SME Announces Keynote Speakers for RAPID + TCT: 3D Printing in Sports, Aerospace, Medicine, The Future

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Nonprofit organization SME, which supports the manufacturing industry, has spent months getting ready for the 2018 RAPID + TCT Conference, which begins this Monday, April 23, in Fort Worth, Texas. We’ve already seen several announcements about exciting new 3D printers, materials, and technologies that will debut on the showroom floor – and a true highlight at this industry event is expert-led discussion of industry and application.

Anticipation continues to mount for the 2018 edition of the longest-running additive manufacturing conference in North America, as SME has just announced the keynote speakers for this year. All of the presentations will be held in the Keynote Theater.

First up is “From Hollywood to the Winter Games – Making Additive Manufacturing the Competitive Advantage for Innovation,” which will be held from 3 – 5 pm on the 23rd during the RAPID + TCT Kick-Off and is described in the schedule:

“Join us to learn first-hand how the USA Luge Team went for the medal in South Korea and LAIKA brought new life to award-winning, stop-motion animation – all with the power of 3D printing!”

LAIKA’s Oscar-Nominated “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

The keynote, sponsored by Stratasys, will cover how leaders in the entertainment and sports industries, like the US Olympic Luge team and animation studio LAIKA, continue to adopt 3D printing to spur innovation.

The luge team worked with Stratasys to develop 3D printed tools, which helped build their 2018 Olympic racing sleds. The tools saved the team time, and also allowed for continuous design iterations. LAIKA, which has also worked with Stratasys, used 3D printing in several of its movies, like The Boxtrolls, ParaNormanCoraline, and Kubo and the Two Strings, to give its signature stop-motion puppets more natural facial animation.

Stratasys speakers during this first keynote are Rich Garrity, the President of Stratasys Americas, and Phil Reeves, PhD, the Vice President of Strategic Consulting at Stratasys. Also speaking are Jon Owen, a former Olympian and the USA Luge Technical Programs Manager, and Brian McLean, the Director of Rapid Prototyping at LAIKA. In 2016, McLean won a Science & Technology Oscar for the studio’s achievements in 3D printing, and was also a member of the LAIKA team nominated for a Visual Effects Oscar for Kubo and the Two Strings.

The second keynote, taking place from 8:30 – 9:55 am on the 24th, is titled “Tomorrow’s Additive Manufacturing: An Aerospace & Defense OEM Perspective” and sponsored by Arconic.

Michael D. Packer, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works

Industry veteran Michael D. Packer, the Director of Manufacturing, Advanced Production Programs at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, will be speaking. Lockheed Martin has employed 3D printing in numerous applications, and Packer has over 40 years of experience in production engineering and operations.

“Advancements made in additive manufacturing materials and processes have led to expanded applications in the Aerospace & Defense (A&D) sector,” the schedule reads. “Today, Lockheed Martin leverages additive manufacturing for the inherent benefits it provides – from the agility to quickly fabricate a drilling template for an aircraft assembly to the creativity and innovation it enables to produce one-of-a-kind hardware that will fly on a next generation satellite- but it has yet to become a pervasive manufacturing process. There remain critical advancements that must be made within the additive industry, academia, and the A&D community itself, before the promise of additive manufacturing can be fully realized.”

The focus of the third keynote, which will be held the morning of the 25th from 8:30 – 9:55, will be of particular interest to those in the medical field, as it centers on point-of-care manufacturing. Sponsored by Materialise, the keynote, titled “Rise of Point-of-Care Manufacturing: Impacting More Patients with 3D Printing,” will discuss how 3D printing in the medical world has increased the positive impact on patient care.

Amy Alexander, BME, MS

This keynote will feature Jonathan Morris, MD, and biomedical engineer Amy Alexander, BME, MS, from the nonprofit Mayo Clinic, which has turned to 3D printing for some tough operations. Dr. Morris, a member of the Division of Neuroradiology specializing in minimally invasive thermal ablation of tumors, has used 3D printing for medical purposes since 2001, while Alexander, who converts 2D radiological images into 3D printed models in the Department of Radiology’s Anatomic Modeling Lab, designs and 3D prints custom surgical tools, such as cutting guides, to help improve surgical efficiency and accuracy.

Jonathan Morris, MD

The Mayo Clinic 3D Printing/Anatomic Modeling Laboratory, which Dr. Morris helped to develop and now co-directs, manufactures over 700 anatomic models each year for various reasons, including medical and patient education and custom device creation.

During the keynote, Alexander and Dr. Morris will highlight how 3D printing in point-of-care manufacturing is impacting patients and their families, along with providing unique engineering obstacles in a hospital setting and creating the need for cross-collaboration across different disciplines.

The final keynote, sponsored by HP, will take place from 8:30 – 9:55 on the morning of the 26th. Terry Wohlers, the principal consultant and president of Wohlers Associates Inc., will be headlining the “Printing the Future” keynote.

Terry Wohlers, Wohlers Associates Inc.

Wohlers, a principal author of the 3D printing industry’s all-important Wohlers Report, works to offer consulting assistance to over 240 organizations across 24 countries. During the final keynote, he will discuss opportunities and challenges related to infrastructure development, material pricing, quality, and supply chains.

“New AM companies, products, and services are developing at a staggering pace. With so much new activity, clarity on where to invest an organization’s efforts is paramount,” the schedule reads. “The AM industry is excited about new approaches to design, and even biomimicry, but designers and engineers must now decide what is practical and where to focus their attention.”

Wohlers will also be addressing what areas of business investments are most practical to focus on.

We’ll be on-site in Texas all next week, looking forward to attending all of the keynotes. There’s still time to register for RAPID + TCT 2018 here.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 


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