3D printers at signage expos around the world
In the USA the best place to see 3D printers is at RAPID. I have not yet attended any of the 3d Printer World Expo events because so far RAPID has everything I need.
Although RAPID is a small expo it is focused: everything about 3D rapid prototyping, 3D additive manufacturing, and 3D printers. Plus 3D scanners, 3D software, everything you need to learn about what is involved with 3-dimensional production. Also a great place to compare prices.
CNC routers can also “carve” other materials, and there are robatic-like devices which stand erect and reach out to carve materials.
We at FLAAR have been interested in creating 3D objects for a long time since our background is in Maya archaeology and thus we are interested in creating better museum exhibits.
This page is to discuss 3D “printing” and to remind ourselves that most 3D production is not with “a printer” but with a machine whose end-product is a 3D object.
Issue 1 of the FespaDaily expo newspaper ran a feature article on “The exciting world of 3D printing.” But most of the “3D printers” actually on exhibit were only to sublimate onto cups or bottles. So these are not doing any 3D printing, they are only decorating 3D objects which already exist.
So there was no significant presence of 3D printers whatsoever at this printer exposition. I did not even notice a 3D printer in the Agfa booth (in their combined AGFA-PITMAN booth at US expos they show one 3D printer). And to clarify the technology, most “3d printers” are not printing, they are laying down melted plastics. This is not the same as doming, but doming is not accurately considered 3D printing either.
There are actual 3D printers, using either HP, Canon, or Ricoh printheads. But I do not believe that any of these were at FESPA 2014.
At most one or two low-end Made-in-China 3D printers could be found at FESPA 2014 if you spent an entire day checking every single item exhibited in the entire expo.
Kind of unexpected that Drupa for 2016 is now focused on 3D printing
Drupa says it has reorganized their entire Drupa 2016 focus and that 3D printing will be a or potentially “the” major focus. This is a good for 3D printing but for wide-format inkjet printer crowds and exhibitors, a focus on 3D printers is a great way to have Drupa collapse even further than in 2012.
3D printer expos already exist. To be meaningful a 3D printer expo needs all the exhibitors of 3D software and 3D scanners. Plus 3D printers have close to zilch meaningful relationship with signage: a vacuum thermoforming system for UV-cured printers (such as offered by efi VUTEk) is plenty. Expos such as RAPID in the USA and EuroMold in Europe are already good enough.
Besides, it would be curious to find out if the Drupa Board of Directors realized that probably 75% of 3D rapid prototype machines are not printers whatsoever! Only a few brands of 3D machines use printheads. As mentioned above, most are other technologys, usually laying down melted plastics.
We hope Drupa can recover, indeed we really like Drupa (I lived not far from Duesseldorf many years). Plus I enjoy being in Germany (with a family name like Hellmuth, it is no surprise that I speak, read, and understand Deutsch language).
“Where it’s at” in 2014, 2015, and still in 2016 is still wide-format inkjet
FLAAR is an advisor and consultant for APPPEXPO and we are their primary outreach institute, but we equally support FESPA in Europe (and Mexico and Brazil, and will gladly support FESPA Africa as soon as their dates are not the identical days as the enormous Shanghai expo in early July).
We really like DRUPA, having attended in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. But when we politely asked why Drupa was 14 days when 100% of the wide-format printer exhibitors said this length was ridiculous, we were told, bluntly, “Heidelberg and other offset press companies ask for 14 days” (because it takes them 6 days to set up and 4 days to take down their giant presses).
Sorry, but the days when offset printer brands paid the rent at Drupa is weaker every year and by 2020 will be barely a memory of the past. If wide-format inkjet printer companies learn about Drupa’s focus on 3D printing, wide-format inkjet printer companies will realize that FESPA 2016 and APPPEXPO 2016 are a better investment.
So if you want to see 3D machines in a wide diversity: from vacuum thermoforming to 3D rapid prototypers (additive manufacturing), all together with wide-format inkjet, textile printers, and lots more, the July 2014 trade show, APPPEXPO in Shanghai, is physically the largest for wide-format signage and many other applications. No need to wait for Drupa 2016.
First posted May 28, 2014