Insights

Formnext 2019: 3D printing industry experts identify key trends, themes and vital takeaways

Formnext 2019 provided ample opportunity to understand trends in additive manufacturing, inspect the latest technology and most importantly speak directly with leaders in the 3D printing industry. 

The 3D Printing Industry team spent the week in Frankfurt and by all accounts managed to visit the majority of booths at this vast show.

Trends on display at formnext 2019 were apparent in terms of size, both in the sense of the show itself, and also the scale of the systems emerging to meet growing demand from manufacturers seeking higher throughput. Sustainability was a topic on the lips of many, as the additive manufacturing industry seeks to ensure this relatively young sector leads not only in technology but also in environmental awareness.

Also at formnext 2019, it was apparent that multinational chemical companies are moving to establish themselves as a brand for AM in their own right – whereas previously their products would be used in materials – the fact they are entering the market suggests opportunity is growing. Finally, applications of additive manufacturing were abundant at the show, but are these what end-users require? 

I asked formnext 2019 attendees and exhibitors for their highlights of the show. 

Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President, Formnext

Formnext 2019 was a great success. 34,532 visitors (2018: 26,919) reached out to the products and services of 852 exhibitors (2018: 632) in the new exhibition halls 11 and 12 on the Messe Frankfurt fairground. Since we have been able to organize Formnext as the central trade fair for the global AM industry, we have experienced a very high level of dynamism in the industrial applications related to AM and, especially in the last two years, strong growth in the areas of materials and pre- and post-processing. 

Although there are some economical challenges in certain markets the halls were buzzing with energy and optimism. There is still a strong demand for technology in the related industries. AM is growing up and growing into modern manufacturing and especially after the 2019 event we know that we already talk about industrial scale, applications and business cases. 

For us, this means that the process-oriented approach of Formnext and the openness of materials proved their worth and reflect the market development very well. As a result, Formnext is increasingly transforming itself into a solutions trade fair where users can see manufacturing solutions for their production and demand precisely this. The intensive exchange between users and manufacturers leads to new ideas and possibilities to use AM as “life changing technology”. The market is therefore always on the move and with Formnext we are very happy to offer an ideal platform for the AM community.

Formnext 2019 at Messe Frankfurt. Photo by Michael Petch.
Formnext 2019 at Messe Frankfurt. Photo by Michael Petch.

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO, Materialise

At Formnext 2019 Materialise announced a new release of Magics, which introduces several features to shorten the build preparation process. With industrial print factories operating in an increasingly cost-competitive environment, this allows them to raise output while reducing cost. 

Stephan Kuehr, CEO, 3YOURMIND

One of the highlights for me was an in-depth talk with our customer Erpro, who is producing millions of mascara brushes with 3D Printers. It is great to see the innovation and energy they put into moving this industry forward. I am very excited to see the next mass-production cases they will come up with and what else they will do with our software.

The Rave Til AM opening night party was hosted by 3YOURMIND, AM Ventures, DyeMansion, TUV SUD, Ultimaker and 3D Printing Industry.
The Rave Til AM opening night party was hosted by 3YOURMIND, AM Ventures, DyeMansion, TUV SUD, Ultimaker and 3D Printing Industry.

Kristin Mulherin, President, AM-Cubed

It was great seeing the huge growth and awareness of the Women in 3D Printing group. We had more than twice the amount of people expected (both men & women) RSVP for the happy hour on the first night and had two very successful panels with amazing thought leaders from across the industry. This all leads nicely into some major events that Women in 3D Printing will be announcing in the new year.

Jonah Myerberg, CTO and co-founder, Desktop Metal

One of the highlights for Desktop Metal at Formnext this year was the expansion of our solutions portfolio with the big reveal of the Shop System, the world’s first metal binder jetting system designed specifically for machine shops and metal job shops. It was incredibly exciting to see the immediate buzz and interest in the system at the show. Metal 3D printing has been attractive to machine shops for years, but until now, the numbers didn’t add up. Starting at just $150,000, shop owners for the first time can afford to leverage the power of binder jetting technology to print end-use metal parts with unparalleled speed, print quality, and productivity.

The Desktop Metal Shop System. Photo by Michael Petch.
The Desktop Metal Shop System. Photo by Michael Petch.

Charles Han, CEO, INTAMSYS

We have showcased the FUNMAT PRO 610 HT for the first time in Europe. What’s unique with this machine? A constant 300C chamber temperature with a high build volume of 610x508x508mm, ideal to print large size ULTEM or PEEK with no fear of warpage. You do not get to see that everyday!

Kristian Egeberg, President, Sandvik Additive Manufacturing

In July this year, Sandvik acquired a significant stake in BEAMIT – a leading European additive manufacturing (AM) service provider. This year we therefore joined forces with BEAMIT at Formnext with a joint booth. Together, our companies have leading and unique capabilities across the whole additive manufacturing value chain, from metal powders to finished components. Our booth featured several industrial additive customer use-cases in a wide range of materials, produced via different additive processes – along with Sandvik’s wide range of Osprey® metal powders, now also including nickel-based superalloys and titanium.

