Exclusive with Maria Conrado of SME about RAPID + TCT 2018

RAPID + TCT is North America’s largest conference and exposition on additive manufacturing (AM), 3D printing, 3D scanning, CAD/CAE, metrology and inspection technologies. This year’s RAPID + TCT promises to uphold its rich tradition with over 160 presentations, as well as the debut of an open platform called ITEAM (Independent Technical Evaluation of AM Consortium) to help conference users evaluate the feasibility of using additive manufacturing (AM).

RAPID + TCT 2018
23 – 26 April 2018
Fort Worth Convention Center
Fort Worth, Texas USA

We caught up with Maria Conrado, SME Event Manager, to learn about this year’s RAPID + TCT conference and exposition in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.


AMazing®: Maria, thank you for your participation. With RAPID + TCT 2018 just around the corner, what factors led to the decision to hold the event in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region? What are your expectations for this year’s show particularly in light of last year’s event that featured 329 exhibitors and over 6,000 attendees from 45 countries?

Maria Conrado: First of all, thank you to AMazing for the opportunity to share what is happening at RAPID + TCT 2018. Currently our exhibit floor is 50% larger than last year. And attendance figures have us well ahead of 2017. The Dallas-Ft Worth area has heavy representation in aerospace and defense. This audience in particular wants to know the latest in additive manufacturing, especially metal AM.

2017 RAPID + TCT Recap (Video courtesy of SME)

AMazing®: As interest in additive manufacturing/3D printing in medicine grows, the need for in-depth information about new applications, challenges and innovations is essential. At this year’s RAPID + TCT, SME’s Medical Manufacturing Innovation (MMI) Series will feature a keynote presentation titled ‘Rise of Point-of-Care Manufacturing: Impacting More Patients with 3D Printing’. For those that are new to SME and the RAPID + TCT event, what is MMI? How can attendees become involved?

Maria Conrado: MMI is the program that brings together anyone involved in medical applications of AM/3DP including device manufacturers, clinicians, technology developers, standards development organizations, technology developers, researchers, and more. The program includes in-depth conference sessions on clinical applications, implants, biomaterials, and prosthetics, as well as three pre-conference workshops covering regulatory and quality considerations, 3D printing in hospitals, and bioprinting.

The show floor will have daily tech briefings on medical applications presented by Andy Christensen, one of the pioneers of medical applications, along with an MMI hour on Wednesday with updates from groups critical to advancing medical AM/3DP: SME Medical AM/3DP Workgroup, FDA, RSNA 3D Printing Special Interest group, and DICOM WG-17 3D Manufacturing.

Participants will also be able to take self-guided tours based on interests and experience: new to the technology, implant manufacturers, point-of-care manufacturers, biomaterials and bioprinting, surface scanning for prosthetics.

Photo courtesy of SME

Photo courtesy of SME

The MMI Collaboration Center will highlight the many organizations working together to bring the advantages of AM/3DP to more patients. The center will also be the location of a special Meet & Greet with Jonathan Morris, MD, and Amy Alexander, BME, on Wednesday morning immediately following their keynote presentation. Anyone interested in getting involved beyond the event should stop by the MMI Collaboration Center to learn more.

AMazing®: While the business potential for the production of complex, high-quality niche products using additive manufacturing in smaller series appears attractive, the undertaking is not without risks. In view of the fact, it’s exciting to learn about a new platform at this year’s conference called ITEAM that may provide businesses with some relief. What is ITEAM? How can it help businesses interested in capitalizing on additive manufacturing?

Maria Conrado: ITEAM stands for Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing Consortium. SME and our partners through ITEAM are building a new prototype AM Rapid Virtual Evaluation Platform, SAM-CT, that will answer the million-dollar questions:

  • Can I print it?
  • Should I print it?
  • What’s the best machine, material and process for a particular part?

This platform is being developed and tested by the ITEAM consortium in collaboration with Dr. Michael Grieves, renowned expert at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), along with GM and other major industry users in automotive and aerospace. The open platform will provide a virtual repository of AM machine/material capabilities with evaluation tools to enable users to determine their parts’ suitability to be manufactured additively against the available machines and materials. Attendees will have the opportunity to take ITEAM for a test run in the SME booth at RAPID + TCT 2018.

AMazing®: In addition to presentations, workshops, panel discussions and technical sessions there will also be show features like the ‘3D Playground’, ‘Smart Manufacturing Hub’, ‘RAPID Live’, ‘Knowledge Bar’, and tech briefings. How can attending these show activities enrich the overall conference and exposition experience?

Maria Conrado: This is what makes RAPID + TCT unique. There are more opportunities to engage with experts in the field than at any other event. Each of these show features has something to offer an attendee. There is opportunity for hands on in the 3D Playground, talk with experts and bring your challenges to the Knowledge Bar, learn the fundamentals in a short one hour tech briefing – they all have something to offer that enhances the overall attendee experience.

Photo courtesy of SME

Photo courtesy of SME

AMazing®: Finally, what can attendees from the aerospace and defense industry expect to experience at this year’s RAPID + TCT? 

Maria Conrado: The aerospace and defense industry is strongly represented in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This industry is a big adopter of additive manufacturing technologies, so we wanted to make sure that we have plenty of education geared towards these professionals. Major manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman will discuss how they are using AM to develop and implement production parts for high consequence application. Additionally, as the industry continues to focus metal additive manufacturing advancement, RAPID + TCT has made it easy for attendees to find all conference presentations related to metals. View presentations here.

This concludes our interview. Maria, thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about this year’s RAPID + TCT Conference and 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, Michigan.

Maria Conrado

800.733.3976 ext.3093

For over 25 years, RAPID + TCT 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, have teamed up to produce the annual RAPID + TCT event. For users and suppliers alike, the event is 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 manufacturing professionals, academia and communities, sharing knowledge and resources to build inspired, educated and prosperous manufacturers and enterprises. With more than 85 years of experience and expertise in events, media, membership, training and development, and also through an education foundation, SME is committed to promoting manufacturing technology, developing a skilled workforce and attracting future generations to advance manufacturing. Learn more at sme.org, follow @SME_MFG on Twitter or facebook.com/SMEmfg.

Source: SME/AMazing



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