The Top Five Trends We Spotted at RAPID + TCT
What is the current buzz in the 3D printing industry? There’s no better way to find out than by roaming around at RAPID + TCT and enjoying the atmosphere. Materialise has attended RAPID + TCT for years – in 2013 we even hosted the opening event – and we have witnessed the event shifting its focus from prototyping to manufacturing with our own eyes. We collected the hot topics of this year for you.
1. Metal AM
Metal is booming! This year’s RAPID + TCT saw a great number of cheaper and smaller metal 3D printers offered by new manufacturers. Some believe that these desktop 3D printers might change the metal 3D printing scene. The one with the most buzz at RAPID + TCT was Desktop Metal, a company addressing the unmet challenges of speed, cost, quality and convenience for Metal 3D Printing. It’s no coincidence that we are broadening our metal software offering.
Since 3D printing metal parts is quite challenging, there is an increasing need for simulation software that reduces the number of failed trials. Simulation can indicate stresses and prevent the deformation of expensive 3D-printed metal parts. During the Technology LaunchPad at RAPID + TCT, Materialise VP Stefaan Motte announced that Materialise is working on a simulation roadmap. He stated that:
“Here at Materialise we are focused on providing total control to our software customers and we know that simulation is an essential part of the control process. One of the steps in this process is the Energy Density Map of Materialise Inspector. We will also soon announce our FEA solutions that will occupy a very competitive position in the market, because it will be a synergetic combination of our profound AM know-how and smart simulation tools.”
3. Design for AM
At RAPID + TCT, we spotted a great interest in more knowledge about design for AM. Changing the way designers think and create 3D models will be key to advance the industry. Design for traditional manufacturing differs greatly from design for Additive Manufacturing.
In the AM process, design restrictions fade away and new opportunities arise, so designers need to think differently to explorer all the possibilities offered by the technology. The value of AM is not simply 3D printing a part instead of manufacturing it in a traditional way, but rather thinking outside the box and optimizing the design. The fuel nozzle from GE and our custom glasses are a great example of this.
“Custom items like glasses will be 3D-printed not because they can be, but because they can be better”
4. New materials
Another significant trend is the development of new AM materials by existing machine manufacturers, but also by giant materials companies who are exploring AM to design entirely new materials. Volker Hammer from BASF gave an interview on the topic at the Materialise World Summit, which will soon be released on our blog.
5. End-to-end solutions
There is a race towards end-to-end solutions, meaning that there is currently a race in the 3D printing market to have a complete 3D printing flow from design to quality control. We could consider each other as competitors in this race, but according to Stefaan Motte, VP at Materialise, if we want to make 3D Printing a success, we should also see each other as partners and race with each other instead of against each other. We contribute to the race by offering an extensive software platform that covers all 3D printing steps. This platform is integrated with the majority of 3D printing machines via close partnerships with machine manufacturers and integration with CAD providers such as Siemens. Together, we can advance the industry.