My Take on the London 3D Printshow 2013
The Business Design Centre (BDC) in Islington, London was the well-chosen venue for the 3D Printshow London 2013. I arrived at the BDC yesterday morning having “slightly” underestimated the walk from Euston station. Yes, I walked it — suitcase and all. No time to dwell on my fitness levels (or lack thereof) as the busiest of busy days followed — right through to midnight.
It’s always lovely when the first face is a friendly face, and I totally lucked-out, bumping into Richard Horne at reception. Nattering away about the exciting day stretching out ahead we made our way through to the open, triple-floored exhibition space that creatively brought all of the different facets of the 3D Printshow together. Maintaining the wonderful vibe that Kerry Hogarth and her Team Awesome initiated last year, this venue was a huge improvement and so much more practical.
Through the doors and the first mega exhibit to greet visitors was the phenomenal work of Jason Lopes of Legacy Effects. Jason was a presenter last year and returned with a super-scaled-up exhibit that properly demonstrates his capabilities with 3D printing. I am so in awe of what he does with this tech, phenomenal doesn’t really do it justice. This year he had support — in every way.
Another cool guy from LA in my contact network. And like Jason great company. Lucky me.
Before the crowds started pouring in, I was lucky enough to do a quick scouting exercise to see what & who was there before jumping in to the more detailed chats. What struck me most was the number of new entry-level machines that hadn’t even made it onto my radar — most notably BEEVERYCREATIVE (Portugal), bq witbox (Spain), Cartesio3D (The Netherlands), and WASP (Italy). There was also Omni3D (Poland), but I had had a heads up to look out for this one last week. Individual posts, with specs, will follow on these.
Ran in to Makerbot’s Bre Pettis — always a pleasure — and asked him why he, personally, was seemingly so much quieter these days. He conceded he was probably not as visible as a year ago but the workload is just insane on “this crazy ride we’re all on.” I totally sympathise with that! He’s hired almost 300 people this year alone and been embedding them into the Makerbot family. There’s also the Stratasys deal to smooth out. He was adamant Makerbot would retain an independent identity: “that was the deal we signed,” even while providing the company with a “bigger cookie jar to dip into.” So I asked when the next product launch was coming — with heated chamber and so on. No amount of coaxing would dissuade him from sealed lips. He is, he says, “forbidden from giving forward looking statements.” Jenny Lawton too, who I was fortuitous enough to introduce myself to later in the day.
Caught up with the guys from Fuel3D — the mega successfully funded, low cost and easy to use 3D scanner. They had the first working prototypes of the scanner on show, and quite simply, it does exactly what it says on the tin! It’s so easy to use, even I could do it and not cock it up, and the 3D data produced (they where scanning anyone that wanted to be scanned and sending them the files) looked pretty good to me, with simple .stl conversion commands. They’re currently in the process of fulfilling the Kickstarter pledges and looking to be shipping them Q2 next year.
Stopped by to see the lovely ladies and Dr Connor McCormack of Mcor and had a bit of a gossip, nothing that can really be repeated here. Also caught up with Gary Miller of IPF who introduced me to a very talented Zbrush designer, Alex Down. His work is truly exceptional with a keen understanding of designing specifically and very effectively for 3D printing processes. It was also delightful to shake hands with Brook Drumm of Printrbot. A lovely man and so very passionate about what he is doing.
I also stopped by to see Amanda Darby who now works for Propshop. Amanda is another extremely talented user of 3D printing technology with an in-depth understanding that allows her to maximize the potential of the tech to huge effect. She was the lady (freelance at the time) behind all the models for the Pirate Movie. Now at Propshop, a London based company with a similar remit to Legacy Effects, the company is contributing to some of the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D printing is key. The latest prop is Thor’s hammer, produced by Jet Cooper on a voxeljet 3D printer, of which the company has three.
So, if you read my reviews regularly, you know there is always at least one moment when my jaw drops, right? Well, on this occasion it was when I first spied the work of Crea’Zaurus 3D. Oh my word — these were life-size 3D printed models of dinosaurs (the clue is in the company name). But this work is extraordinary. The company provides a range of services for the paleontological and museum sectors, and 3D printing is an increasingly useful tool for them. Talking to Lucovic Blein and Cyrielle Langiaux who are based in France, the passion typical of people working with 3D printing technologies was wholly evident. They have two Objet 3D printers in-house. I had made a note to find them ahead of the show, and have a 3DPI writer on the case for a more in-depth article about this application, but nothing quite prepared me for coming face to face with the dinosaurs.
Tyrannosaurus Rex, head. 3D printed in 300 parts, all post-processed, finished and assembled.