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  1. #1
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    TCT 2019 NEC Birmingham

    Can't believe it's that time of year already.
    We're going tomorrow. So if you see a bloke with a beard wandering around in a Curious Aardvark/ 3dprintboard t-shirt and wearing sandals.
    Accompanied by someone stealing every pen and bag in sight - that'll be us :-)
    I gauge the tct by how much new stuff I see, and my mate rates them by how many bags and pens he collects.
    Say hello - I'm friendly.

    Only announcement this year is from ultimaker, email this morning claimed they had a new machine that would revolutionise continuous production.
    Belt machine maybe ?
    No idea, I'll let you know after tomorrow :-)

    I have no agenda this year. Just going to amble about looking at anything new or interesting and chatting to people in general.
    Actually not strictly true. Looking for ideas to help on a belt free, low profile rotary device for my new laser engraver/cutter I'm currently designing.

    Not even bothered about collecting filament samples, as I've got 2 bags full from the last 2 years, I've yet to use. Any decent sized spools will be gratefully accepted, but the little 5 metre samples - nah, they're just not worth the hassle.

    Full report, probably thursday.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Well that was different.
    Tct is changing year on year. Pretty much 99% totally geared towards print bureaus and industrial machines this year. There were a couple of chinese startups with desktop machines and creality had a small stall.
    The cr10s is actually decently put together machine - why they don't use a direct drive extruder I don't know. Add that and you've got a really nice machine.

    Most impressive was a totally unknown company called Goofoo. They have a variety of fdm and resin machines. Very well built, good components and good prices. Put it this way, they use a 16mm ball screw on the resin machines - most use 12mm.
    Apparently this machine with a 200x120x250mm build volume was under £500.

    http://www.goofoo3d.com/

    Most years I fall in love with an fdm machine (the leapfrog bolt is still my favourite fdm printer) - given that there were very few there this year, I fell in love with the xact xm200c metal printer. Should i get round to buying a lottery ticket and winning - I will buy one.

    The size of a small floor standing cupboard, with a build volume of 127x127x127 mm. it clocks in at UNDER £75,000. Uses a 200watt fibre laser (around £30,000 right there) and is just the cutest and loveliest little printer you could ever hope to own !




    Add a bottle of nitrogen or a nitrogen generator and you've got a full metal printer for 1/3 the cost of a desktop metal setup and about a 10th the floor space !
    This thing is a real game changer, both in cost, running costs and ability.
    I WANT ONE !
    https://xactmetal.com/

    Oh yeah and I nearly killed a prusa mk3.
    See there's this video on youtube where josef prusa, grabs the moving carriage of a mk3 and moves it around. The machine then resets itself and carries on printing as though nothing had happened.
    I've really wanted to do this since I saw the video.
    I asked the guy if I could and he didn't say no.
    So I stopped the carriage for a bit.
    Thing is, apparently they didn't have the 'collision detection' thing switched on because it doesn't actually work properly.
    Um, yeah.
    I bet I'm not the only person who does it either :-)
    The woman on the booth was quite annoyed, oops.

    Duet had their 6 extruder beast there - the print head weighs around 2kg. So to stop the machine walking around when it's printing at speed. It has a counter weight on top that moves exactly mirroring the printhead and counteracting the inertial forces.
    Seriously clever. The guy who makes these monsters for duet is a genuine technical genius !

    What was missing this year was anyone giving filament samples away - none.
    Nobody really giving anything away bar sweets, pens amd the odd canvas bag.
    My mate got over 40 pens and half a dozen bags. I only had the 3 bags and 10 pens.

    Ultimakers amazing news - was fairly anticlimatic. basically this:


    Also they had new software for streamlining production process. Okay it's useful for using lots of filaments and making sure you don't run out on a long print run.
    But industry changing ? hardly.

    Nothing really new at all.
    There were very few people either. The sensors show - next door. Was 1/4 the size it usually is and totally deserted.

    It seems that these types of corporate industry exhibitions are dying out. Firms just aren't sending their employees to them, when they can get the same information simply by spending 30 minutes online.
    IT is a shame as - I personally believe - having a hands on experience makes a huge difference when choosing something that will be a large budget item for most companies.

