On my way to the MCP-AP in Taipei, Taiwan, I stopped in Frankfurt for a keynote presentation at Terry Wohler's 12th Annual International Wohlers Conference. It takes part of EuroMold, a large trade fair dedicated to product development, tool making, and rapid manufacturing. The conference itseld was very interesting, a great group of individuals and pioneers. But this was what I expected when an expert like Terry gathers people.
But my surprise was the EuroMold show itself. It had been a typical specialized BtoB tradeshow in the past. But since 2009, it is open to the general public at its last day (today).
With a special exhibition area “e-production for everyone”, the organizers have taken into account the positive development and the enormous growth of additive technologies.
The exhibits in Hall 11 provided a detailed insight into trends and future fields of application of additive technologies. I planned for too little time at the show to cover it all, as I did not expect so many interesting things to be there. But from the exhibits and the way these have been presented, we are clearly entering a consumer world of 3D printing!
There also was some interesting stuff to see from art schools. The design department of the University of Applied Science and Arts in Hildesheim, for example, presented a vehicle which was printed in one piece and is driven by a cordless screw driver. And a "Designbar" (strongly related to Apple's Genius bar concept) offered an introduction to everyone in the topic of additive technologies.
In a press release, the president and CEO of 3D Systems, Abe Reichental, projects a market potential of one billion Euro in the next 3 to 5 years. Additionally, affordability and ease of use are beginning to intersect with intuitive content capture and creation tools so vital to the democratization of 3D printers, said Reichental in the statement.
This, however, was the missing link at the show: The software providers exhibiting at the show did mainly cater for a professional audience with some design skills to make a model. What was lacking were exhibitors that translate the new manufacturing skills for the average consumer.