Rich Horne at TCT Show
Richard Horne at TCT Show + Personalize
When the organisers of TCT Show + Personalize confabulated about this year's event back in Autumn 2012 one set aim reverberated among the committee more than the others - "we want rock stars".
Like any industry, 3D printing has its big-name movers, shakers, business leaders and serious thinkers and it was TCT's aim to ensure only top brass made the sessions bill.
TCT Show + Personalize could not have had a more auspicious start on Wednesday September 25th when CEO of 3D Systems Avi Reichental stepped in front of the bright stage lights to deliver his keynote address. The rock star element of this unmissable talk was present at the front of the platform, where a 3D Systems-printed electric guitar was positioned, featuring an all-American stars and stripes pattern along with a highly detailed New York skyline amongst the red, white and blue. Reichental used his time on stage to talk about the benefits of encouraging children to get more involved in 3D printing, congratulating show organisers, his colleagues at 3D Systems and Black Country Atelier for their involvement in the Bright Minds scheme. The CEO concluded his time in the spotlight by bringing a few of the Bright Minds school children on stage to present to the audience "the future of the industry", which was met with rapturous applause.
After Reichental's stirring opening presentation, it was important to maintain the momentum of the opening speaker session and only somebody with industry gravitas, an experienced stage presence and a compelling story to tell would be able to fit this gap at the top of the bill. Naturally, CEO of Mcor Technologies Conor MacCormack delivered exactly this in his rousing talk about Mcor's achievements and the future of 3D printing with paper as a material, as well as explaining what their high-profile deal with stationary giant Staples will mean for high street 3D printing.
The first speaker session of the day was rounded off with an animated talk by Alice Taylor of the internationally renowned MakieLab. Taylor delighted the audience with her plans for the future of MakieLab and why the playful, consumer-friendly side of the growing 3D printing industry is just as important as the heavy-duty industrial applications - which was pertinent especially to TCT Show + Personalize 2013 due to the arrival of the new RepRap hub showcasing consumer, desktop and hobbyist 3D printing at its most devoted best.
Naturally, all three presenters were swamped by fans, but through the throng old friends Reichental and Taylor were able to catch up, demonstrating the importance of upholding the 3D printing industry as a community.
The lunchtime speaker sessions began with long-term friend of TCT Show + Personalize and TCT Magazine Todd Grimm, who never fails to deliver an interesting, charismatic presentation on what's realistic about the future of 3D printing and where it can be best applied. Up next, debut TCT Show speaker Richard 'RichRap' Horne stepped behind the mic to talk 3D printing and the maker movement. Of course, interest in Horne's presentation could only have been heightened by the hype surrounding the RepRap Corner, which saw a continuous crowd akin to that of a bar before last orders on a Friday night for the duration of the show. Horne kept the tone light and inspired others to embrace their inner "woolly jumper" and explore the delights of making something using 3D printing - particularly when the opportunity to get children involved arises. Horne was followed by bright young thing Nick Allen of 3DPrintUK, who bounded onto the stage like a bearded 3D print-loving Tigger. Allen's unorthodox format bravely included audience participation, but just like the expert knows 3D printing, he also knows the 3D printing crowd and it did not take long for the audience to warm up and get involved. The presentation included a "Top Gear-style Cool Wall" of statements about 3D printing and participants were encouraged to shout out whether these statements were plausible or implausible.
The afternoon slot was a two-and-a-half-hour session that galloped through five speakers, ably chaired by fellow Digital Media and Community Editor Daniel O'Connor. Industrial additive manufacturing industry heavyweight businessman and innovator Greg Morris commenced the final batch of talks with his experience-anchored insights into AM and the aerospace industry. Morris was followed up by Technical Integration expert at BMW's Rapid Technology Group Dominik Reitzel, who discussed the potential of additive manufacturing in the automotive industry and the importance of maintaining a collaborative mindset as additive manufacturing continues to grow. 3D printing and its medical applications were covered in fascinating detail by Dr Jari Pallari of Peacocks Medical Group, whose message was that 3D printing provides a multitude of solutions for the otherwise low-tech O&P (orthopaedics and prosthetics) industry. 3D printing celebrity and Digital Forming CEO Lisa Harouni followed with her insights on mass customisation - a key growth area for 3D printing - while the afternoon's session was book-ended by an excellent presentation linking additive manufacturing to academia from Prof Neil Hopkinson, whose insights and publications on the industry are revered throughout the industry.
TCT Show rewarded its speakers and exhibitors at the end of the first day with a drinks reception, which was a fantastic opportunity for those who were manning stands or coordinating the smooth running of the event to finally voice their questions and congratulations to the speakers. Luckily, most of those who were due to take to the stage the following day were sensible enough to abstain from over-imbibing.
With a select few of the show's exhibitors and organisers popping the odd aspirin, our second day of speaker sessions began with another industry colossus in the form of Stratasys CIO and Chairman and inventor of Fused Deposition Modelling Scott Crump, whose presentation covered the matter of futureproofing the industry and ensuring manufacturing gets the best of the technology in the near-to-long term. Fellow countryman Dave Burns of ExOne gave a rousing speech after his contemporary exploring the vast possibilities of metal 3D printing and how the NASDAQ-listed company is continuing to expand thanks to the growing demand for the material. The final keynote speech for the show came from the infectiously enthusiastic Clement Moreau, CEO of Sclulpteo, whose talk covered everything from ceramics to CAD, to community to collaboration.
A short break followed, before TCT Magazine columnist and industry favourite Joris Peels gave his Dreams on the Desktop presentation, which succeeded in striking the crucial balance between being informative and entertaining in Peels' own signature style. Next came Renishaw's Manufacturing Manager Jeremy Pullin, whose candid talk served to demonstrate that an important point to make when moving the industry into the future is to put a lid on some of the "push-button" hype. Prosumer 3D printing was the topic up for discussion when Econolyst's Phil Reeves stepped behind the mic, providing ammunition for experienced industry professionals looking to dispel the myths and rumours surrounding additive manufacturing with science and statistics.
The final speaker session of the event was kicked off by another industry celebrity, artist Josh Harker, whose work is well known around the world. His talk covered his work, 3D printing as an artistic medium and how he will be using the technology in the future. Ceramic 3D printing expert Andy Jeffery, President of Figulo, followed with his insights into ceramics as a 3D printing material - something touched upon by Clement Moreau earlier in the day. Finally, the TCT Show speaker sessions were rounded off with an inspiring talk from Dyvsign's Yvonne van Zummeren, who told the story about how an Art History graduate with no experience of 3D design or the jewellery started a successful 3D-printed jewellery business.
There was no shortage of information and no side of the industry left untouched after the stage lights were tuned off at TCT Show + Personalize 2013, setting a new precedent for the quality of presenters for the event in the years to come and the task of booking 2014's rock stars has already begun.