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Show preview: Making the future at the TCT Show 2018

Media Partnership

McLaren and Stratasys exhibiting at the TCT Show 2017
McLaren and Stratasys exhibiting at the TCT Show 2017

The TCT Show is bringing cutting-edge manufacturing technology to the Birmingham NEC on 25-27 September. Don’t miss these key trends.

Artificial intelligence will boost the adoption of AM

Additive manufacturing has the potential to drastically cut the cost of production. But firms looking to dip their toes into the waters need to know which parts of their products are a good fit for AM. To help, 3YOURMIND (stand V32) has created the AM Part Identifier, software that can identify parts that are good technical and economic candidates for printing. 

Elsewhere, Keyvan Karimi, the chief executive of AMFG (stand J42), wants to enable “autonomous additive manufacturing”. His company’s software uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to schedule automation, conduct printability analyses, and aid in post-processing. Karimi calls it an “end-to-end solution for additive manufacturing”.

Digital technology is also making its presence felt through the blockchain. Link3D (stand E35) will showcase a unique technology that will enable OEMs to certify and validate external providers of AM – protecting their investment and intellectual property. 

We’ll get better at understanding and reusing materials

It’s a popular misconception among non-engineers that 3D printing creates products that are ready to use right away. Of course that’s not true – and there will be a number of companies demonstrating technologies for better post-processing. Rösler UK (stand T42) will showcase its ‘plug and play’ trough machine, a compact, mobile and versatile system that can be used for finishing both plastic and metal parts. 

Volkmann (stand S48) has created a vacuum conveying system that can safely extract leftover powders from 3D-printing processes so that they can be stored or reused. An ultrasonic sieve screens the product before conveying it to storage or back into the machine. 

Others, including Freeman Technology (stand D48), will be exhibiting their methods for improving the quality of AM, with powder testers that can help assess how a particular filament will behave in terms of flow and processability. 

Desktop manufacturing slashes costs

When Volkswagen wanted to cut costs at its Autoeuropa factory, it turned to Ultimaker’s desktop 3D printers. These small machines enabled the carmaker to print tools, jigs and fixtures that are used on the assembly line, instead of employing costly external suppliers. Development times were slashed from weeks to days, and costs fell by 91%. 

At the TCT Show, Ultimaker (stand R18) will display its latest machine, the S5, which has a dual extrusion system and advanced connectivity features. “The Ultimaker S5 allows our engineers and designers to fully iterate and test certain functional prototypes to as real conditions as possible without scaling,” says Lars Bognar, a research engineer in AM at Ford. 

What's on at the TCT Show 2018

Companies at the event show off their striking 3D-printed creations

Companies at the event show off their striking 3D-printed creations

Innovation up-close

More than 250 exhibitors will be showcasing their new technologies to 10,000 visitors. Expect product launches, UK debuts, and innovative applications across the aerospace, medical and automotive sectors. Highlights will include the debut of Stratasys’ Fortus 380CF Production 3D Printer, and 3D Systems’ scaleable Figure 4 production platform.

World-class speakers

Hear from blue-chip companies, small firms and leaders in research and academia about how new tools are changing the manufacturing world. The TCT Main Stage will feature insights from the likes of Airbus, PepsiCo, the Natural History Museum and the University of Sheffield on how 3D technologies are being applied across research and industry.

Hear from the Hall of Famers

The Main Stage will host a panel session featuring this year’s inductees to the TCT Hall of Fame. These influential characters from the early days of the AM industry will give not only a glimpse into our shared history but also remind us of the pitfalls we must all avoid. This is just part of a world-class conference programme at the show where the speakers will educate and inspire.

Accelerating technologies

Want to find the next big thing? The TCT Acceleration Zone is a unique new show floor feature designed to help take new ideas and organisations to the next stage, whether it is a start-up, research project, or simply just a good idea. If you’re an investor or a business looking to acquire new technology, head this way to find some inspiring ideas.

Pitch to investors

AM and 3D-printing companies can pitch for investment or win free consultation from AM Ventures at this year’s TCT Show with the Investor Meeting Scheme. AM Ventures is looking to find the next big thing from the sector’s vast number of start-ups. Companies will get the chance to pitch to investment specialists with a network of AM players.

Powerful presentations

Speakers at the TCT Show cover a wide variety of topics

Speakers at the TCT Show cover a wide variety of topics

The TCT Conference Stage is neatly divided into streams, to help facilitate an efficient visit. The conference features the industry’s most inspirational figures, who share their experiences on how technologies are making a real impact in the manufacturing world. 

Our pick: Additive Manufacturing – Applications in Aerospace – Nour Eid, technologist at the Aerospace Technology Institute, 25 September, 12.30pm


The TCT Introducing Stage will feature talks on the latest developments in hardware, software, materials and services, throughout the three days of the event. Stay up-to-date with the state-of-the-art additive manufacturing, 3D printing, inspection, metrology and beyond.

Our pick: Connecting the Digital Thread: 3D-Printing and Blockchain Technology – Shane Fox, chief executive and co-founder of Link3D, 26 September, 1.30pm


The TCT Tech Stage hosts captivating talks on the current issues in the manufacturing world. Leading professionals will share their knowledge on overcoming industrial challenges. They will discuss crucial matters such as data ownership, standards, skills and health and safety. 

Our pick: AM as a Tool for High-Volume Manufacturing – Sean McConnell, senior industrial researcher at Irish Manufacturing Research, 27 September, 1pm

For more information, visit the show website here.

Our reporter Joseph Flaig will be at the show tomorrow, 25 September. To contact him about a story, email

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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