3D Printing EventsTCT3SixtyUK

TCT3Sixty 2024 offers view of UK and global AM innovations

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, the show continues to offer unique opportunities to industry operators

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This past week saw a “perfect storm” of 3D printing (and other related vertical) shows take place, almost concurrently, across Europe and beyond: 3D printing-specific shows took place in France, Spain, Japan, while Drupa, the world’s biggest show for the printing industry, took place in Germany. Even within this extremely crowded calendar, TCT3Sixty, the UK’s biggest AM trade show for nearly 3 decades (since it launched in 1996 as the Time-Compression Technologies Conference) continues to stand out.

Since 2011 the TCT event found a home at the NEC, Birmingham which is where it took place this June 2024 for its 27th edition. Leveraging the unique appeal of the TCT Awards gala, TCT3Sixty is a place where visitors can find globally relevant launches while local resellers can show off their latest products to adopters across various industrial segments.

This year’s event hosted over 200 exhibitors from around the world, showcasing a diverse range of products and services. From state-of-the-art 3D printers and new materials to cutting-edge software and post-processing techniques, attendees will get a first-hand look at what’s new and exciting in the industry.

One of the reasons why TCT3Sixty 2024 continues to be successful is that it is a fantastic networking opportunity. Structured networking sessions and informal meetups provide the perfect environment to connect with potential partners, clients, and collaborators. The Start-Up Zone and TCT Introducing Stage are particularly exciting for discovering new companies and innovative products, while TCT partners with key media such as VoxelMatters (and VoxelMatters Research, our market research area) to ensure continued visibility.

Global firsts

TCT3Sixty is inextricably connected with the TCT Awards and Hall of Fame ceremony and some of the most interesting things to see on the show floor revolve around the winners from the gala night. One of these was presented by Airtech Advanced Materials Group, which leveraged the success of its winning entry in the Automotive & Rail Application Award category to show off its Closed-Loop Motorsport Tooling capabilities. This splitter produced on a 3D printed mold played a pivotal role in enhancing The Brumos Collection’s GT2 RS Clubsport, creating more downforce and enabling the Brumos Racing Porsche to set a new world record as the fastest car in its class.

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, TCT3Sixty 2024 offers a unique view of UK and global AM innovations

Another highly innovative application, that won an award in the Healthcare Application category, was on display at the Arburg UK booth. The Personal Fit Breast Prosthesis, developed with Hashtagtwo, is based on a unique geometry that enables the Arburg pellet 3D printers to use highly flexible materials and produce incredibly soft parts, which can be used as breast prostheses in the Hashtagtwo application but also open up these materials and printers to many other consumer and industrial products, where flexibility is a key advantage.

Xenia Materials, another specialized pellet material company, was among the protagonists on the show floor and among the ones that presented – or at least teased – a major new product launch. In this case, it is the first line of filaments, based on Xenia Materials’ broad portfolio of technical polymers, that will be officially unveiled at Formnext. One of them, under the XELIGHT brand, is based on the exclusive PEBA material provided by Arkema. It is a flexible and strong material that can open up many new markets. Among the products officially presented at TCT3Sixty 2024, Xenia’s lineup included its new range of PVDF-based compounds for 3D printing pellet-fed applications. This new group of materials ensures the carbon fiber properties, mixed with the exceptional PVDF features, opening new opportunities for additive manufacturing production where high performance and chemical resistance are necessary.

Canadian extruder technology leader Dyze Design also presented a new product at TCT3Sixty 2024. While the company is perhaps best known for its pellet extruders for large-format additive manufacturing (LFAM), the. new Zephyr High Flow Extruder is made for rapid extrusion of 1.75 mm filament. Its high-temperature capabilities make it compatible with high-performance materials like PEEK. The most attention-grabbing feature of the new Zephyr extruder is its extreme flow rate of 685 grams per hour or 154 mm³/s (achieved using PLA at an extrusion temperature of 260 °C with an ultra-wide 1.80 mm nozzle). While such rates are more likely to be reached on industrial 3D printers—Dyze extruders have been used by high-temperature AM specialists from Roboze to fellow Montreal company AON3D—Dyze Design regards the Zephyr as a solution that bridges desktop additive manufacturing with large-scale industrial applications.

