Join the largest cross-sector innovation experience

The Hardtech studio at Rally represents companies innovating within manufacturing, industry 4.0 and cleantech, to produce hard goods, soft goods, advanced materials, new processes, and sensors. 

When thought leaders and forecasters today talk about how the world will solve critical issues like climate change, supply chain volatilty and food insecurity, hardtech is at the heart of their conversations. 

Plus, investment leaders expect hardtech companies to lead the next class of IPOs in technology. And others predict that “camels” — startups that can adapt to multiple climates, survive without sustenance for months, and withstand harsh conditions — are best positioned to deliver strong returns in the near future. (Hardtech is built to be resilient.)

While hardtech founders are often signing up for substantial challenges around the cost to develop an MVP, and acquiring the necessary capital to build and scale, there are also advantages. Intellectual property laws protect hardtech from being copied and duplicated like software can be. Join us for more inside the Rally Hardtech studio.

What Can You Expect at Rally?

With attendance expected to exceed 5,000 attendees, Rally will feature a diverse mix of activities, including Keynote addresses from industry leaders, innovators, and visionaries, curated 1:1 investor meetups, a demo arena, and up to a $1,000,000 pitch competition.

Develop Relationships

Connections with others working on similar projects can lead to great collaborations that push an industry forward. Whether finding a mentor or mentee, a great fit for your next hire, or another company for a collaborative relationship, real connections forged at conferences make a difference.

Increase Knowledge

Featured speakers, panels, and presentations from leaders in innovation in your field can add to your knowledge base. With a cross-sector conference, learning about technological breakthroughs outside your industry means you get even more fuel for to drive breakthroughs of your own.

Discover New Innovations

Even the most dedicated founder can’t keep up with every new thing coming down the pipeline in their industry. There will always be someone doing something you haven’t heard about, and conferences are a great way to get caught up on the biggest innovations you’ve missed.

Featured Partners

tech speakers
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Leverage agile frameworks to provide a robust synopsis for high level overviews. Iterative approaches to corporate strategy foster collaborative thinking to further the overall value proposition.

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Advanced Manufacturing

Since the industrial revolution, companies have constantly been in search of the next big innovation to transform and modernize their operations.

There are many different ways for these companies to stay in the loop, from subscribing to industry newsletters to online networking or even attending professional conferences. Their search for innovative new ideas, continuous improvement, and growth strategies fuel these pursuits. That being said, not all companies are the same, and all professional conferences are definitely not created equally. 

If you’re in manufacturing—or a manufacturing-related industry—you certainly have options. This article is going to take a deep dive into advanced manufacturing conferences, including a one-of-a-kind cross-sector innovation conference

We’ll start by exploring some of the advancements that have transformed traditional manufacturing processes, creating advanced manufacturing as we know it today. Then, we’ll help you find the best conference options to power your company to be competitive, innovative, and well-rounded in your knowledge. Finally, we’ll introduce the upcoming Rally conference, which takes a cross-sector approach to innovation, where you’ll find the intersection of manufacturing’s present and future.

What Is a Traditional Manufacturing System?

Traditional manufacturing commonly refers to the use of labor, tools, machinery, and even chemical processing to convert raw materials or components into finished goods. Through the use of large-scale manufacturing systems, businesses can mass produce their goods in a cost-efficient manner. 

Ultimately, a traditional manufacturing system creates consistent, repeatable processes for converting raw materials into finished products. They enable companies to save money through “economy of scale”—the correlation between increasing production levels and reducing overall costs, in other words.

What Are the 6 Types of Traditional Manufacturing System?

There are as many as six distinct traditional manufacturing processes, including:

  • Casting processes, which involve pouring liquified material (molten metal, for example) into a specialized mold and then allowed to harden. Once the material hardens, it retains the mold’s shape. Casting is an efficient way to mass-produce identical products made from a single material or combination or materials. 
  • Molding processes, which are similar to casting with one major difference. While casting processes typically use molten metal materials, molding processes are geared toward manufacturing plastic-based products. 
  • Forming processes, which reshape existing forms and materials into the desired dimensions. These processes primarily involve applying different stressors to raw materials in order to deform or reshape them. Forming processes may use compression, tension, or shearing to create new shapes—without losing any raw material in the process. 
    • Machining processes, which start with a piece of raw material that is then cut into the desired size and shape. Machining is what’s known as a subtractive manufacturing process, since it involves cutting material away from the original source (rather than deforming or reshaping it). There are at least six different types of machining processes used in traditional manufacturing: milling, turning, shaping, drilling, honing, and finishing.
    • Joining processes, which involve the assembly of two or more component parts to create a larger product. There are several different types of joining processes in traditional manufacturing, including welding, soldering, brazing, adhesive bonding, and mechanical assembly.
  • Coating processes, which are intended to protect a product from defects caused by corrosion or wear. Coating processes involve covering one or more parts with a substance like powdered zinc, which can be used for protective purposes as well as to increase a material’s electrical conductivity and magnetic properties. 

