I spent some of last week in Coventry at the TCT show. TCT is the magazine for advanced manufacturing and rapid prototyping industries and the show is their annual event.
Like all shows there was the good, the new and the different. In this case, the good was Formula Ice - the team behind Team GB success at 'sliding' events in The Winter Games (luge etc). They had their demo system on display that they take round to schools to inspire kids to take more interest in engineering. The system itself is a great example of the use of 3D body scanning, RP methods and the use of advanced materials, and how they are combined to produce world beating solutions.
Another 'good' is Protomould - a company who provide digital and physical tools that lower costs and volumes of units necessary to bring new products to market.
the new was HP entering the 3D printing market with a product launched 3 months ago - their first product in this market. An interesting aside is that they actually tested the product performance under a seperate brand for a year. The question that came to my mind was how will this impact the industry ? They describe the product as a 'desktop' 3D printer... Is this product launch signifying new drivers in the market ?
The different was Bits from Bytes. They have developed Rep-Rap - a self replicating rapid prtotyping machine - a machine that can reproduce itself ! This is a fascinating manifestation of the 'open source' approach in this market that has a similar philosophy to the MakerBot team in New York.
All of these represent only a fraction of what is happening in the UK today. Indeed, the area of RP and 3D printing is only 1 area of study in this beacon project, with some exciting new approaches to gaming, fashion design, craft and architectural practice, all being explored in detail.
I am currently putting the initial baseline together (early points of interest, history of certain technologies and applications, and how they are maturing). So I am sure this will be a fascinating journey for me and all those participating in the beacon prject.
As always, your comments are much appreciated.