in itself, we look forward to seeing the show but more so how companies use the knowledge gained and connections made. See you there!

As usual, there is so much to see, let us know what we missed and stay tuned for updates from LEO Lane Co-Founder and VP Business Lee-Bath Nelson who will attend the event. For more insights and information follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.

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