Wednesday, 5 October 2011

TCT Live show (UK) 3D printing and more

I visited the TCT Live show at the NEC in Birmingham last week. A lot of really interesting stuff, too much to detail everything here, so here are a few highlights for me. If you do nothing else, please Read the section below on Geoff McCormick.
One of the highlights of the TCT show for me was a presentation by Geoff McCormick. Geoff is passionate about lots of things connected to 3D printing and the social / economic side of design and development using technology spread all over the world (open-source / sharing networks and joint development projects).
I know he is a fan of Fab-Lab so must be aware of RepRap, I would have liked to talk to him further, we only briefly discussed the Microsoft Gadgeteer project (It's an ARM7 Arduino style Open-source tool-kit) - Yes I know it does not sound like Microsoft... but they are throwing money at it.

Geoff's presentation was unfortunately wasted on many of the people present, but that's just an indication that many industries have no idea what's changing and how seemingly implausibility things become possible when you get a load of people together who are passionate about problems and finding solutions to them. So many of the companies at that show should take a big look at what's going on with open hardware, open software, community projects, digital playgrounds and personal manufacturing in general, it would be an eye-opening experience for many I'm sure. Ways to turn these many channels of development into commercially successful products or business ideas should really be a critical focus for most established companies and investors or they will all wonder what happened and why they missed out..

The customer is King, at some point soon businesses will need to tailor make almost everything or someone else will.

Please take a look at these reports that were used as the basis of Geoff's presentation - They highlight key trends that will drive growth in Creative industries and they provide very interesting views on the colliding digital and physical world in which we all interact.

Executive summary - New models, new markets, new makers
Key findings - this is excellent food for thought - Final Report

And - Where to next?

 Back to the TCT Show -
Mcor were at the show, with their A4 paper based 3D printer. About £9,000 for the printer and it uses normal office paper. Still can't convince myself of it's eco-credentials as it's going to use bleached copier paper and waste quite a bit of it in every print. It's back to subtractive manufacturing, but a nice machine and the 'printed' parts looked great.

I was highly disappointed by the HP 3D printer, I had expected great things, it seems a lot slower than any other 3D printer I have seen and the quality was just average, the ABS plates are throw away after just a few prints and it's really expensive

Bits From Bytes had their new '3D Touch' printer, it's like a BFB3000 with new electronics and a touch-screen interface and a Memory stick slot on the front for printing from.

A1 Tech had a BFB3000 making a bit of a mess printing something?, it went on printing this badly for a while, the raft had lifted and the print head was catching, causing quite a mess over the object. Sadly not a good advert for the technology.

But they did have plenty of nice printed objects on a desk.

Renishaw Laser SLS 3D printing (Sorry for the high reflective surface, hopefully you can make out the Laser doing it's job.

Nice Objet printed materials using different resins.

All the usual suspects were there, the big players and a few technologies I had always wanted to see in action (Laser sintering and full colour powder printing and also multi material resin printing).

Did anyone else go to the show?

I would be really interested in your comments or thoughts on Geoff's reports? what do you think?

Thanks for reading.


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