With recently announced changes, two major spring 3D printing events are set to take place in person — but not only in the spring.
Rescheduled 3D Printing Events
As with the rest of life in general, the pandemic greatly impacted the scheduling of 3D printing events. The biggest events on the additive manufacturing calendar — those happening from March 2020 onward, at least — were subject to postponement or cancellation.
Two major spring events that typically provide cornerstones for the early year in 3D printing were moved to 2021. The planned changes, announced last spring, have unsurprisingly been changed again.
RAPID + TCT
- Original schedule: April 20-23, 2020 in Anaheim, CA
- Amended schedule: April 26-29, 2021 in Chicago, IL
- New schedule: September 13-15, 2021 in Chicago, IL
- Original schedule: March 22-26, 2020 in Chicago, IL
- Amended schedule: March 14-18, 2021 in Chicago, IL
- New schedule: May 2-6, 2021 in Orlando, FL
So: what’s the deal with these latest moves?
RAPID + TCT 2021
RAPID + TCT organizer SME has put out a new statement explaining its new dates — and co-location with another event:
“We are excited to announce that RAPID + TCT has been rescheduled for September 13-15, 2021! The event will still take place at McCormick place in Chicago, IL and will be co-located with FABTECH 2021. The health and safety of our event attendees is of utmost importance to SME and Rapid News Publications, the producers of RAPID + TCT. The new dates allow us to ensure that we host the event in the safest possible environment.
We are committed to empowering the industry by providing access to advanced technologies, offering ongoing education opportunities to professionals and students in the industry, connecting the community of manufacturing and expanding business networks in the industry, and facilitating commerce between buyers and sellers. Events, conferences, and trade shows are vital to the manufacturing industry, and their absence has slowed the pace of manufacturing’s post-pandemic recovery. The resumption of such events will benefit the industry and fuel its economic engine.”
Organizers also include, importantly, Health and Safety Measures for the in-person event:
“We are committed to your safety through health and sanitization protocols, increased use of digital tools, and an updated vision of how best to provide value in physical events. New health and safety measures include:
Clearly communicated and rigorously enforced safety guidance
Smaller capacity educational sessions (with simulcast and virtual viewing options)
A focus on smaller, more value-driven buyer-seller interactions
Use of non-traditional, digital, and virtual tools to connect the event community”
For its part, AMUG announced in December that it would be happening at a different time and place than initially (well, secondarily) planned. The December 9, 2020 announcement explained:
“Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) today announced that it has been forced to move the location and the dates for its annual in-person AMUG Conference. The in-person event will now take place in Orlando, Florida, from May 2 – 6, 2021. The venue is the Hilton Orlando, a spacious, contemporary property.”
It’s unclear why the team was “forced to move the location and dates” but AMUG President Carl Dekker said:
“Our goal is to provide an in-person event, in a safe manner, to facilitate the exchange of information in the way that differentiates the AMUG Conference from all others. The AMUG Board is committed to planning for an in-person event and will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and related government restrictions at the federal and local levels. The board has been developing alternate plans that will allow us to adapt to changes as developments occur that relate to COVID-19 and in-person events. Considering the current and projected circumstances, it was necessary to change the dates of the conference from March to May 2021 and to move the event to Orlando for a larger meeting.”
AMUG Event Manager Tom Sorovetz explained of the venue choice:
“The Hilton Orlando offers 249,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Even with social distancing protocols in place, this property can accommodate a full-scale AMUG Conference, and it also affords AMUG the opportunity to host outdoor activities.”
Conference registration reopened on January 6, and AMUG continues to update attendees with information including an FAQ with event information, as well as links to COVID-19 safety information from Hilton hotels, the city of Orlando, and the state of Florida. Notably from the FAQ, AMUG is “unable to commit” to offering virtual formatting for those unable/unwilling to attend in person.
As a reminder, AMUG, while a valued and valuable additive manufacturing event, is also a closed event. AMUG says:
“To register as an attendee for the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) Educational & Training Conference you/your company must have direct ownership of an industrial additive manufacturing equipment; using it for professional applications.
AMUG Conference is NOT open to the general public.”
Fair enough. But they’re also closed to non-partner media outlets, and as such we have never been able to attend, especially from the days when they had far fewer media partners. We may not have many more updates on AMUG, as we simply aren’t and haven’t been there.
3D Printing Events in 2021
With RAPID + TCT now in the autumn and AMUG now in Florida, what might we expect from other 3D printing events?
Formnext, always one of the most optimistic — and by far the largest — of the additive manufacturing events, has already signed the paperwork to book in its 2021 venue space. The event, which put off a virtual-only format for as long into 2020 as possible before the inevitable pivot, is unsurprisingly dedicated to an in-person gathering for this year.
Other regional 3D printing events are also still planning to go on, in person, this year. Many though have pushed back a bit. Just a bit after the rescheduled RAPID + TCT event, Rapid News Group will be at it again in their UK base, with their revamped flagship show, TCT 3Sixty. The event, rebranded from being The TCT Show, will now happen in Birmingham, UK on September 28-30.
Of course, the biggest thing on the 3D printing calendar as 2021 goes on is simple: a giant question mark.
The vaccines that have been developed (safely, by the way, with years of science to back them up) are being rolled out — but it will be some time before inoculation is widespread enough to contribute meaningfully to herd immunity. On top of all that, travel considerations remain difficult. Outside of personal health concerns, some borders remain — or are again — closed.
Many events will remain safely held on computers everywhere. Last week’s TIPE 3D Printing conference, for example, drew more than 1,600 attendees across two days, with 147 expert (and all-female) speakers sharing their insights on five tracks, and plenty of networking opportunities. Next week, 3DEXPERIENCE World goes digital, as the rebranded SOLIDWORKS World comes to a computer screen near you.
In-person events may be more regional than global for a while yet as the pandemic continues to impact us all.