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TCT + Personalize at CES Unveiled London
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Our stand before the rush
Before the dust from a successful TCT Show + Personalize 2013 had barely settled, the team were decamping down to the capital for the first event in our new partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and their premiere trade show for that industry, International CES.
With little over three months until the main Las Vegas event, in which TCT Magazine + Personalize will be running a conference track entitled ‘Don't Believe the Hype? - 3D Printing Uncovered’, CES hosted one of their annual pre-show press events held across the globe to further ramp up the buzz the renowned show already creates. The UK event ‘CES Unveiled London’ was held at the OXO Tower on Tuesday and featured keynotes, networking and Q&A sessions.
TCT Magazine + Personalize were there, front of house, to field questions on a stand filled with 3D printing gems all to the backdrop of the looming St Paul’s Cathedral, illuminating as the night sky over the Thames darkened.
Before we’d even finished setting up our table, another exhibitor had focussed his eagle eyes on the 3D printers and was over quick as a flash to ask if our machines could prototype new models for his HD video recording eyewear.
This kind of attention never dispersed, even with the main event happening next door the stand was inundated with everyone from official photographers to catering staff, keen to get a glimpse into the future of desktop manufacturing.
3D printing wasn’t just the major topic in the exhibitors’ room either, the keynotes were littered with references to the technology and even how we, TCT, are bringing it to the table in Vegas, “We have 3D printing innovation from TCT… 3D printing is a key influencer in technology.” announced CEA President and CEO, Gary Shapiro.
The speaker sessions were in place to give a taster of what we can expect at the 2014 International CES, one technology we can definitely expect to star, amongst a sea of 20,000 products, is 3D printing. Senior Vice President of International CES, Karen Chupka enthusiastically outlined how the technology will be central to the show, “We are really excited about this. 3D printing us one of the most dynamic categories in our industries – we announced this tech zone and it sold out immediately.” Going on to reveal that the 3D printing zone has actually sold out twice over almost as soon as it was advertised.
With this news ringing in the ears’ of the gathered press, it was inevitable that the two-hour tabletop exhibition was going to get busy. And busy it got. Press, investors, inventors, CEA employees alike lined up to fire questions at us, keen to understand what it was that TCT was about.
We were in a unique position in the exhibitors hall, as opposed to selling a particular product we were there to educate people on what you could and couldn’t print, how the technology is applied and how new business models are being created on the back of the technology, such as those of jewellery designer Electrobloom or Bathsheba Sculpture, whose works were on display at our table.
In stark contrast to the TCT Show where you are dealing with considerable experts in the field - the majority of whom have been there, done that and got the 3D printed t-shirt - CES Unveiled London was filled with those from the outside looking in. You forget the wonder and amazement first timers are filled with when they first see the tech in action.
We were running a first-gen UP! Plus and a first-gen Cube courtesy of Jon Burn Ltd and 3D Systems respectively, despite these machines seeming like baby steps to us in the industry, you could see the light switches being flicked and the inspiration metre filling up in every passer-by. From the gnarled toothed veteran journalists to the geek bloggers one thing they all had in common when they saw our exhibit was a gaping mouth and a truckload of questions.
“Could this be used to create a gear system?”, “Can I scan and print my own face?”, “Will I be able to print my dinner?”, “How can I buy a machine?”, “How much does it cost?”, “Are there companies I can send a prototype to?”,“What companies would you be investing in?”. All of the questions positive, some we obviously couldn’t possibly answer (the last in particular.) but most the team coped with admirably.
The two hours of inquisitions, cameras focussed on printers, innovation showcase pieces played with and magazines flying off the stands absolutely zoomed by. CES Unveiled London served as a timely reminder of how exciting a technology we are all so heavily involved with. It was up to Shawn G. DuBravac, Chief Economist and Senior Director of Research at CEA to sum this up, “We are now entering an interesting space with the third industrial revolution – one of micro production. 3D printing allows for this mass customisation.”
So, with mouths as dry as cotton wool, feet throbbing as though they’d run a barefoot desert marathon and the adrenaline coursing through our veins, minds suddenly switch to Vegas and the one hundred and fifty thousand odd more excited public that TCT + Personalize will be filling with 3D printed inspiration.