TCT Live preview

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Au revoir Coventry, or whatever is more apt, as TCT Live ditches its former home in search of new pastures. Admittedly only 20 minutes down the road and now part of a conglomerate of other trade shows, this year’s show is brimming with optimism as it fills the halls of the NEC Birmingham.

In past years it has solely concentrated on rapid prototyping (RP) and additive manufacturing, with a few topics skirting around the edges. Now everything from concept, design and specification to the manufacturing process is drawn into proceedings.

With a blend of live technical experience coupled with a huge range of free educational seminars, everyone should be able to take away at least a few new ideas.

A series of presentations will also give visitors the opportunity to see how the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Siemens, Clarks and a host of other designers from around the world are benefiting from new technologies and how you can make them do the same for your business.

Rapid prototyping

At the heart of TCT Live is 3D printing, and there are few places in the British Isles where you’ll get the chance to prod, poke and play with all the latest models before you decide to buy.

ZCorporation will have its giant orange stand to showcase the majority of its models and their ability to print multicolour parts.


Stratasys is nearby with its latest FDM thermoplastic printing Fortus 250 mc, while around the corner Objet will be demonstrating the multi material Connex family’s smallest new addition, the Objet260.

Meanwhile, Dimension’s range of 3D printers will be displayed by its UK reseller, Laser Lines.

Away from the big boys, HP will be peddling the DesignJet 3D, its affordable, rebadged Dimension UPrint.

Even more cost effective printing can be found at the budget Bits From Bytes with its charming DIY Rapman printers.

To cater for the more delicate jewellery and dental markets Solidscape, fresh from its take over by Stratasys, will also be present.


If you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty with RP, or aren’t quite ready to tackle the overheads of owning a printer, then the show provides a brilliant way to check out what bureau services are offering.
Most at the show are already dealing with customers around the UK and Europe so don’t let the fact that they aren’t on your doorstep put you off.

Belfast-based Laser Prototypes is a great example of how the modern bureaus are tackling logistics with speed and cost-effectiveness while maintaining a personal service and local feel. Proto Labs, however, has a more automated approach, which gives the firm the capability to get a great number of parts back to you quick smart from a greater selection of materials, all on a worldwide scale.

If it’s a particular type of RP build that you’re after then there are bureaux for that too: Concurrent Design Group specialises in producing parts in its range of ZCorporation machines; Industrial Plastic

Industrial Fabrications Limited produces its parts on the only bureau service Objet500 Connex machine in the UK.

Many smaller scale start-up companies, such as 3dprintuk, might not be able to offer you the full range of machines, but can make up for that with added services, such as making models from sketches or written descriptions.


Most of the big name CAD software companies will be there in some form, primarily through their UK resellers. These offer a great way to learn more about the latest version of a product before you spend a small fortune on a package, plus most of the vendors will be able to offer you a helpful support package with what you buy.

The usual suspects CadVenture (Bentley), Concurrent Engineering (PTC), Innova Systems (SolidWorks), Magenta (Geomagic, Autodesk & Siemens), and Man and Machine (Autodesk) will all be lining the halls at the show.

SpaceClaim will be there under its own steam with the recently reviewed SpaceClaim Engineering 2012, as will Delcam with its wide array of reverse engineering and CAM software, including PowerInspect 2011.


If you’re in the market for a new workstation both Dell, with its Precision desktop and mobile workstations, and Workstation Specialists, with a new range of machines based on a custom built chassis, will be competing for your attentions. Those requiring a boost from graphics power can find it at the AMD and the Nvidia (Man and Machine) booths, where both companies will be extolling the virtues of their latest releases.

3Dconnexion will be standing by once you’ve decided to blow your budget on the above hardware and software with its supportive navigation devices for 3D CAD. The latest SpacePilot Pro 3D mouse provides an intelligent tool to help speed up your workflow.

Scanning for reverse engineering

Hand in hand with RP is the ability to reverse engineer parts with speed, and as a result many of Europe’s big name scanning and metrology firms will be in attendance.

Physical Digital and Central Scanning both provide a UK based bureau-type service to cover all scanning and reverse engineering needs. A step up from this is Hexagon Metrology, a global company that comes with all the firepower you’d expect from a company of its size.

For those of you wishing to take scanning in house GOM, FARO and Wenzel all have their latest laser scanners and measuring arms there for you to peruse and compare.

Add the date to your diary and visit the show website to register your interest, you won’t regret it.

Highlights from the speakers

Terry Wohlers
President, Wohlers Associates Inc, USA
Tuesday 27, 10.15am

Wohlers has provided consulting assistance to over 165 organisations in 23 different countries. With 370 books, articles, and technical papers under his belt, and over 75 keynote speeches given around the world, Wohler is ranked as a rapid prototyping go-to-guy, and will be talking about all the future challenges facing everyone involved in additive manufacturing.

Lisa Harouni
Managing Director, Digital Forming Ltd, UK
Tuesday 27, 13.30pm

As RP and all the various guises of additive manufacturing begin to filter into mainstream life, several design bureaux have pushed to the fore – none as much as Digital Forming Ltd. Having graced the pages of the New York Times Style Magazine, British GQ, and even Forbes, it will be interesting to hear Harouni’s views on democratising design for 3D printing.

Richard Noble, OBE
Project Director, Bloodhound Project, UK
Wednesday 28, 10.15am

A man who specialises in high risk ventures should have a few pointers for those of us trying to expand out of what has been a difficult financial period. An entrepreneur and record breaker, Noble has already attained a world land speed record and now aims for Mach 1.4 with the Bloodhound SSC project.

Jarrod Hammond

Design Engineer, Prodrive/Aston Martin Racing, UK
Wednesday 28, 11.30am

With DEVELOP3D having already had the opportunity to be nosey around Prodrive’s factory plant, we’d wholeheartedly recommend taking a peek into the development of Aston Martin Racing’s AMR-One race car. Seeing how a highly skilled team copes with a substantially less-than-Formula-1 budget should make for an entertaining and informative presentation.

Frank Cooper
Technical Manager,
Thursday 29, 14.30pm

It might be nearing the end of the last day, when most people are sneaking out the back in search of a clear road home, or a bar in which to down a few pints courtesy of work’s expenses, but stick around. What Cooper doesn’t know about jewellery design and the role of RP in castings isn’t worth knowing, and you might pick up a thing or two about small scale design and production.

TCT Live 2011 – 27th to 29th September in Birmingham’s NEC

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