Dr. Stephan Beyer

This year at Formnext I saw many new players entering the market (I think there will be more coming in the future). A general theme was to move towards industrial grade part quality and costs. A few examples are the carbon printer from DM, the production system from Evolve, HP printers and Ultimaker with their new system. There was less news in the metal space overall.  Once we see more Chinese vendors coming to Formnext slashing machine prices this trend will accelerate and at the same time drive the soon to be seen consolidation in the industry. Also, the chemicals have decided that the time is right to make a move into the market: First time we saw a booth from Evonik, BASF buying a service bureau, and Henkel showcasing part with Origin printers. Some smaller companies like LehVoss are also getting good traction.

Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO and Co-founder, Essentium, Inc.

A key highlight for Essentium was the launch of our high-temperature materials: PEEK, High-Temperature Nylon (HTN), HTN-CF25, and HTN-Z (ESD safe). We also announced the integration of Materialise Magics Essentials to our High Speed Extrusion (HSETM) 3D Printers, which were showcased in Frankfurt.

Essentium’s latest material developments have been designed to facilitate a range of industrial applications which require high strength and high heat, chemical and fatigue resistance. This includes machine parts, tools, jigs and fixtures in markets such as aerospace, semiconductor, and oil and gas, many of which were presented on our stand at formnext. With the new materials, customers are feasibly able to produce parts like these on Essentium’s HSE 180•S and 180•S HT 3D Printers.

Joseph Crabtree, CEO, Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) Ltd. 

This year’s Formnext was a huge success for AMT. We stepped up in a big way to showcase the full portfolio of our automated and sustainable post-processing technologies for AM. Our booth, featuring more than 6000 3D printed parts finished on our PostPro3D system drew a great deal of attention and physically demonstrated the capabilities of our core process, and the many visitors to our stand were also able to see our fully automated robotic Digital Manufacturing System, first hand, for the first time.

Additive Manufacturing Technologies at formnext 2019. Photo by Michael Petch.
Additive Manufacturing Technologies at formnext 2019. Photo by Michael Petch.

Xavier Martínez Faneca, CEO, BCN3D

Formnext is always a great opportunity to show our products. This year we unveiled the BCN3D Epsilon.

We got tons of feedback from the public that will be of great use in the future. Formnext is also a place to meet new and existant 3D printing distribution partners and it was a pleasure to share some time with them. We had really good meetings for the future. So far, we are really happy with the new printer, and we have been able to check where the industry is going.

Peter Rogers, Additive Manufacturing Product Specialist, Autodesk.

The highlight from this Formnext for me was our collaboration announcements. Partnerships with both simulation-heavyweight Ansys and production workflow management tool Link3D really opened up some much larger discussions about global standardization of both software and workflow for some very large enterprises. A lot of companies are having difficulty with skillset mismatches and AM-produced product quality standards across production sites. These collaborations are really a step in the right direction to helping them overcome these hurdles in fully integrating AM into their production workflow.

Tom Krause, Head of Business Unit Additive Manufacturing, igus  GmbH

This year we introduced lots of new products and services. My favorite is the online-price-calculation of injection molded parts,  where the molding-tool is made by 3D printing, we call it print-2-mold.

On the same website, customers can also calculate prices of 3D-printed parts,  so that you always can compare if 3D-printing or print-2-mold is more cost-efficient.  

For both manufacturing methods, we use our own self-lubricating bearing materials for all kinds of wear parts.

Diogo Quental, General Manager, Raise3D Europe

The highlight from Formnext 2019 was the conversation changing from prototyping into manufacturing.

Prototyping already proved its value; now, corporate customers want and need to understand whether AM can help them in low volume production.

We see this happening for FDM technology, which is a great option given its full flexibility, but also in metal 3D printing, where we all know a disruption is about to happen.

Moving into manufacturing will increase the importance of software solutions, in particular those related to production management. Currently, we are probably leaders with our RaiseCloud printing management software solution, but we will still push ourselves to do better. We will open RaiseCloud to printers of other brands and we will start an Open Software Program, to ensure that our customers can keep using their preferred software while easily operating our printers.

Dominique Mueller, Principal Research Engineer, Netfabb R&D, Autodesk

Autodesk enabled a company like moi to build up a repeatable software solution customized to their needs to be able to create quality parts no matter if it’s a small application or large scale or if it is a boat, an architectural application or for example a tank for the marine industry. With an end to end solution from project management (fusion teams) to cooperate even when you are operating in different countries (Mambo was done in Germany, Italy and the UK, printed with 3 robots in Italy and the UK) to design and simulation (Fusion 360, CFD & FEA) and in the end manufacturing tools like Netfabb and Powermill (Netfabb to program a custom toolpath for continuous fiber printing and especially for moi’s technology that can now be applied to every part they want to print and Powermill to calculate and simulate the robot). The boat was the outcome and example we worked on to create this workflow but as I said before this can now be used for every application that is using moi’s technology.

The MAMBA 3D printed boat. Photo by Michael Petch.
The MAMBA 3D printed boat. Photo by Michael Petch.

Ben Huang, CEO, T3D 

Our highlight is the LCD high speed 3D printer. The use of the LCD panel VAT Photopolymerization combined with High-Speed Film can not only speed up printing speed to 100mm/h(20um/Layer), but also improve the light source uniformity, print size and reduce cost.

The LCD high-speed 3D printer can be used in the shoe, dentistry, health care, jewelry, optical, automobile, electronic, machinery, designer, cultural industry. 

