More than 2,500 attendees turned out for the 2013 RAPID Conference and Exposition, almost doubling last year’s attendance and reflecting widespread excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing, according to event organizer SME.
“Exhibitors said this was the best event they’ve ever attended, expressing an incredible level of enthusiasm about new and existing applications for 3D printing and additive manufacturing,” said SME Business Development Manager Gary Mikola. “It generated significant media coverage and included attendees from nearly 30 countries and the U.S.”
The event was held June 10 – 13, 2013, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Penn. It included more than 100 exhibitors across a variety of industries and a technical conference that attracted more than 900 attendees – another record for RAPID, the country’s industry-leading forum on additive manufacturing.
Monday’s highlights included workshops on the fundamentals of additive manufacturing, 3D modeling and 3D scanning, RTV mold-making and polyurethane casting, and metal parts used in additive technologies. The keynote speaker was Dr. Ivan Poupyrev, director of the Interaction Group, Disney Research, Pittsburgh, who told attendees that combining the physical and virtual worlds is the future of entertainment. It was followed by “20 for 20,” a presentation by SME’s Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing (RTAM) Community, which explored innovations in additive manufacturing that have changed the industry over the last 20 years. An evening reception was held at the Andy Warhol Museum, where attendees experienced “Factory 2.0,” a 2D/3D interactive stereolithography installation curated by Murray Moss.
Nearly 900 attendees were present for Tuesday’s keynote presentations by Brett Lambert, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, U.S. Department of Defense; Mike Molnar, chief manufacturing officer, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and Ed Morris, director, National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). The keynotes were followed by a presentation by Rob Gorham, deputy director of technology for NAMII, who explained the institute’s plans to achieve its mission to transition additive manufacturing the mainstream of American manufacturing.
Wednesday’s keynote, “The State of the Industry,” was presented by a respected authority on additive technologies, Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates. Among other points, he explained how China is making strategic investments to be the world leader in additive manufacturing in three years. Wednesday and Thursday included tours of regional manufacturing to give attendees an opportunity to see how manufacturers are using additive technologies in their operations.
RAPID’s educational component included SME’s Bright Minds Mentor Program, developed by members of SME’s RTAM Community. Each year, students from local participating schools attend RAPID toward the goal of creating future rapid technology professionals and buyers.
The RAPID Conference has been the industry-leading forum for more than 20 years. The 2014 RAPID Conference and Exposition will be held June 9-12 at Cobo Center in Detroit, Mich. For information, call 313.425.3000.