    It also seems that the companies who have the stands, clearly just aren't seeing the benefit either.
    Between the cost of the stand, travel and hotels for the staff - you've also got the cost and hassle of transporting the machines around.

    One of the companies I always expect to see is Mcor - their machines make - essentially paper-mache - models in full colour. Not only no stand this year, but none of the many print bureaus had any of their machines either.

    Whether this is an indication that the company is struggling or not - no idea. I always thought the company should have pushed them selves at schools.
    A genuinely innovative machine.

    A whole bunch of other mid level companie where absent. Even the previously big guys like 3DP were only represented by a single machine tucked away in the corner of a print bureau's stand.
    As I said, NO filament companies at all.

    There were no giant deltas this year either. In fact I can only recall one large volume fdm.
    Couple of large resin machines. One came with 20kg of 'free' resin, which gives you some indication of the volume of its reservoir. Didn't take a picture - retailed around £20,000.

    There was also a lack of: 'hey look at this amazing thing what I done with my 3d printer'.
    There was a bike with 3d printed parts and a couple of formula student cars with some printed parts. Also a motorbike that looke pretty awful. Just not finished properly at all. Rush job maybe ?
    No idea who made it.
    But on the whole the booths were very widely spaced and the space inbetween wasn't filled with either people or things.

    Oh yeah, apart from the mini metal printer there was another desktop machine I was bowled over by.
    A neat little injection moulding machine.
    Designed for very short production runs. You printed the mould as a single piece on a resin machine using a special high temperature resin. You then injected the part and dissolved the mould in a special solvent, leaving the part behind.
    Ingenious - I'll stick some pics up later.
    But a really ingenious piece of lateral thinking.
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 09-26-2019 at 06:19 AM.

  3. #3
    Interesting report.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Student
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    Thanks for sharing report.it is very useful

  6. #6
    Good reportthanks

  7. #7
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Oh yeah - mcor went bust. The company has been brought, but sao far there is no sign of anyone marketing machines with the mcor technology.

    It's a real shame - one of the most innovative companies of the last 10 years with totally unique techniques.
    I don't know why they couldn't survive.
    But I reckon it's down to marketing or a lack there-of
    Here's their obituary:
    https://www.engineering.com/3DPrinti...hnologies.aspx

  8. #8
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Well it's september 2020 - the year the world came face to face with the reality that the human race is not the top of the food chain.
    Viruses are and always have been.

    No surprise to anyone - but there will not be a tct show at the nec this year. It will be the first one I've missed in 8 years.
    And possibly the last one ever.
    It has been scheduled for june next year - but we'll see.

    This is pure speculation on my part, but the writing has been on the wall for the last couple of years.
    As I stated above the show has gradually changed from a total overview of the entire 3d printing industry - from reprap on up to million pound metal printers.
    To a purely industrial set of exhibitors and a very narrow view of the industry in general.

    The problem with this is that it's a very niche market.
    Most companies - as we see round here - will start small and cheap by buying a basic desktop machine and proofing the whole 3d printing process before investing a ,lot of money in a full industrial machine.

    So a trade show that only has the full size industrial grade machine hasb already lost a lot of it's target audience.

    Last year the show was dead and the nec halls just echoed and felt empty.

    Youtube seems to have taken the place of the trade show for low to middle end machines.

    I feel privileged that over the years I've met and talked with many of the engineers and company owners who kick started the desktop 3d printing industry.
    It's amazing what you can learn just by chatting with the people who know :-)
    Who knew yellow filament was such a swine to make ? The kind of thing you only find out by talking to the uk's only filament manufacturers.
    And yeah I still owe them a comprehensive review of their soluble support filament.
    Just haven't found a decent use for it yet ;-)

    As long as they hold the shows - I'll go.

    But I'm not holding my breath that tct will happen in june next year.
    I suspect that virtual may well take the place of ordinary reality and zoom conferences take the place of actually talking to someone person to person.
    we'll see.

    But for this year - there will be no tct report.
    :-(
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 09-01-2020 at 11:25 AM.

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