May 25, 2015 | By Christopher Barnatt*

The 21st to 23rd of May 2015 saw the fourth London outing of the ever-popular 3D Printshow. Spread over two floors in the Old Trueman Brewery, the event was home to a wide range of 3D printers, 3D prints, and 3D design software. You can get a flavour of what was on offer in my first video of the show.

Many 3D printer manufacturers used the 3D Printshow to showcase new or relatively new models. Ultimaker, for example, had a prominent stand featuring the Ultimaker 2 alongside its new cousins, the Ultimaker 2 Extended and the Ultimaker 2 Go. These redesigned variants of an old and very reliable favourite use the same print head and other mechanisms, but respectively push-up or pull-in the printer's extremities in a rather pleasing manner. The Ultimaker 2 Extended ends up with a 223 x 223 x 305 mm build volume, while the Ultimaker 2 Go (which comes with a travel case) can print objects up to 120 x 120 x 115 mm in PLA only, due to the lack of a heated bed.

Talking of portable printers, BeeVeryCreative proudly showed me a new printer with an integrated battery that allows it to be unplugged from the mains and moved around while printing! While battery life is currently only about 5 minutes, this does make it possible to move the printer between rooms, and for a teacher to carry it working between classes. Bravo!

Also turning up with a new desktop 3D printer were Printrbot, with their Printrbot Play. At $399 this really is excellent value, and in common with the other current Printrbots -- the Simple and the Plus -- has a lovely powdered aluminium body. Like the Ultimaker 2 Go, the Printrbot Play has a smaller build volume of 100 x 100 x 125 mm and is PLA only. I get the feeling that 'micro' domestic and educational 3D printers are going to be a big thing in 2015.

Printrbot Play 3D printer

In support of this proposition, Rapide 3D were also displaying a gorgeous smaller-format printer called the Lite 100, with a similar 100 x 100 x 100 mm build volume. This lacks the screen of its large family members the Lite 200 and Lite XL, but still includes an SD card slot for untethered operation once a print has started. Rapide 3D had one of the largest displays of 3D printers at the show -- by print head count probably the largest -- with visitors being greeted by a sea of their Lite 100, Lite 200 and Lite 200X models, plus an even larger Lite 500, and prototypes of other forthcoming models. Every year there is a breakthrough hardware vendor at the 3D Printshow, and for me this year it was definitely Rapid 3D. They are certainly a company to watch.

Another new printer that very much caught my attention was the Sharebot Voyager. This is a very sturdy DLP model, and looks set to be a strong competitor in the photopolymerization marketplace.

Printers aside, and as can be seen in the video, both Anarkik 3D and 3D Slash held my attention with their respective development of 3D design software for those unfamiliar with traditional CAD. Anarkik's use of a 3D mouse provides a lovely modelling experience, while 3D Slash have an application that allows objects to be built or altered by breaking them down into tiny cubes.

Also strongly in attendance at the Printshow were several filament manufacturers, including Filamentum, Fibre Force, Verbatim and eSun. The latter had a display of a very wide range of filaments, including one whose colour temporarily changes from white to red when exposed to UV light.

Another novel filament was also available from Purement, who offer the world's first antibacterial 3D printing material. Due to their layered construction, 3D printed items provide a favourable breeding ground for many common germs including colon bacillus and salmonella. Even with thorough washing, it is often not possible to keep 3D prints germ free. But Purement is an certified, ecofriendly antibacterial that allows 3D prints to be created that are less appealing to germs. It is therefore an important innovation for the production of safer 3D printed toys, kitchen items, and even some medical tools. To demonstrate the point, Purement had 3D printed various household items including a storage box for confectionaries and a toothbrush holder.

Images credit: Christopher Barnatt

Industrial 3D printing was additionally evident at the Printshow, with Morgan Motors demonstrating how they are now using Stratasys 3D printers to make parts for some of their handmade cars. Laserlines, 3D Print UK and others were also in attendance to provide examples and expertise of how 3D printing can help in product prototyping and the construction of molds and other tooling. Meanwhile BigRep had their mighty BigRep ONE on show -- one of the few production 3D printers capable of outputting an occasional table.

As on previous occasions, I left the 3D Printshow with a strong impression of an industry and a community on the rise, with innovation rampant and lots of new developments on the near horizon. I am indeed already looking forward to the London 2016 3D Printshow, taking place on the 25th and 26th of May. Although before that, 3D Printshow will be in California (on 10th and 12th September 2015), Paris (on 16th and 17th October 2015), Dubai (on 8th to 12th November 2015), and also in Amsterdam and Barcelona in February and March 2016 respectively. If you can get to any of these events, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed by the experience.


* Christopher Barnatt is a futurist, academic, and author of 3D Printing: Second Edition. You can watch more of his 3D printing videos on his ExplainingTheFuture YouTube channel.


Posted in 3D Printing Events


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