Shock & Awe: Inside 3D Printing Conf. in Santa Clara Provides Incredible Insight, News, Rumors & More
The Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo is known worldwide as the place to be if you or your company has any interest in the up-and-coming technology of additive manufacturing / 3D printing. With almost a dozen separate shows all around the globe each year, each capable of making anyone feel like a kid in a candy shop, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the premier event within this industry. Whether you are focused on learning about the technology, interested in purchasing a 3D printer for your home or business, or thinking about building a business around this revolutionary technology, it is a destination that one can’t miss. This past weekend, Inside 3D Printing made a stop in Santa Clara, California for the second straight year.
Alan Meckler, of MecklerMedia, the company which is behind the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo, tells 3DPrint.com that there were people on-hand from 41 different states and 34 different countries at this latest event. This provided an extraordinary diversity of ideas, products, and conversations.
This year 3DPrint.com went all out, and we had a booth on the exhibition floor, right across from none other than “Made in Space“, who just happened to have their incredible zero-gravity 3D printer on hand for all to see. This was a similar model to the one that they recently sent into space for testing. The representatives from the company were extremely informative and friendly. Our booth provided us with a tremendous opportunity to talk with many people who work with 3D printers on a daily basis. It was an incredible experience, one which we will certainly take part in again.
The show featured many intriguing, entertaining, and very insightful speakers, ranging from Organovo’s CEO Keith Murphy, who I had an opportunity of speaking with for a couple of minutes, to Autodesk’s CTO Jeff Kowalski and CEO of D-Shape Enterprises James Wolff. There was certainly a lot of brilliant minds, powerful people, and world-renown intellectuals on hand.
I feel as though the experience that this extraordinary three-day event provided for me and the rest of our team at 3DPrint.com, can be broken down into three areas: News, insight, and rumors.
INSIGHT & NEWS:
One great thing about the Inside 3D Printing Conference is that they really know how to keep everyone busy. This show featured four separate tracks, meaning that there were four separate speakers, all speaking on different topics in different rooms at the same time. Sometimes it was difficult for me to decide which one I wanted to attend. Then of course the exhibition floor featured dozens of 3D printers from many different manufacturers, which could by itself take hours to see.
It is always great to see photos of 3D printers on the internet, and then read about the specifications of them, but there is nothing quite as insightful as getting to see these 3D printers first-hand, in action. There were printers from all around the world on hand, including some of the industrial level machines made by 3D Systems and Stratasys, as well as consumer-level printers from companies like FlashForge, Lulzbot, envisiontec, mcor, Airwolf 3D, Formlabs, Leapfrog, Tiertime, Zmorph, and more. It was really amazing to see all of the differences that these machines featured, as well as speak with some of these companies’ founders and CEOs.
I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of individuals at the show, but some of these people really stood out:
James Wolff, CEO of D-Shape: I’ve emailed back and forth with Wolff several times in the past, and was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with him about some of his ongoing projects. He is part of the large project going on in New York where Adam Kushner is 3D printing an entire estate, including a swimming pool, and a large home. He is brilliant, and one of the friendliest people I met at the show. Wolff has his hands in a lot of stuff, and I get the feeling that he will be involved in a lot of incredible 3D printing related projects in the coming years. Some of the things he is working on include the 3D printing of buildings for the Italian military, as well as the reinforcement of bridges through the use of large-scale 3D printing. He gave a great presentation and I feel as though a lot of people were in awe of what he presented. More to come on these projects in a future piece.
Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo: This man runs one of the most intriguing companies within the 3D printing space. Organovo is a bioprinting company focused on 3D printing with living tissue. I had the chance to speak with Murphy for a few minutes, as well as sit in on his Keynote speech about where his company is going. While many people are looking forward to the day when we will be able to 3D print entire working organs, that day remains far in the future. However, as Murphy mentioned, the technology is already being used to advance medical techniques in more ways than one, and perhaps in as soon as four years we will see live human liver tissue 3D printed and then transferred into a human body. More on Murphy and Organovo’s current and future projects will be covered in an upcoming story on 3Dprint.com.
