RAPID + TCT 2019 Is A Wrap

By on May 24th, 2019 in Event

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 RAPID + TCT 2019 [Image: Fabbaloo]
RAPID + TCT 2019 [Image: Fabbaloo]

RAPID + TCT 2019 was a busy week in 3D printing, with plenty to see and a lot to learn.

We were among the thousands anticipating another great event, as RAPID is North America’s largest 3D printing-dedicated happening. We weren’t disappointed.

There was a lot to look forward to this year, and we spent a good amount of time preparing our schedules, notebooks, minds, and shoe selections.

Event organizers suggested we could expect 430 exhibitors and about 6,000 attendees; that seems about right. Events of this size are an excellent who’s-who of the industry, as speakers from a broad spectrum of participation walk the halls alongside machine OEMs, potential customers, students, software gurus, analysts, venture capitalists, and others. Everyone attends for their own reasons, and often that comes down to business.

See, be seen, sign a contract: there’s a language specific to each handshake.

For my part, I spent my time in Detroit on the run; apologies to the fashion-conscious for my comfortable shoes all week, but squishy trainers seemed the way to go when logging a few miles just going between booths. I counted 38 scheduled interviews and meetings; Kerry and Marney clocked in another few hundred.

I have a couple dozen interviews queued up now, with looks behind the mechanics of anticipated new product releases and a dig in to emergences from stealth, but for now it’s all still a jumble of impressions.

So how was RAPID + TCT 2019?

As a kid, I know I hated to hear parents advise that “if you’re bored, you’re boring” but I can’t help but feel that sentiment come into play here. I was honestly surprised to hear a few people say they weren’t kept busy the whole week. Granted my scheduling is fairly media-specific, because who doesn’t like some hopefully-good press, but I never once felt at a loss for something interesting to see or hear about.

I heard more than one vendor particularly pleased with the caliber of conversations they had this year.

One reseller said that after previously exhibiting at the show, they had opted out from returning in 2018; “The conversations weren’t where we needed them to be.” Back with a booth for 2019, it was a very different tune: attendees were well informed and asking the right questions — and came to do business.

A company just out of stealth mode is starting to show its hand, and the impression was highly favorable — not only because of who they met while exhibiting, but because of those visitors who came back a second and third time, bringing their colleagues with them to ask deeper questions. Another new to the public scene said they were essentially “spreading fertilizer” to see how the ideas could grow; while that comparison might not be quite the one to shout in those words, seeding relationships is indeed critical.

At a machine booth, I was enjoying a more casual off-the-record catch-up with an industry friend when a curious attendee stopped by shortly before the floor closed on the final day. Turns out that visitor was from a major electronics company, and someone very interested in the unique materials capabilities offered at that booth. I’ll be very interested to hear if that becomes a new capability.

Walking about, I saw familiar faces from a range of sectors — including a fair few from the US government, like the FDA. Interviews mentioned with not-quite-surprising but still somewhat unexpected regularity their contracts with the Department of Defence, and funding from SBIR grants that got new projects off the ground.

I appreciated the week to hear about a new business arrangement with a 3D printer manufacturer out of the oft-quiet South American market, to see a new machine out of South Korea, to shake hands on US soil with several European companies and representatives exhibiting at their first RAPID event.

Catching up as well with prominent analysts and industry experts from around the world, listening to execs detail newly-revealed partnerships, and getting hands-on with surprising multi-material combinations, as well as visiting two top facilities in the greater Detroit area were also absolute highlights.

So, really — how was RAPID + TCT 2019? Fruitful, I would say, in a word.

Looking forward to sharing more over the days and weeks to come as we get into some of the specifics of what we can share on the record — and definitely pleased to look ahead in a couple months, as there is a lot of as-yet-off-the-record to come.


By Sarah Goehrke

Sarah Goehrke is a Special Correspondent for Fabbaloo, via a partnership with Additive Integrity LLC. Focused on the 3D printing industry since 2014, she strives to bring grounded and on-the-ground insights to the 3D printing industry. Sarah served as Fabbaloo's Managing Editor from 2018-2021 and remains active in the industry through Women in 3D Printing and other work.