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, TCT3Sixty 2024 offers a unique view of UK and global AM innovations

One of the most high-profile launches seen at TCT3Sixty 2024 was the new miniWAAM from UK-based WAAM technology specialist WAAM3D. The new product’s goal is to bring metal AM to a wider audience thanks to a combination of affordability and performance capabilities. Sitting alongside the larger RoboWAAM in WAAM3D’s machines portfolio, MiniWAAM features WAAM3D’s proprietary end-effectors, sensing hardware, and software. It offers a competitively priced manufacturing solution for process development, metallurgical characterization, production of mechanical test pieces, exploration of new wires, and the testing of new sensors.

(More) affordable more metal AM technology was one of the key trends at TCT3Sixty 2024, as ADDiTEC also launched its newest product: the Hybrid Series, a multi-technology manufacturing platform featuring 5-axis hybrid manufacturing. The systems leverage two powerful metal additive manufacturing (AM) technologies: Liquid Metal Jetting and High-Power Laser DED. The Hybrid2 system integrates Liquid Metal Jetting (LMJ) – a technology that ADDiTEC acquired from Xerox – with CNC machining while Hybrid3 adds High-Power Laser-Assisted Directed Energy Deposition (LDED). This synergy of technologies enables unparalleled precision, speed, and material versatility, setting new standards for advanced manufacturing. All Hybrid Series systems also feature an integrated 2-axis positioner rated for parts up to 100kg, enhancing the system’s capability to achieve precise 5-axis manufacturing.

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, TCT3Sixty 2024 offers a unique view of UK and global AM innovations

After relocating to Singapore, enticed by the country’s integrated financial services, and access to multiple different funds and investment companies, Anisoprint participated in TCT3Sixty as a starting point for a new phase of global growth. The company took this opportunity to present the new Composer Nova system, a semi-industrial printer that represents the second generation of their technology. The Nova printer boasts a unique set of features, including a tool-changing system for up to four printheads, automated leveling and calibration, and a built-in material storage chamber. It’s designed to be versatile – accommodating various materials and allowing for intricate, high-strength composite structures.

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, TCT3Sixty 2024 offers a unique view of UK and global AM innovations

Latest developments with a global appeal

Although they were not official launches, other companies took the TCT3Sixty 2024 platform opportunity to show recently launched systems and the latest progress. One of these was Czech company Prusa Research, which has a very large market share in the UK. Facing increasing competition from Chinese companies on the Consumer and Prosumer fronts, Prusa joined TCT3Sixty 2024 to present its new strategy targeting the industrial segment. This revolved mainly around the newest Prusa Pro HT90 system, which comes from the acquisition of Trilab in 2021. This delta kinematic 3D printer supports PCCF or PA11CF thanks to an actively heated chamber capable of reaching 90 °C. It is also the most affordable way to create small to medium-sized parts from PEI / PEKK-CF. The Prusa booth was, as always, full of interesting products both in the desktop filament (including multicolor) and LCD space. The company also showed the new Prusa Medical One LCD system dedicated to the medical segment.

Another regular exhibitor at TCT3Sixty is Triditive. The company chose this stage to present the AMCELLJet metal binder jetting system and is now getting closer to officially commercializing it. In the meantime, Triditive continues to push its AMCELL 8300 system, a highly automated FFF 3D printer that supports bound metal filaments for rapid and cost-effective production of metal parts.

Another regular presence at TCT3Sixty is BMF, which is also one of the most successful companies in the AM industry overall with its ultra-precise Projection Micro Stereolithography (PµSL) technology. The company’s booth is always filled with tiny but hugely impressive real application cases for mass-produced tiny parts. This time BMF also took this opportunity to present its latest system, the dual-resolution microArch D1025, which is the first printer in the series – printing in either 10µm or 25µm resolution – in hybrid mode with both resolutions in the same print layer – or in different layers.

AM in the UK news

Many of the companies present at TCT3Sixty – including resellers and service providers – were specifically relevant to the UK market, however, in many cases they products and applications presented were also relevant to an international audience. 3T Additive, a local metal AM service provider, is part of the Italian BEAMIT group. After a major overhaul, following the acquisition, the company is back on a growth trend with more streamlined processes and more machines. One of the applications shown by 3T was a large and highly complex component of a machine for semiconductor manufacturing which was produced by combining a part that was CNC milled from a near-net-shape component produced with wire-based RPD technology from Norsk Titanium, with a PBF part produced by 3T on EOS machines. 3T highlighted the staggering amount of metal waste that could be saved over a year period (see photo below on the right-hand side) by integrating these processes instead of just using CNC milling from a whole.

While the metal AM business of 3T was acquired by BEAMIT, 3T’s polymer business was acquired by the Scandinavian Group Prtototal, which has now made Prototal UK one of its key divisions, and also a regular presence at TCT3Sixty.

