It seems that as the additive manufacturing (AM) ecosystem grows, so does the anticipation around the AM events – especially when it comes to Formnext. Last year the event, which is said to be the leading exhibition for AM and innovative industrial production technologies, broke its own records. Every year the number of exhibitors and visitors grows, last year we reported Formnext reached full capacity with 632 exhibitors, this year the list of exhibitors already stands on 740, around 285 of them are new exhibitors. The exhibition space will also go up from last year’s 36,000 sqm to 50,000 sqm this year to accommodate the growing ecosystem. While bigger is not necessarily better, the upcoming event has the whole industry excited. So, aside from the LEO Lane booth (B81A in Hall 12), what are we expecting to see at Messe Frankfurt?
A Global Approach
This year Formext’s partner country is the US, enhancing the presence of American AM companies at the European event. A dedicated pavilion will showcase the latest AM innovations and presentations by leading US companies such as 3D Systems, Carbon, Desktop Metal, ExOne, HP and Markforged. The partner country is a new format at Formnext and choosing the US as the first partner serves the goal of facilitating the collaboration between the 2 continents, showcasing and sharing technological advancements, applications, use cases, regulations, and standards. We’ve discussed here before the power and potential of collaborations and sharing knowledge in a growing yet fragmented ecosystem, by making the US a Formnext partner country the event brings collaboration to a level of national and international strategies. A smart bold move!
Formnext caters to a wide range of industry sectors – automation, automotive, aviation, construction, medical and healthcare, electronics, energy and so on. It’s becoming a bit redundant to list the industries as AM production can be beneficial in so many different cases. This year the announcements of new machines and materials are almost all geared towards industrial use, developed with a certain application or a needed industrial characteristic in mind. One example is specialty chemicals company Evonik who has a long history with 3D printing as it created the first synthetic powder for additive manufacturing in 1996. This year at Formnext the company will showcase copolyester powders (below and up top) which are said to be both highly elastic and tough, following the acquisition of Structured Polymers. The company lists potential applications from individual protectors for extreme athletes to technical components. The company will also present VESTAKEEP® i4 G a filament developed specifically for 3D printing medical implants, which have an entirely different set of needs and restrictions. There are other, still undisclosed, material company announcements expected at Formnext – a lot to look forward to.
Incus, a spinoff from the research and development department of ceramic additive manufacturing at Lithoz, tackles a different industrial need with regards to AM. The new metal 3D printing process that the company will present at Formnext is based on Lithoz ceramic print process (below). “With our new printer series, it is not only possible to produce very small complex components with the finest of surface structures, but also to use new metal mixtures, such as non-weldable powders,” commented Dr. Gerald Mitteramskogler, CEO of Incus.
3DCeram Sinto (OEM and service provider) will present their new ceramic 3D printer – the C3600 Ultimate. With the new printer, the company aims to answer issues of size and speed in the AM production of ceramic parts. The build volume of 600x600x300 mm is suited for larger additively manufacturing ceramic components such as satellite mirrors for the aerospace industry. It’s also equipped with 4 laser sources, aiming to reduce print time and making the process a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing (below mirror 3D printed in alumina on the C3600 Ultimate – Photo via 3DCeram). Keep in mind that some companies, like Materialise and EOS, are always worth checking out, they usually keep us on our toes and save the announcements for the show.
In order to position AM as a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing, there are a number of needs to be met (see our needs series), and many of the AM players are addressing those needs, some from the hardware side and some from the software side. One of them is Sigma Labs which develops quality assurance software for industrial additive manufacturing. The company will exhibit live demonstrations of the company’s PrintRite3D software platform and its in-process quality assurance. One of the features added to the latest version is automated anomaly detection with “Z connectivity” which is capable of identifying thermal defects during the print process. Another example of how automation and the needs of industrial production are guiding the innovations in the field. In Fact, all the winning startups at the Formnext Start-up Challenge 2019 have an industrial approach in common, whether its Glassomer‘s glass for 3D printing optics and photonics (above), or the simulation software by Additive Lab that enables the identification of problematic areas that might affect the end quality of the additively manufactured part.
While the importance of automation, industrial solutions and materials are undeniable, seeing additively manufactured parts and products exhibited at these events is one of our favorites – and real-life applications? Even better. This year AMT will exhibit not only parts and products but the stand itself will be comprised of over 6,000 3D printed parts. The structure will be 4 meters high and cover a space of 84 sqm. The parts were 3D printed by Materialise on EOS machines and of course post-processed by AMT. The structure was designed and produced in collaboration with Steel Roots Design which specializes in the design and construction of commercial furniture and interiors. We’re interested in seeing not only the stand but how AM can be applied in the construction process in general (beyond the novelty of 3D printed houses). For those who want to dive deeper into the topic – the BE-AM Symposium taking place at Formnext for the first time will also address the possibilities of additive manufacturing for the architecture and construction industry.
The LEO Lane team as both exhibitors and visitors at Formnext have an intense 4 days ahead of them. So much to see, do and hear. We are looking forward to meeting and hearing about your challenges and successes when integrating AM (our stand is B81A in Hall 12 or contact Idan Cataife to schedule an appointment in advance). Our Co-Founder and CEO Moshe Molcho will also be speaking at the HP sponsored session, about ensuring a secure end-to-end AM workflow, on Wednesday at 3:30 pm. Follow LEO Lane on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for live updates from the exhibition and events and stay tuned for our report from Formnext in a couple of weeks.