Sylvia Monsheimer, Head of the Market Segment New 3D Technologies, Evonik

Evonik exhibited at the formnext for the very first time. Our overall highlight was the fact to be a part of the community in order to strengthen our visibility as a reliable partner for the industry when it comes to develop and manufacture ready-to-use materials and additives for common 3D printing technologies, although Evonik looks back on more than two decades of experience in additive manufacturing. We used the platform which is a great show by the way to intensify relationships with our customers, friends but also seeking new business opportunities of course. 

The formnext was for Evonik the perfect hot spot to present our latest topics like our new PA 613 powder material with outstanding properties or the first copolyester powders based on the Structured Polymers technology Evonik acquired earlier this year. But we also used the meet-and-greet in Frankfurt am Main to show Evonik’s strategic focus on 3D printing with our ready-to-use material development concept which, besides the powder-based processes, Evonik is going to apply to the FDM as well as to the SLA market. 

Nikolas Witter, Thought Leadership Manager in the Center of Competence Additive Manufacturing, Siemens Digital Industries

One noteworthy highlight was great use-cases from the industry, that showed not only how far Additive Manufacturing has come, but also in terms of industrialization, how well the application examples utilize and benefit from the seamless end-to-end portfolio from Siemens across the entire AM process value chain. In this, I was also happy to see the integration of a variety of leading OEMs that offer capable printing solutions for the realization of those mentioned applications. Take for example the printing of large high-performance molds with a printhead and extrusion system from CEAD, attached to a flexible robot arm and run by drives, CNC, software etc. from Siemens. It was fascinating to have this live and in action on our booth.

Kevin Lewis, Director Additive Manufacturing, Xerox

The main highlight for me was the overwhelmingly positive reaction we received to the debut of our 3D liquid metal prototype. Not only were people excited about what our technology could mean for the future of manufacturing, they were excited to see the prototype and to discuss it with the Xerox team. I really appreciated the calibre of conversations we had with customers, partners, and even competitors across all areas we showcased: Liquid Metal, Advanced Materials, Multi-nozzle extrusion, and AI-Based software. These conversations clearly showed the level of commitment to transforming an industry.

Davide Marin, founder and CEO, Lumi Industries 

This year we presented our new and very particular LCD printer Lumi³. We have applied different patent pending solutions to make the users life easier, including an integrated post-processing unit, easy removable 3D printing tray, resin passive heating system and integrated touchscreen control board with lots of possible uses besides 3D printing process management. But unexpectedly the visitors showed surprising enthusiasm for some simple safety features we introduced like Hepa and carbon filter system, a new patent pending disposable resin vat which is low cost allowing the user to get one for each resin avoiding material contamination, that made us understand that users are more and more focused on safety and that we are on the right path.

Dr. Kaj Führer, CEO, enter2net

There are still major advances in printing technology and new/improved materials. As well at formnext there were some interesting solutions for post processing. A topic that is taking up more and more traction: Automated print job preparation (the pre-processing). Powder bed technologies such as binder jetting for plastics or the two-stage metal applications (agent plus sintering) are only efficient if the 3D nesting is automated by “ordering” the components to be printed (pre-nested) from a database and nest them in a batch process according to special rules including automated collision control. 4D Additive from CT CoreTechnologie, available at enter2net.com, is a solution that offers all this. The results are automated 3D nested print jobs.

Alex Kingsbury, Managing Director, Additive Economics, Additive Manufacturing Industry Fellow, RMIT University

There’s an increasing diversity of suppliers and this is propelling innovation as larger players are all too aware they will lose market share if they can’t keep innovating. However we all know that they are also sitting back and watching with interest as these smaller companies mature and become acquisition interests. There is also a stronger recognition that working across the value chain will increase profitability, and where aspects of the value chain are missing for companies, you see strategic partnerships spring up instead. Nearly everyone is on board with a collaborative approach where it makes sense. 

Despite being a larger show, this year felt more relaxed and more serious. Chats at booths were more in-depth and more oriented around outcomes. I suspect that given the larger size of show, everyone was being much more efficient with their time, getting only to the essential meetings rather than tyre-kicking, which has been seen more at previous shows.

Bruno Bourguet, Manager Director of PostProcess Technologies International

The sum of the conversations in our booth was a highlight for PostProcess, as the audience has evolved greatly in just a few short years. So many users are eager to scale up their additive operations but are experiencing real post-printing challenges today. And many users who are starting out already recognize that post-printing must be considered early. So overall, a highlight was the engagement with a very highly educated and actively involved audience.

Joe Casha, the 3D Maker Noob on YouTube

While formnext showcased high-end million dollar machines that make prototyping and production a breeze, It was the way many companies who still use desktop FDM 3D Printer for prototyping that caught my eye. Coming from a background of FDM printing, seeing what can be achieved nowadays by FDM still boggles the mind, like for example the Sarolea N60 Electric Motorcycle which is made possible thanks to over the shelf 3D Printers costing a couple of thousand euro and technical Filaments.

Kai Witter, CCO, DyeMansion

For us, the entire Formnext is always a highlight, but this year we were particularly proud to unveil our new Powerfuse S at the show and therefore now offer VaporFuse Surfacing as an option in our Print-to-Product workflow. We were overwhelmed by the great interest of the visitors and the positive feedback. A nice surprise was also the honoring with the 5 years Formnext fAMily award, which we did not expect.

