SME’s RAPID conference June 9-12, 2014 will showcase the newest additive manufacturing (AM) technologies and applications. The conference will also include the 3D Printed Slot Car Championship, sponsored by Materialise, which provides an opportunity for contestants to interact and compete.
We connected with Bryan Crutchfield, Managing Director at Materialise to learn about the car challenge and other areas of interest in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A session.
AMazing®: Bryan, thank you for your participation. The upcoming 3D Printed Slot Car Championship sounds fun and exciting. With a field of over 35 racers, there must be some amazing entries. By definition, what is a slot car? What is the basic idea behind the 3D Printed Slot Car Championship?
Bryan Crutchfield: A slot car is a powered miniature auto or other vehicle that is guided by a groove or slot in the track on which it runs. When we found out that RAPID was coming to Detroit, we really wanted to do something around the automotive industry. So we thought the best way to showcase 3D printing and the Motor City was with slot cars. And so, the 3D Printed Slot Car Championship was born.
AMazing®: As we understand, the bulk of the car must be additively manufactured with exception to the chassis, motor, axles and wheels. Typically, which additive manufacturing technologies and materials do most contestants prefer?
Bryan Crutchfield: Contestants used a wide variety of AM technologies to build their slot cars including stereolithography, fused deposition modeling, direct metal laser sintering and selective laser sintering. The materials used for printing ranged from plastic to aluminum. One slot car was printed in magnesium and another was printed using three materials simultaneously. Once contestants had their designs complete, they used Materialise Magics software to optimize the slot car for 3D printing. This helped ensure a successful build.
AMazing®: Within the challenge, there are several Slot Car Champion categories including: Fastest Car, Best Design and Most Original. Which category is your favorite and why? Do you have any pre-event favorites that conference attendees should consider a ‘must see’?
Bryan Crutchfield: We got a sneak peak at many of the cars and they are quite impressive. From a 2015 Ford Mustang to an old style pickup truck. We’ve also heard that there will be an ice cream truck that plays music and a row boat! I think the most innovative use of 3D printing will steal the show in terms of looks but everyone wants to see which car is the fastest. We have also added a Crowd Favorite category to get the audience in on the action. The contestants have done some AMazing finishing work with their cars.
AMazing®: Beyond the fun and excitement that the event provides, what lessons do you feel designers and students learn from participating in the Slot Car Championship? What message does the Slot Car Championship demonstrate about additive manufacturing?
Bryan Crutchfield: Designers and students were able to explore the benefits of 3D printing with this contest. They started with a file of the chassis and the rest was up to them and what they would dream up. Our goal was to put the potential of AM in the spotlight, and showcase how it can benefit design, both functionally and aesthetically. And I think our contestants did just this.
AMazing®: Early this year, you mentioned in a press release the possibilities of 3D printing are endless. Do you think designers today are taking full advantage of AM capabilities and flexibilities?
Bryan Crutchfield: I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg with regard to the full capabilities of 3D printing. As new materials and printers enter the market, we are going to see even more innovative designs and solutions.
Also, the flexibility that 3D printing allows companies is priceless. You no longer have to wait to see what a prototype of a product will look like. You simply design it. Print it. And depending on the size, you can have it in your hand within hours. This just opens the doors for so many opportunities.
AMazing®: We hear about online co-creation as a new business model. We understand Materialise possesses a Co-Creation room. How is the room utilized?
Bryan Crutchfield: The co-creation room at Materialise started as a place to brainstorm and share ideas. Today, we use it for just that, and even bring in customers when we want to co-create with them.
AMazing®: If an individual is interested in a career in additive manufacturing, what types of skills, education and/or training will they need?
Bryan Crutchfield: I think like all technology industries, a strong engineering background comes in handy. But what really sets people apart in this industry is a passion to see things differently.
AMazing®: Finally, as an industry leader in additive manufacturing, what products and services does Materialise offer?
Bryan Crutchfield: Materialise is built around 3 core competences – software development, 3D printing, and engineering. Our software solutions boost efficiency and reduce lead-times, resulting in increased productivity throughout the entire AM process. You can optimize STL files, create lightweight structures, apply textures and automate data preparation and production control and more.
Materialise also houses the largest 3D printing service bureau in Europe offering a broad range of technology.
Lastly, we can take medical images, CAD data or customer input and then engineer and design to produce a 3D printed model. We want to create a world where designers can engineer better products, companies can better serve and support their customers, and doctors can be better doctors.
This concludes our interview. Thank you very much Bryan for your participation. We are very appreciative of the opportunity to learn about the upcoming 3D Printed Slot Car Championship and Materialise.
About Brian Crutchfield
Bryan Crutchfield joined Materialise as Managing Director in September 2011. Based in Plymouth, Michigan, Crutchfield leads the North American operating unit and focuses on overall strategy for business development and client relationships at the senior-most levels of our customer base. He also serves as president for RapidFit, Inc., which is part of the Materialise Group, and offers a 3D printed fixture solution.
Materialise is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has branches worldwide. We’ve been playing an active role in the field of Additive Manufacturing (AM) since 1990. In addition to having the largest single-site capacity of AM equipment in Europe, we have a strong reputation as a provider of innovative software solutions.
We strive to use our expertise to create a better and healthier world with 3D Printing and through biomedical and clinical solutions for medical image processing and surgical simulations. Our customers range from large companies in the automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics sectors; to famous hospitals, research institutes and clinicians; to individual consumers interested in bringing their own unique creations to life through i.materialise or by purchasing a celebrated .MGX design.
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For nearly 25 years, RAPID Conference & Exposition, produced by SME, has defined the crucial role of additive manufacturing and empowered the establishment of an industry that continues to conceive, test, improve and manufacture new products at a faster, more cost-efficient pace. As the leader and authority figure in additive manufacturing, RAPID attracts buyers, sellers and end-users of design, prototyping, tooling and direct digital technologies to a world-class event for discovery, innovation and networking. For more information, please visit sme.org/rapid.
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