On October 19th and 20th Cimquest hosted over 600 visitors at their Branchburg, New Jersey headquarters. This year Cimquest decided to expand their Advanced Manufacturing Expo to a two-day event after experiencing an attendance of over 350 people in 2016. Attendees included leading manufacturers, medical device companies, machine shops, engineers, designers, students, the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, and non-profit technology accelerators. The leading 3D printer manufacturers with exhibits included HP, Desktop Metal, Rize, Mimaki, and BigRep, among many others. Other exhibitors included industry-related equipment companies including CNC machine tools, tooling, inspection equipment, design software, simulation software, cloud software, and 3D printer end user product service providers.
The expo had three keynote presentations. Jonah Myerberg, Co-Founder and CTO of Desktop Metal, gave the first keynote on the company’s new metal 3D printing technology. Todd Grimm, a leading 3D printer guru, discussed the creation of a process to stay current on rapidly changing 3D printer technology developments. Finally, the CEO of Cimquest, Rob Hassold, spoke about major changes occurring in the industry and the evolution of Cimquest as the field of additive manufacturing evolves.
Several tracks of educational demonstrations allowed companies to speak about their newest technologies and developments of the past year. With each presenter scheduled for six presentations over the course of two days, attendees had the opportunity to select any of the sessions they desired. Our company, R&D Tax Savers, along with other companies, namely Onshape, Mastercam, HP, Hurco, and Robotmaster, presented in the educational sessions. A heavy emphasis was placed on 5-axis machining, G-code simulation, robotics, and 3D printing for production. Many companies in attendance were able to learn about low-cost opportunities for enhancing their manufacturing capabilities with the latest machining technology.
Desktop Metal was an exciting presence at the Expo, with their CTO, Jonah Myerberg, presenting both of his keynote sessions to packed rooms. Jonah outlined the company’s vision for the future of 3D printed metals, beginning with a Studio machine to launch first, followed by a high throughput low-to-mid-volume Production machine in a similar spirit to the HP Jet Fusion. Many individuals were either excited or skeptical of the company, understandably, as most in attendance were machinists and engineers. The Studio system promises a 10-fold reduction in costs compared to laser sintering machines, while the Production machines promises to be 20 times cheaper and 100 times faster than laser sintering. Both systems use a material similar to that used in metal injection molding, and the Studio system resembles a traditional FDM 3D Printer, while the Production machine uses a powder bed and binder approach similar to HP. Both machines, as far as we can tell, use the same furnace to sinter the final part and volatilize the binding agent. Desktop Metal is accepting reservations for delivery in 2018 to key partners, and widespread availability by 2019.
HP attended the event with their Jet Fusion 3D 4200 and 3200 printers. For many in attendance, this was their first opportunity to see the machines in person and evaluate the build quality. For many, the introduction of this machine reflected a watershed moment in additive manufacturing of polymers. Simply put, the parts produced had few characteristics that would indicate they were 3D printed. HP is not backing down from their vision to bring additive manufacturing to mass production. The engineering team made presentations throughout the day outlining their vision for the future of the 4200 and 3200 machines. Viewers learned that approximately 50% of the plastic parts within the HP machine are actually created by the HP machine itself. Quality, speed, and cost improvements push the cost-effective margin of 3D printing by an order of magnitude. Several 3D printing service bureaus announced that they would soon take delivery of the HP Jet Fusion machines, helping their customers bridge the gap between 3D printing and injection molding. The vision HP laid out for 3D printing roughly two years ago may be a disruptive reality before we know it.
The Convergence of Machinists and Additive Manufacturing
Several people in attendance come from traditional machinist industries. This is in part because Cimquest has historically been a CAD and CAM knowledge provider and reseller, with an emphasis on 3D printing expressed more recently. In several of the sessions, the importance of quality control and assurance was addressed as a barrier to production-ready processes. Companies, such as Verisurf and Renishaw, were demonstrating Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs) for use with 3D printed parts. As computer power has advanced, the CMM devices can now handle the characterization of surface quality and variance. Due to these technologies, it may now be possible to integrate 3D printing into supply chains for industries with tight demands on quality such as medical and aerospace in a more universal fashion, allowing for competition amongst sub-contractors.
The 2017 Cimquest Advanced Manufacturing Expo was a success with a large presence of attendees from various industries. Companies and individuals learned about the emerging trends and technology within the 3D printing sector and CNC milling industry through the exhibitors and presentations. Overall, it was an exciting expo that was well organized and attended by a variety of industry specialists.
This video from Cimquest shows highlights from the event:
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Charles Goulding, Steve Kelly, and Lauren Chin of R&D Tax Savers share their experience attending the Cimquest Advanced Manufacturing Expo.