The Engineering Design Show is a two-day event at the Ricoh Centre in Coventry, but is it really worth the time out-of-office for product designers?
Realise decided to attend this year’s event to get an idea of where the state-of-the-art sits, current trends, and the value of walking the aisles at such events.
Here are our top three takeaways.
1. 3D Printing is no longer “the future!”
In the last decade, exhibitors at trade events have consistently hyped 3D printing as a future technology but this was not the case at EDS and it’s a strong indication additive manufacturing has reached our predicted level of acceptance and maturity. Interestingly, the technology is now becoming a serious option in manufacturing production – we met several companies who are increasing their capacity of SLS and SLA machines in both size and number to meet customer demand.
We also saw increasingly sophisticated combinations of technology with 3D printing, such as Beta Layout who can laser etch electronic circuit traces directly onto 3D printed (i.e. FDM) substrates. This amazing technology is helping their clients both reduce costs and environmental impact by using less components largely made from recyclable plastics.
2. Simulation is getting seriously fast.
The biggest trend at the event was digital. We saw many companies offering cloud-based simulation platforms that facilitate both rapid and iterative early stage, concept design… finally!
Many companies were offering lightweight software options, some utilising GPU processors and making them more accessible by reducing the cost with various licencing options. This is a big move away from their traditional use as end-of-process validation tools and we like where this trend is going. For product designers, it closely aligns with our approach to concept development.
3. Turning steel into “Instagram gold”.
Eureka Magazine hosted a great conference programme and our favourite talk was on Sandvik’s very cool approach to re-innovating steel as stiff (and lightweight) competition, even for carbon fibre. The company took on the challenge of making the world’s first 3D printed, unbreakable guitar tested by Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen who has been smashing guitars since the age of seven.
The final product was an all round aesthetically pleasing and fully functional guitar that is Instragram gold. We were absolutely intrigued by the isotropic lattice structure sandwiched between the neck and fretboard of the guitar that was incredibly assembled and welded, by hand! This is not a commercially viable production method yet, but its applications given its strength to weight ratio could be far-reaching. Given the opportunity (hint hint…) we’d love to experiment with ways to make this production-ready, given our expertise in alternative bonding methods.
Sandvik’s project overall was a fantastic demonstration of how new thinking can revolutionise an everyday material taken for granted and inspire great product design.
Thank you to the organisers for a great event. We look forward to next year.