With the toughest COVID restrictions seemingly on hold, at least for now, it looks like trade show season is back and in full swing. And, if the crowds at RAPID+ TCT May 17-19 in Detroit were any indicator of the overall 3D printing conference scene, industry events this year are expected to be packed, making planning a all the more important.
This is especially true if you have never been there before. While it seemed like everyone at RAPID+ TCT was a seasoned conference veteran, there must still be plenty of newbies like me. If you’re one of them, here are some tips that might help you survive.
Try to find an event near you: Although I had the luxury of going to Detroit as part of my normal writing assignments, it might not make sense to travel so far (I flew in from Los Angeles) , unless you organize a stand there. Luckily, especially during peak season, there are 3D printing fairs all over the country. Given that you can probably knock out all the things you want to see in a busy day, there’s no reason to plan an overnight trip around crowds, if you can avoid it. That said, there are a few caveats: conferences can be key to networking, and since RAPID+TCT is the largest additive trade show in North America, you’ll be able to connect with people who won’t visit. maybe not at a local event. .
Make yourself confortable
Eat a good breakfast, wear comfortable shoes and arrive early if you can: I came across one of these tips simply because I was a generally anxious person. In this case, it worked in my favor. Arriving early at the convention center allowed me to beat the worst of the initial opening rush, and walking around the lounge when it was less crowded allowed me to familiarize myself with the layout. I don’t usually have such a strong sense of direction, but at RAPID+TCT I constantly left 3DPrint.com Editor-in-Chief Michael Molitch-Hou speechless with my uncanny ability to navigate from booth to booth. ‘other.
As for comfortable shoes, even though the event will take place indoors, expect a lot of walking. Finally, breakfast is important because, in addition to saving time throughout your visit, you probably don’t want to rely on your daily food from anywhere near a convention center.
Plan ahead what interests you most: If you can’t get there early, you can still maximize your time at the show by determining in advance which booths interest you the most. No matter which show you attend, there will almost certainly be a list of exhibits available online before you arrive.
In this case, it can also be useful to have access to someone more knowledgeable than you in 3D printing. When I was overwhelmed with the number of companies offering me the opportunity to schedule a booth visit, given the limited time, Mike helped me figure out which ones I wanted to prioritize. Since I wanted to make sure I saw at least one software exhibit, for example, he suggested I accept Altair on their generous offer to set aside time to show me their software platform.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people: If you’re like me, interacting with new faces wasn’t in your wheelhouse before the end of time and the arrival of the apocalypse did not really improve things. Nevertheless, the inherent design of a trade show can bring the social butterfly out of even the most misanthropic individual. Plus, there’s nothing a 3D printing specialist wants more than someone asking them what they’re working on, so this is a good opportunity to brush up on the art of conversation. You might even get lucky and talk to someone as friendly and informative as Ravi Kunju, the senior vice president of strategy and business development for Altair’s simulation-focused design division.
Prepare your questions: Overall, if there’s one thing I wish I’d done more before I got to RAPID+TCT, it’s to have understood more precisely what questions I wanted to ask at the event. This is because, given how incredibly busy everyone working at each booth is, there really is no time for conversation breaks: so once a conversation occurs, you start noticing how eager the person you’re talking to is to wrap up, which, at least in my experience, neutralizes your ability to think on the spot.
My saving grace with VP Kunju was that I had spent a lot of time in the two months leading up to the event reading and writing and – therefore probably to some extent – thinking about 3D printing software. In this case, I was sufficiently prepared to discuss the subject in question. Clearly a true engineer at heart, Kunju provided some of the most thought-provoking points of the entire show, including, “I think there’s nothing more stupid you can do than 3D print something just to 3D print something.”
He then explained very simply why he thought Altair’s Inspire Print3D software was the smart way to do things. It showed me very generally what it means for the engineering process that the software automates the design process, while optimizing it for 3D printing. Thanks to Mr. Kunju, I generally understand why simulation software like Altair’s allows engineers to reduce the time it takes to create a new design from 2-3 months to as fast as a day. I had already entered the premises on the first day thinking that advances in software are the hinge on which the industry rests, so perhaps my prejudices have just been confirmed, but my visit to the Altair booth reinforced this conviction.
Want to wander
That said, the only other recommendation I have would be to spend at least some time wandering around the living room aimlessly. This will give you a good idea of the pulse of the industry. Also, it will be a bit of a wasteland of pure trade and marketing there, so make sure you have enough water supply. All the machines and lights make the room very hot.
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