RAPID 2015-Embracing Breakthroughs that Move Business Forward


SME’s RAPID Conference & Exposition is one of the longest-running and well-respected industry forums for additive manufacturing (AM). This year RAPID 2015 will be held in Long Beach California, May 18-21, 2015 and will mark the 25th anniversary for the conference and exposition.

RAPID 2015
May 18-21, 2015
Long Beach, California USA

We caught up with Maria Conrado, RAPID Event Manager to gain some insight about RAPID 2015 in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.


AMazing®: Maria, thank you for your participation. The additive manufacturing industry is rapidly evolving with more machines, materials and improved processes. How has attendee interest changed in the last two years, particularly for those attendees with additive experience?

Maria: I appreciate the opportunity to discuss RAPID and SME’s role in this exciting industry. Attendees at RAPID come from a variety of experience levels including beginners through experienced engineers.

Attendees with experience are interested in the latest equipment and applications and are looking for ways to learn and expand in the market. They are curious to see how various industries are using the technology and if it can be used for their application. And of course, we have much to offer anyone just entering the additive manufacturing market: from business/economic issues to material to design considerations. Attendees have the opportunity to attend separate conference sessions which target a range of additive experience.

Over the past few years we have seen a lot of growth and new applications in the additive manufacturing space. As a result, even the most advanced attendees are still able to learn and remain engaged. By no means have we reached the pinnacle of where this technology is going so each year there is something new and exciting to learn and experience.

AM_RAPID_Logo3AMazing®: Technical advances are always fascinating and a critical aspect for a thriving industry. Are there any technical advances generating pre-conference buzz?

Maria: The interest in consumer 3D printing has grown over the last few years as machines become more accessible to the public. As a result, we have seen an increased interest in technology that reduces print time. We have also seen buzz around hybrid machines and post-processing technologies. These technologies have the opportunity to make 3D printing even more accessible to the public and improve business processes as well.

AMazing®: Will there be any special sessions at RAPID 2015 to help businesses with commercialization of additive technologies?

Maria: Yes! We are excited to offer a full day focusing on the topic of commercialization of additive technologies. We will also host a new event for innovators called ‘Innovation Auditions.’ In the Innovation Auditions, qualified innovators will have five minutes to capture the attention of a panel of investors and industry experts and share why their idea could make a difference. The panel will provide feedback after the auditions and select one outstanding innovation that will be announced at the Wednesday keynote and presented with an award. We recognize that commercialization of additive technologies is important to the industry and will continue to support education and growth efforts.

AMazing®: As we understand the winners of the Design for Direct Digital Manufacturing Competition will be announced at RAPID 2015. Beyond the prizes, what can students gain from participating in the competition?

Maria: Students competing in the Design for Direct Digital Manufacturing competition will compete for a complimentary conference pass to RAPID 2015, a travel stipend, a personalized recognition award a certificate of achievement, a one-year student membership to SME, an SME gift item, and a recognition letter sent to their university advisor, student newspapers and technical publications. Along with the prizes, students will gain a better understanding of the process of additive manufacturing. Everything from design to the materials needed to complete an additive process. Participants are encouraged to utilize ‘out of the box’ thinking in all areas of the competition. Finally, participants gain access to industry experts and have the opportunity to network with them at the event.

AMazing®: SME will hold its 11th annual Bright Minds Mentor Program at RAPID 2015. What is the goal of the program and how can students participate?

Maria: The goal of the Bright Minds Mentor Program is to create interest, excitement and an appreciation for the technology displayed at RAPID, and to build awareness with students and educators about manufacturing career pathways.

In 2015, up to 200 high school students will participate in the program that will take place during all three days of the show, May 19- 21, 2015.

AMazing®: For those individuals that are not able to attend RAPID 2015, what opportunities does SME offer to learn about additive manufacturing technologies and take part in networking opportunities?

Maria: As a leading resource in this area, SME continues to offer the latest resources and tools to advance the industry. SME offers focused courses through Tooling U-SME, in-house opportunities through Instructor Led Training, content via books and videos, an eNewsletter, RAPID eNews, a certificate program, the technical community, and much more. Details can be found on SME’s 3D website: www.sme.org/3D. SME hosts many other conferences throughout the year.

One of our exciting recent announcements is our agreement with EUROMOLD, to produce a conference and participate on the exhibit floor. With over twenty five years in this technology, SME is the first place to look for innovation in 3D.

AMazing®: Many industry insiders expect the global additive manufacturing market to grow significantly in the next few years. How do you envision RAPID in two years? What do you hope to see?

Maria: Twenty five years ago, an event for what we then called rapid prototyping was a gamble. SME, seeing the raw potential in what these technologies could do for manufacturing and job creation, created the RAPID Conference and Exposition and a Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing (RTAM) community within its membership. RAPID has continually reinvented itself and guided the industry to where it needed to go by partnering with SME’s membership, event attendees, and exhibitors.

This year’s RAPID Conference and Exposition will be our largest to date. With more than 200 exhibitors planning to attend, we are excited to continue supporting and growing the additive manufacturing community.

I personally have enjoyed taking part in the rapid growth of the industry and I am excited to see where the next generation takes us. Today, students are more engaged through STEM education initiatives and have the ability to learn these concepts at a younger age. The next generation of manufacturing will be able to bring so much more to the industry with creative thinking and new applications we haven’t even thought of yet. They will be able to take what we have done to the next level.

This concludes our interview. Thank you very much Maria for your participation. We are inspired and very appreciative of the opportunity to learn about SME’s RAPID Conference & Exposition.


About Maria Conrado
Maria Conrado is the Event Manager for RAPID at SME. She has been a manufacturing event manager in the industry for more than 20 years. Maria received her education from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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 network.

SME connects all those who are passionate about making things that improve our world. As a nonprofit organization, SME has served practitioners, companies, educators, government and communities across the manufacturing spectrum for more than 80 years.

Through its strategic areas of events, media, membership, training and development, and the SME Education Foundation, SME is uniquely dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing by addressing both knowledge and skills needed for industry. At SME, we are making the future. Together.

Maria Conrado
Event Manager


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