Prepping for DEVELOP3D Live – 6 weeks to go! We visit Berlin + PI Congress

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Last week things were a bit quiet on the front, primarily as we’re beavering away on the H U G E March edition of the magazine (40 page 3D printing for professionals supplement included) or our show – DEVELOP3D Live.

Seeing as we like our show to be a live incarnation of everything we publish, mutter about in the pub, or write on the ‘Shit To Be Doing’ whiteboard, we like to get out and about, visiting as many different conferences as possible – so I was bussed off to Berlin (with a packed lunch, an emergency pie and my name sewn into the collar of my shirt) to visit the classy PI Congress conference.

It’s a bit fancy, being held in a very fancy hotel that usually serves as home-from-home for the German military top brass and has more chandeliers than I’d know which to swing from – and it’s full of ‘suits’ generally there to learn about the latest PLM software.
The PI congress conference is inherently PLM-centric, so when it throws up a few ‘Design’ talks, they’re usually a rather interesting dart away from the norm.


In short, we saw:

Achim KampkerStreetScooter, designing configurable fleet vehicles.


With 4.3m felt vehicles in Germany alone, making them electric would save massive amounts in emissions, and cost (off-peak electricity is one-third the cost of petrol). The team designed a space frame vehicle and customisable sheet-metal underpinnings with the aid of Trumpf, which would allow for scalable manufacturing in Germany.

Katja Tschimmel – professor of Design Thinking at ESAD

The beginning of design thinking back in the 1960s – simply designers ‘start to finish’ process to encompass vast swathes of other creative professionals in the present day – such as chefs.

Dr Stefan Kohn – President of the PDMA (Europe) and part of the T-Gallery, Deutsche Telekom’s future and innovation arm.

Predominantly focussed on how communication and interface design have rapidly evolved, and how this is catalysing innovation throughout industry – from apps that can judge your driving skills, to new methods of banking.

Zoe Laughlin – creative director at the Institute of Making

More than just a materials library, with 100 cubes of different materials (don’t get her started on promotional swatches), the IoM goes further than the standard collection, making tuning forks (what sound does copper make?) and teaspoons (what metal makes food taste better during a commercial flight?) that lead to some very interesting design ideas.

Hans VermeulenDUS Architects

Hans and his colleagues have bought a shipping container, up-ended it, and have transformed it into a 3D printer with a 2 x 2 x 3.5m print bed. With this they are building a house by the canal in north Amsterdam, exploring the process and its realities, building a rigid shell that can be filled with a strengthening, water- and fire-proof foam. It’s being built now – we can’t wait to see it!

Brian Derby – professor of materials science at Manchester University

Brian has been in the 3D printing game for long enough to explain to a room of men in suits how it works and where it’s heading – and is not short of pointing out the true capabilities from the myths.


Along the way I pulled up a stool in front of 70 or so professionals and fielded questions about 3D printing alongside the aforementioned Hans and Brian.

Panel discussions never really have the frantic banter that organisers dream of, but we put up our best efforts to engage an audience of diverse backgrounds on the topic.

Most seemed to want ‘real’ manufacturing materials now, and seemingly the hype built up by the mainstream media through 3D printing stories has confused even some of the brightest minds in European engineering.

Needless to say there was a plug in it for our March 3D printing special edition, and I was ready to tout my availability for performing at weddings, christenings and bar mitzvahs… @swearstoomuch

In all, it made us all the more excited for DEVELOP3D Live – a good few design talks by an entertaining crop of experts really gets you thinking about how we can change things using design and engineering.

DEVELOP3D Live is a bit different from all other conferences: shorter talks, more variance in talks, no product preaching, and a mountain of cool stuff that you’ll spend hours boring your mates down the pub with.

It’s six weeks to go – We can’t wait to get it on!

Register now HERE