Traditional Manufacturing vs Additive Manufacturing: What’s the Difference?

Additive manufacturing processes differ from the traditional manufacturing processes discussed above, and are essentially the opposite of subtractive manufacturing processes such as machining (which removes unwanted material from a product). 

Additive manufacturing methods—like 3D printing, which we’ll introduce and discuss shortly—refer to advanced manufacturing processes that create or build a product by adding one layer of material after another, quite literally building it from the ground up. While they still may closely relate to traditional manufacturing processes, additive manufacturing is a comparatively modern advancement.

What Are the Advantages of Additive Manufacturing over Conventional Manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing methods offer a wide range of advantages over other conventional manufacturing methods, like:

  • Lowering the start-up costs associated with manufacturing operations.
  • Providing a manufacturing framework that is easy to learn, adopt, and customize.
  • Reducing the amount of raw materials that are wasted through subtractive processes such as die-cutting.
  • Enabling a greater degree of on-demand customization, without the need for extensive and time-consuming retooling processes.
  • Integrating with virtual 3D designing platforms that make product design, creation, and customization much quicker and easier.
  • Speeding up the process of creating an initial product prototype, as well as the process of leveraging a completed prototype into scalable production.
  • Providing benefits related to reduced energy consumption and cost, as well as reducing environmental impact.
  • Creating an efficient and economical process for low-volume production runs, something that’s largely unfeasible with more conventional manufacturing types.

Traditional Manufacturing vs 3D Printing: Are There Disadvantages to 3D Printing?

While 3D printing is often viewed, rightfully so, as a revolution in manufacturing, it can present a few potential disadvantages or challenges, including:

  • There are fewer raw material options than with other, traditional manufacturing processes—with plastic being the most common 3D printing material. If the raw materials are not of the highest quality, the output may be inconsistent or not up to standards.
  • For large-scale manufacturing and production, 3D printing can be less economical.
  • With 3D printing, quality assurance processes such as batch quality testing can be more challenging to design and implement.
  • Because 3D printing processes require human involvement, they can be more susceptible to human error than machine-driven manufacturing processes.

What Is Traditional vs Lean Manufacturing?

“Lean manufacturing systems” specifically aim to minimize waste within manufacturing processes while maximizing productivity. Companies implement lean manufacturing methodologies for a wide range of reasons, from reducing lead times and operating costs while improving product consistency and quality. 

There are five main principles of lean manufacturing:

  1. Identifying and understanding what constitutes “value” from the customer’s perspective—and then devising processes that will output high-value products with reduced waste.
  2. Value stream mapping, which considers how value is added (or detracted) at each stage throughout the product life cycle (from sourcing raw materials through production and waste disposal). Lean manufacturing’s primary objective is to eliminate any elements of the process that do not contribute value.
  3. Reducing operational barriers and designing smooth, efficient, and repeatable processes for production.
  4. Establishing a “pull system”, which means only scheduling and starting new work when there is demand. By contrast, a “push system” is more in line with what’s often thought of as mass production (based on a forecasted demand). 
  5. Implementing continual process improvements aimed at reducing errors and inefficiencies and maximizing productivity and profitability. 

What Is Considered Advanced Manufacturing?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) defines advanced manufacturing as a set of processes that “incorporates cutting-edge technological innovations to transform production and drive innovation,” such as technologies like “advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality.” The WEF further explains that…

Ongoing transformations are driven by trends such as a rising demand for customized products, digitalization of manufacturing, localization and shortened supply chains, changing requirements for manufacturing skills, increasing pressure to embrace sustainability, and more.

This description truly underscores the importance of advanced manufacturing as a means for companies to not only reduce their costs but also improve their productivity, competitive standing, and even the sustainability of their operations.

What Are Advanced Manufacturing Techniques and Technologies?

