The Society of Manufacturing Engineers is a serious technical group, so I was not prepared for the amount of cool crowdsourcing that took center stage at the RAPID meeting last week in Pittsburgh. I was expecting good papers on industrial applications of Additive Manufacturing (AM) and 3D Printing. While there was a nod to the arts with a fantastic 3D Printing art show in the exhibition hall sponsored by GeoMagic, the almost 3,000 attendees got their fill of real world AM success stories from the factory floor. The papers and exhibition were not as jazzy as Inside 3D Printing last month in New York where focus was more on cool rather than industrial applications. But to those of us looking to the future of a real industry driven by manufacturing, the meeting was more than exciting even without utilization of the new innovation strategy.
21st Century buzz was generated by crowdsourcing initiatives announced by both the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) and General Electric. These programs are designed to speed up the innovation process through outreach to the world, technical and not.