Having never attended the Materialise World Conference before I was unsure what to expect but was soon reassured to find a well planned, well executed and thoroughly enjoyable lineup of 3D printing goodness ahead of me.
As would be expected once you know the company the speakers line up fitted the Materialise product offerings very well, with a big emphasis on the medical and biomedical applications that Materialise’s CEO Fried Vancraen is so fond of.
Materialise is involved in a huge number of areas related to 3D printing and additive manufacturing — in fact they have the world's biggest 3D printers called 'Mammoths'. The Mammoths use liquid plastic resin and lasers to create objects layer-by-layer, although I wasn't allowed to take any pictures in the Mammoth rooms I can assure you that they work, they were happily printing while we watched. And they are big — you can see one in action here printing car parts: http://youtu.be/ky87zxNy1oo
Of the presentations I was lucky enugh to see one of the most memorable came from Hubert Vermeersch at the University Hospital of Ghent. In the presentation Hubert took us through the first face transplant to be undertaken in Belgium, which was aided and even made possible with Materialise’s technologies. The graphic nature of the presentation was completely overshadowed by the awesome skill, dedication and technological expertise on show to the point that I quickly forgot about being squeamish and was absorbed in the procedure — the video of the surgeon connecting the first blood vessel is truly amazing.
Beyond 3D printing Materialise are involved in imaging and software applications that are used in high-tech industries as different as biomedicine, dentistry, aerospace and automotive. From faces to fast cars, Materialise can help you make it!
A personal highlight for me was the 3D printing fashion show complete with catwalk, models, highly strung artistic director and some amazing 3D printed hats, bodices, jewellery and... well, I am not sure what they were but they looked cool. Take a look at the video and see if you can spot me — I am on the first chair to the left of the catwalk entrance, frantically snapping away on my iPad!