Harris Kenny, Lulzbot: Kenny is probably the coolest nerd that I have ever met. He has become the face of Lulzbot, an open source 3D printer company. This young man is brilliant in more ways than one, and as personable of a person as they come. He showed me the new Lulzbot Mini, and I walked away thoroughly impressed, not only by the magnificent print quality, extremely fast speeds, and the fact that the machine is made up of dozens of 3D printed parts, but the quality inherent in the printer itself. One of the aspects which I found extremely interesting is the way in which the automatic bed leveling feature works. In order for the bed to level itself, the printer connects its nozzle to four separate metal pads on each corner of the bed. Each of these four metal pads allow the Lulzbot Mini to make a circuit, thus telling the system the exact location of the bed. I love the fact that Lulzbot remains open source, unlike a lot of 3D printers that originated from the RepRap movement. Kenny is the perfect face for a company that is continuously innovating, and Lulzbot is probably one of the ‘feel good’ stories within the 3d printing space.
Alan Meckler, CEO of Meckler Media: Meckler is one of those men who you have to respect for his many past successes within the media industry. He is the CEO of MecklerMedia, the company behind not only the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo, but also Inside Bitcoin, and the AllFacebook Marketing Conference. He is the man responsible for these incredible shows, and his enthusiasm for what he does is evident in speaking with him. I had the opportunity to sit down with him and his son, John for breakfast on Thursday morning, and realized that this is just the beginning as far as what he has planned for the 3D printing industry. He realizes that 3D printing is a technology that will only continue to grow, and he has entered on the ground floor. As a person, he is extremely down to earth, and very knowledgeable about what he is doing. You can tell he really has a passion for what he does, and we will certainly be attending his future shows.
Erick Wolf, CEO of Airwolf 3D: Airwolf 3D is one of those companies that have burst onto the scene, and become one of the major players in the desktop 3D printer market. They produce FFF based machines which are targeted to both at-home users and businesses of all sizes. The Airwolf 3D booth was one of my favorites, as they had multiple large objects on display, which were printed on their own printers. What makes their printers so great are their ability to print in a vast array of materials, due to the extruder which can reach higher temperatures than many other 3D printers on the market currently. This is another selling point that the Lulzbot line of 3D printers also feature. Wolf was one of those extremely friendly people, that I had the chance to speak with at the show. He made a point to stop by our booth twice, just to say hi and talk a little about 3D printing in general. Wolf’s company also announced at the conference, the release of Wolfbite, a new premium heatbed adhesion solution for ABS. I received a nice demonstration and had a great talk with some of the people over at the Airwolf 3D booth. If you are looking for a way to easily adhere your prints to the bed, and make sure that they remain adhered for the duration of a print, Wolfbite seems like a really legitimate product. When done printing, it doesn’t require any scraping or prying to get the printed object off the bed. A simple swipe with your finger is all that is needed.
Peter Hsiao, Marketing Specialist for Flashforge USA: Peter is a man who I have had much communication with over the past year. In fact, 3DPrint.com recently reviewed the Flashforge Dreamer 3D printer, thanks to the cooperation of Hsiao in providing us with a printer to demo. Peter was very accommodating in showing me another one of their 3D printers, the Creator Pro, which is an affordable, high quality machine. I also talked with Peter about their partnership with Dremel. You may have recently heard that the power tool giant, Dremel launched their very own 3D printer. What most people don’t know, however, is that Flashforge is the company that manufactures this printer, and it is actually almost an identical copy of the Flashforge Dreamer. Of course it is rebranded under the Dremel name, and very minor changes have been made to the UI of the touchscreen controls. Peter and I also discussed the Flashforge forum that has been established on 3DPB.com, and some plans for the future development of it. Stay tuned!
Jerry Ropelato, CEO of WhiteClouds, Inc.: If you enjoy seeing really fascinating 3D printed designs, then WhiteClouds is probably one of the leaders in this field. Jerry is an equally fascinating man. He has founded seven different technology companies including Purch, which is the 36th largest web property in the world, and includes websites such as Tom’s Hardware, LaptopMag, LiveScience.com, Space.com, and TopTenReviews. Jerry stopped by our booth to say hello, and we had the opportunity to reciprocate this by also stopping by the WhiteClouds booth. WhiteClouds specializes in producing 3D printed architectural models as well as other unique, and sometimes quite incredible projects. Jerry is very hands-on, and when he wasn’t giving his talk, he was found chatting it up with visitors at his booth. His enthusiasm is contagious, and you can tell that he really enjoys what he does.