Some of the most common examples or types of advanced manufacturing process technologies include:

  • The adoption of additive manufacturing methods—3D printing, for example—that power complex assemblies of a continuous source material, such as plastic. Overall, it can be an affordable and relatively intuitive technology to simplify manufacturing processes while increasing their efficiency and accuracy, as well as other benefits.
  • The discovery and usage of advanced or composite materials in manufacturing. As new forms of metals, plastics, and other materials emerge, it becomes easier for manufacturers to improve their processes and create new, custom products that may deliver value in new ways. The use of composite materials enables organizations to develop custom combinations that take advantage of different materials’ benefits and advantages.
  • The emergence of robotics and automation in manufacturing processes. When manufacturing systems can be automated, it helps to improve consistency and efficiency while reducing potential errors and inefficiencies. Using robotics and automation to handle especially complex or hazardous manufacturing processes helps companies reduce their overhead costs and improve overall quality as well as consistency.
  • Using laser machining and welding processes to increase the speed and precision of manufacturing. Within an advanced manufacturing setting, laser machining and welding processes tend to transfer less heat to the source material, helping to improve accuracy without risking the material’s integrity (through cracking, for example). 
  • Integrating nanotechnology, which involves the manipulation of material at nanoscale (measurable in extremely small, precise measurements such as nanometers or microns). Working at a scale such as that of nanotechnology enables manufacturers to manipulate matter at a much smaller scale, which can impact characteristics of that material such as its wear resistance or break strength. Nanotechnology can also be helpful in the creation of stable lubricants, which can benefit various machine components used within traditional or advanced manufacturing processes.
  • Increasing networking and IT integration throughout manufacturing systems and processes. Integrating network communication throughout manufacturing process components provides several benefits, including the ability to perform precision tuning and closed-loop feedback through electronic means—reducing potential disruption or downtime. Organizations that can leverage networking and IT integration within their manufacturing processes are typically able to increase efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

You can learn much more about these advancements—as well as those that may be on the horizon—at Rally 2024.

What Industries Benefit Most from Advanced Manufacturing Techniques?

The industries that are currently benefiting the most from advanced manufacturing methods and technologies include:

  • 3D Printing
  • Aerospace
  • Automation
  • Big Data
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemicals
  • Consumer Goods
  • Cybersecurity
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Electronics
  • Food & Dairy
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Industrial Automation
  • IT Services 
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Robotics
  • Telecommunications

What Is Unique About Advanced Manufacturing Companies?

Advanced manufacturing companies are those that take advantage of innovative technologies to improve existing products or create new products altogether. They enhance and strengthen their manufacturing processes to incorporate concepts like automation, computing, software, networking, and more.

In other words, advanced manufacturing companies devote a great deal of their time, energy, and budget to maximize the efficiency and consistency of their processes. In doing so, the most innovative manufacturing companies position themselves at the forefront of their respective industries. They deploy research and development initiatives geared toward more innovative and cost-effective production methods. 

What Is an Advanced Manufacturing Conference, and Why Should I Attend One?

Regardless of industry, attending a professional conference is the best way to learn about the latest industry advancements, network with other organizations, and develop ideas and objectives to apply to your own operations. An advanced manufacturing conference provides a way for manufacturers to network and learn new perspectives.

Here are the top three reasons you should consider attending a manufacturing conference, though they merely represent the tip of the iceberg:

  1. To increase your knowledge and encounter new ideas. 
  2. For powerful networking opportunities. 
  3. To develop your vision for the future. 

What Are the Top Manufacturing Trade Shows in 2023? 

There are several advanced manufacturing conferences in 2023, with some of the most widely-recognized including:

  • Advanced Manufacturing Minneapolis: This year’s Advanced Manufacturing Minneapolis conference takes place October 10-11, 2023, and it aims to “[unite] engineers, designers, and decision-makers to solve problems and move manufacturing forward.” 
  • Advanced Manufacturing Expo in Grand Rapids: This year’s Advanced Manufacturing Expo will take place on August 9-10, 2023. Last year’s gathering brought together “3000 manufacturers and industry experts networking and generating over 7500 leads with 1000+ unique manufacturing companies.”
  • The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) Chicago 2024: The IMTS conference bills itself as the “largest and longest-running industry trade show in the Western Hemisphere,” and takes place in Chicago on an every-other-year basis. While there is no show in 2023, 2024’s show is already planned (September 9-14). 

What Is Rally, and How Is It Different from Other Conferences?

Rally is a brand-new, one-of-a-kind cross-sector innovation conference that will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 27 & 28, 2024. Announced earlier this year, “Rally was developed to bring together companies, universities, entrepreneurs and investors from around the world to forge the creative, cross-sector collisions that power innovation, and generate new ideas and great companies across disparate stakeholders.”

