A year after the merger of Stratasys and Objet, and just months after its acquisition of MakerBot, the company was ready for its close-up. This week, Stratasys hosted the Manufacturing the Future Summit at its headquarters in Eden Prairie, MN. About a dozen journalists were on hand, and more dialed in, to hear Stratasys executives and their customers explain how 3D printing is not only saving them time and money, but enabling entirely new business models and new ways to design products. Continue reading
Last night, Stratasys signaled its intent to be as important a part of the 3D printing/additive manufacturing conversation in the media as it has been in practice. Its Manufacturing the Future Summit began with dinner at a restaurant, in which reporters from the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Popular Mechanics joined my colleagues and I in the trade press. Continue reading
As Desktop Engineering’s Senior Editor Kenneth Wong illustrates in “A New Look at Subtractive Prototyping,” there is plenty of room in upfront design engineering for both additive and subtractive rapid prototyping technologies. To have a little fun pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of both technologies, we decided to pit Todd Grimm (representing additive) against Anthony Graves (representing subtractive) in this point-counterpoint arena. While both Grimm and Graves see the value in using both approaches, we asked them to pick a side and come out swinging.
Terry Wohlers of the consulting and research firm, Wohlers Associates, kicked off the second day of the RAPID 2013 Conference and Exhibition in Pittsburgh this morning (read about the first day’s keynote here). As he has in years past, Wohlers presented findings from his annual Wohlers Report, which tracks the additive manufacturing industry.
Wohlers took a global perspective of the technology and provided perspective on where the industry might go in the future. But first, he looked back to 1988 when 3D Systems first commercialized additive manufacturing. Continue reading
In recent years, 3D printing has been hailed by many media outlets as a harbinger of a manufacturing revolution that will usher in a custom-built world.
While acknowledging that the news reports are a few decades late, the keynote speakers who opened RAPID 2013 on June 11 in Pittsburgh didn’t exactly disagree with those claims.
“It is truly vital to engage in advanced manufacturing opportunities,” said Brett Lambert, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, U.S. Department of Defense. “The world has changed and is changing as we gather here today.”
Michael F. Molnar, chief manufacturing officer, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), agreed with Lambert, but said the country needs to focus on advanced manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing. The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) is one way to improve that focus. Molnar said NAMII and three new institutes for manufacturing innovation that will be founded this year, are trying to bridge the gap between research and commercialization.
Edward Morris, director of NAMII, said the institute envisions widespread adoption of additive manufacturing as increasing U.S. competitiveness, revealing new and better products and manufacturing techniques, and spinning off new companies with highly skilled workers. That’s a tall order, but even after more than 20 years, there’s a feeling at the show that additive manufacturing has just scratched the surface of its potential.
Initial attendance figures showed 2,700 people, including exhibitors from nearly 100 companies, traveled to the conference this year. That’s up from less than 1,500 attendees last year and about 1,300 in 2011.
The show floor backed up those early numbers, with crowded aisles and busy exhibitors. Conor and Deirdre MacCormack from Mcor Technologies said their business continues to expand, especially after launching a deal with Staples Printing Systems Division to launch a new 3D printing service called “Staples Easy 3D,” online via the office store.
The booths at Stratasys, 3D Systems, Envisiontec, EOS and others were likewise packed with attendees getting a close-up look at different additive manufacturing and scanning technologies. Surprisingly, there was no sign of MakerBot, which made a point of targeting the engineering industry with its MakerBot Replicator 2.
In any case, the increased media attention seems to have brought the benefits of rapid prototyping and custom manufacturing to light to many new people, but it’s still just getting started.
Read our coverage of day two of the RAPID 2013 Conference & Exhibition here.