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Discoveries at RAPID + TCT

Discoveries at RAPID + TCT

By: Todd Grimm, RAPID + TCT Advisor, President of T. A. Grimm & Associates

RAPID + TCT 2021 was a fantastic event for all those involved—attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. Yes, the event was smaller (by design), but there was still much to see and learn. In fact, there was too much ground to cover over three days…if you were digging in to discover all the relevant facts for your additive manufacturing (AM) plans.

One challenge I personally experienced–and saw in otherswas  deciding where should I spend my time?  With my pent-up demand to walk the show floor to witness, firsthand, what was new in the world of AM, there was a greater-than-ever conflict: listen to experts in sessions or stroll the aisles filled with interesting technology.

I found myself on the losing side of that inner conflict the first morning of the Conference. I had the pleasure to moderate the kickoff Thought Leadership Panel, which was at the same time as the show floor opening. The allure of the show floor was just too much to compete with after nearly two years of virtual expos. The return of in-person events to see the products, touch the parts, network with industry experts and long-time friends, and attend technical presentations was both overwhelming and exciting.

What raised RAPID + TCT to a “fantastic level” was the participation and energy of all those roaming the event space. There was a vibrancy in the air that you could feel and see. The enthusiasm, eagerness, and interest filled the halls. Even after the reality of exhaustion and body aches set in (many of us were harshly reminded of this forgotten reality), dogged determination to hear it all and see it all was evident.

And the quality of attendees was top-notch. They engaged in purposeful conversations with the intent to find the right solutions. They weren’t there to kick tires; they were there to address real business needs and get answers to their questions. Every exhibitor I spoke with had the same comment: the attendance numbers were lower, but the quality was outstanding.

Considering only the Conference activities and ignoring the draw of the show floor, there still wouldn’t have been enough time to absorb it all. For example, free to all from the Main Stage where three Keynotes (Melissa Orme of Boeing, Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, and Mark Wehde of Mayo Clinic) and 11 Thought Leadership Panel discussions.

Those that purchased conference passes also had access to 65+ presentations organized in three content pillars: Evaluation, Adoption, and Optimization. For those with interests in AM for Medical, there were 14 additional presentations.

But who could ignore the show floor after nearly two years of being locked down to focus only on the Conference? I know I couldn’t.

There were over 270 exhibitors. Even though I was present every day from 8:00 am to close, I only managed to see half of what was on display since I felt Conference activities were “can’t-be-missed.” Those exhibitors that I did visit did not disappoint.

On hand were newcomers like Azul3D, Inkbit, and Fabric8Labs. Joining them were established companies with plenty of new products, services, materials, and software. For a recap of what caught my eye, you may want to watch my pre-event ( ) and post-event video ( ).

From the stage, I talked about RAPID + TCT’s 30th year and how the traditional wedding gift would be pearls. The pearl is a perfect metaphor for the event, and for AM…it takes a long time to grow, but in the end, it is a thing of beauty. It is also an excellent metaphor for what each of us needs to do…dive deep to find the gems that will deliver what you need. It is easy to acquire information that only scratches the surface, but to identify and vet the best solutions, you need to dive deep to uncover the facts.

With all that is new and with all that we can learn, AM is an ongoing journey of discovery. Thankfully, we have RAPID + TCT as a conduit for the discovery.

Whether or not you were able to attend, mark your calendars for RAPID + TCT 2022. You’ll only have to wait eight months for the Detroit, Michigan, event to be held May 17 – 19, 2022. And for the next few months you can access much of the 2021 event ON-DEMAND under RAPID + TCT Live! Hop over to to access the content.

I look forward to seeing you at RAPID + TCT 2022, if not beforehand. 

Todd Grimm is an advisor for RAPID + TCT (and has been since 1996), and he is a 31-year veteran in additive manufacturing. He is president of T. A. Grimm & Associates, an additive manufacturing consulting and communications company.