Formnext Connect celebrates success as a digital hub for AM

November 13, 2020

Formnext Connect’s programme of stage events and sessions were watched by 45,000 spectators (Courtesy Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH)

Formnext organisers, Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH reports that Formnext Connect successfully demonstrated its role as the international digital hub for the AM world, highlighting, even in challenging times, the continuing importance of the world’s leading exhibition for the Additive Manufacturing industry.

The digital event which ran from November 10–12, attracted 203 exhibitors, with about 2,200 representatives, and showcased 1,412 products. Approximately 8,541 active participants from more than 100 nations utilised the matchmaking function, which managed to generate more than 450,000 recommendations for products and other participants.

In addition, 23,311 new contacts and 4,733 business meetings in the form of video calls were enabled. The 221 lectures and presentations featured in the programme of stage events and sessions were reportedly watched by 45,000 spectators. Here, experts from all over the world discussed current and future trends, developments and applications in various webinars and discussion panels.

The digital event also saw international product launches including numerous new materials, an SLM machine with 12 lasers as well as post-processing solutions for finishing, de-powdering and curing and new developments. Formnext Connect demonstrated that the AM industry remains highly innovative even in the challenging year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The newly developed digital format of Formnext Connect has enabled us to meet the demand from the AM community and target industries for dialogue, business, and innovation,” commented Sascha F Wenzler, vice president, Formnext at Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH. “Formnext has thus demonstrated that, even in a purely digital format, it is indispensable as a globally important catalyst for the technological and economic development of this future-oriented industry.”

Formnext Connect and the TCT Conference @ Formnext presented current trends and significant innovations from the world of AM and gave a detailed insight into technological advances. In addition, the AI-supported matchmaking platform matched exhibitors with participants throughout.

According to the organisers, an ever-present accompaniment to Formnext Connect was the varied programme from the Additive Manufacturing Capital Studio with its high-calibre guests. This was broadcast on the main stage in consideration of different time zones and featured discussion panels among technology experts from the various exhibitors as well as interviews with representatives from various user industries, including automotive, aerospace, construction, mechanical engineering, medicine, and tool and mould-making.

Dayle Alexander and Oluseun Taiwo (Virgin Orbit), Dr Eliana Fu (Relativity Space), Melissa Orme (Boeing) and Hauke Schultz (Airbus), for example, reported on AM components in aircraft construction as well as an entirely additively manufactured rocket.

Automotive applications were discussed in presentations by Martin Bock (Audi), Dr Martin Goede (Volkswagen), Dr Martin Hillebrecht (EDAG), Carsten Merklein (Schaeffler), and Markus Schnell (Continental). AM is no longer confined only to prototyping; it is already being employed in live production environments and responding to challenges relating to cost efficiency, speed, and production volume.

Other speakers included Satoshi Abe (Panasonic), Franz Bosbach (KSB), Stephen Fitzpatrick (National Manufacturing Institute Scotland), Sherry Handel (AMGTA), Güngör Kara (Ottobock), Dr Cora Lüders-Theuerkauf (Medical goes Additive), Gerret Lukas (RWTH Aachen), Prof Dr Jens Telgkamp (HAW), Douglas Woods (AMT), and many more.

The participants also received valuable first-hand information on major markets including Israel, Japan, Russia, and the United States, and new markets such as the partner country China.

A number of partner organizations were also on hand during the event to share their in-depth knowledge. The purmundus challenge and the winners of the Start-up Challenge provided a glimpse of the future of Additive Manufacturing as well as future business opportunities. Throughout the event, Discover3Dprinting seminars, which were presented in cooperation with ACAM (Aachen Center for Additive Manufacturing), provided advice and information for newcomers to industrial Additive Manufacturing.

Across the three days of the event, Formnext’s conceptual sponsor, the Additive Manufacturing Association within the VDMA e.V., also held a series of lectures exploring the transition from cottage industry to mass production. For the second time, the U.S. Commercial Service hosted the AM Standards Forum, and the BE-AM Symposium, which was held in cooperation with TU Darmstadt, focused on AM in the architecture and construction industry.

“Today, digitisation is a key driver for industrial, economic and social development,” stated Marie Langer, CEO of EOS GmbH. “With industrial 3D printing, EOS enables digital, more decentralised production resulting in more flexible supply chains. With Formnext Connect this year, Mesago has proved that trade fairs also work digitally. It was an exciting virtual journey for all of us, however, at the same time we’re looking forward to seeing you again in person in Frankfurt next year.”

Florian Gollenz, Marketing Manager, Metalpine commented, “Unusual times call for unusual measures. The current global pandemic means that restrictions and changes are taking place everywhere, including at Formnext. However, Formnext has not allowed itself to be restricted; it has created a completely new format – the virtual Formnext Connect! We, as exhibitors at Metalpine, are delighted about this future-oriented and innovative way of successfully managing trade fairs, even in times of global crisis.”

Sascha F Wenzler believes that the success of the digital format will also play a role in future trade fair formats. He added, “Born out of necessity due to the worldwide corona restrictions, Formnext Connect has proven itself as a digital platform and will continue to form an important part of future exhibitions.”

Despite this, Wenzler states that he is of the firm belief that the digital format can never make up for the direct contact and personal interaction of a physical event. “That is why we look forward to future editions of Formnext, which we hope will once again be held in person, so that we may bring the vibrant Formnext atmosphere, which we are all familiar from previous years back to the Frankfurt show floor,” he concluded.

The organisers note that in view of the positive experiences from Formnext Connect the digital component is to be further developed for the future.

The Formnext Connect platform will be accessible until December 31, 2020, and will continue to offer opportunities to engage with others as well as on-demand content.

The next edition of Formnext is scheduled to take place in Frankfurt, Germany, from November 16–19, 2021.

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