Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York – A Retrospective

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Inside 3D Printing Conference Entry

Inside 3D Printing Conference

In a context that felt a bit like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, this week 3D printing went to New York for the first ever Inside 3D Printing Conference.  Over two full days at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, a broad array of industry leaders, innovators, academics and analysts gave keynotes, led seminars, and showed off their latest products to over 3,000 conference attendees.  For many in the crowd, this was a crash course on a technology that has been exploding in the public consciousness over the past two years, and for others it was a chance to network, hear from big names in the industry, and get a sense for where 3D printing will go next.

In a role that seemed fitting given his company’s leadership in the industry and status as the conference’s primary sponsor, 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental opened the conference with the declaration, “Complexity is free” in a 3D printed world.  Never before, he underlined, has a manufacturing process been indifferent to geometric complexity, and to him this is the single biggest reason 3D printing will continue to grow and expand into sectors ranging from education to medical devices to automotive and aerospace.

Cornell Prof 3D Prints Human Ear

Much of the conference’s focus was on these different segmentations of 3D printing, and breakout seminars throughout the two days took a deeper dive in a variety of subjects.  Some of the more memorable seminars explored integrating 3D printers into K-12 education, topology optimization – a complex but very impressive design tool that appears to be a perfect match for 3D printing, consumer desktop and cloud 3D printing, and bioprinting human tissue for medical applications.  Longtime industry analyst Terry Wohlers and Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen also gave keynote addresses highlighting their vision for the industry’s future.

Sculpteo 3D Printing

3D Printed iPhone Case from Sculpteo

Outside the seminar room the conference also had a distinctly hands-on element.  A bustling exhibit hall hosted dozens of booths showing off a variety of consumer and enterprise 3D printers along with more curious technologies like 3D scanners and novel CAD input devices.  3D printing service companies were also eager to engage with potential customers, showing high quality parts available for remote ordering online.

While many sides of the industry were highlighted at the inaugural Inside 3D Printing Conference this week, the underlying theme was very clear: while 3D printing technology may have existed in research labs and niche applications since the 1980s and ‘90s, it is only now beginning to truly change our lives in meaningful ways.  And from the number of times speakers said “Nascent,” “Just the first inning,” or “Only scratching the surface” to describe the state of the industry, it is clear that insiders see the eventual impact that 3D printing will make on the world to be profound, far-reaching, and on a larger scale than most casual observers can imagine today.


Authored by Brian H. Jaffe, founder of Mission St. Manufacturing and contributor to On 3D Printing.

Read our full coverage on the conference: Day 1 and Day 2.

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3 Responses to Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York – A Retrospective

  1. [...] Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York – A Retrospective [...]

  2. [...] section on 3D printing — a tiny part of the entire event — was bigger than what we saw in New York. And even more 3D printers were scattered throughout the exhibition hall. There were some [...]

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