Thoughts On TCT Show 2019
I’ve just completed attending the three-day TCT Show 2019 in Birmingham, UK.
This was my first encounter with this particular show, and I truly enjoyed the visit. While the show is now quite a bit smaller than the ever-growing Formnext event, it was still worthwhile to attend.
Some trade shows are sheer madness, with rivers of attendees clogging every aisle way, but TCT Show 2019 was not like that. Some exhibitors were swamped with visitors, and others, not so much. Perhaps these exhibitors might have wished for a few more attendees from whom to seek prospects, but for me it allowed for far deeper and longer conversations with many vendors.
TCT 2019 Themes
I learned some very interesting things that I’ll be writing about over the next few weeks. (Aside: when we attend trade shows, we accumulate dozens of stories and it literally takes weeks or months to get through them all.)
I was also able to meet with several regional vendors who are well known, but have not yet been able to appear at more distant events where we would have met them.
One key feature of this event was the availability of many people I wished to meet. This was a terrific event for networking, with the size of the show floor and the multiple networking events during and after the opening hours.
After such events I take the time to digest what I’ve learned and attempt to identify patterns among the strategies of the vendors I encountered. This event was no different.
Along with the usual “bigger, faster, cheaper” themes, there were two interesting goals that seem to be shared by a number of vendors.
3D Print Quality
One goal was to dramatically increase the quality of prints. It seems that as use of 3D printing gradually shifts into manufacturing circles, the demands for part quality and repeatability are increasing significantly.
Several vendors presented methods and features of increasing part quality through the use of unusual material formulations or via increasingly sophisticated thermal controls. Many were using various methods to maintain material quality by implementing ingenious material storage and deployment systems.
Basically, the idea is to follow the path of the materials from storage through printing to the final object to ensure optimum conditions at every step. This makes for a far more complex device, but also one that can reliably produce high-quality prints.
3D Print Material Storage
The second theme I observed was that several parties were exploring more deeply the workflow undertaken by their target customers.
By understanding this — something far outside of the 3D printer itself — the vendors are beginning to adapt their machines, software and process to more easily fit into the desired customer configuration.
Essentially, they are making it easier and easier for a company to decide on buying the vendor’s equipment. If a company sees lower effort to begin using a given piece of equipment, then they are far more likely to buy. It’s an interesting advantage when it comes to closing a sale.
TCT Awards 2019
Aside from the show floor, one of the highlights for me was attending the annual TCT awards show.
It’s like the “Academy Awards” for 3D printing, judged by an independent global panel of industry experts. Attended by ~250 3D printing industry types, the awards were an opportunity to see those who made incredible achievements in the technology over the past year.
Two awards were a bit special for us.
One was our long-time friend Gary Miller of Carbon, and the other was Anisoprint CEO Fedor Antonov, who was genuinely surprised at his award.
Also, what’s up with nTopology’s Duann Scott?
Next year it seems that this show will radically change. Beside the rebranding shown here, the event will apparently offer significantly different content.
Via TCT Show