The Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) is an independent, industry-wide users group that gives its members a forum for learning, information exchange, and establishing professional connections in the industry. To better assist its members, AMUG hosts an annual AMUG Conference, which serves as a venue to exchange ideas and provide technical sessions and workshops. Product Design & Development will be attending this year’s conference at St. Louis Union Station from April 3-7. To get a better idea of what to expect, AMUG President Mark Barfoot shares his insights into the event.
PD&D: What can we expect to see at this year’s AMUG Conference?
Barfoot: “See” isn’t the right term for the AMUG Conference. “Experience” and “learn” are the words to use. The event is first and foremost a conference, a gathering of like-minded individuals that want to do things better, faster, or different. For the expo component of the event, it is an opportunity to discuss the machine, material, software, or service at a technical level to understand if it will bring value to an additive manufacturing operation.
What attendees will experience are over 200 presentations and hands-on workshops organized by up to 19 simultaneous tracks. They will also be able to experience additive manufacturing tools from over 90 exhibitors.
But the greatest experience that AMUG uniquely offers is the user-to-user exchange of information, in casual conversations, that can lead to insights, professional contacts, and even friendships. The conference is structured and tailored to get users talking so that they can share stories, tips, tricks, and experiences.
PD&D: How has this year’s event improved upon last year’s AMUG Conference?
Barfoot: The improvement over last year can be summed up in one word: more. We will have more presentations, more topics, more attendees, more sponsor support, and more exhibitors. These lead to more content on metal additive manufacturing and new technologies, for example.
The other advancement is that the manufacturers of machines and materials are now sharing our vision of having a core users group that becomes the venue for vendor users groups. We have a record 18 companies that have embraced this “mini users group” concept. For those that have an interest in multiple technologies, the conference lets them attend one event while having the benefits of exposure to general-industry topics as well as technology-specific content.
PD&D: Who can benefit from attending the AMUG Conference?
Barfoot: If you are tasked with running a machine, using additive manufacturing parts, or managing additive manufacturing operations, this is the place for understanding how to get the most out of the technology. The conference is also the place to develop relationships with fellow users, which allows information sharing to continue well beyond the conference.
We actually limit attendance to those that would get the most benefit from the conference. Attendees must be owners or operators of commercial-grade additive manufacturing machines.
PD&D: What technical sessions are you most excited about?
Barfoot: When you have over 200 presentations and workshops to choose from, it’s very difficult to name just a few. I guess I would say that what excites me most is the quantity of great, informative sessions that will be offered. The sessions are grouped into tracks with themes such as aerospace, medical, education, metals, or stereolithography. Our top sponsors (Diamond and Platinum) also have their own tracks that focus on the applications, use, and advancements of their technologies.
Personally, I am intent on attending the sessions on additive manufacturing for tissue engineering, large-scale additive manufacturing for aerospace, setting up your metal additive machine, and applications of X-ray CT for quality control. If time allows, I hope to sit in on the metal casting track, which is always informative and concludes with a workshop where attendees make molds from additive manufacturing patterns and cast metal parts. That’s something that you don’t find at other conferences.
PD&D: Could you provide a preview of the keynote presentations?
Barfoot: We start our event with two great keynotes. Todd Grimm from T.A. Grimm & Associates is always great at giving us a state of the industry while also challenging us, as a group, to think differently about what we are doing and to assist in the growth and advancement of the additive manufacturing industry. He will be followed by Jason Lopes from Legacy Effects who engages and motivates us by showing us how he uses additive manufacturing to make ideas a reality in blockbuster movies and stage performances.
On Tuesday we have a panel discussion with executives from our Diamond Sponsors discussing the industry and their insights. On Wednesday we have our second Innovators Showcase where we will have an informal interview with Scott Crump, the inventor of the FDM technology. It’s like a fireside chat where we get to know the man behind the invention and understand how the technology came to be. We end our event on Thursday with Paul Litchfeld, formerly a VP at Reebok, talking about how additive manufacturing helped him develop the Reebok Pump shoe. I know these are all going to be very exciting and informative keynotes.
Filed Under: Industrial automation