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  • Writer's pictureMatthias Bringezu

Day 4 at SME Rapid [Long Beach – USA]


The 4th and last day at SME Rapid started with the keynote of Terry Wohlers on the State of Industry. Terry’s talk focused on the market growth and the new big players like HP re-entering it with new technologies. Terry also stated that the AM market has quadrupled in the last five years and the predictions scope the same growths for the next five years.Terry mentioned the big steps made in aeronautical industry, heavily pushed by GE and AIRBUS. Terry showed some really interesting footage, like from AIRBUS which is applying direct metal technologies to build free-form sheet metal parts, an application far only known to be used for prototyping in the automotive industry.

The conference The sessions on Thursday were the following:

– Medical Manufacturing Innovations V – Aerospace Applications – Advances in Additive Manufacturing Post Processing – Materials for Additive Manufacturing Applications III – Design Considerations for Additive Manufacturing III

I chose to attend the following presentations:

“Support Optimisation for Metal Laser Sintering” “High-Performance Production Line for Small Series Metal Parts” “Deployment of Additive Manufacturing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company”

The exhibition floor I took the chance to browse a bit the exhibition floor for the last time. I met Peter Boettner from CITIM AM Inc. a service bureau for metal AM. CITIM AM is part of the CITIM Group from Germany, operating the biggest metal AM machine fleet in Germany. CITIM is running systems from SLM Solutions and EOS. So we discussed the growing demand for AM metal parts and differences in direct metal AM systems.

Nice parts from AIRBUS were on display at the booth of RTI International Metals. RTI was recently acquired by industry giant ALCOA to expand the product range in high-tech materials. According to RTI the company is operating 9 laser-based direct metal systems. The parts demonstrated clearly where Aero industry is heading:


Topology optimised parts built in Titanium using laser-based direct metal AM

Summary It has been a very interesting and educational trip to the SME Rapid in Long Beach, worth every minute of the 18-hour flight. It was great to hear and to see how fast Additive Manufacturing is growing and being applied for more and more applications. Many of the presentations pointed out how much effort it takes to apply these technologies in manufacturing. Especially the direct metal technologies require in-depth process and material understanding to have a solid part/ business case. Machine reliability and repeatability is still not on a level as conventional tool-machines. However, the advantages offered by Additive Manufacturing make companies take on this challenges to push these technologies onto the next level.




One more thingImportant to know:

I had a chat to one of the organisers of the Formnext conference in Germany. Euromold exhibition used to be the biggest catch-up for the Additive Manufacturing Industry in Europe. However, this will be different from this November onwards. Euromold has moved to Duesseldorf but all the big player in Additive Manufacturing will stay in Frankfurt. FORMNEXT 17. – 20. November in Frankfurt – Check it out Formnext

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