Vishal Singh, Co-founder & CTO, Link3D

Link3D’s integration with Autodesk Netfabb will enable organizations to achieve end-to-end AM workflows, connecting the Digital Thread. Seamless build data management can introduce significant levels of efficiency gains with workflow automation, which was previously not possible. For example, with Autodesk Netfabb’s scripts and APIs, Link3D can leverage that to preserve the “Digital Thread” through bi-directional data connectivity across both platforms from order entry, build data preparation, production scheduling and downstream processing. This is a strong indicator that leaders in the industry are beginning to collaborate, further enabling businesses across all industries a solution to scale their AM infrastructure.

Ilaria Guicciardini, Marketing Director, Roboze

Formnext 2019 represents a real milestone for Roboze. After many years of hard work, we are glad of receiving significant recognition from a technological and strategic point of view by the entire market. New collaborations, new solutions, new materials have come to light during this last edition. A new starting point that only a show like Formnext could offer. 

Dr. Aaron Bent, CEO,  6K Inc.

The number of interested people/organizations that visited the 6K stand who are clearly at a point with metal additive manufacturing that they are looking to implement for production and now understand the importance powder plays into their supply chain, part quality and overall breadth of possible applications. In addition, the level of interest in powders derived from sustainable sources was high because it opens up additional applications not previously available in metal AM.  This also included interest in 6K’s Onyx HEA 1000 introduction allowing organizations to “design for additive” at the material level to lock down a targeted application with material properties designed specifically for their application.

Ben Arnold, VP of Business Development, Fortify

The scope and interest in new materials – especially reinforced and composite materials –  was exciting to see. This approach to enhanced performance has been proven in traditional manufacturing technologies so it’s natural for that to extend into the additive space. Open material systems are helping to drive this innovation as hardware and materials companies collaborate.

Lee-Bath Nelson, Co-Founder and VP Business, LEO Lane 

At LEO Lane, we have been talking about “playing well with others” for a long time now. Our formnext highlights included several meetings with customers that have chosen to move forward with LEO Lane and are now incorporating integration requirements (with us) in their RFQs for other parts of the workflow. As an industry, it’s really important that the different technology solutions in the ecosystem can easily integrate and function effectively with each other. It was gratifying to see the emphasis that certain customers are putting on this throughout their AM journey – a truly forward-thinking holistic approach.

Fernando Hernandez,  EMEA Managing Director, XYZprinting

Our aim from the outset has been to help boost the value of 3D printing in today’s manufacturing market and provide a fresh, innovative take on 3D printers. This year’s Formnext was especially significant as we introduced our latest product, the PartPro120 xP, which delivers speeds that are up to 75 times faster than conventional 3D printers made possible by XYZprinting’s Ultra-Fast Film technology. 

At a time when manufacturers are adjusting their investment in alternative resources, we were delighted to see that the fast speed, high resolution and superior detail of the PartPro120 xP was embraced so enthusiastically by the marketplace at Formnext.

Giovanni Cavolina, Co-founder, 9TLabs

Clear highlights were the numerous industrial applications realized thanks to 3D printing. This year’s Formnext emphasized one more time the importance of 3D printing in the manufacturing of end-use parts, and not only prototypes.

We were excited to present our latest use cases of continuous carbon composite parts for aerospace, biomedical and leisure applications.

Don Xu, CEO of Farsoon Americas CORP, board of Farsoon Technologies

Formnext 2019 once again proved itself to be the premiere additive event in the world. We had a very successful four days at the show with announcements about the successful completion of the HT1001P Beta programs in Europe as well as showcasing the success of Rapid Manufacturing, our first European FLIGHT technology customer. I look forward to following up with the many customers we met during the show with interest to industrialize additive manufacturing.

Ben Redwood, Director of Sales & Business Development, 3D Hubs

The most exciting thing for us was the change in the type of customer we engaged with at our booth. In the past we interacted with mostly students and early stage companies at FormNext, this year we were happy to consistently be talking to engineers, designers and management from well established larger companies with many of them looking for long term supplier relationships for production or high volume orders. This highlights the evolution of 3D Hubs and FormNext within the industry.

Pia Brandt, Director of Product Marketing, Markforged

We had an exciting Formnext this year—we announced a new partnership with MSC Software Corporation to deliver process simulation, performance modeling and material analysis tools to customers so they can better understand the performance of their 3D printed parts. We also announced that our customer Wärtsilä has created the first 3D printed CE-certified lifting tool — showing off the strength of our continuous carbon fiber. Finally, Markforged released Turbo Print for our X7 3D printer, which doubles the print speed of our industrial printers, giving customers the ability to replace parts faster, take on more jobs, and see a rapid return on investment. It was really rewarding having customers like Wärtsilä at our booth talking about the innovation and potential they’ve unlocked with 3D printing, and we’re excited to see what new possibilities our customers create with Turbo Print.

Konrad Glowacki, Co-founder, Sinterit

It was our 5th Formnext and this time we presented the complete and most accessible SLS 3D printing solution. We focused on User Experience and the applications of small SLS 3D printing because we believe that our clients know best their needs. We just support them.

Andrew Copley, Chief Revenue Officer, Evolve Additive Solutions

The highlight for us was the fact that Formnext was our debut event as an organization! It was truly worth our participation.  We debuted our STEP technology and our SVP (Scalable Volume Production) machine which is set for commercialization in 2020.

