Being my first ever visit to Formnext it was truly an overwhelming experience. Considering the number of exhibitors and the largesse of the exhibition, it is quite difficult to visit all the exhibitors. With only two days at my disposal, I had to speed through parts of the fair in order to meet as many companies as possible.
Even though I couldn’t manage to meet all of them, I did get a good idea of what this years’ fair focused on and what the overarching trend the industry is showing. I’ll put my thoughts about the same at the end of the article and give you an overall idea of what transpired at the exhibition. But before that, a brief history of Formnext and how it became the largest show for additive manufacturing.
From 2015, Formnext has become the Mecca Additive Manufacturing companies. It is a destination for AM companies to showcase their products, services, and capabilities with an opportunity to network with like-minded professionals at the biggest congregation of crowd interested in 3D printing technology.
Going by the facts and figures, this year was the biggest ever for Formnext. With more than 850 exhibitors this year, the Formnext 2019 attracted exhibitors from more than 34 countries and visitors coming from all continents.
FORMNEXT – THE DESTINATION FOR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING COMPANIES
Formnext is the event brand operated under ‘messago’ Messe Frankfurt Group the German company that creates a communication platform. It also organizes exhibitions and congresses to establish connections within the industry.
Messago has an enviable portfolio of events but one of their highly successful events is the Formnext. Started in November 2015 in Frankfurt am Main, Formnext quickly captured the world with its unique combination of additive manufacturing and conventional technologies to become the leading additive manufacturing show in the world.
The numbers for Formnext 2018 speak for itself:
|37,231 Square Meters Space
|53,039 Square Meters Space
Additionally, it also organizes a conference, held alongside the exhibition that focuses on the latest trends and issues in additive manufacturing, along with effective ways of integrating it into process chains in industrial production.
This years’ Formnext trade show was no different. In fact better than all its earlier editions. This year’s event witnessed around 285 new exhibitors, a testament to the fact that the show is growing.
Leading AM companies showcased their 3D printers, unveiled new ones, launched new materials, announced new partnerships, and initiated new research projects.
We take a look at some of these developments at this years’ Formnext 2019:
UNVEILING NEW 3D PRINTERS
Concept Laser M2 Series 5/GE Additive
At the recently concluded Formnext 2019, GE Additive made a number of high-profile announcements. It launched two new 3D printers; the Arcam EBM Spectra L & Concept Laser M2 Series 5 expanding its range of metal 3D printers.
The Spectra L aims to meet demands, primarily, from the aerospace industry for higher productivity.
The M2 Series 5 is the latest iteration of the popular M2 machine developed to allow aerospace and healthcare industries to move towards serial additive production.
The Shop System/Desktop Metal
Claimed as the world’s first metal binder jetting system aimed at machine shops and metal job shops, the ‘Shop System’ by Desktop Metal was one of the highlights of Formnext 2019.
Strategically sized between the Studio System and Production System, the new Shop System is a high-speed, single-pass print engine claimed to be 10x faster than competing laser powder bed systems, allowing for up to 70kg of steel parts to be processed per day.
Essentium announced the launch of its new 3D printer series built upon its High-Speed Extrusion (HSE) technology. The new HSE 3D printer series will come in two variants. One fitted with a low-temperature nozzle (LT) and the other with a high-temperature nozzle (HT). With these to variants, it aims to capture a large chunk of industrial market share.
Epsilon 3D Printer/BCN3D
BCN3D, a Barcelona-based 3D printer manufacturer, has launched its latest professional printer, the BCN3D Epsilon. With this new 3D printer the company aims to target professional and industrial sectors to bring industrial power to the workbench.
The new 3D printer already seems to have attracted positive attention from leading automotive manufacturers like BMW, Nissan, Seat, and Renault with whom BCN3D is already working and negotiating the incorporation of the BCN3D Epsilon to their workbenches.
