Despite economic uncertainties, additive manufacturing (AM) is likely in the process of experiencing its biggest boom to date, in large part due to global trends related to supply chain resilience and energy transition. This could mean that the upcoming RAPID + TCT event, taking place May 2-4 in Chicago, could be the best yet.
From what we know so far, North America’s leading 3D printing trade event will have over 350 exhibiting companies showcasing the latest AM technologies and applications via hands-on exhibits. I’m always most interested in discovering firms I’d never heard of before or aspects of the technology I was previously unfamiliar with. The list of exhibitors is already massive, and for 20% of them, it’s their first time exhibiting at the event.
In 2022, this included inkjetting startup Quantica and binder jet developer Grid Logic. This year, I’ll likely introduce myself to firms from the rapidly growing list of OEMs from China, like Eplus 3D and HBD, as well as startups like Foundry Lab, which has developed a microwave sintering furnace for binder jetting, and General Lattice, made famous by designing Wilson’s 3D printed basketball. I’ll also try to familiarize myself with legacy businesses finding entry points into AM, like automation firm Grenzebach.
This year’s event will host exciting keynote speakers and thought leaders on the main stage. These include Divergent Technologies’ Kevin Czinger, who will hopefully be able to speak more about the company’s expansion beyond automotive into aerospace 3D printing. Omar Mireles, from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center – In-Space Propulsion, will discuss the trajectory of 3D printing for space applications. There will also be a panel featuring SME’s Robert Willig, ASTM International’s Terry Wohlers, and SAE International’s Chris Ciuca, and the yet-unannounced 2023 AM Industry Achievement Award recipient.
Outside of the main stage speakers, RAPID + TCT will include eight tracks specific to AM, hand-selected by industry experts. As a journalist untethered to any one vertical, it will be tough to choose which talks to attend, given that they range from Lockheed Martin engineers discussing large-format 3D printing to Fraunhofer researchers relaying work into magnetic materials for electrical drives.
The event will also feature three networking events, which is ideal for reconnecting with members of the AM community that I only get to see once or twice a year or meeting new people altogether. This includes the AM Industry Celebration, sponsored by SME, TCT, AMUG, America Makes, and Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP). Given the overall success of Wi3DP happy hours and other socials, this is sure to be a highlight of the show’s networking agenda.
Additionally, RAPID + TCT will include the SME Additive Manufacturing Community Awards, made up of the AM Industry Achievement Award, Aubin AM Case Study Award, AM Start-Up Technology Award and Digital Manufacturing Challenge Award, all presented on the mains stage.
It’s becoming increasingly important not to miss a single AM event throughout the season, given just how fast the industry is progressing, and RAPID + TCT is the most crucial in North America. 2023 is already proving to be a momentous year for the sector, so this is an essential trade show to attend. For a complimentary Expo Pass as a guest of 3DPrint.com, use promo code RP23DIGPUB when registering.
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