This event provided us the perfect forum to celebrate and showcase our entry into the market. 

Evolve Additive Solutions. Photo by Michael Petch.
Evolve Additive Solutions. Photo by Michael Petch.

Jordi Drieman, 3D Application Specialist, Mimaki

The buzz generated around our new, higher quality 3D samples was phenomenal. The most popular model was created using Adobe Substance Painter, which gave the product realistic textures. When combined with the accurate, high quality colours achievable with Mimaki technology, it creates an extremely authentic prototype.

Visitors to the Mimaki stand were also very interested to hear how we are increasing our customers’ profitability and competitive edge with new developments to our hardware (the lifetime of our support print heads has been doubled since Formnext 2018) and by introducing a new pricing model for inks and support material. After many installations of our 3DUJ-553 3D printer worldwide, Mimaki has succeeded in improving efficiencies across consumables production and supply chain management, facilitating a 40% reduction on compatible build and support materials. 

Mimaki has turned 3D printing into an art with the Mimaki 3D printer 3DUJ-553. Photo by Michael Petch.
Mimaki has turned 3D printing into an art with the Mimaki 3D printer 3DUJ-553. Photo by Michael Petch.

Dror Danai, CBO, XJet

Taking inspiration from our customers, XJet’s theme at Formnext this year was Making the Impossible Possible. We showcased a host of applications where customers have taken NanoParticle Jetting technology to produce things that weren’t previously possible. The highlight was Marvel Medtech’s ceramic cryotherapy probe – a key component within a new robotic intervention guidance system, designed to freeze and destroy the most dangerous tiny breast cancer tumors and prevent them from growing. Produced using XJet’s NanoParticle Jetting (NPJ) technology, there was simply no way to produce the internal channels required for the probe before. People from across the world – including me! – continue to be fascinated by the potential of this application. We launched our first system dedicated to metal, the Carmel 1400M at the show, signed two new beta customers for the alumina material, we had five users from overseas attend, and we announced the appointment of Nobel Prize Winner Dan Shechtman to lead our scientific board. Whilst XJet developed NPJ technology, it’s the customers, and people like Dan, who will use it to develop the ‘impossible’. Formnext is a crucial part of progressing our vision of the ‘impossible’ too.

Omer Sagi, VP Products & Business Development, Tritone Technologies

As first time presenters at Formnext we were very excited at Tritone Technologies to witness how the 3D market and specifically the additive manufacturing industry has grown this year in number of exhibitors and the traffic the show created. We were amazed by the huge attention we received for our product launch at Formnext – the DOMINANT solution for the metal additive manufacturing industry. Visitors to our booth saw different metal parts produced for different verticals. The fine detail and high quality of our parts were an eye catcher and brought us a lot of leads. 

Bradley Rothenberg, CEO, nTopology

The highlight of formnext for me was launching nTop Platform 2.0 — the reception was incredible across the entire show. Our booth was one of the busiest out of the hundreds of companies that were there, and we had people stacked 2-3 rows deep from 8:30am when we opened to 6pm when we shut down.  Both demo stations were running almost nonstop, and we had more interest than we could handle, even with 15 people there. I lost count of how many prospects brought colleagues back to the booth after talking us the day before, and many people came up and said that someone had told them to make sure to come and check us out.  Also, quite a few people had already heard of us, having previously sat through a webinar or learned about us by word of mouth. There was a lot of nTop buzz going on…

Formnext 2019 – wider themes and takeaways

We also asked exhibitors and attendees to tell us, away from their companies, what else they found interesting at formnext. The responses look at key themes, outstanding applications of additive manufacturing and other important takeaways from formnext 2019.

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO, Materialise

In recent years, 3D printing has developed on many crucial fronts – faster machines, new materials, and more finishing options and today, we see all of these advances coming together to create an exciting new climate of innovation. This will lead to the development of entirely new applications that were unthinkable or unachievable before. 

Formnext 2019 is in hall 11 and 12. Photo by Michael Petch.
Formnext 2019 was in hall 11 and 12. Photo by Michael Petch.

Stephan Kuehr, CEO, 3YOURMIND

In general, it was great to see how many new players are pushing to this market and how the “old” players are really accelerating. When the rest of the world talks about recession, we can clearly see that the AM space is really accelerating.

Joseph Crabtree, CEO, Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) Ltd. 

I think the greatest takeaway from Formnext — in general — is the huge growth of the show which directly reflects the growth across the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry itself. While there are plenty of ‘me too’ products and services fuelling this, there are also a lot of new developments and that can only be good for the industry. As a company, AMT can also testify to this growth first hand as we continue to expand across the world in response to the demand for fully industrialized and automated post-processing. It’s really exciting and we’re already planning for Formnext 2020.

Jonah Myerberg, CTO and co-founder, Desktop Metal

One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s Formnext was the need to print parts fast! Time and again, manufacturers and engineers shared their desire with us to leverage metal binder jetting technology for mid-to-high volume production. Equally important for them is the need for lower cost solutions that help them realize the full potential of additive manufacturing. Visitors to the booth seemed both excited with the new technologies we had on display at the show and optimistic for the future of manufacturing.