The printer uses fiber-reinforced materials for tougher applications in industrial settings, has mass printing capabilities, and runs with Independent Dual-Extruders (IDEX) technology which increases printing productivity.
Sandvik and BEAMIT
Sandvik and BEAMIT hosted a joint booth at this years’ Formnext event. At this booth both the partners showcased their range of materials for additive manufacturing. The range of materials included Sandvik’s Osprey metal powders along with new materials like nickel-based superalloys and titanium powders.
Bioreactor 3D printed with VisiJet M2S-HT90 material/3D Systems
At Formnext 2019, 3D Systems announced the general availability of its engineering-grade plastic material VisiJet M2S-HT90 for ProJet® MJP 2500 Plus. The company has launched a staggering 10 new materials since September, and the company continues to open new production solutions for broad industry adoption.
VisiJet M2S-HT90 is ideal for consumer durables and automotive applications as it provides best-in-class heat deflection temperature with high strength and rigidity. Its high transparency and biocompatibility allows it to be optimal for healthcare applications including medical devices
EnvisionTEC and Sartomer
EnvisionTEC and Sartomer showcased new water-soluble material – the E-Aquasol resin, created as a result of their partnership. This new resin is designed for use on EnvisionTEC’s proprietary cDLM® 3D printing platform and incorporates Sartomer’s N3xtDimension® UV-curable resin technology.
D-material support for Pure Copper and Highly Alloyed Tool Steel/GE Additive
In addition to the launching 3D printers, GE Additive also announced the general release of development material (D-material) support for pure copper and highly-alloyed tool steel during 2020.
As the technology is growing, there is an increase in the demand for new metal materials including pure copper and tool steel. And to address this demand, GE Additive developed the new material. Pure copper is a very difficult material to work with using laser-based AM processes because of its high reflectivity. Because of this, many in the industry have come up with copper-based alloys which, while easier to print, lose some of copper’s conductivity properties. GE Additive’s Arcam EBM process, however, can print pure copper.
AMFG’s MES software/AMFG
AMFG promoted its recent collaboration with Autodesk to link its proprietary MES software with Autodesk’s design and simulation software, Netfabb®. As part of this endeavor, AMFG’s MES software can be used seamlessly with Netfabb, enabling users of both software solutions to establish a fully integrated, end-to-end digital workflow from design to production for the very first time.
Magics 24 build preparation software upgrade/Materialise
Formnext 2019 was used as a promotional platform by Materialise to announce the latest update on its Materialise Magics software. It introduced several new features to decrease the build preparation process, allowing users to scale their 3D printing operations. This is a step taken by Materialise to allow companies to soon move to serial additive manufacturing
InfiniAM Sonic software for additive manufacturing/ Renishaw
Renishaw, the global engineering technologies company from the UK, used the Formnext 2019 platform to announce the launch of its InfiniAM™ Sonic acoustic process monitoring software to complement its InfiniAM software for additive manufacturing monitoring tools.
The first of its kind in the AM industry enables engineers to detect acoustic events within the AM build chamber and use this data to improve the build quality.
The event, needless to say, was extravagant and it is overwhelming to see the new developments in the additive manufacturing space. The general observation tells that the industry is seeing the rapid development of novel techniques that are astoundingly fast and hi-tech. It is also interesting to see that the prices on different systems are dropping. A sign that the adoption is increasing and the competition is heating up.
Markforged stall at Formnext 2019/Christian Magnusson
Markforged is doubling up on its efforts to make FDM printed metals easier by applying 3D scanning and AI to enhance the shrinkage calculations to achieve the perfect piece. They actually consider themselves “a software company”.
This year saw an evident interest and focus on metal printing as even simpler FDM machines can now print 316L stainless steel like the versions from BASF, however, a kiln is still needed for the sintering process.
I also met with Pär Nobring, an acquaintance from Raps in Sweden, exhibiting for Raplas and EnvisionTEC of which I will write in detail in a separate article in some time to come.
As the fair is starting to sink in, I already look forward to future upcoming fairs.