Behind the AM Conference: Added Scientific General Manager Sophie Jones Discusses Expertise in 3D Printing

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The International Conference on Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing brought together nearly 300 industry participants from a variety of academic and industrial operations last week in the UK. Richard Hague of the University of Nottingham and its spinoff Added Scientific described the event as “fairly eclectic” and noted the following attendee demographics for the 2017 event:

  • 280+ delegates from 18 countries
  • 60:40 split industry:academia
  • 30 exhibitors
  • 18 speakers

Three days in Nottingham offered a heavy concentration of high-caliber information through carefully curated programming. While the information put forth via polished presentations through 18 agenda sessions and a full day of pre-conference speakers provided a valuable baseline to the event, some of the greatest value in attending events such as this, geared toward industry and academia, lies outside the sessions themselves. The exhibit area in such a conference, while significantly smaller than those seen at tradeshows focusing on commercial and media ends, offers a meeting ground for participants to discuss hardware, software, materials, samples — and business. Built in to the agenda at the AM Conference was plenty of time to network, and many attendees took full advantage of the time to discuss potential business opportunities, research partnerships, and future plans.

During one such networking break — having used others to indeed discuss the state of the 3D printing industry and to arrange some lab and site visits I’m looking forward to sharing with you in the future — I sat down with Sophie Jones, General Manager of Added Scientific, to learn more about the goals for this event and hopes for the future of the additive manufacturing industry. You can watch our interview below, in 3DPrint.com’s first video interview (and see the transcript at the end of the article):

I first met Jones at RAPID + TCT this past May, and was quickly impressed by her grasp on the industry and insights regarding several trends that have been arising. Key among these trends are the sharing of information and the increase of diversity among industry participants; both will lead to the shared store of knowledge from which the industry is growing.

Sophie discussing Risk and Reward in her presentation

As more meetings of the minds, such as the AM Conference, take place to bring together high-level figures well-versed in various aspects of the technologies and business of additive manufacturing, the exchange of information becomes a larger focus. As many have been chorusing lately at other high-level events, the way forward for AM is through collaboration, through co-creation, through partnerships; these are formed as more organizations and businesses become aware of others’ operations and areas of R&D. Furthermore, as the range of diversity increases, so too will bases of knowledge to add to that pool, which will only broaden the approaches and the operations undertaken.

One major aspect on the minds of many is enhancing the positioning of women in the industry, as the glass ceiling in AM could use a good shattering; as with many areas in both tech and manufacturing overall, women remain severely underrepresented in additive manufacturing today. To that end, Jones organized a networking event for Women in AM gathered at the conference, and its inaugural occurrence was certainly a success, as the women present filled three tables and a good bit of floor space between those tables. With about 20 women attending, discussions ranged from the latest work Sonova has been doing with personalized 3D printed hearing aids to the future of similar events to help encourage participation in industry happenings from a broader range of participants — to the need for education across the board to ensure that industry participants are properly trained and that the talent pool will only continue to grow. Inspired by efforts such as Women in 3D Printing, Jones noted that the UK in particular could benefit from more representation on equal footing. When challenged earlier about why it was necessary to hold a woman-focused event, several women remarked that when such questions no longer need to be asked is when they’ll have become unnecessary; during the brief gathering, more than one of my tablemates exclaimed that that was the first time she had seen so many women in an industry event, that it was almost odd for that half-hour or so to not be outnumbered. And of course, these gatherings are geared toward inclusion; a mimosa and a seat were quickly made available for a male attendee interested in joining in for a chat.

Women in AM networking reception [Photo: Rachel Park]

It is, ultimately, the people who will make the business of 3D printing viable on a larger scale. Events and efforts such as these from Added Scientific and the AM Conference represent key ways to become more deeply involved in the growth of an industry on the rise. Adding to the conversation will only strengthen the discourse. As Jones pointed out of this event, such gatherings make it possible to have at one side the world leader in one major hardware-driven technology while on the other side is the world leader in a different area. Having access to these kinds of experts in one area offers unparalleled opportunity to gain knowledge.

Through higher-level conferences, global organizations and individuals are afforded a glimpse into additional areas of expertise. From geeking out about the ESA’s out-of-this-world efforts to trying to wrap my mind around photopolymer science, my week in Nottingham was productive on many fronts, and I look forward to continuing to share details gleaned through sessions, discussions, a lab tour, and more.


Interview with Sophie Jones:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

“I’m General Manager of Added Scientific; it’s a spinoff of the University of Nottingham. We’re a consultancy that provides technical services for companies looking to use additive manufacturing. So that’s things like material development, process development, basically we push the technology to do a bit more than it can do at present.”

Added Scientific is behind this week’s conference. Can you tell us how Added Scientific got started with this show and how long it’s been running?

“This is the 11th year of the conference, and Added Scientific has been involved in it in one way or another, the team members have been involved in it for pretty much the duration of the conference. The reason for that is our connection with the university, and the fact that we have the industrial connections, too. So what the conference is really about is connecting research and absolute cutting-edge additive manufacturing research with cutting-edge industrial applications. What you see at this conference you won’t see anywhere else, we hope. So things like the holographic vat photopolymerization [from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory] that was presented yesterday, that’s really cutting-edge stuff. And then you see things like BMW and Airbus who are really pushing it in terms of industrial adoption.”

How have you felt about some of the interaction that people are able to have here?

“It’s brilliant. The conversations that you have over coffee and over lunch, they’re really different to what you have at other events. The knowledge level of additive manufacturing at this conference is kind of really world-class. There are people here who are, without a shadow of a doubt, the experts in what they do. That means that you can be sat having lunch with someone who is the world leader in stereolithography, and on the other side of you is the world leader in metal systems. It’s really interesting. What we try to do is promote collaboration. So it’s all about companies being stimulated by the research that they see around them, and trying to see where it could transfer into the real world.”

There have been many great conversations, and one of those was a facilitated conversation that you set up, the Women in AM networking event. It was the first time for that, so can you tell us about the idea behind that?

“I was absolutely inspired by the Women in 3D Printing network that’s been set up, which profiles women in the industry, and I thought ‘Why not have one at our conference?’ We will be quite honest about this – we would like to increase representation at this conference, across the whole industry. I think we have quite good representation here, but it could be a lot better, and what I want to do is create a network where these people get to know each other. We could raise the visibility a bit. I think we should aim not only to increase the number of women in the industry, but also the positions that they’re holding as well – to make sure that we’re elevating women into positions of responsibility, because that’s when we’ll start to see the change.”

It was quite a well attended showing as well – there are women in the industry, there are women at this show, and we were all able to sit and chat from different areas.

“We’ve got some fantastic research being presented at the conference by women. We’ve got Patrizia from Sonova; she’s presenting the work that she’s leading on 3D printed titanium hearing aids, which is really amazing… I’m really looking forward to her talk, and we had Samantha from Johnson Matthey as well yesterday, talking about the work that they’re doing on ceramic catalysts. That’s really good stuff, because they’re actually scaling up to production, which is really amazing, and she’s leading on that. But there’s always room for more women, I think.”

And of course the men’s presentations have been quite excellent as well; we’ve heard from scientists and industry, and a lot of academics as well.

“Yes, the caliber is really high here.”

Share your thoughts in the Added Scientific forum at 3DPB.com.

[All photos/video unless noted: Sarah Goehrke]


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