Kristin Mulherin, President, AM-Cubed

Over recent years, many have talked about the inevitable consolidation that must eventually happen, especially amongst the machine builders. But, with the number of exhibitors growing by nearly 35% this year, this time has clearly still not come. After the big consolidation of Concept Laser and Arcam that led into the creation of GE Additive, I think many felt further consolidation was inevitable. But to keep up with the digital transformation that is occurring, and pressure for productionized ecosystems, we instead saw a lot of announcements around partnerships and cooperation agreements happening across segments instead of consolidation from within. This will only further accelerate an already fast-growing industry as it truly capitalizes on the specialized needs of the industry without having to reinvent the wheel.

Charles Han, CEO, INTAMSYS

This year’s Formnext is the largest one ever, with a 35% exhibitors increase, which proves that the industry is developing rapidly. New players and bigger machines are now shaping the whole industrial chain, with 3D printing moving from prototyping to real “manufacturing”. Very exciting to be part of the movement and not knowing what will come next. After all, as we say at Intamsys this industry is made of ‘’Infinite Possibilities’’.

Kristian Egeberg, President, Sandvik Additive Manufacturing

More and more emphasis on the industrialization of metal additive manufacturing – and discussions about the whole AM-value chain. There was even more focus on materials and post-processing, compared to what I have seen in previous years.

Dr. Stephan Beyer

Personally, I was most interested to explore and learn more about software and design offerings at formnext. Both will be the key to bridge the current gap between customers looking to use AM and technology vendors. The good news is that customers are ready to use AM beyond prototyping, but (and here is the challenge) they are lacking commercially viable applications. And walking around the show you did not find a lot of them. The real problem is that customers have bought machines in the past that are underutilized now due to the lack of applications. Roland Berger presented in an after-show reception a study that confirms the trend with a decreasing machine sales outlook for 2020 ff.  

So bridging the gap should be focus in the very near future now. It all starts with the right design of applications that are optimized to take full commercial benefits from AM and integrates with the existing conventional production environment. I’m calling this digital production, a combination of different production technologies and digital technologies to enable agile, highly flexible manufacturing. My highlights at formnext where therefore companies that are developing solutions to support bridging the gap. Among those, and I’m just to naming a few here, are trinkle for design automation, Elise, Oqton and nTopology for generative design, Link3D and 3YOURMIND for MES software, Dassault for CAD and Siemens for process control & factory automation. There is much more need and room for more technology and players in this sector.

On a very personal note, this formnext felt very different to me from all the others in the past. It was the first time in frankfurt without my friend and business partner Rene Gurka who passed away in August of this year. He was missed.

Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO and Co-founder, Essentium, Inc.

We were amazed by the innovations offered across the market, but one central theme for us was that industrial-scale 3D printing is moving into the manufacturing mainstream in a big way. The promise of additive manufacturing has always been tremendous – but held back by unappealing economics, limitations in materials and production, and an inability to scale. The latest 3D/AM printing platform innovations including hardware, software, and materials are coming together to help companies manufacture in new ways – while removing all the historical barriers. 

As a result of this shift, leaders must consider the strategic implications of their commercial ecosystems. As the technology hurdles around economics, scale, strength, and speed of production fall away, demand for AM is ramping quickly and manufacturers will simply not stand for vendor lock-in. Our conversations with manufacturers at formnext highlighted demand for open ecosystems with more partnerships focused on giving customers greater control of their innovation, more choice in materials, and industrial-scale production at ground-breaking economics.

Peter Rogers, Additive Manufacturing Product Specialist, Autodesk.

I viewed the key trend to be Size. On top of the HUGE 4 floors of AM exhibitors that Formnext offered and the growing PBF machine sizes, I noticed a large growth in DED, cold spray and robot-controlled deposition techniques, allowing for parts to be manufactured at unprecedented size. Whether it be the rocket on Titomic’s booth, Thor’s hammer at the Speed3D booth, the 5-axis hybrid beast from DMG Mori or the 6.5m long continuous fiberglass composite boat on the Autodesk stand, attendees were definitely seeing additive at sizes that have not been seen before.

Tom Krause, Head of Business Unit Additive Manufacturing, igus  GmbH

Formnext is for us from the igus 3D-Printing department the most important trade fair. This year formnext was much bigger than last year and reached already more than 34000 visitors.

It is amazing to reach this already in the 5th year of this trade fair and it reflects also the general interest in 3D printing in lots of different industries. 

Diogo Quental, General Manager, Raise3D Europe

We are living a period of Climate Emergency, with some countries even declaring it officially and taking actions to address it. For a few years that we believe that 3D Printing can substantially contribute to a circular economy, but there were only a few weak signals of moving in that direction. In this Formnext, however, there was a clear change, with more chemical companies showing amazing 100% recyclable material, as well as beautiful objects, like furniture, printed with such materials. There are certainly many challenges ahead, but definitely, Mass Adoption of AM may mean Mass Cleaning!

Dominique Mueller, Principal Research Engineer, Netfabb R&D, Autodesk

I think the key theme was the change of market to make additive technologies more accessible also for small and medium-size companies without big investment capacities. A lot of low-cost machines were shown this year like the solution from one click metal or laser melting innovations. And for example the DED machine for everybody from meltio. Other examples are of course still formlabs and sinterit.

But also the ecosystem around additive is growing with MES systems, scanning technologies and post-processing to decrease costs, lead times and increase quality.

