In All Revolutions, Pitchforks & Torches Have Been For Sale: In Our 3DP Uprising, We’re Printing Them DIY…
The “Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo” here in New York (Javits Center) on 22 and 23 April was a debut occasion. It was the first national B2B event to focus on the business—and the business opportunities—within the revolutionary commerce of Additive Manufacturing.
At “Inside 3D Printing,” the emphasis was less on geewhiz and more on get monetized. The event atmosphere—as in the PC or Internet Revolutions—was tinctured with intoxicating scent of importuning opportunity. Many at the show—especially the new-comers to the industry—had the eye-gleam of the inebriated.
Some VCs, Wall Streeters and consultants led small coteries or individual clients around sessions and show stands. Or, better said, parentally hand-held present or prospective patrons who—like sweetly ignorant and exuberant small children—seemed intent on running to clutch every bright, shiny thing.
And, there WERE so many of those on display—at the conference keynotes and sessions (25 presentations) and on the small expo floor (17 exhibitors). Think the toy emporium FAO Schwarz re-positionsed and re-initialed 3DP Schwarz—for adults and their novel playthings (and the beribboned expectations of boundless business opportunities).
On the one hand, our 3DP Revolution may be more rational than the other tech-engined upheavals we’ve experienced. It’s been gathering steam for twenty years or more. This current, frenzied iteration of the 3DP industry has mutated from the relatively staid rapid-prototyping niche in manufacturing, architecture and industrial design.
On the other hand, a kind of Moore’s Law of exponential 3DP advance now seems to be driving us all up the Additive-Manufactured shaft of the hockey-stick curve—laser-sintered of powder-bed titanium, of course…
3D Printing As Commercial Prospect: Incipient Bonanza or Inherent Bubble?
Anyone with the correct answer to this headlined query could 3DP their own gold-bullion bars.
Actually, there isn’t just one answer. Start with the journalist’s W-H Formula: Who, What, Where, When, Why & How (How-To and How-Much). And, keep the Q&A going ad infinitum to success…
(Want more resources to study for 3DP understanding and commercial possibilities, see my 15 March post—sub-titled “…Resource Guide W/Links“)
That said, the real-world, real-time and real-solid results of current 3DP tech was to be seen all over the small show-floor at “Inside 3D Printing.” Yep, the knowledgable skeptic can see lots of holes in the various printed matrices—literally on display or in the over-arching prospects of the industry. But—damn—the demo’d professional-level systems had a brassy veracity about them that rung true. Real solutions of real problems for real clients.
3D Systems Corporation At Center Stage: One Of The Oldest Buys Young Ideas
3D Systems came to play and “Coach” Avi Reichental seems to be ubiquitous at 3DP “commercial game” of every kind—leading both his company and the industry in their parallel advances. Proving—yet again—that the eye of the (3DP) master fattens the (Additive Manufacturing) horse.
Most would probably consider 3D Systems to be the leading player in the 3DP industry. (Certainly, the stock market thought so in 2012: the stock value appreciated some 250%, if memory serves. And, I think market cap of the company tops all its competition.) 3D Systems has been a player since nearly the start of the Additive Manufacturing business. Yet, it’s still innovating (e.g., Cube, a low, low-end “home” 3D printer) and acquiring the new ideas and talent not grown in-house (e.g., the recently concluded purchase of geomagic).
Avi Reichental, President & CEO of 3D Systems, was opening Keynoter at ”Inside 3D Printing” on Day One. His company was the sole Platinum Sponsor of the event and the “anchor tenant” of the Expo’s exhibit area. 3D Systems 20-foot square booth presented the most interesting and sophisticated demos—especially if you were interested in the professional and industrial end of 3DP. The largest team of company players on the floor staffed the 3D Systems stand. (The 3D Systems folks even sported the most stylish corporate garb: their team-shirt’s “breast-pocket” 3D Systems logo looked like it was 3D printed—and embedded in the fabric. Very cool!)
Two 3D Systems Booth-Demos Illustrate Industry Directions
As blogging videographer, I was delighted to capture two booth demonstrations at the 3D Systems’ stand.
My first video is number one of two. The topic is Cubify Sculpt. This is a system—acquired with the geomagic/sensable purchase—that uses voxel display (volumetric or 3D pixels) and haptic interface (tactile feedback from virtual objects) technologies. Cubify Sculpt can address a wide spectrum of 3DP needs and uses: from tech-driven artists to precision industries. In the first case, you will see jewelry in the making and its “interaction” (how necklace elements “lay and look” on neckline topography) with a virtual mannequin. In the latter, you will see med/sci healthcare at the cutting edge in the (titanium) form of patient-specific skull implants.
My second video at 3D Systems’ stand presents its XOR Software. This is a reverse-engineering and inspection system developed by the newly acquired 3D Systems’ Rapidform subsidiary. (3D Systems purchased the Seoul, South Korea company in October 2012—demonstrating a worldwide grasp of industry dynamics.) You will see how an in-the-field, hand-held laser scan of an automobile hubcap can quickly initiate the XOR reverse-engineering creation of an highly accurate 3DP file representation. This could include any XOR-supported changes, evolutions or fixes required to the image—and thus the new 3D printed “copy”—of the original. This XOR-produced file provides the 3DP data for precision 3D printing of a new, reverse-engineered “original” from an existing part—a part that might have been perfect or damaged or incomplete or just in need of upgrade from the previous rev.
“Inside 3D Printing” (Additive) Manufactured A Fully Dimensioned Take On The 3DP Industry
I came away from my day at this debut show with new knowledge, new ideas, new relationships and many new answers to questions I hadn’t conceived until I arrived at the Javits—and was exposed to the latest in this brave new 3DP’d world.
As several of the presenters at the Conference & Expo stated—in one way or another—we’re all just at the 3DP beginning…
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