Additive manufacturing has, since its inception, forced new ways of thinking, designing and producing using an entirely new set of tools and ideas. That industry-wide disruption and its resulting advances in knowledge, technology and materials will be showcased at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh for SME’s RAPID + TCT event, May 8-11. Since Pittsburgh is a hub for 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies, event organizers wanted to highlight the region’s deep history in manufacturing and its current position as a leader in additive manufacturing.
In October 2016, SME, in connection with RAPID + TCT, worked with FARO Technologies Inc., Direct Dimensions Inc. and the NextManufacturing Center at Carnegie Mellon University to take the first-ever 3D scan of the Roberto Clemente Bridge. This scan will be used to create 3D printed miniature replicas of the bridge, to be used as puzzle pieces for the event’s annual Puzzle Challenge. The RAPID + TCT Puzzle Challenge helps attendees explore the different additive manufacturing technologies and materials represented on the show floor. Attendees will have the opportunity to collect the pieces of the bridge and assemble them into a complete design.
“RAPID + TCT showcases the latest growth and advancements in the additive manufacturing and 3D printing industry,” said Maria Conrado, SME event manager, RAPID + TCT. “Southwestern Pennsylvania is home to some 3,000 manufacturing companies, many of which are headquartered in Pittsburgh. It’s exciting that we are using additive technology to reproduce 3D models of a special landmark in this city.”
FARO Technologies Inc. conducted the complete scan of the bridge resulting in a 3D point cloud. Direct Dimensions then converted the raw laser scan data into a 3D CAD model of the bridge. This digital model is now in the proper format needed to make the 3D printed physical models which will be featured at the RAPID + TCT event in May.
“Scanning something as recognizable as the Roberto Clemente Bridge can spark many conversations,” said Michelle Edwards, applications engineering manager, FARO Technologies. “We want people to see this bridge as a 3D point cloud and begin to question their own processes. That’s how innovation happens.”
Sandra DeVincent Wolf, executive director of the NextManufacturing Center at Carnegie Mellon University, participated in the scan event and noted the growing presence of manufacturers in the region combined with academic resources and customers for the products. The NextManufacturing Center conducts research into additive manufacturing while also serving as a testing facility for developing tools for a variety of complex manufacturing processes.
Puzzle pieces won’t be the only 3D printed bridges featured at the event. RAPID + TCT exhibitors were provided the CAD file of the Roberto Clemente Bridge and encouraged to print the bridge in any size and material. The exhibitors will display their finished products on the show floor.
“As additive manufacturing has flourished with new and enhanced 3D printing equipment, materials development has been surging along as well,” said Conrado. “By letting exhibitors print their own bridges, we’re demonstrating how this technology isn’t just for prototyping anymore.”
Ashley Areeda is the Senior PR Representative, SME.