Sylvia Monsheimer, Head of the Market Segment New 3D Technologies, Evonik

We observe a certain consolidation and lots of partnerships announced. Chemical companies offering materials or additives are much more visible than ever before. The topic of automated post-processing was well represented as well as some promising solutions for automation – and that was the missing piece so far in order to move additive manufacturing toward series production.

Nikolas Witter, Thought Leadership Manager in the Center of Competence Additive Manufacturing, Siemens Digital Industries

A key takeaway is that the formnext continues and thrives as the heavy hitter event for industrialization of AM worldwide, with an increase of visitors and exhibitors from all over the world. If you are serious about AM, I definitely recommend a visit. 

Kevin Lewis, Director Additive Manufacturing, Xerox

As this was Xerox’ first Formnext, we had some discussions with people in the industry on what to expect during the show. While those discussions were helpful, it by no means truly prepared us. The Xerox team was quite frankly blown away by the energy and enthusiasm during the entire four days of the show. The experience of all the exhibitors and attendees, with the same vision and mission of transforming manufacturing, all in a concentrated location and timeframe was invaluable.

Ketty Zhong, Sales Manager, Guangzhou Guangya Messe Frankfurt Co., Ltd, organizers of formnext + PM South China 2020

I would like to say, 98% of my Chinese exhibitors are very satisfied with formnext 2019, with high qualified visitors and busy visitor flow.

While for me, I visited formnext for the 4th time. But every time formnext surprised me not because it grew bigger and bigger, but because every time I see new things pop out. You can see the whole production chain is longer and more completed.

Last year, the main trend is the post-processing, while year, post-processing is growing bigger and bigger. But MIM technology also shows its trend in the AM industry. The world-famous and biggest MIM company: INDO-MIN also participated in formnext 2019, and some others. 

It feels like that formnext is a young tree, with full and young energy with endless possibilities.

Davide Marin, founder and CEO, Lumi Industries 

I believe that attention is now focused more on new materials for any technology being it resin, filament, powder and new applications of additive manufacturing, making this whole technology move from simple prototyping to the production of real objects of daily use.

Dr. Kaj Führer, CEO, enter2net

The discussions of formnext are still of high quality and are driven by the implementation of AM. But this year more and more companies seem to be moving into industrial applications, developing a strategy and having a clear vision of how 3D printing will be part of their production system. It was also gratifying to see that many companies are already following this trend and offering industrial concepts such as EOS or Evolve.

Alex Kingsbury, Managing Director, Additive Economics, Additive Manufacturing Industry Fellow, RMIT University

Mine isn’t coming from a vendor perspective, but a highlight for me was seeing some really exciting innovations in metal materials for 3DP. This manufacturing technology will give rise to a materials revolution and we’re just beginning to get a glimpse of what is to come. I’m really excited about the 6K tech and the potential to reduce costs by accessing scrap supply chains. Likewise, Elementum3D has unique take on reducing material costs by reducing build time via materials innovation. 

Bruno Bourguet, Manager Director of PostProcess Technologies International

A key theme was an increasing number of users interested in large series production use cases for Additive Manufacturing, in addition to the traditional prototyping and small series. These companies understand the necessity and impact of a continuous digital thread via automation through the post-printing step. 

Joe Casha, the 3D Maker Noob on YouTube

Diversity and Innovation. As the years go by we are seeing insane innovations coming to the additive manufacturing industry, and while these are at the high-end of the market, I can see them slowly trickling down to the general consumer market. At the same time, innovations that started from the open source community have made their way up to high-end additive manufacturing machines.

Kai Witter, CCO, DyeMansion

It is great to see, the show and the whole AM community is growing from year to year. The AM environment is incredibly innovative and the development just doesn’t stand still. For us it’s nice to see that especially post processing is becoming more and more important to enable completely new applications. Today it is obvious that new applications and especially serial manufacturing requires to consider the complete additive manufacturing process chain in order to manufacture high value industrial and consumer end use parts. 

Vishal Singh, Co-founder & CTO, Link3D

There was a wider awareness and appreciation from the additive manufacturing industry for an ‘end-to-end’ solution, as opposed to running additive production systems in silos. A general theme this year included ‘Connectivity’ to enable automation across software and hardware, including post-processing machines (examples PostProcess Technologies and AMToffers APIs). New material developments are in demand, which have consistently fueled new use cases, and we expect this trend to grow to enable increasing number of applications for series production in various industry sectors.

Ilaria Guicciardini, Marketing Director, Roboze

Formnext really shows the current state of play in the AM world, representing it both in the growth of the show as well in the maturity of opportunities from its attendees. The majority of conversations we had with end-users this year were about long lists of applications where additive is integrated in their manufacturing roadmap and plays a major role.

New technologies, broad supply chain options and integration of manufacturing standards will keep creating a fertile ground for the industry to become a consolidated and advantageous mean of production.

Tim Ruffner, Vice President Enterprise Solutions, Dynamism

The ATMAT printers, for the size and cost, these seem to be making a huge stance in the industry. Many large format printers at a very reasonable cost. These printers are massive and can do quite a bit of materials.

The Zortrax part finishing solution, this is a vapor polishing system that is unique and inexpensive for the desktop world

Sinterit SLS desktop system. Although not really desktop, this system was legit for the price and the materials offered. It has a low wattage laser, which limits material, but for the cost it’s a very easy step up system to SLS.

