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CES 2017 Flying High Before Official Start: Drone Rodeo and Pepcom’s Digital Experience!


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20170104_193700CES is the largest trade show in the United States – and even with this year’s event beginning the festivities early with two days of media events ahead of the full event held January 5-8, it’s no secret that the show starts before anyone even sets foot in Las Vegas. The event, which this year boasts 165,000 registered attendees with 6,500 members of the press (including yours truly) among them, is without a doubt one of the biggest happenings in the tech world each year. 2017 also marks the 50th year of CES, and this half-centennial has a lot in store for us.

For me, CES began yesterday at 36,000 feet, as my flight in to Vegas saw a plane packed with excited attendees, including my entire row. The flight in was spent talking about what we all most hoped to see at the show, and it was interesting to hear from two exhibitors, one with a bigger company that would have booths at both Pepcom and the Sands, and one who wouldn’t have a booth but would be visiting with other companies looking to build relationships and form partnerships. We landed at about noon, and I saw most of my flight in the winding line to pick up badges.

While obviously at we’ll be focused on 3D printing companies, complementary technologies are on our radar as well as tech becomes increasingly intertwined. As many in the industry have been pointing out for some time now, and with ever-more regularity, 3D printing isn’t an entire solution in itself – it’s part of a larger ecosystem when put to best use. 3D printing used alongside traditional manufacturing technologies like CNC machining as well as the latest in software and virtual and augmented reality technologies can offer more than one additive manufacturing system on its own could ever hope to bring to the table, however advanced its capabilities.


To that end, while I’ll be spending the majority of my time at CES interviewing some of our favorite 3D printing companies at their booths, the show floor is not the only area of interest for us at Looking ahead at my calendar for the next several days, I can see it populated by familiar names as well as some less-expected events. And so it was that I started off my full CES experience yesterday in the desert.

Some invitations you don’t turn down, and as it turns out, an event called The Drone Rodeo is one of those for me. I was happy to hop a shuttle for the 35-minute trek out to Boulder City to the El Dorado Droneport, the first commercial droneport in the world, to check out some drones in action. Here’s a particularly zippy drone in flight:

The event housed several companies involved in drones, as well as 3D printing service company Sculpteo, which was on hand to show off how their technologies work with drones. I chatted for a bit with Arthur Cassaignau, Product Manager at Sculpteo, as well as with Charles Venayre of Nano-Racing. The two French companies have worked together for some time now, and the lightweight drones from Nano benefit greatly from 3D printing technology. The entire drone body is 3D printed, and only the legs are injection molded. Venayre told me that his company has loved 3D printing for its affordability and speed in bringing their drones to market.


Outside the tent, several more drones took to the air to show off some different sizes and speeds:

Following the desert event, I headed next to the Mirage, where Pepcom’s Digital Experience! event was taking place. 242 companies came together in this CES-eve showing, and I beelined straight for the two 3D printing companies in the ballroom: Sculpteo (which seems to be everywhere!) and XYZprinting.

20170104_194639At XYZprinting’s booth, they had some new 3D printers to show off — because it’s not a big event these days without new technology from this company. I chatted for a bit with Ash Marin, Marketing Specialist, as he showed me what they have to offer. We’ll be covering these 3D printers more in-depth soon, so stay tuned for further details! The da Vinci Nano, da Vinci Mix 2.0, and the Nobel Superfine were all on hand, either actively printing or with plenty of 3D printed objects to show off.

Sculpteo at Pepcom was highlighting their impressive 3D printed bike, a working product that CEO and Co-Founder Clément Moreau had ridden over to the Mirage that day. The dirt he showed me on the pedals, he said, was very real because this bike is meant for use. The company is announcing their further work in metal 3D printing technologies this week at CES, as we’ve heard, and this bicycle shows some of what’s possible with that. Designed by Alexandre Orsetti and Piotr Widelka, the bike is the first 3D printed model at a sub-€5,000 price point. Starting Monday, the 9th, to further show off how workable this bicycle is, its two designers will ride it 800km from Las Vegas to San Francisco. I’ll be speaking further with Moreau today to gain more insight into Sculpteo’s latest projects and announcements.


As I write this, we’re 45 minutes from the official start time of CES 2017 — which means it’s time to head over there. Stay tuned to this week for all the latest right from Las Vegas!

[All images and videos taken by Sarah Goehrke for]

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