Preview: TCT Show 2018

05 September 2018

Jessica Twentyman takes a look at what’s in store for attendees at this year’s TCT Show in Birmingham

Last summer, the Natural History Museum in London proudly unveiled the new star of its reimagined Hintze Hall, at the start of the biggest transformation in the museum’s 136-year history.

Named ‘Hope’, she is a stunning, 25-metre long blue whale skeleton, suspended from the hall’s ceiling. As attendees at this year’s TCT Show in Birmingham will hear, her migratory journey from her previous home in the museum’s Mammal Hall to her new spot, centre-stage in Hintze Hall, involved some clever use of additive technologies.

On Day 3 of the show, the Natural History Museum’s head of imaging and analysis, Alex Ball, will be on stage to explain how the museum needed to thoroughly clean and conserve Hope before she was moved into her new home, as well as 3D scan her at sub-millimetre resolution. As part of the conservation effort, 3D printing was used to recreate a number of bones missing from Hope’s right flipper.

Ahead of this presentation, the show’s organisers promise plenty of other insights from their rollcall of speakers. Over the three days of the event, attendees will hear about cutting-edge applications and the latest research developments in 3D manufacturing in industries including the aerospace, automotive, healthcare, consumer and industrial product design sectors. More than 10,000 manufacturers, designers, business leaders, innovators and investors are expected to attend.

The themes for Day One are transport and materials and processes, with the main keynote session kicked off by Jose Ortiz, head of technology product management at Airbus. He will explain how the aircraft manufacturer is using 3D printing in its commercial airline cabins.

He’ll be followed by Dr Karsten Heuser, vice president of additive manufacturing at Siemens Digital Factory, who will explore how additive manufacturing (AM) composite part production is reaching new heights for industrial applications. As Dr Heuser will explain, new advancements in hybrid AM might be used to optimise composite structures, taking into account geometric complexity, part consolidation and additive part performance.

Other Day One keynoters include Nour Eid of the Aerospace Technology Institute and Toby Mellor, an industrial designer at bespoke motorcycle company Auto Fabrica.

On Day Two, meanwhile, the themes are healthcare and research. A big focus will be medical prosthetics and orthotics, with speakers from medical device companies including ProsFit and Phits Insoles, along with the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

There’ll be advice for those running and working with start-ups, too, from Dave Burns, founder and principal of consulting firm Global Business Advisory Services.

Day Three focuses on design and, following the Natural History Museum presentation, the audience will hear from BMW Group’s head of additive manufacturing, Dominik Rietzel, on how the automotive giant is using AM to substitute tools for small batches, to personalise designs and to optimise them for end-use parts, through systematic pilot projects in both metals and plastics 3D printing.

Andrew Pinney, a packaging engineer from PepsiCo will explain how the soft drinks company used 3D printing to create a limited-edition packaging for a movie premiere, and Steinar Killi, associate professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design will discuss how freeform fabrication might change the creative process.

It’s not all about the keynotes, though. Aside from its two conference stages, the TCT Show will host 300 exhibitors and its organisers promise a stack of new product launches.

There’ll be interactive show floor attractions and a number of specialist technology tracks to allow attendees to take a ‘deep dive’ into specific areas of interest.

On the evening of 26 September, meanwhile, the TCT Awards will celebrate the very best use cases in designto-manufacturing innovation. Finalists include Airbus’s carbon-fibre wing repair kit, XEV’s 3D-printed urban car, Kallista’s luxury faucet collection for modern bathrooms and NuVasive’s spinal implants.

The TCT Show will run from 25-27 September at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham.

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