XYZ Part Pro 120 xP, this system is inexpensive and hits the SLA market hard. Super fast printing using the membrane tech.

Nexa3D, of course there is nothing more intriguing than a super fast printer with many material options. Backed by Avi Reichental and team this system will go far for the folks who not only want to innovate quickly, but for quick turn manufacturing.

Desktop Metal Shop and Fiber. Both are going to revolutionize the industry. Tape style continues fiber printing on one machine and an affordable binder jetting system for those who don’t want to invest in. lot for a metals system but want to get their feet wet, this is it.

Number 1 system for the show was the AMPC enclosure unit. I think safety as well as material properties are important. This system has an enclosure not just for stopping VOCs but also to keep the chamber warm enough to do some really exotic materials.

Dr. Aaron Bent, CEO,  6K Inc.

It appeared that there was a focus across exhibiting companies discussing serviceability, solutions geared toward production and over reliability and much less individual product hype that didn’t relate to an actual application.

 Ben Arnold, VP of Business Development, Fortify

With so many new companies in the space with similar core technologies, it will be interesting to see which players capitalize by focusing on specific applications and industries. Application focus will continue to be the key to adding value and standing out from the crowded field.

Lee-Bath Nelson, Co-Founder and VP Business, LEO Lane 

For me, the key theme of formnext 2019 was the importance of repeatability of AM, just like other manufacturing processes. This was seen in the booths of 3D printer manufacturers, post processing solutions, service providers and software solutions alike. The pervasiveness is what impressed me most. Part of repeatability is removing errors from the workflow and allowing a less skilled operator to run the machines. Arcam, for example, showed new Performance Analyzer software exactly for this latter purpose.

Fernando Hernandez,  EMEA Managing Director, XYZprinting

Greater adoption of 3D printing applications in sectors as diverse as automotive, medical and metals are indicative of the sustained growth we anticipate for 2020 as other industries begin to follow suit. 

The volume of new materials announced at Formnext is also the next step in bringing more efficient and effective pieces together to create better quality products. One that caught our attention was the hotly anticipated evolution of safer resins helping to extend 3D printing operations further. 

Formnext was a terrific illustration of how we as an industry can build our systems better to suit the exact needs of manufacturers by creating a collaborative ecosystem to strategize against obstacles together.

Giovanni Cavolina, Co-founder, 9TLabs

We were impressed by the innovations and new players in the field of 3d printing of carbon composites. This clearly shows that there is a fast growing market for cost-efficient manufacturing of high-performance parts by 3D printing.

Ben Redwood, Director of Sales & Business Development, 3D Hubs

The growth of the event was one thing that really stood out this year. We remember coming to FormNext originally when it was only 1 floor full of desktop FDM companies and filament suppliers. To see the range of manufacturing solutions now available and the level of innovation that companies like 3D Hubs are still bringing bodes well for the future.

Pia Brandt, Director of Product Marketing, Markforged

3D printing is really maturing as a market: you can see it from the way Formnext has grown over the years. We’re particularly excited about the proliferation of applications of metal 3D printing. The fact that printing metal is becoming more affordable means more companies and educational institutions are using the technology. This broader adoption is going to change the game in terms of innovation. We believe we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what people will do with metal, and we can’t wait to see more exciting applications come out in 2020.

Andrew Copley, Chief Revenue Officer, Evolve Additive Solutions

The industry is seeking something new and revolutionary and this event is definitely the one to be at. It was apparent by the conversations that we had, there is an understanding that companies will need to move to an industry 4.0 strategy to remain competitive. While this may bring about a need for a huge change and shift in their current production processes, it is one that they need to take seriously and plan for. 

Another theme that was prevalent was the idea around sustainability and the importance of being eco-friendly. That aside, Formnext brings a great opportunity for networking and in joining in and being a part of the AM community.

Konrad Glowacki, Co-founder, Sinterit

I was delighted with the level of knowledge and professionalism of people visiting the fair. Precise questions, very straightforward and the awareness of advanced AM technologies was greater than in previous years.

Jordi Drieman, 3D Application Specialist, Mimaki

The rate at which the 3D industry is growing and diversifying is remarkable. In particular, the advances made in 3D metal printing seem to be gaining momentum at a very fast pace with many new, innovative applications on show this year.

Dror Danai, CBO, XJet

Bigger than ever this year with more halls, more visitors, more international reach and more key brands understanding the significance of AM, Formnext is an important place for business. It’s clear from this year’s show, with many newcomers from a variety of industries including larger corporates that AM is the future. 

Bradley Rothenberg, CEO, nTopology

One of the most interesting themes this year was new materials — we had HRL Labs with one of the first parts printed in their new 7A77 Aluminum. Additionally, just the size of the show was incredible: it was nearly twice as big as last year, which shows that the industry is becoming more commoditized & the applications are now nearly all rooted in production rather than prototyping. This is a big shift from even two years ago!

Formnext 2019 wrapped up?

This year’s formnext will surely be the event that other trade shows focused on the additive manufacturing sector will be measured against. In terms of exhibitor and attendee numbers, the Frankfurt show surpassed many attendees expectations. 

As our brief survey of attendees and exhibitors above shows, the range of experiences and technologies was diverse. However, much like the trade show itself, it’s still possible to miss things. Contact us or comment below to tell us about your experience at formnext 2019.

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