AMUG, the Additive Manufacturing User Group, has been an incredibly successful venture.
The organization, formed from early beginnings as a 3D Systems user group, now focuses on all aspects of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. It’s an annual event where professionals may gather and share ideas and tips, and a lot more.
AMUG’s current offerings include a major conference with many expert speakers, an expo where vendors can show their latest products, evening networking activities, a technical competition, annual awards to deserving individuals supporting the industry, professional workshops and more.
All of this takes place once a year at a designated hotel (or two) in the USA that are essentially taken over by attendees and the conference. Attendance at AMUG also includes all meals for the duration, which is usually several days. It’s a tremendous deal for anyone interested in 3D printing and additive manufacturing.
I believe AMUG fills a very important role in the 3D print and Additive Manufacturing communities by enabling deep levels of information and best practice sharing. Other events are usually vendor-controlled in one way or another, and thus the messaging can be biased. That’s not the case at AMUG.
This is still a relatively new industry to many and one of the best places to learn things is at AMUG, and one that is constantly recommended by attendees as a powerful experience you can get no where else.
But I’m afraid I’ll never attend the event.
Why? It’s because “press” and “journalists” are not allowed to attend.
Yes, I suppose I could “sneak in” by associating with another company in some way, but that’s not the point here.
When I first heard of this restriction, I thought it might be due to some perception that the press have nothing to add to “real users”. But it turns out that is likely not the case.
AMUG is a non-profit organization, and as such must act like one. It operates like a kind of “club”, legally speaking, in order maintain their non-profit status in the view of the authorities. Having press present might jeopardize that view.
But there’s a growing issue. It seems that the incredibly valuable experiences presented by AMUG have caused their attendee base to continually grow to the point where it is now constraining the possible sites where they can hold the event. These larger facilities tend to be more expensive locations, and thus there’s an increasing need for additional revenue beyond ticket sales to attendees.
AMUG is now generating more revenue by holding an expo and thus inviting vendors to participate in the event, whereas in earlier years vendors were excluded. That move definitely generates sponsorship revenue, but also could jeopardize their non-profit status, if authorities viewed it that way.
For press, it’s simply frustrating.
In the weeks before AMUG, we are usually contacted by several vendors who ask if we’d like to drop by at AMUG to see their new product, which they intend on announcing at AMUG. We tell them we cannot, as we are not allowed to attend, and further that they can expect to see no press at all at the event. Vendors are shocked to hear that, and had no idea no press would be present.
This totally compromises their product announcement strategies, and it is surprising to me that so many 3D printing vendors don’t understand this and end up announcing products at AMUG anyway. No press can properly cover them!
I hope AMUG is able to resolve these challenges as they develop future events, as they do offer something no one else does in the industry.