RAPID is the preeminent event for 3D printing, scanning, and additive manufacturing. The industry-leading conference and exposition in Orlando May 16-19, 2016, celebrated its 26th year as the definitive authority on 3D. In 2016, Ben Mergen, Don Harring, and Will Pickering of SIGMADESIGN attended the conference. The show presented fused deposition modeling (FDM) filament vendors, measurement, post-processing options and hobby printers.
Highlights from the Conference
Mergen, a Mechanical Engineer at SIGMADESIGN, notes “the most innovative application for 3DP that I saw was Hoosier Pattern (www.hoosierpattern.com).” Hoosier uses sand as a medium to 3D print sand casting molds. With most 3DP technologies, the part produced can be very close to the real thing, but not quite perfect. Mergen comments, “What’s brilliant about Hoosier Pattern’s niche is the casting. Basically, they found an application that leverages all the benefits of 3D printing while also making most of the drawbacks irrelevant. Pretty cool!”
In addition, other 3D printing technology that’s heading to significantly change the industry is HP’s new Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology. Mergen says, “The shear speed of the machine is impressive. It prints about 10 seconds per layer, regardless of how many parts are printed on the bed. This makes it far faster than any other technology currently on the market. It also makes the parts cheaper. HP had one of its new printers on hand claiming that over 50% of the plastic parts were printed using HP’s new MJF technology. So, the printer can actually print a lot of its own parts.”
Most noteworthy, HP’s new technology will prove to be a game-changer due to the printing powder being open-sourced. This is especially relevant because most competitors in the industry require you to buy materials directly from the respective printer company. This is one of the main ways these companies make money. With HP open sourcing the materials, competitive pressure will be placed on other 3D Printer companies.