Concurrent with the rise of 3D printing we have witnessed the growth of the 3D design software market, with an ever increasing number of solutions targeted at the consumer and professional designer and engineer.
One of the platforms that has fought its way to the frontline is GrabCAD. GrabCAD was founded in Tallinn, Estonia, by Indrek Narusk and TCT Show + Personalize 2013 speaker Hardi Meybaum, the company's CEO. Both men previously headed up a software development business before launching GrabCAD in 2009. They set up GrabCAD when they realised how much time engineers waste on simple, repetitive tasks and how their work could be supported and made more efficient by developing a unified CAD services marketplace and a cross-platform CAD library. GrabCAD is also supported by a vibrant online engineering community.
Meybaum's background is in engineering and so it is only natural that this should be the focus of his TCT Show presentation. He revealed that the theme of his talk will be about the rise of "open engineering - the trend towards a more collaborative model of hardware design".
"Things like 3D printing, which make it easy to do rapid prototyping, are part of this trend," he stated, "[At the show] I'll be covering some of the other ways that the hardware design process is changing as well."
The CEO will be addressing the conference for the first time when he takes to the stage on the first afternoon of the eighteenth edition of the TCT Show. He will then be joining the other visitors on the show floor when he steps away from the podium. In addition to reconnecting with some of his European colleagues in the hardware and software spaces, he will be sitting in on the other presentations to hear all about the latest developments and to keep abreast of the news from the front line.
He stated: "I'll definitely stop by the presentations by some of the 3D printer manufacturers - that space is changing so quickly it's hard to keep up.
"Shows like TCT are an exciting way for engineers to see what's new in their field and in fields that are related but that maybe they don't follow that closely. It's also a great way for engineers to connect and share ideas with folks outside their immediate colleagues."
Meybaum would be the first to admit the 3D printing industry and its periphery is frenetic at present and noted GrabCAD has got a lot going on. Indeed, he observed that because there are so many facets to 3D printing - from the various industries, applications and materials involved, to the software, web apps and even the types of user - it is hard to know what to focus in on. This is especially true of press coverage of the technology, which has been blamed by some industry leaders and commentators for overzealously summarising 3D printing as a push-button, miracle technology wielding the same power for transformation as the Victorian industrial revolution.
"I think the media, like everyone else, isn't sure where to look since there's so much going on," Meybaum conceded.
"Is it the use of 3D printing in medical applications? How intellectual property rights will change? New materials that can be used in additive manufacturing? I tend to focus on what individual engineers can do now that they couldn't do before [3D printing] - and it's great to see that those stories do get told in the media, too."
Changing an industry
Meybaum's background is in engineering and it is clear that this is one of his passions. He is interested in how the industry is changing and how that is affecting engineers and the way they work.
"I'm most excited about how engineers' lives are changing," he explained, "It's getting easier and easier for engineers to design great things and that's good for everyone."
But Meybaum is like most people in the engineering industry in that he is a fervent problem-solver and is deeply interested in any developments that can achieve something new or boost efficiency - after all, that is how GrabCAD came about.
"There are lots of big trends that shape the [engineering] space, but the thing I like most is hearing from engineers about how they used to have an obstacle and now it's gone," he admitted.
Hardi Meybaum will share his insights and perspectives on the 3D printing industry at TCT Show + Personalize and is a fitting spokesperson for the burgeoning software side of the market.