It was a busy week at the 22nd TCT Show in Birmingham, which just ended yesterday. Many innovative companies used the international trade fair event as an opportunity to showcase their latest printers, software, materials, and other products. The event kicked off on Tuesday with the annual TCT Awards, sponsored by SLM Solutions, Materialise, 3ecruit, and Somos, with supporting partner Innovate UK. The awards were a little different than in previous years, as five global 3D printing pioneers were announced and inducted for the first time into the newly established TCT Hall of Fame.
According to the website, “The Hall of Fame recognises those members of the industry who have made the most significant contributions to 3D technologies and their applications.”
The TCT Expert Advisory Board, made up of 25 experts and innovators from around the world, selects the nominees, which are then submitted to TCT Magazine readers and the global 3D printing community. Then, they vote on the five people they believe have made the most significant impacts, either toward inventing or developing important technologies for the greater additive manufacturing industry.
Dr. Adrian Bowyer
These five “pillars of additive manufacturing” began with RepRap project founder Dr. Adrian Bowyer. The former mechanical engineering lecturer at the University of Bath created the RepRap, or Rapid Replicating Prototyper, in 2005, with a goal of making a useful self-replicating device – a 3D printer in this case – that would ensure its own evolution and distribution. He wanted to develop a 3D printer that would be capable of printing most of its own components, and according to the TCT Hall of Fame, this “was the driving force behind the rapid spread of 3D printing from the industrial to consumer audiences.”
His TCT Hall of Fame bio continues, “RepRap kicked off a movement that threw 3D printing into the popular consciousness like no other. Without RepRap, it’s unlikely we would have had the mass media coverage that inspired boards globally to explore new manufacturing technologies (and listen to their engineers!)”
Dr. Bowyer retired from teaching in 2012 to concentrate on the RepRap Project and his company, RepRapPro Ltd., which closed in early 2016.
Next up in the new TCT Hall of Fame, we have Chuck Hull, the founder, CTO, and former President of 3D Systems. In 2014, Hull was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his patented invention of stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing and co-creation of the STL file format. Visitors to the National Inventors Hall of Fame can view a 3D printed bust of Hull and the first 3D printer he invented, the SLA-1, which is also a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
Hull’s TCT Hall of Fame Bio reads, “By many measures, Chuck Hull can rightly call himself the ‘father of 3D printing’ — his patent for stereolithography is one of the earliest recorded for the technologies as we recognise them today and the company he founded, 3D Systems, has been at the forefront of additive technologies since 1986. Still an active leader and inventor within 3D Systems, Chuck continues to impact the industry he was instrumental in creating.”
Dr. Hans Langer
Dr. Hans Langer, entrepreneur and founder of family-owned EOS, is the third inductee into the TCT Hall of Fame. EOS opened its doors in 1989, and is now one of the top 3D printing companies in both polymer and metals, currently employing over 1,000 people; it was honored as a 3D printing game changer two years ago and recently welcomed a new CEO. Dr. Langer, who won the SME Additive Manufacturing Industry Achievement Award at RAPID 2016, is an active leader and investor in over 20 companies, including DyeMansion, ceramics additive manufacturing company Lithoz, and 3YOURMIND.
“Working hand-in-hand with users, Hans has been instrumental in driving developments across technologies, including pioneering metal laser melting,” Dr. Langer’s TCT Hall of Fame bio reads.
Scott Crump accepts award during TCT Hall of Fame ceremony. [Image: Stratasys]
The co-founder, CTO, and Chief Innovation Officer of Stratasys and the inventor and patent holder of fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing, Scott Crump, was also inducted into the TCT Hall of Fame.
“Ask a member of the public what they know about 3D printing, and the chances are they will describe the process that Scott Crump patented in 1989. Since then the FDM process has developed into a true industrial AM process, and is also the basis for the ‘desktop revolution’ of the last few years,” reads Crump’s TCT Hall of Fame bio.
Stratasys is one of the most forward-thinking companies in the industry, having worked on production parts for race cars, aircraft, and factory tools. The company debuted its Continuous Build 3D Demonstrator in May, which Crump calls “an important milestone” for Stratasys’ vision to introduce additive manufacturing technology into volume production environments.
Crump said, “I am honored and humbled to be chosen from among the list of prestigious nominees and inducted to the inaugural Hall of Fame awards. Each nominee is a pioneer with an illustrious contribution toward building this industry. Although the industry is 30 years old, I believe we’re just at the beginning of a Golden Age of manufacturing, with significant opportunities in production of prototypes, manufacturing tools and end products. There’s enormous potential in applications for aerospace, automotive and healthcare, just to name a few. AM is allowing for the next Industrial Revolution.”
Materialise Founder and CEO Wilfried Vancraen [Image: Sarah Goehrke at TCT 2017 for 3DPrint.com]
The final inaugural inductee into the TCT Hall of Fame is Wilfried ‘Fried’ Vancraen, the founder and CEO of Materialise, a company that is “always there to push the boundaries of what is possible.”
“First of all, I want to congratulate my fellow inductees: Adrian, Chuck, Hans, and Scott. They have made fantastic contributions to the development and creative deployment of additive manufacturing. Thanks to Materialise’s backbone positioning, we have been able to work with each of them through partnerships, co-creations and many fruitful collaborations,” Vancraen said. “The most important thing I’ve learnt in my 27 years in this industry is that, if we want to use 3D printing to truly change the world for the better, we can never go it alone. Which is why the five people honored last night should be seen not as outstanding individuals, but as representatives of a great community that has achieved great things together.”
On a mission to use 3D printing technology to increase product development that would bring about a better world, Vancraen founded Materialise in 1990, when it was the first rapid prototyping bureau in the Benelux region. He noted three big challenges, which the company works to overcome with each new innovation – creating a quality 3D printing service, making better software, and realizing the potential in the technology for medical applications, in addition, continuing on even when 3D printing medical applications fail.
According to Vancraen’s Hall of Fame bio, “The company is now as well-known for it’s software solutions and biomedical applications expertise as for it’s work as both an industry- and consumer-facing bureau service. Fried’s mission is to build a better and healthier world through AM.”
Materialise also won a TCT Award this year – the Industrial Product Application award – for its work with Philips Lighting on reinventing tools for its light bulb production lines.