Whilst trying to get to sleep after my first TCT + Personalize show the mind was flickering between all the conversations I’d had over the two day NEC extravanaganza; “I must remember to put that conversation with the blonde fella from Made In Chelsea” I told myself. Remembered. Job done.
The sheer size of the show took me surprise, in other lines of work I have been to trade shows but when I walked into Hall 3A and saw the EnvisionTEC and Stratasys mammoths being thrown up at the front I knew I’d entered not just a different kettle of fish but a different kettle of species.
Technically it was day two for me, having got my hands dirty prepping the show on the Tuesday but show day one was something knew for me, I was to chair the Applications session in the main conference arena at 1.30pm. I watched our COO Duncan Wood cooly take to the stage in front of 370 seated people (I know because I had counted the chairs the night before, chief chair counter) plus a good 40 odd standers at the back and a lump in my throat appeared, my hands started to get the kind of clammy feeling you can try to wipe off only for it to reappear in all its stickiness just moments after. Not the best body fluid to share when meeting hundreds upon hundreds of new people, with crushing handshakes galore. Rather than wind myself anymore by Avi Reichantal and co's stage presence I retreated to the speaker practice room to brush up on my lines.
Getting my bearings was the key to the morning as well assisting in any way I could, but for the most part I was left mouth agape at some of the incredibly inventive stands on dotted around.
One thing I had been looking forward to seeing was the Ultimaker 2 in action. However, their stand was so busy on day one that there was no chance of getting anywhere near it to speak to anybody. So I trundled over to meet Richard Horne on the RepRap Hub, after several emails and endless hours watching his YouTube demos I thought spotting him would be a piece of cake. No chance! The RepRap hub was ten deep pretty much until closing, in fact I’m sure if you went their now there would still be the residue of the buzz hanging in the air. RichRap told me that this was the busiest show the RepRappers had ever done. They were overwhelmed by the response.
That’s what the whole morning was like, you could not get near any of the stands, the 3D Systems stand was pretty much choc-a-bloc for two days, with their novel approach of a two sided shop front; one side all industrial and the other like an Apple shop of 3D Printing it was clear they know their markets.
The morning flew by and my time on stage was fast approaching, the gravity of the situation hit me when I re-read one of my first lines “The man I’m about to introduce was pivotal in the manoeuvre of a top-ten Fortune 500 company into additive manufacturing.” Me? This time last year I was putting “Reem” over a picture of Joey Essex (don’t bother Googling it, isn’t all that interesting) and now I’m introducing Greg Morris of GE to the stage? Madness.
So with a gulp I took to the bright (and very hot) lights to chair my first session. I learnt a lot and learnt it quickly; realistically you are there to make the speakers as comfortable as humanly possible, not tell jokes about the Daily Mail.
My speakers were incredible. Starting with Greg, perhaps the most confident and knowledgeable man I’ve seen on stage, moving on to BMW’s suave and sophisticated Domink Reitzel before Dr Jari Pallari enthralled with his talk one of my favourite subjects; Additive manufactured orthotics and prosthetics. I was so interested in this I couldn’t help myself, forgetting I was the chair I held my hand aloft like a enthusiastic school child during the Q&A to ask one too many questions. Next up was the consummate professional, Lisa Harouni, a confident and polished speech on Mass Customisation before finishing the session with the rapid manufacturing pioneer that is Professor Neil Hopkinson.
That was that, session chairing, done, learnt a lot, look forward to doing it again!
The exhibitors party was a terrific way to round off the day, making contacts and laughing a lot at Yvonne Van Zummerman’s Sherlock obsession while relaxing into my surroundings. Now on to day two but seeing as I’ve done 750 words on this I’ll leave it until another day I love a cliffhanger…
P.S. It was Richard from Made in Chelsea there to take a look at some of their potential competition as they have something in the pipeline that is “pretty interesting.” I’ll never escape Reality Television.