What a week! As we nurse our sore feet after days spent walking the booths of Rapid + TCT, and reflect on the sights, sounds and all the conversations had with friends and colleagues, old and new, we’d like to think that this year’s Rapid + TCT event has been a successful one.
With several exhibitors seemingly making their debut at this year’s event, showcasing proof of concept and announcing their arrival on the AM scene, presumably following a period spent in stealth mode, the 2.5 years since we were last able to attend Rapid + TCT could definitely be felt.
Jen Killingback, Director North America at Alexander Daniels Global, spent 2 days trawling the aisles, connecting with friends and industry colleagues, and convincing everyone she met that yes, under those brunette locks, it really was her!
Here are the top 3 takeaways from the show:
#1 A Feeling of ‘Settling’ in the Industry
After a tumultuous year of mergers and acquisitions in 2021, customer partnerships have become a common theme this year, with many companies appearing at the event announcing partnerships and collaborations, such as Morf3D and 6K Additive announcing their partnership to name just one.
With so much movement having happened, and still happening as we speak, it gives the impression that the ‘real players’ in the industry could emerge this year.
Furthermore, with increased footfall on the second day of the show, everyone appeared very busy interacting with attendees. Interestingly, several booths were exceptionally busy such as Nexa3D, HP, and AON3D. Several other exhibitors shared they had very productive conversations with prospective clients and industry peers as well.
#2 Push to Move into Production
The industry has matured to the point that we are no longer displaying little Eiffel towers to present the complexity of prints, but we are now displaying exact evidence and examples of how 3D printing can be applied, also across vertical industries.
Although the common conversation that you might expect to have had at the show this year being centered around a push to move into production, no one seems to have the assembly line set up yet, though the industry is certainly mobilizing towards this.
Instead, we saw companies like HP showcasing, rather creatively, the ways in which their 3D printing services can be applied to vertical industries – in this case the Automotive Industry – with a display of 3D printed parts that have been and can be used in car production.
Furthermore, we saw from the likes of Thermwood and NatureWorks the sheer scale and level of complexity that additive manufacturing has been able to reach in recent years, further evidencing the steps the industry is taking towards being recognized for its place in the manufacturing supply chain.
As we keep moving more into the manufacturing supply chain, the drive to production still continues.
#3 Difficulties in Recruiting and Retaining Talent
Now, you can’t expect us to turn up at an AM event without having one or two conversations about recruitment in the industry.
Another topic widely discussed with us at this year’s show is the difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent. It seems to be a growing trend within the industry that companies may notice that they’re losing talent, albeit not to direct AM competitors, but to the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and the EV (Electric Vehicle) market – especially when we consider the West Coast of North America.
The common theme we uncovered is the pull of Talent to the likes of these organizations for the noticeably larger pocketbooks than those we have in the Additive Manufacturing industry. We are seeing an increasing trend in vertical industries attracting our most gifted talent, merging the skills required in a pure 3D market with that of similar engineering industries.
Based off of these conversations, it will become crucial for hiring managers to understand not only how they can secure the Talent they’re looking for, but ways in which they can retain top talent, particularly as we make our final push to get new talent recruited ahead of major industry events such as Formnext in Q4 this year.