Taking place in a fully digital format this year as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Formnext Connect saw 8,541 participants from more than 100 countries log on to the show’s virtual matchmaking platform between 10-12 November.
More than 2,000 representatives from 203 exhibitors showcased their products, held video meetings, and conducted business through Formnext’s artificial intelligence (AI) supported online platform.
“In particular, the AI-supported possibilities for networking offered by Formnext Connect showed how efficient and target-oriented matchmaking between exhibitors and visitors can work on digital platforms,” said Petra Haarburger, president at Formnext organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt.
The show in numbers
Over the course of the event, Formnext Connect’s intelligent matchmaking feature generated over 450,000 recommendations for products and other participants. Some 23,322 new contacts and 4,733 video call business meetings were also facilitated. Meanwhile, two-thirds of attendees were identified as international visitors.
As with previous years, Formnext Connect maintained a high-profile program of stage events and educational sessions, seeing 221 lectures and presentations virtually attended by a total of 45,000 viewers. Within these sessions, experts from across the globe discussed current and future trends in 3D printing in addition to new developments and emerging applications for the technology. Many exhibiting companies also held their own virtual product launch events to provide company updates and insights into their latest news.
Sustainability, workflow integration, and scaling up 3D printing for mass production were all popular topics discussed at length throughout the various sessions. Perhaps not surprisingly, 3D printing applications and innovations within the medical sector also dominated this year’s presentation schedule.
In a press statement, Mesago Messe Frankfurt said: “The success of the virtual event exceeded all expectations and shows the potential and benefits of digital communication platforms for all participants.”
Challenge and competition winners
Huhn Cycles, a manufacturer of additive manufactured mountain bikes, has been awarded first place in the purmundus challenge for its 3D printed Moorhun Bike. The purmundus challenge is an annual competition inviting designers and engineers from around the world to participate in a theme-based 3D printing design contest. This year, the theme of the competition was “Geometry and Material in Harmony”.
Other winners of the challenge included a bionic hand orthotic from HKK Bionics, a 3D printed sneaker from designer Svet Abjo, a Tactile Color Compass created by 3D printing software provider Taktilesdesign, a 3D printed human heart model from ANAMOS, and bio-based responsive materials for 4D printing from Yejun Fu of the Victoria University of Wellington.
There were also five new winners of the annual Formnext start-up challenge. Find out more about these companies in 3DPI’s interviews with the winners: monitoring technology firm Addiguru, Molyworks, a US-based company focused on the circular economy for metal, high-performance polymer 3D printing firm NematX, topology optimization enterprise TOffee AM, and Netherlands-based 3D printing software company AM-Flow.
Although we couldn’t roam the halls in person this year, the 3D Printing Industry team was busy connecting virtually with exhibitors and visitors alike to gauge how this year’s digital format was being received, and to discover the key trends emerging from discussions held during the event.
Juan Vertelman, Commercial Director, atum3D:
We received some quite positive feedback from the orthopedic device market on the ‘DLP Station 5-365 EXZ printer. The Curing Station as a separate device attracts interest from resin developers that are looking for the light intensity in combination with the size and vacuum. Formnext itself has had its challenges, but until now it’s fair to say that it supersedes our expectations.
Besides the hardware developments, there are not many innovations standing out compared to last year. Maybe I’m a bit biased, but elastomerics within resin printing have increased considerably. Then also workflow integration has professionalized further. Mass production still seems a challenge.
Bob Bennett, Regional sales manager for the UK, Ireland, and Nordics, ExOne:
We have introduced our latest addition to the ExOne binder jet system family – InnoventPro. It has been an excellent response, even though it is not yet available for installation. It perfectly fits the space between Innovent+ (our entry-level system aimed at end-users wanting to develop materials and small part geometries) and our out-and-out production units (X1 125Pro and X1 160Pro).
I would say that is difficult to gauge, due to a slightly different format of engagement, but there seems to be a definite buzz around binder jet in general. The number of attendees or people registered to the binder jet presentations appear to confirm that.
Janusz Berger, Project manager and team leader, Evonik:
I very much like the virtual Formnext. Evonik has exhibited on several other virtual tradeshows in the past and this platform is great. Our engagement rates are high, our expert sessions participant rates as well. I like the transparency of the platform to get inside who is interested in which topics, also from a competitor point of view.
Chris Eonta, Managing director, Molyworks:
I have found the content of Formnext TV incredible this year. I think that has definitely been a perk of the digital event. I’m not sure as many ‘big’ releases occurred this year as compared to past Formnext’s. Seems like SLM has made the biggest splash.
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Featured image shows the main stage at Formnext Connect 2020. Image via Mesago Messe Frankfurt.