My first trip to Asia saw me boarding a plane from Manchester to Singapore via London Heathrow – a 24-hour journey (including airport time) from door to door. The unknown was a bit daunting, to say the least, but it all proved to be completely unnecessary as I arrived immaculately at the luxurious Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Before the rest of the 3DPI team arrived and the scheduled meeting began, before the start of the two-day Inside 3D printing, I got some sleep and had some precious hours (most of it in the rooftop infinity pool / jacuzzi). The conference, the main purpose of my trip.
Meeting the team with whom I have only communicated in virtually different ways before Monday – a fact that many people in Singapore found to be hilarious while exploring it – was an enlightening experience. Although reassuring.
The conference began on 1 October Tuesday when the distinguished head of MediaBistro, Dr Alan Meckler, who is responsible for the Exposé’s Inside 3D Printing series, opened with “It is very exciting to bring this event to Singapore”. And so it proved, over the course of the next two days, enthusiasm was pulsed through the hall, which was more or less full of delegates and visitors from start to finish.
This conference for me reiterated that Asia is overtaking the West in its understanding and adoption of 3D printing technologies. Commentators and vendors know this, and most of the people in the Asia Pacific region attended the event when we talked to them. Incidentally, 18 countries were represented on the show.
But, the enthusiasm and anticipation and total eagerness to learn more is as strong as I have ever seen, perhaps even more. People were getting there early, and I don’t mean just one or two, and to wait patiently and chat until they came in. And the more, if not more hangs after closing – both days – more to talk about, more to engage and even more to network.
It was like a shot of adrenaline
The size of the event, for me, was like an old-fashioned TCT, which always worked well, with great emphasis on conference – sharing information, and a place to really learn and share. The delegates were liking it – they were very, very curious.
I spoke with designers, government officials, academics and company owners over two days, as well as people looking at how 3D printing can enable a new business or a new direction for their current business – they All of them were in various stages of 3D printing education, but they all wanted to know more and they knew that this is the place to find out.
I don’t know if it was a matter of nostalgia or a discussion about the place, perhaps both, but it was a wonderfully inspiring event.
The range of speakers was a very clever, well-tailored mix of world leaders and local experts in the world of 3D printing who had an understanding and experience of 3D printing and its current location in the Asia Pacific region.
Ian Gibson, conference president and one of Phil Dickens’s colleagues at the University of Nottingham, at the beginning of the historic arc of 3D printing in the early nineties, also supported it. Ian has spent nearly 20 years working with and teaching RP / 3D printing at educational institutions in Asia, including Honk Kong, and most recently in Singapore, where he has been a resident since 2005.
Communicated with Ian many times over the past 18 years, meeting him in person was one of my personal characteristics. He confirmed how important this event was to the region, especially in view of this being the first time and bringing such high quality programs with him.
He was in a position to know this as he was instrumental in the creation of 3DPI together with his Ari Honka and Etu Kunene, who are also based in Asia, particularly Thailand and Hong Kong.
And so the conference kicked off appropriately, of course, AV Reichtental, who made a presentation with the same title, which they gave last week at TCT – Manufacturing the Future. But while the titles were similar and had similar themes, Avi was not just spreading a single presentation from one continent to another. He had specially crafted his message for his Asian audience.
In addition to the Keynotes, the conference ran on two tracks, I got as much as I could. Some topics emerged in conference sessions, specifically about the history of the 3D printing industry, which are usually associated with the individual presenter’s own longevity within the said industry, and its use to provide perspective and for now and for the future Tend to manage expectations.
Avi’s 10 years at the helm of the 3D system were credited by Ian as she introduced it, and Avi first mentions the 30-year anniversary of the SLA portion, as she did last week. But it was a given.