From offshore platforms to space telescopes


Users Conference presents new material, product and process solutions plus an ever-widening range of practical uses for additive manufacturing

Whether used on offshore platforms, in household appliances or in space telescopes – additively manufactured parts are dominating ever more applications. The Users Conference on 6 and 7 June 2018 at the Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D in Erfurt will provide insights into new material, product and process solutions. “We want to give visitors some suggestions as to how additive technologies can be sensibly integrated into existing operational processes and how future production landscapes, for example in the context of demand-driven production, can be designed with additive manufacturing”, said Dr Sabine Sändig, project manager in the technology promotion department of Thüringer Aufbaubank. Dr Sändig, a specialist in laser material processing and additive manufacturing, is responsible for the thematic orientation of the Users Conference.

The first session of the two-day event will focus on new materials and technologies. One presentation will highlight Figure 4 from 3D systems, a scalable, high-speed additive production system for automated production environments, which enables prolific mass production. The Exentis Group from Switzerland will also be demonstrating that 3D printing and mass production are no longer a contradiction, with a patented 3D screen printing process that allows for individualised geometries in mass production with any material. Customised product solutions in metallurgy/ceramics and bio-materials are the focus of this presentation. EOS is tapping into new possibilities for developing new plastic materials for laser sintering systems with an innovative powder generation process. Initial practical experiences with “PP 1101”, a polypropylene-based product, will be presented at the Users Conference.

New production solutions and user examples for a wide range of industries form the substantive core of the conference. Baker Hughes is opening up additive technologies for applications in the oil and gas industry. The GE company uses selective electron beam melting to produce high-strength cobalt-chromium-tungsten alloys for tools in order to achieve high levels of resistance to abrasion, erosion and corrosion. The additive manufacturing of metal optics for use in areas such as aerospace applications, medical technology and the automotive sector, is in contrast to all of this. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF are concentrating on forming a technology chain based on the selective laser melting process of aluminium-silicon alloys, in order to develop opto-mechanical components that meet high standards of stability and mass reduction. FIT is the first company in Germany to offer gel dispensing printing, which enables the production of larger components than were previously possible. Here, highly viscous gel is laid down in layers from a nozzle and cured with ultraviolet light. The advantage of this process lies in the rapid production of very large plastic components up to 1.80 m in height, which are then very easy to post-process. Using this method, XXL parts can be made up to ten times faster than using comparable depositing processes. Household appliance manufacturer Miele will demonstrate how 3D printing technologies can be integrated into operational processes. BMW will provide an insight into how additively manufactured foams for use in the automotive industry can be qualified. The manufacture of lighting components using 3D printing is the subject of a presentation by service provider Canto. Heraeus will illustrate the potential of additive manufacturing for special metals, particularly high-melting refractory metals and precious metals such as those used in aerospace, medical technology or jewellery production.

The presentations of the final conference session will highlight how AM production processes can be certified for consistent production quality, what level has been reached in this respect and which guidelines and standards relating to occupational safety and training have been developed. Speakers on these subjects include experts from the German Welding Society (DVS), TÜV Süd and Siemens AG.

The Users Conference is a permanent fixture of the Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D international trade show and conference for additive technologies, which will take place from 5 to 7 June 2018 at Messe Erfurt. The event is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. It has been held in Erfurt since 2004, and is a pioneer of 3D technologies at international level. Its comprehensive conference programme, the only one of its kind, also includes the AM Science forum being held on 6/7 June. New this year, also held across both days, will be the Medical, Dental and Orthopaedic Technology forum. Another new forum on Law will be held on 5 June, alongside the Contract Additive Manufacturing, Design, Tool, Mould and Fixture Making and Automotive Industry forums. The 3D-Printed Electronics & Functionality and 3D Metal Printing forums will follow on 6 June, with the Aviation forum on 7 June closing the three-day long fair.

The 3D printing community will once again come together on all three days for the 3D Printing Conference. As well as discussing current issues and technical innovations, speakers will give behind-the-scenes insights into their research and development activities and selected competitions. Talks will cover everything from start-up financing to digital fabrication to education. Messe Erfurt is also looking for the most innovative company founders for its Start-Up Award and the best design ideas for its 3D Pioneers Challenge in 2018.

More than 200 exhibitors will be presenting the latest developments, products and services in additive manufacturing at the sold-out trade fair.

In 2017, 4,800 trade visitors and conference attendees, plus 207 exhibitors from 13 countries, travelled to Erfurt for Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D.


You can download this press information here.

You can find impressions of Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D 2017 here.