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Additive manufacturing (AM) in metals has been making the news for the last 12 months with seismic changes to the sector through the introduction of innovative new companies and process, and mergers and acquisitions activity. TCT Asia 2017, which took place the region’s leading fairground, SNIEC, March 8-10, also saw metal AM surge to the forefront with 13 new metals machines on show across the 10,000 sqm of exhibition space.
The majority of new systems were selective laser melting machines from China-based companies. Now entering it’s fourth year, TCT Asia has seen numbers of China-based metal AM machines rise from one in the first year, as TCT’s Group Editor, Daniel O’Connor explained: “Discovering so many new metals AM machines at this year’s event was a real surprise. The rate of adoption and development is breathtaking in China and the wider Asian market, and where even a couple of years ago the region was seen as lagging the West, it’s catching up at a truly impressive rate.”
Interest from Western metal AM companies was once again evident, with EOS, Concept Laser, Renishaw and SLM Solutions returning to the event, joined by first-time exhibitors for 2017 GE Additive and Trumpf.
TCT Asia speaker, industry expert and Chair of the Additive Manufacturing Association in the UK, Graham Tromans, commented: “China has that manufacturing mind set and in China metal AM is seen as more of a manufacturing process compared to the plastic processes. The automotive and aerospace sectors are of the utmost importance to China’s manufacturing economy and that is why so many of the companies are developing metal machines. Despite the rise of Chinese machinery the Western companies maintain strong sales in China owing to a more refined process.”
Metals also played an expanded role in the three-day 3D technologies conference held on the show floor. Some 1100 conference delegates attended presentations from 45 high-level global speakers, with tracks on aerospace and automotive applications leading the interest in metal AM.  
Weidong Huang, Professor at Northwestern Polytechnical University presented the state-of-the-art for Chinese metal additive manufacture, demonstrating the huge advances in real-world applications being made in the region. Dong Liu, Professor at the National Engineering Lab of AM for Large Metallic Components, BUAA, explored the technological challenges and impacts of AM for high-performance large and critical metallic components.
Beyond metals the show floor was home to an expanded line up of polymer and ceramic AM solutions, 3D scanning, metrology and inspection solutions, and software for design and process management. Duncan Wood, Chairman of VNU Rapid News Co. Ltd, organisers of TCT Asia commented: “This year’s event truly brought the whole of the 3D technologies world together for the Chinese market. While metals stole the show, the growth in development at all levels of the industry was clear to see, with TCT Asia living up to its promise to help manufacturers make better products, more quickly.
With year-on-year growth and increased international attendance TCT Asia is establishing itself as one of the leading 3D technology events within the Asia market. 2018 will witness further expansion in Asia with the introduction of TCT Korea as part of the global TCT Group portfolio. We recognise the niche global markets and provide our exhibitors and visitors with consistent quality shows tailored to help them enter foreign markets. The industry outlook is currently rather positive and the relocation for 2017 ensures that TCT Asia has the opportunity for further growth in terms of Exhibition space and remains a leading 3D manufacturing technology event in China.
TCT Asia 2018 will take place March 1-3, 2018, Hall N1, SNIEC, Shanghai, China.

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