From 25-27 September, at the NEC, Birmingham, TCT Show will bring the 3D printing community together under one roof. Our sister title Med-Tech Innovation News caught up with Dan O’Connor, head of content, TCT Group to find out what’s in store for the 2018 edition.
MTI: The TCT brand has gone from strength to strength in recent years, seeing expansion around the world. What have been the drivers for this success?
DOC: TCT has grown in parallel with the industry. When TCT started out life as a university newsletter in the early 90s, the number of machine manufacturers was in single figures, and we counted industry revenues in thousands. Today we count machine manufacturers in their hundreds and, according to trusted sources, the market is worth over seven billion US dollars.
From that university newsletter, the TCT Group now has four regional editions of the magazine, runs six conferences and five global trade shows.
MTI: What trends are emerging in the AM space?
DOC: A common misconception about additive manufacturing is that it will eliminate traditional manufacturing methods, but the truth is that many manufacturers are now applying the technologies to augment current workflows.
The foundry industry, for instance, is using AM for the investment casting of previously impossible shapes. By 3D printing geometrically complex patterns in a sacrificial material like wax, a foundry can then switch to the materials and the processes it has expertise in to complete jobs they may have previously turned away.
We’re also beginning to see SMEs get to grips with the technology and competing with the larger companies by being agile in their usage.
MTI: What can medical device manufacturers look forward to at this year’s show?
DOC: A recent report found that 16 of the top 20 hospitals in the US now have a point-of-care manufacturing solution. The primary in-house use is the 3D printing of anatomically correct models, often taken from CT scans, which assist in pre-surgery preparation.
At this year’s TCT Show, there’s plenty on show for medical device manufacturers. With the likes of Materialise’s FDA approved Mimics inPrint software, H.C. Starck’s Bio-compatible refractory metal alloys for patient-specific orthopaedics, and 3D Systems’ new on-demand service for 3D printed medical models, visitors can see the complete materials, software and hardware trifecta.
The Main Stage is the place where we showcase the most critical research and applications in our fields. The keynote session will kick off each morning giving delegates an inspirational kick for the topics to come. The Healthcare session on day two includes a talk from trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Brendan Gallagher of Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Royal Victoria Hospital on “Deploying automated, elastic and cost-effective 3D printing in the NHS to reduce costs and improve care”.
MTI: TCT has a history of supporting young talent. Can you tell us more about that?
A recent report from AM UK on the National Additive Manufacturing Strategy said that by 2020 the UK will need to fulfil 60,000 AM specific jobs, the skills gap for engineering is expected to be ten times that. If we want to sustain the additive manufacturing expertise we have developed in the UK, we need to inspire the next batch.
Over the past decade we have run an educational programme now known as Inspired Minds. The 2018 edition of Inspired Minds in partnership with CREATE Education, Autodesk and Bloodhound Education, will see hundreds of schoolchildren attend the show.
In the training hub located in amongst the multitude of technologies on the show floor, the class of 2018 will learn how to design a part for Bloodhound’s Supersonic Car.