Additive manufacturing is shaping the future of industrial manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is…

For four days, Formnext 2022 turned host city Frankfurt into the global capital of industrial 3D printing. And this year’s exhibition was very much in tune with the times. As the coronavirus pandemic continues and new political and economic challenges emerge as a result, additive manufacturing can play a key role in decentralizing manufacturing processes and production, making supply chains more resilient, and facilitating resource and energy efficient production in order to get innovative new products onto the market faster.

A glance at the figures shows just how important Formnext has become. With 802 exhibitors (the corresponding figure in 2021 was 606) and 51,148 square meters of booked exhibition space, the performance of the world’s leading exhibition for additive manufacturing and modern production was virtually on a par with pre-Covid levels. And with the lineup of eager experts and executives expanding by 65,6% to 29,581 (the corresponding figure in 2021 was 17,859), Formnext 2022 was a testament to the enthusiasm that exists for meeting and sharing ideas face-to-face. These figures confirm the impressive track record of the event, which is now in its eighth year.

Leading international companies such as 3D Systems, Additive Industries, AddUp, Arburg, BigRep, Carbon, Desktop Metal, DMG Mori, Dyemansion, EOS, Farsoon, Formlabs, GE Additive, HP, Keyence, Markforged, Materialise, Renishaw, Ricoh, Siemens, Sisma, SLM Solutions, Stratasys, Trumpf, Voxeljet, XJet, and Zeiss dazzled visitors with even more efficient production systems and an array of innovations. In addition, numerous well-known international corporations, including BASF, Covestro, Evonik, GKN Sinter Metals Components, Henkel, Höganäs, Linde, Mitsubishi Chemical, Nikon, Oerlikon, Sandvik, SMS Group, and many more presented innovative solutions for every stage of the process chain. The numerous world premieres and innovative developments included novel AM technologies and new and improved AM systems, as well as new materials ranging from wood to ceramics, software solutions, service offerings, post-processing solutions, and much more.

“We are proud of the fact that Formnext has returned to its impressive pre-Covid level,” says Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President Formnext at event organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH. “We have once again demonstrated the importance of Formnext as the world’s premiere AM platform and the vital role of face-to-face interaction at Formnext for the further development of this highly innovative sector.” Visitors to the event were impressed by how Formnext has grown and by the sheer number of innovations on show. “The possibilities of AM are limitless and we have to unleash this potential in a way that ensures more sustainable manufacturing“, states Frank Rosengreen Lorenzen, CEO at Danish AM Hub. “Having Formnext as the world’s leading meeting point to discuss and develop these opportunities is of extreme importance for the AM ecosystem, but also for manufacturing as a whole.”

Alex Kingsbury, Industry Consultant at Additive Economics underlines the importance of AM for industrial production and states: “As modern manufacturers look to become more agile and responsive, they inevitably need to look to advanced and emerging technologies. Additive manufacturing is an innovative technology that when properly harnessed can supercharge manufacturing capability. Formnext is the world’s premier 3D printing event that showcases the depth and breadth of additive manufacturing hardware, software, materials. Despite the fact that you can access additive manufacturing technology from all over the world, Formnext remains the centre of gravity where everyone in the AM ecosystem converges.”

Partner country France

Formnext’s partner country France cemented its status as one of the world’s most important suppliers and users of additive manufacturing solutions. In total, more than forty French companies, associations, and research institutes were represented at Formnext. French AM manufacturers such as AddUp, Lynxter, Constructions3D, Pollen AM and VLM Robotics, material manufacturers Fabulous and Constellium, and numerous other exhibitors showcased their exciting innovations and impressive additive manufacturing expertise.

The French delegates’ presentations on the AM4U stage on Wednesday afternoon covered a wide range of themes, from research and development, through automotive and aerospace applications, to sporting goods and international strategies for the widespread use of additive manufacturing in Europe.

A broad and varied program of supporting events The program of supporting events at Formnext 2022 was broader and more varied than ever before, leading visitors through the world of innovative startups, 3D-printed houses, and cutting-edge applications in medical technology. Recurring themes included the implementation of decentralized additive manufacturing, the promotion of sustainable manufacturing solutions, and the growing maturity of additive manufacturing in the industrial setting.

The special “BE-AM | Built Environment Additive Manufacturing” showcase and symposium provided an impressive demonstration of how 3D printing can be used in architecture and construction. The showcase by the VDMA’s Additive Manufacturing Association presented applications and developments in industrial 3D printing for tools, machine components, prototypes, and much more besides. For the eighth time, the international Formnext Start-up Challenge has recognized young companies from the world of additive manufacturing for their innovative business ideas and technical developments. Visitors once again flocked to the Pitchnext event, where start-ups competed for the attention of investors. The purmundus challenge ideas competition celebrated its tenth anniversary with a reception and a special show entitled “Best of 10 Years.”

The Discover3Dprinting seminars were another popular port of call every day during the exhibition, especially for newcomers to additive manufacturing. The seminars are set to continue at various locations throughout 2023. Participants at the TCT Conference @ Formnext got an opportunity to experience and discuss numerous exciting applications and to catch a glimpse of the future of additive manufacturing. On 14 November, the day before the start of the exhibition, the ASTM Standards Forum focused on the importance of standards and standardization for 3D printing. On the same day, the new “Wohlers Report LIVE at Formnext 2022” event celebrated its debut at Formnext 2022.

A strong international flavor

With attendees from 96 nations and a remarkably high proportion of international visitors (51%) and exhibitors (58%), Formnext once again demonstrated its status as the leading international trade fair for additive manufacturing and modern industrial production. The impressive volume of visitor traffic and the high standard of discussions were also applauded by exhibitors: “Formnext is always a pool of ideas at which people inspire each other. We’ve managed to attain a great number of leads, had very qualified visitors with concrete projects and are returning home with equally concrete orders," affirmed Johannes Matheis, Managing Director at Murtfeldt Additive Solutions GmbH.

Andreas Rudolf, MDM Additive Manufacturing at nLight is equally enthusiastic: "If you want to visit a trade fair on the subject of additive manufacturing, this is it. There is no way around Formnext. All of our target groups from the automotive, aerospace, medical and contract manufacturing sectors, among others, were here on-site with the best teams. This includes OEMs and especially end users, who are otherwise difficult for us to reach." For the first time, Desktop Metal united a company portfolio of nine companies on a European booth: "We reached a very international audience with a great many new contacts. The stand visitors, including representatives from the oil and gas industry, OEMs from the automotive sector and foundries, were pre-informed and came to us with concrete projects and budgets. There were business deals for our sand, polymer and metal equipment," reports Guersel Demircali, Vice President EMEA Sales Channel, Desktop Metal.

All content from the AM4U stage as well as impressions, opinions, and more were recorded for viewing after the event on Formnext.TV on Demand. Together with AM4U, Formnext remains an innovative driving force in additive manufacturing all year round, with the AM Directory, Formnext.TV, Formnext Magazine, AM Field Guide, and much more besides.

The 2023 edition of Formnext is scheduled to take place from 7-10 November in Frankfurt am Main.

Formnext’s portfolio of international events includes:

  • Formnext + PM South China: 20-22 December 2022
  • Formnext Forum Austin: 28-30 August 2023
  • Formnext Forum Tokyo: 28-29 September 2023
  • Formnext + PM South China: September 2023