Also interesting, Mark3D, a leading European reseller of Markforged technology this year chose to participate only via the newly founded Mexa3D, which operates as a Nexa3D distributor in Europe. “The two companies have the same team of shareholders, the same motivation and the same corporate values, we will seek to build a complementary, non-competing, but equally clearly focused brand for these expanded needs as well,” said CEO Daniel Held.

Matssura UK, which started its activities in AM by selling Matsuura hybrid metal PBF/CNC systems from the Japanese company, has become one of the largest resellers of top brands such as those from HP and Desktop Metal. Among other things, Matsuura took the opportunity to invite visitors to the upcoming open house at its recently inaugurated HQ.

London-based AM service provider 3DPRINTUK, which is now part of the large American Group Trimech, is another regular presence at TCT3Sixty where the company can show off its unique capabilities in terms of additive mass production. “About a year ago, 3DPRINTUK was acquired by Solid Solutions and became part of the TriMech Group,” said Founder and MD Nick Allen, who also pointed out that “since the last TCT event we have achieved ISO 14001 accreditation reinforcing our commitment to grow ethically and with sustainability front and center in all we do,” said Allen.

With its base in the UK, Ricoh3D continued to develop products, provide services and promote new technologies. Some of these, such as Impossible Objects CBAM for composites AM, and Ricoh’s own metal and ceramic binder jetting, are state-of-the-art processes that still need to get commercially established in the market. The team at Ricoh 3D in the UK remains one of the most proactive in finding new applications for AM.

LF3D, the large format 3D printing service of MSA Manufacturing, participated for the first time to show off some impressive large format prints. As the show also saw the participation of Airtech and Xenia, it is clear that LFAM is becoming more and more of a driving force in the AM industry overall. We had seen an application from LF3D presented just ahead of JEC, with the company showing off a combination of Adaxis and Ai Build software, on a CEAD LFAM robot, to produce a directly 3D printed complex GFR maritime part. This time one of the most complex part shown was a one-piece geometric table, along with intricate vases and chairs that featured geometries only possible with AM.

More new products for the UK market were seen at the CDG booth. Since 2003 the Concurrent Design Group has focused on supplying the latest 3D printing, 3D scanning & 3D software technologies, including many popular brands such as 3D Systems, OMNI3D, Sinterit and Inkbit. The latest addition is binder jetting 3D printers from Concr3de, which can print with a wide range of materials, from technical ceramics to sawdust.

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, TCT3Sixty 2024 offers a unique view of UK and global AM innovations

Nano Dimension participated in this year’s show to exhibit Admatec (technical ceramics) and Fabrica (micro stereolithography) technology, leaving out most of the electronics AME applications. After missing out at Ceramitec due to ongoing reorganization, the focus was mostly on the Admatec capabilities, with several production parts on display along with the top-of-the-line Admaflex 300 system (which is also able to process metal slurries).

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, TCT3Sixty 2024 offers a unique view of UK and global AM innovations

There was also space for a couple of interesting Chinese companies. One was SUNLU, the not-so-well-known giant of 3D printing filament and resin manufacturing. The company revealed they are selling literal tons of filament worldwide but they still are not able to get some well-deserved visibility, especially in Western markets. So they leveraged TCT3Sixty to take their first steps into establishing a more direct presence in the UK and eventually in the EU. With products such as 14K resins for stereolithography, 5Kg filament spools at less than 9,99 per Kg, filament driers, multi-color silk filaments and a lot more, SUNLU has the potential to have a big impact on the market.

Another interesting new entry seen during the 2024 edition of TCT3Sixty was Runice (or Ruilis). This high tech enterprise has positioned itself in the upstream market of high-end 3D printing, focusing on research and development, and production, of core 3D printer components. The company has five major product lines, including hot ends, extruders, belts & pulleys, linear bearings, and motors. It provides customers with hundreds of core components of 3D printers, including nozzles, throats, heat sinks, heating blocks, extrusion wheels, belts, pulleys, linear bearings, motors, and more.

Leveraging the appeal of Awards and Hall of Fame, TCT3Sixty 2024 offers a unique view of UK and global AM innovations

TCT3Sixty may have become increasingly local in terms of the audience the show attracts but the internationally relevant content is there for everyone to see. Very few AM shows around the world – beyond Rapid and Formnext – can boast so many new launches and announcements. Not to mention that there were plenty of UK companies attending, from Siemens Material Solutions to GKN, that are among the global leaders in terms of AM adoption. In an increasingly packed AM show schedule, TCT3Sixty remains one that should not be missed.

Research
Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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