Winner 3D Pioneers Challenge 2023 (c)Messe Erfurt_Christian Seeling

Positively crazy

Pioneering achievements in the spotlight on day two of Rapid.Tech 3D

Keynote speaker Frank Rinderknecht from Rinspeed opened the second day of Rapid.Tech 3D 2023 (10 May) with the confession that he knows very little about AM. However, the visionary Swiss automotive designer quickly found a way to intersect with experts in additive manufacturing (AM). “We are all pioneers,” he emphasised. Just as he and his team see themselves as crazy people who, in the best sense of the word, dislodge and shake the apparently unshakeable, so too has AM emerged from the ability to think ahead and the courage to be different.

Rinspeed has been developing visionary mobility concepts for over 40 years. Its latest innovation is the modular CitySnap vehicle, which can be used as a delivery vehicle for mobile packing stations, for example, or with another module to transport passengers - electrically powered and, in the future, automated too. And all of it implemented thanks to 3D printing. New, sustainable mobility solutions are necessary for many reasons, but they cannot be achieved without groundbreaking innovations. For Frank Rinderknecht, this means constant further development in the AM sector.

Chemistry: Breaking down traditional boundaries with 3D printing

AM is also doing pioneering work in the chemical industry, as Jurjen Meeuwissen illustrated in the second keynote of the day. The senior researcher at Shell reported on the current state of research regarding the 3D printing of catalysts for gas-to-liquid processes. When the topic was presented internally in 2018, most people were still of the opinion that 3D-printed catalytic converters were largely the stuff of fiction. In the meantime, the future potential of the development is becoming apparent, as the design freedom of 3D printing offers ways to break down the boundaries of traditional catalyst production.

What other barriers can be overcome in chemistry and process engineering by using AM was also the topic of the forum of the same name, which debuted in Erfurt this year. In establishing this forum, Rapid.Tech 3D has given additive manufacturing (and its current status and trends) in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry and related plant engineering its own event format for the first time.

Rapid.Tech 3D trade visitors also shared information about the latest AM developments and applications in the Medical, Design, and Software & Processes forums.

The AM market in the wake of the coronavirus and Ukraine conflict

A pioneering spirit is also required to deal with the multiple crises that have arisen in recent times. The impact of Covid-19 and the Ukraine conflict on the AM market was the subject of a panel discussion. Panel participants assessed the shift towards flexible working, the acceleration of digital processes, and a greater awareness of value creation and procurement processes within Europe as positive aspects to come out of the pandemic. However, not everything can be mapped digitally. In medical technology, for example, direct contact with the patient is necessary. Modernisation of the German Armed Forces, a necessary undertaking not least because of the Ukraine conflict, means that AM players are also hoping for business in spare parts production, among other things.

Winners of the 3D Pioneers Challenge 2023 selected

Participants in the 3D Pioneers Challenge, an international innovation and design competition, come up with future-oriented developments for many areas of life. The contest final has been held in Erfurt for the past eight years. The top prize in 2023 went to the Mattisse bioprosthesis project by the French start-up Lattice Medical. This is an implant that enables breast reconstruction after cancer surgery without the use of silicone. The prosthesis is perfectly shaped to the body using 3D printing and is completely absorbed by the body. The material used “transforms” into the body’s own tissue. In addition to the main prize, honours were awarded in a total of ten categories.

What to expect on the final day of Rapid.Tech 3D

AM developments in aviation and aerospace, a new forum making its debut, and further training in additive manufacturing all feature prominently on the closing day. In his keynote, Dr Steffen Beyer from the Ariane Group will talk about novel 3D printing processes for the efficient production of space components. The development of AM in this area will be discussed in greater depth in the Aviation Forum. The other forum of the day, entitled “Post-Processing & Quality Assurance”, makes its first appearance on the agenda, examining pathways for end-to-end automated printing and finishing solutions among other topics.

Qualified employees hold the key for unleashing the full potential of industrial 3D printing. The Additive Manufacturing Working Group of Germany's mechanical engineering industry association VDMA and the Building 3D e.V. network will be holding a panel discussion on how successful further training in additive manufacturing can reap many rewards.

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