The rush of new additive manufacturing (AM) system releases has slowed from a torrent pre-RAPID 2012 to a mere trickle post-RAPID.
However, a new contender has appeared. 3D Systems (company profile) has released a new high capacity, professional 3D printer: the ProJet 5000. According to the company, the new system is capable of 24/7 production and can run unattended for more than 80 hours. 3D Systems is backing the new printer with a five-year manufacturer’s print head warranty.
While walking around at RAPID 2012 (see our previous Rapid Ready coverage) I had the unusual experience of people offering to make 3D scans of my head. Though interesting, I declined. As anyone that has ever met me will attest, my head isn’t nearly exciting enough to warrant a digital reproduction.
This idea of 3D scanning various body parts (mainly faces, hands and feet) does present a possible glimpse of a future sales experience. Combined with additive manufacturing (AM), 3D scanners could usher in on-demand manufacturing of shoes that fit your feet perfectly or a hat that always sits at that perfect jaunty angle. At present, the main problems with that scenario are cost and portability.
The line was even longer by the coffee pots on the last day of RAPID 2012. I manfully shouldered my way through the crowd to get my own cup of wake up, noticing as I did so that there were already two empty containers sitting forlorn and abandoned. Java in hand, I found a seat in the conference room to await the keynote speech by Terry Wohlers. Really, this time.
Wohlers began by informing the crowd that this was the 20th year of RAPID. The industry has changed a lot in more than two decades. According to Wohlers, since 1988, the CAGR of additive manufacturing (AM) has increased by 26.4%. Around 6,500 industrial AM systems were sold in 2011 and material sales to feed those systems added up to $327 million. Continue reading
The show kicked off at 8 a.m. for the keynote address of the day. People shambled toward coffee and pastries, but managed to perk up a bit once the caffeine and sugar hit. Or maybe that was just me. I will have to add a correction here. I said that today’s keynote speaker would be Terry Wohlers. He’ll actually be speaking on Thursday.
Instead of Mr. Wohlers (much to my initial surprise) was Paul Doe, chief designer for Prodrive’s rally car program. Doe spoke about how additive manufacturing (AM) has changed the way Prodrive modifies automobiles.
I awoke in the gloom of predawn, kissed my wife goodbye and set off to the airport. My trip to Atlanta went smoothly and before I knew it, I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, site of RAPID 2012. Sadly, I arrived just in time to find out all the early workshops were full.
Undeterred, I went to my room and waited for the later sessions to begin. Maybe I took a nap in there somewhere. I won’t tell if you don’t. That afternoon I sat in on SME’s Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing (RTAM) Community Tech Groups program. The “Conference Kickoff” was dedicated to innovations in additive manufacturing (AM) and I heard plenty to interest me.