Few 3D printing companies can compare in terms of size, diversity and media coverage to 3D Systems. Regularly described as a 3D printing industry giant, 3D Systems has its finger on the pulse and is expanding its reach further every day.
The man at the helm of this juggernaut is almost as famous as the company he leads. Avi Reichental, CEO of 3D Systems, will be taking to the stage to bestow his special brand of industry zeal on the TCT Show + Personalize community this month and is arguably one of the event's best-known speakers.
This is Reichental's first time at the conference and he intends to make his maiden TCT Show speech a memorable one. He revealed that he has given the theme for his presentation, entitled Manufacturing the Future, a great deal of thought.
"Think about it, 3D printing holds the power to transform education, enable patient-specific medical devices and disrupt product design and manufacturing. If that's not manufacturing the future, I don't know what is," Reichental said.
Responsibility and the future
Reichental's passion for his industry and its capabilities is likely to make his speech particularly engaging. Reichental went on to say that his passion for education will lead him to challenge his audience to join him on 3D Systems' mission to make 3D printing available to youngsters around the world, ensuring "a firm competitive advantage by imparting to them tomorrow's skills today".
"As the 3D printing inventor, pioneer and leader, we have a responsibility to inspire the public about the transformational and impactful power and potential of 3D printing. Equally we have a duty to shape and inform the discussion about the unintended uses like 3D printing illegal weapons, counterfeiting and infringement challenges and emerging security risks," Reichental remarked.
But even though the expert skippers one of the most powerful organisations in the 3D printing industry, Reichental admits he is humbled by his position. He revealed that he feels very strongly that the 3D printing community is made up of individuals "committed to manufacturing a brighter future" and therefore his role and the role of those with the power to steer the future of manufacturing have an "awesome responsibility to do it well".
Reichental does not want to put a dampener on any possible future for the technology and said he believes the technology's potential is open-ended.
He stated: "My role is to build an exponential organisation, my purpose is to inspire my team to do more than they think is possible. My passion is to democratise access and accelerate adoption through seamless, ubiquitous design-to-manufacturing connectivity, harnessing capabilities like the gamification of content creation, leveraging Moore's Law for greater affordability, higher performance and simplicity.
"My most important responsibility is to make 3D printing a good, safe and sustainable solution for everyone. To me that means becoming a trusted resource to rely on as unintended uses come to light so that we can avoid knee-jerk regulations that neither solve a problem nor help to move us forward. Finally, I believe that everyone is creative and everybody can create - especially children - and that's the reason we have partnered with Black Country Atelier for TCT Show + Personalize, to engage hundreds of students in an immersive 3D printing experience."
3D Systems together with Black Country Atelier and TCT Show organisers Rapid News Communications Group are putting together a 3D printing classroom at this year's event, expanding on the Bright Minds UK programme that has had such success in previous years. The scheme is designed for secondary school children in the UK in the hopes of nurturing the next wave of 3D printing thinkers and innovators.
As well as the children at Bright Minds, Reichental is looking forward to mingling with the diverse crowd at TCT Show.
"TCT brings together the world's leaders, shapers, users, teachers, researchers, disruptors, analysts, investors and entrepreneurs to learn, converse and explore the possible and the unimaginable," he said. "It's the ideal venue to discuss and debate the unlimited possibilities and the potential challenges before us."
He continued: "The UK pioneered the last industrial revolution and - true to its rich heritage - is leading the adoption of 3D printing, from the important research done at Bath University to the refreshingly entrepreneurial and disruptive work Alice Taylor and her team are doing in London. It is obvious that this is the place to hold such an important global summit."
Reichental's magnanimity towards the entire 3D printing industry is what makes him such a memorable character - but as many of his peers have said - the 3D printing industry still has too long a journey to make and so having an open mind and sharing knowledge and experiences is essential for moving the technology forward.
"I live for these kinds of events; it is part 'family reunion' with customers, colleagues and exceptional competitors and part 'intensive schooling', and best of all I love the unique blend of high-tech and high-touch energy that radiates throughout," Reichental mused.
Unlike some of his colleagues, the 3D Systems boss also has an upbeat opinion about the explosion of media coverage 3D printing has received, which some industry commentators have claimed puts the industrial side in the shade.
"I often joke that we are an overnight success 30 years in the making," Reichental chuckled. "The media has a critical role to play in mainstreaming and pop culturising the convergence of technology and lifestyle. That said, I would love to see more in-depth coverage that shows how 3D printing touches everyone from the things we consume and the cars we drive to the medical care we receive, expanding on how 3D printing has changed our lives for the better, and how truly powerful it can be in imparting a new kind of literacy for children and adults alike."
Expansion and encouragement
Reichental's pride for his company and for the 3D printing industry is evident, particularly because 2013 - or the first two-thirds at least - have been such a galloping success for the New York Stock Exchange-listed company. But he did identify two milestones in the company's history hit in the last nine months that have meant a lot to him and to the 3D Systems family.
"Two events validated our passion and purpose," he stated. "First, the rapid expansion of our Cube consumer 3D printer at Staples going from a couple of dozen stores to a couple of hundred stores. Second, the significant commitment companies like GE are making to embed 3D printing into their advanced manufacturing roadmap, which encouraged us to significantly step up our own research and development spending, and also add industrial grade direct metals capabilities through the recent acquisition of Phenix Systems."
Avi Reichental's speaker session is bound to draw one of the biggest crowds of TCT Show + Personalize. His talk will kick off proceedings on the morning of September 25th - the first day of TCT Show + Personalize - marking an auspicious start for the two-day event.