Last week was a very social one for the Additive Manufacturing (AM) ecosystem. Friends and colleagues could meet and exchange views on 2 continents: AMUG (AM User Group) in Chicago in the USA and Hannover Messe in Germany. While these 2 gatherings are different in nature they both attract a lot of interest. Within the AM community, at least this year, it seems that AMUG was the more popular of the 2 but of course in general Hannover Messe (HMI) with its 215,000 attendees and 227,00 sqm of exhibition space is the bigger show by far. HMI also included a 1-day conference on AM. Half the lectures were in English and half in German. Tessa Blokland and I attended the English portion of this conference and especially liked the talks by Bart Van Der Schueren from Materialise and Virginia Palacios from HP. Van Der Schueren showed his vision of the software ecosystem in AM (see below). It is an integrated end to end solution for customers that incorporates security (our favorite! especially in the cloud as shown here) over the entire workflow that is managed by Materialise’s software and culminating in their Build Prep software which drives the printers.
Palacios talked about the fascinating HP on HP project she headed. Not only does the HP 3D printer include many 3D printed parts but also other HP products, such as the Indigo digital press, include 3D printed parts. Palacios provided some numbers on the efficacy of this approach where, for example, in the Inkjet thermal printheads 7 parts were reduced to 1 and they were able to realize 95% cost reduction and 90% weight reduction. My favorite part of her lecture was at the end when she said that for the newer HP products she no longer has cost savings or other comparison numbers since no other alternative to AM was tried so there are no comparison numbers. That’s progress!
In the HMI show, I concentrated on AM related booths but couldn’t help but glance to the halls with motors, drives, and robots. Seeing the precision with which spinning gears can be controlled (engaging and disengaging without slowing down at all) was impressive and the robotic arms are becoming more versatile, more precise, and more robust. In the AM booths, Arburg was showcasing adding on to existing parts with AM and a versatile robotic arm. Other than that, for the most part, I didn’t see much new on display compared to FormNext and the major AM announcements were given at AMUG (see below). The notable exception was HP which had many items on display (robotic arm grip above) including full printer beds (e.g., of insoles, see up top). Both SAP and Siemens had mega-booths. SAP displayed its AM offering less prominently than last year but still, there was quite a lot of interest (and LEO Lane was highlighted, similar to last year – which we always love!). Siemens had several satellite booths in other halls but concentrated lots of people and displays in 1 mega booth in Hall 9. When I visited it, the central large AM display dedicated to automotive was graced with a visit by one or 2 of Siemens’ board members. It is wonderful to see that AM specifically is getting attention at this level in a large diversified company.
Tess Blokland, my co-Founder, and Industrial Design Expert joined me at HMI. On a personal note, since Tessa is based in the Netherlands and I’m based in Israel, this was a great opportunity for us to have long discussions and talk at leisure about the ecosystem and how we fit in it. When we parted ways Tessa said: “Hannover Messe really showcased the world of mass production using conventional and innovative manufacturing methods. Intuitively I know why big brands should use AM and LEO Lane, however, the need for securing digital (spare and emerging) parts and safely bridging conventional mass production and additive manufacturing became even more relevant and urgent to me as I walked around” (below Formlabs customized automotive parts and second below Markforged Titanium 3D Printed Part exhibited at HMI).
On the other side of the pond, at the same time, AMUG was underway. This is a very special conference by users for users (of AM) and as such has a very different feel than any conference. There is a small exhibition space adjacent to the show as well. This year AMUG covered several sectors including aerospace, transportation, and medical and many AM technologies. Our CEO, Moshe Molcho, attended and especially remembers the session by Ford‘s Daniel Michalski and Bob Eckhart about their experience using AM for jigs and fixtures. As Molcho puts it: “it is always great to see a demonstration of the clear benefits of AM in real life scenarios – in this case, lift assist fixtures. These fixtures have better functionality all around including adapting to the application and the operator.” He adds: “This conference is unique in that the attendees are there to solve real-life problems. They ask me “this is my problem – how can you help with it?” and that is refreshing”. There are also many networking opportunities and the organizers actively encourage it. For example, at lunch, you pull a table number out of a jar to ensure you’ll meet new people. Moshe was lucky enough to meet some veteran in AM this way and hear interesting stories and anecdotes.
AMUG also saw several major announcements including Stratasys‘ new V650 SLA 3D printer which uses DSM’s Somos materials but not exclusively – it is an open-materials platform, which works with third-party resins. DSM also announced a beta version of its new powder product for 3D printing, on the machine side, Formlabs introduced its new Form 3 and Form 3L 3D printers, and on the software side, Sigma Labs showcased its new PrintRite3D INSPECT software for additive manufacturing.
All in all, it was a busy, bi-continental beginning to April and we look forward to continuing it with a bustling spring (and Rapid coming up in May in the US). For more insights and information follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.