RAPID + TCT 2017 – North America’s Preeminent Event for Discovery, Innovation, and Networking in 3D Manufacturing


In April 2016, SME and owner of the TCT Group, Rapid News Publications Ltd., announced a strategic alliance to produce RAPID, one of the longest-running and well-respected industry forums for additive manufacturing and 3D scanning in North America.

RAPID, renamed RAPID + TCT, will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, May 8-11th, 2017 and showcase the newest products, technologies, and materials in 3D printing, additive manufacturing, 3D scanning, CAD/CAE, metrology and inspection technologies.

David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
8-11th May, 2017

We caught up with Maria Conrado, RAPID + TCT Event Manager, to gain her insight about this year’s event in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.


AMazing®: Maria, thank you for your participation. It must be an exciting time working with Rapid News Publications Ltd. to produce this year’s RAPID + TCT 2017. How will the collective insight and knowledge from SME and TCT influence RAPID + TCT?

Maria Conrado: Together we have over 50 years of insight into this technology. By joining forces we are able to collaborate on bringing attendees the most influential speakers, cutting edge exhibitors and a multitude of opportunities for networking.

AMazing®: In 2016, 72% of attendees to RAPID were first-time attendees with 42% having little or no experience with additive manufacturing. And in 2015, 75% of attendees to RAPID were new with 47% new users. How will RAPID + TCT be structured to appeal to, and educate all levels of users, particularly with regard to additive manufacturing?

Maria Conrado: The ‘little or no experience’ data shows how disruptive this technology is becoming. Each year we will continue to have a large percentage of attendees that are just starting to explore all of the opportunities additive manufacturing can bring to their manufacturing process.

The conference will once again categorize each presentation according to level: novice, intermediate, or expert. Also, many of our show floor features, such as the tech briefings and show floor tours, are tailored towards those new to the technology. At RAPID + TCT 2017 we will be introducing a program for those who are attending for the first time. SME is the knowledge resource for this industry, providing both newbies and veterans access to the information they need to succeed in additive manufacturing. Details can be found at www.sme.org/3D.

RAPID 2016 Recap (Video courtesy of SME)

AMazing®: In late October, in connection with RAPID + TCT, SME worked with FARO Technologies Inc., Direct Dimensions Inc. and the NextManufacturing Center at Carnegie Mellon University to take the first-ever 3D scan of the Roberto Clemente Bridge that spans over the Allegheny River. What did the team hope to share by scanning this historic landmark? How can attendees learn more about this first-ever achievement and other applications of advanced manufacturing technologies at RAPID + TCT? (To read the SME press release titled SME Hosts First-Ever 3D Scan of Pittsburgh Bridge’ press here.)

Maria Conrado: It’s always nice to make a connection in each region where the event is held. We also think it is important to highlight the technology and the opportunities it can offer the area. In the case of Pittsburgh and the Roberto Clemente Bridge, it’s fun to bring an iconic part of the city to life.

The scan data will be used to create miniature 3D-printed replicas of the bridge as part of the annual RAPID + TCT Puzzle Challenge. The Puzzle Challenge helps attendees explore the different additive manufacturing technologies and materials represented on the show floor. They’ll have the opportunity to collect the pieces of the puzzle and assemble them into a complete replica of the bridge. In addition, this year’s exhibitors will be able to 3D print the bridge in any size to showcase their material and/or technology. It’s a great opportunity for exhibitors to submerse themselves in the event and display their work.

AMazing®: RAPID + TCT will feature a Student Innovation Tour to create interest about additive manufacturing and 3D technologies, while bringing awareness about manufacturing career pathways. What types of resources will be available to the students?

Maria Conrado: Students will once again have the opportunity to tour the show floor with a college student mentor and participate in the Rippl3d rocket challenge. Our goal of the program is to introduce students to the additive manufacturing industry as a prospective career pursuit and show them how companies use the technology with unique applications. Students will leave with a high-level overview of advanced design and manufacturing technologies, materials, processes and applications.

AMazing®Finally, what strategies and tips would you offer attendees to RAPID + TCT to help explore the rich, diverse network of leading experts and industries?

Maria Conrado: Due to the tremendous growth RAPID + TCT is experiencing I would encourage attendees to plan their visit before arriving in Pittsburgh. Utilize the mobile app – where all of the event activities are listed, as well as the floorplan and all exhibitors. Our show floor has grown immensely over recent years – to over 60,000 sq ft. That is more than four times the size it was the last time it was in Pittsburgh, in 2013. The event also continues to add educational opportunities to complement the overall experience.

And thank you to AMazing, we appreciate your continued support of RAPID + TCT.  There are many exciting opportunities on the horizon and we are glad that RAPID + TCT is at the forefront.

This concludes our interview. Thank you very much Maria for your participation. We are inspired and very appreciative of the opportunity to learn about next year’s RAPID + TCT conference.


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 over 25 years, RAPID 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. The two industry leaders in 3D technology events, SME and The TCT Group, are teaming up to produce the annual RAPID + TCT event starting in 2017. For users and suppliers alike, the event will be the premier destination for those who provide technology and for those who need to understand, explore and adopt 3D printing, additive manufacturing, 3D scanning, CAD/CAE, metrology and inspection technologies. For more information, please visit rapid3devent.com. 

About SME
SME connects all those who are passionate about making things that improve our world. As a non-profit organization, SME has served practitioners, companies, educators, governments 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 skill needs for the industry. Follow @SME_MFG on Twitter or facebook.com/SMEmfg.

Maria Conrado

Event Manager

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