By Todd Grimm
We are just days away from RAPID + TCT, September 13 – 15, 2021, my go-to event for the past 26 years. And I can’t wait to venture into three days of discovery in the additive manufacturing world.
In so many ways, things will be different when we step through the doors of RAPID + TCT 2021. For most, it will be the first face-to-face event in over 18 months, which may be a welcomed shock to the system. I also expect that what we see on the show floor will be somewhat different from previous years.
Traditionally, RAPID + TCT is a prime launch event for new products and services. But with the pandemic-created unknowns, those offering new solutions have been rolling them out, virtually, over the past year-and-a-half. So, much of what you will see will have been previously launched rather than announced at the event.
But that isn’t a bad thing. Seeing these products, for the first time, will fill the gaps that come with virtual launches and quite possibly show you something that you overlooked in your streams of digital news. For example, Stratasys will have the following items, all previously launched in 2020 and 2021, on the show floor for you to investigate: J55, J5 MediJet, Origin One, Neo450s, F770, and H350.
Other exhibitors are doing the same. I am keen on learning more about Massivit (Massivit 5000), Azul 3D (Lake) and Inkbit (Inkbit Vista), Materialise (Process Tuner). And this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Another oddity, I predict, is that there will be plenty of announcements made at RAPID + TCT that have not been telegraphed, as has been common in years past. My logic is that suppliers are holding their cards very close to the chest so that they can make a big splash and receive lots of attention.
While I have not seen hints on what will be announced, my prediction is supported by a few knowns. Boston Microfabrication has a press release scheduled to go out on September 13. The same is true for Stratasys, which is also scheduling press meetings. And press conferences have been planned by 3D Systems, Dassault Systèmes, and Markforged.
I am confident that there will be many more of these surprises.
Whether recent releases or brand-new solutions, I expect the trends to be software, production, and advancement of known processes. While there will be some innovations that don’t build on current offerings, the bulk of what we can see will be oriented towards improvements on printers, processes, materials, post processing, and workflow. While this may not have the wow factor of a never-before-seen technology, these incremental improvements are necessary and exciting in a practical context.
Advancements and improvements on current offerings allow us to expand the breadth of additive manufacturing adoption and applications. In a way, we will see the possibilities that come with maturity.
So, what will be on the show floor has me quite excited…but when you add in all of the other activities (ranging from main-stage keynotes and thought leadership panels to conference sessions to the SME Zone theater and startup zone), I am amped up with anticipation.
RAPID + TCT will be the destination to discover the solutions you are actively searching for. But if you keep your eyes and ears open, it will also be the event for discovery of solutions you didn’t even know you needed.
I hope to see you there!
P.S. If you want to want a preview, watch my pre-event video. For those that can’t attend and those that missed some interesting news, I will be producing a post-event video that documents the things I discovered at RAPID + TCT.
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.