The fast show

For those seeking solutions for reducing time-to-market and managing new product lifecycles TCT 2008 could provide the one-stop shop, says Julia Pierce.

The latest solutions for design, development and manufacturing will be on show at the 13th annual TCT exhibition, taking place at the IEC at Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 21 and 22 October.

TCT 2008 will take place alongside MMLive 2008, a new exhibition for the Micro Manufacturing Industry. TCT itself is focused on providing solutions for reducing time-to-market through approaches such as rapid product development and rapid manufacturing technologies, and aims to bring together everyone involved in the concept, design, manufacturing and specification functions.

The show will be attended by designers, prototype specialists, technical directors, development engineers, product managers, purchasing engineers, design directors, chief engineers, sub-contractors, consultants and other manufacturing professionals, all of whom will be seeking advice on how to speed the time to market for new products, as well as managing their lifecycles. There will be a vast range of companies covering rapid prototyping and manufacturing (RP&M) machines and technologies, in addition to displays and presentations by those involved in related technologies such as inspection, scanning and digitising, as well as CAD/CAM/CAE software and materials.

Exhibitors will be displaying their latest products and giving full demonstrations of their capabilities. More than 150 are listed as having stands, including major names such as Renishaw and Roland alongside niche product providers. Running in conjunction with the displays and stands will be a conference for experts and a range of free educational seminars for visitors new to the concepts on display.

This year’s speakers include Paul du Plessis of Saab Avitronics and Max Ruffo from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Industry guru Terry Wohlers will present the conference keynote address ‘An outlook of endless possibilities’ on the first morning of the conference, while both days of the show will conclude with a panel review session. This will give delegates the opportunity to openly discuss pertinent issues that they would like to be addressed.

Among the talks are: ‘Customised rapid manufactured parts: technology and case studies from the Custom-Fit project’, delivered by Jason Jones of the Custom-Fit Project at De Montfort University and a section called ‘Back to the drawing board — addressing the design issues of RM at Renishaw’, given by Jeremy Pullin, RM manager at Renishaw.

A unique feature of this year’s event will be the presence of students from the TCT Bright Minds programme. Ten specially-selected teenagers will be assigned a mentor and guided through the show, giving them the chance to engage with the sector and explore their interests as potential engineers of the future, while presenting engineering as a cutting edge and exciting career path.

Meanwhile, on 22 October ‘The technology for jewellery seminar day’ will consist of a full programme of presentations designed to showcase how groundbreaking rapid product development and micro manufacturing technologies can be used in the jewellery and high-value goods sector.

The companies attending are clear about the benefits of having a presence at the event. ‘The TCT conference and exhibition is a key event in the rapid product development and manufacturing industry’s calendar,’ said Osamu Makabe, marketing manager for new technology, Huntsman Advanced Materials.

‘For us at Huntsman it is not only an important forum for the presentation of new RP product concepts and materials, it also offers a unique opportunity to reach everyone involved in the manufacturing chain — from concept design engineers to production managers, as well as the opinion leaders under the same roof.

‘Because of its unique status in the industry, Huntsman has been the headline sponsor of the conference and exhibition since 2006, and we will be using TCT 2008 as a platform to mark our 20th anniversary of pioneering stereolithography (SL) materials development.

‘This will include demonstrations of our latest next-generation SL resins and also the range of tooling materials and technologies, which has a major impact on reducing time to market schedules for manufacturers. We are looking forward to sharing this exciting development with TCT delegates.’

Some firms will also be demonstrating innovative services on their stands, many of which will provide increased convenience to companies thinking of engaging their services. ‘People can come to our stand and find out about rapid CNC machining,’ said Damian Hennessey, commercial manager at First-Cut.

‘We will have examples of what we do and the materials we do this with. We will be demonstrating expanding capabilities.

‘One of the key features we will be displaying is our online quoting system. Once customers have uploaded the information about what they require, we send back an interactive quote. Aside from this there will be the usual displays and some giveaways.’

Elsewhere, laser-sintering systems manufacturer EOS will present its solutions for e-Manufacturing, including new materials such as its new plastic, PrimePart DC, an impact-resistant polyamide with a tensile strength of 48MPa. This has an outstanding elongation at a break of 50 per cent, about twice as high as those of previously available materials.

The materials will increase the range of prototyping and manufacturing capabilities for EOS’s equipment, enabling companies to further reduce production times and costs.

Also, for the first time, Mcor will showcase the Mcor Matrix, which yields physical 3D models from digital data using regular office A4 paper, making it up to 50 times less expensive to operate and the only truly green machine available.

On the materials side, Atlas Polymers will be showcasing its range, from off-the-shelf to bespoke custom products. The company will display ranges including the Master-Cast VR149 UV stable alternative to SG95 from MCP, Crystal-Cast VR138 for the ultimate in clear castings, Crystal-Cast VR150 for mercury-catalyst free water-clear castings, as well as progress on Tool-Cast injection-mould resin now in development.

Given the success of past years in this long-standing event, as well as the numerous exhibitors and delegates that are expected to attend, TCT 2008 should provide a one-stop shop for any manufacturers seeking to reduce time-to-market and manage new product lifecycles.