The Entire Team at FormLabs: These guys were really the innovators of affordable SLA 3D printers. Their booth is always one of the most crowded at these shows, and for good reason. Formlabs is the top SLA consumer level 3D printer on the market, and with them being one of the top storylines in the recent documentary “Print the Legend”, many people stopped by their booth just to say hi. All of the guys at their booth were extremely easy to talk to. At the event, Formlabs officially announced and unveiled their Flexible and Castable Resins, which could become a driving force in making SLA 3D printing just as popular, if not moreso, than FFF. The flexible resin, when cured through the printing process had about the same consistency as the flexible resins available on FFF printers. I had the chance to hold and feel objects printed with this new material, and I must say I was very pleased. When printed thin, it is extremely flexible, with lots of give. When printed thick, it enables designers to create shock absorbing objects. I look forward to seeing all of the creative uses that this new material will enable.
These are some of the amazing people and companies that we had the chance to meet. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to talk about them all, but there were plenty more on hand.
Another great thing about attending the Inside 3D Printing Conference, is that people from all around the world attend. These people have experience working for large companies such as Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard and more….. Wait, did I just say Hewlett Packard?
As we all know, Hewlett Packard has been teasing the world with hints of a 3D printing related announcement, which now is ready to be divulged this coming Wednesday, October 29th. There are many people guessing what this announcement will encompass, but HP has been pretty tight-lipped about letting the cat out of the bag. We had the chance to speak with several individuals who seemed to have a bit of an inside track on the upcoming announcement. These were current and former employees of the company, and although they remained faithful to HP, and rather tight-lipped themselves, they were all definitely holding back information which was quite extraordinary. I was told that one individual at the conference, who will remain nameless, and is a well respected insider within the industry, almost broke down in tears of excitement when asked if he knew anything about what HP was planning to announce. October 29th will certainly be an exciting day.
There have been rumors circulating for the past year or so (or perhaps wishful thinking) that Apple may jump into the 3D printing space. These rumors stem from a story we covered back in May, where Trip Chowdhry, Managing Director of Equity Research at Global Equities Research said that he believed that both Google and Apple were working on entering the 3D printing market.
We had the chance to speak with a couple people from Apple, both retired and current, who happened to stop by our booth. One man worked very close to Steve Jobs before his passing, and played a major part in the development of some of the company’s world-famous technology. He told us some very interesting stories about Apple’s former CEO, depicting his personality and drive for success, and perhaps that stress was the cause of Jobs ultimate demise. I asked this gentleman about Apple’s 3D printing ambitions. He immediately pulled out his iPhone and showed me several 3D printed objects that were done at Apple Headquarters, depicting the incredible 3D scanning ability that the company is capable of. The 3D printed objects were quite incredible as well, but they were not printed on an i3DPrinter, but rather on printers that already are available on the market and manufactured by other companies. From my conversation with this individual, I walked away feeling that Chowdhry’s theory that Apple is working on entering the 3D printing market may not be accurate at all. Then again, no one can really say for sure.
MORE GREAT FUN
During some down time, I had the opportunity to walk around the exhibition floor and check out all sorts of interesting technology. At the event, Artec announced the launch of their new Shapify Booths, featuring 4 scanners that are capable of generating a 3D model of a person (or people) in just 12 seconds. Whitney and I had the opportunity to receive a demonstration and I walked away very impressed. I look very much forward to receiving our “mini me’s” sometime soon.
As you can see, the scanner is quite large. Whitney and I stood on it together while the machine spun around us, completely capturing us in 3D. Afterwards, a 3D model appeared on the large monitor within their booth (as seen in the photo).
All in all, the Inside 3D Printing Conference in Santa Clara far exceeded my expectations, and was every thing and more that any 3D printing enthusiast could want out of an event such as this. 3DPrint.com received a lot of great exposure, and we made a lot of tremendous connections. The next shows will be held in Shanghai, China on November 4-5; Singapore in January; Berlin, Sao Paulo, and London in March, and New York in April. 3DPrint will be attending several of these events so keep an eye out for our booths, and be sure to stop by and say hi.
What do you think? Did you have the opportunity to attend the Inside 3D Printing Conference in Santa Clara? Did you stop by the 3DPrint.com booth to say hi? What did you think? Discuss and see more photos from the event, in the Inside 3D Printing Conference forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out some more photos below:
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