What Makes Rally Unique?

As noted in Rally’s mission, the conference “forges and celebrates cross-sector connections between companies, universities, entrepreneurs, and investors from across the globe.” The main reason why Rally is so much different from other manufacturing conferences centers around their commitment to collaborative, cross-sector innovation.

What Is Cross-Sector Innovation, and Why Is It Important?

Rather than simply focusing on innovations in traditional or advanced manufacturing, Rally prioritizes cross-section innovation—described by the Stanford Social Innovation Review as “alliances of individuals and organizations from the nonprofit, government, philanthropic, and business sectors that use their diverse perspectives and resources to jointly solve a societal problem and achieve a shared goal.” 

In much simpler terms, cross-sector innovation refers to the bringing together of formerly disconnected industries, organizations, or processes in order to develop new solutions to persisting challenges. It acknowledges and fulfills a growing demand for “meeting the complexity, interdependence, and emergent nature of our current challenges.” 

The aim is to turn differences or even competing priorities as an asset, rather than a source of competition or friction. In terms of cross-sector innovation, these differences can apply to different organization’s “resources, experience, demographics, industry, and sector, as well as differences in perspective,” to develop effective and sustainable solutions.

What Can You Expect at Rally 2024?

With attendance expected to exceed 5,000 attendees, Rally will feature a diverse mix of activities, including:

  • Keynote addresses from industry leaders, innovators, and visionaries
  • 1:1 investor meetups
  • A startup demo arena
  • A pitch competition (with up to $5 million in prizes)

The biggest differentiator that makes Rally stand out against traditional or even advanced  manufacturing conferences is its innovative, cross-sector approach, which informs its scope. Rally is organized around specific “tracks” or “innovation studios” designed to guide registrants’ ability to learn, build new connections, and engage in new forms of collaboration and problem-solving. 

In all, Rally will feature six distinct “innovation studios,” each focused around one or more related sectors. 

  • Software: Learn about how emerging as well as existing software technologies are enabling innovative companies to rethink their approach to B2B, B2C, and ecosystem-related challenges. Key concepts include Web 3.0, blockchain, artificial intelligence, app development, cybersecurity, and more.
  • Ag & Food: Learn about innovations within the food, animal health, AgTech, and agriculture industries, which aim to create more efficient and sustainable food systems while protecting natural resources.
  • Healthcare: Learn about the wide range of services—including innovative digital therapeutics, diagnostics, devices, and medicinal advancements that are driving progress that can reduce the cost of care while improving overall healthcare outcomes.
    • HardTech: Learn about how manufacturing, Industry 4.0, and cleantech companies are innovating production processes for hard and soft goods, advanced materials, new processes, sensors, and more.
  • SportsTech: Learn about how new technologies are revolutionizing the world of sports and esports in order to improve safety, engagement, broadcasting, and more.
  • Entrepreneurship: Learn about how current and aspiring entrepreneurs serve as innovators, influencers, and thought leaders—as well as how investors and even education systems can be involved in collaboration-centered initiatives.

Who Should Consider Attending Rally 2024?

Rally’s 2024 conference and its itinerary were developed with several different types of attendees in mind, including:

  • Entrepreneurs, who are looking to engage with investors, thought leaders, and other like-minded individuals and companies. With plenty of keynotes, panels, and networking opportunities—not to mention the Rally IN-Prize competition, there are plenty of reasons for entrepreneurs to mark the conference dates on their calendars.
  • VCs and investors, who want to network with representatives from global startups, scaleups, and other innovators as they work toward commercialization. Whether you prefer 1:1 meetings or larger discussions, Rally’s the place to be.
    • Cross-sector vertical and university thought leaders, who will be energized by Rally’s cross-sector, collaboration-based offerings. Rally’s programming was designed to help you discover new innovations, share your own challenges or successes, or better-understand how innovation can transform a given industry.
  • Marketing, sales, operations, finance, and advisors, who want to escape their functional silos to gain a wider understanding of how cross-section innovation works and how it can spark new ideas as well as improvements to existing processes or products.

Where Can I Learn More?

If you’re ready to think differently about advanced manufacturing and cross-sector innovation, you’ll want to mark the dates August 27 & 28 on your calendar and get yourself registered for this year’s Rally event. You can learn much more about the conference on our website, including details like this year’s Run of Show, information about the pitch competition, and more. We’ll see you this fall!

ATTEND THE 2023 Rally Conference