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Ewloe, United Kingdom
Writing, tweeting, debating and occasionally getting a little over-excited about 3D Printing. But always aiming to keep it real!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

3D Printing Intrigue, Opinion and New Ventures

So much time out of the office over the last two weeks has lead to a bit of a backlog and lack of posts. Time away has been for various reasons: meetings, exhibitions and a week of R&R with the family over half term. All good then, batteries recharged and a ton of work to plough through.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, to say the least. A couple of meetings have thrown up some very intriguing information, which, on pain of death, I am not at liberty to share. In some ways this is really VERY frustrating for me but then, as the kind of person that reads the last page of a book first, I do like knowing what's coming. And there is lots on the horizon, some things are about to come into view and others may take a little longer.

Here's a couple of teasers: First, I heard about a really interesting twist on entry level 3D printing capabilities. Essentially two existing 3D printing capabilities, that would not make anyone's pulse race particularly as they have been available for a while, are being brought together in a way that, I think, might just set the cat among the pigeons. I also think it might even make the most cynical sit up and take notice. Another compelling intimation was the result of a culmination of much industry networking by a long-standing member of the 3DP community. Can't wait for the cat to be let out of the bag on that one.

Ok, ok enough with the riddles.

What can I talk about sensibly? Well, my visit to the capital for PDM 2012 was a good day, not least because it actually felt like summer on that day. Much cosier than previous editions of the show (I was last a visitor in 2010) PDM 2012 was not without its attractions & exhibitors I spoke to seemed impressed with the quality of the visitors. I think everyone was pleased to hear that the show is returning to Telford next year though.

I had very interesting conversations with old friends and new. Stopped by the Objet stand of course and caught up with the guys from IPF and Tritech 3D — I know I've said it before, but it's worth saying again — they really do do a good job and are a great team for advocating 3D printing in general and Objet in particular. The 3D printed pen they gave me was in my possession for all of a few hours before it was summarily claimed by my daughter. On the upside her D&T teacher and product design classmates are all very impressed — there is talk of a school design project as a result.

PDM also threw up a thought-provoking conundrum that I have been pondering for some time — what's happening inside the 3D Systems universe? Talking to the guys at John Burn, resellers of the 3D Systems' Bits from Bytes brand, it was fascinating to get their take on the mid-range 3D printing market. John Burn has a traditional history within the manufacturing sector and the addition of the 3D Touch 3D printer to their portfolio is proving to be a successful initiative as they introduce new and existing clients to the technology. Really lovely guys that have bought into the idea of 3D printing being an extremely useful tool in the manufacturer's tool box. But then talking to an ex ZCorp person (there are rather a lot of them now, unfortunately) the word is that sales of ZCorp tech is down, way down! The figure I heard was 45%. This is appalling, and I really struggle to understand why and how such a great 3D printing technology is being allowed to sink like this by a company that has the resources to make it fly? I continue to ponder ...... if anyone has any thoughts on this, would love to hear them. On or off the record.

I also want to thank Harry at John Burn for pointing me to a SpaceClaim demo. It's been a while since I have stood through a CAD demo, but I am so glad I did. I was mightily impressed with what I saw and heard, particularly in view of the user accessibility and the price for education and the licensing of seats in schools. Nice job, and thanks to Tim and Daniel from Physical Digital for patiently answering my (probably inane) questions.

Then I caught up with old friend Dave Bennion of Ogle Models & Prototypes. This is a great company that I have watched evolve from my earliest days in this industry. Again, it is not ALL about 3D printing for them, it is about combining these fabulous advanced technologies with traditional model making skills. The emphasis, always, is on quality models and 3D printing is an enabler for this. Also fascinating to hear that Ogle is looking at a consumer facing joint venture, again, fully enabled by 3D printing. Keep an eye out for Selassi - beautiful.

Mid-afternoon at PDM I took a phone call from my old boss - Mr Duncan Wood. He took me off guard somewhat when he asked if I would be interested in working with the team on the new PersonaliZe media platform for the next few months. Well, you may have seen the final result of that conversation yesterday? If not, my first blog post for them is now live.

Exciting times!






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