Last week, Wohlers Associates attended the first major in-person conference and exposition on additive manufacturing and 3D printing since November 2019. It could not have gone much better. RAPID + TCT 2021 was held September 13-15 at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. SME and Rapid News Publications, the organizers of the event, expected about 5,000 people to attend, but an actual number has not yet become available. The event included 263 exhibitors and 185 speakers, making it the largest event on additive manufacturing and 3D printing in North America.
People were genuinely happy to see one another after nearly two years, even though smiles were hidden by masks, which were mandatory. I could see it in their eyes. When we sat down for coffee, a snack, or a meal, masks could be removed. Time and again, I heard people say that seeing others in-person was a highlight of the event and I could not agree more.
Congrats to SME and Rapid News Publications for working through the daily uncertainty and holding the event. The past 18 months have not been kind to these and other organizations in the business of holding conferences, seminars, and other types of meetings. I hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, even though we do not know what the future holds. Fortunately, last week was a step in the direction we were hoping for, thanks to the success of RAPID + TCT 2021.