IMTS conference canceled for the first time since WWII, Formnext organizers provide updated safety precautions 

The 2020 edition of the International Manufacturing Technology Show has been canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

Having monitored the impact of the coronavirus on the 3D printing industry, IMTS planners decided that the health and safety of its exhibitors and audience remain its top priority, and canceled the event. IMTS Network, a live-streaming event, will be held in its place. 

Formnext 2020 meanwhile, will go ahead as planned, and the event’s organizers have released an updated set of safety precautions to protect those that attend. 

“The show has been held uninterrupted for more than 80 years, but now the global coronavirus health crisis requires the cancellation of what would have been the 34th edition of IMTS for the health and safety of our exhibitors, audiences and local business community,” says Peter R. Eelman, Vice President & CXO at the Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). “The cancellation is especially poignant because the show was poised to offer an unmatched breadth and depth of resources to help industry rethink, reestablish and reengage with supply chains disrupted by COVID-19.”

The IMTS trade show will not take place for the first time since WWII.
The IMTS trade show will not take place for the first time since WWII. Photo via IMTS.

IMTS conference canceled 

The AMT Board of Directors has spent several weeks clarifying the situation with Illinois Governor, J. Pritzker, and Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, regarding the exact requirements for the trade show to take place. In early May, Pritzker introduced a five-phased plan to re-open Illinois businesses, which categorized conferences as events that can only take place in “phase five” of the action plan. As a result, public events cannot take place without a Covid-19 vaccine, or another treatment method for tackling the virus, being in place. 

While this means that the trade show, which was scheduled for September 14th-19th 2020, is canceled, IMTS Network and Spark events have been arranged in its place. The former will be a live-streaming event, featuring human stories from the AM sector, while the latter will be a digital platform that provides educational and networking opportunities. At present, the AMT board is still finalizing the terms of its cancellation, with more details about their 2020 contract and the replacement events to be revealed, “in the near future.” 

Visitors who have registered for IMTS 2020 can either receive a refund or transfer their registration to a tax-deductible donation to Miles For Manufacturing, a program that prepares students for careers in manufacturing technology. Exhibitors will receive direct communications from IMTS about fees, once terms have been agreed. With regards to next year’s event, IMTS remains fully committed to returning to its usual venue at McCormick Place from September 13th-18th, 2022. 

In an attempt to pool some of the resources that would have been shared at the event,  IMTS has created a “rebuilding the supply chain” microsite. Designed to help manufacturers address distribution issues created by Covid-19, the website advises OEMs on how to rethink their current operations, and re-engage with suppliers and secure trading partners. The site also includes a brief history of why supply chain disruptions have occurred, and sets out some next steps, in order to secure the supply chain moving forward.

Formnext will be taking place as planned, but with an increased focus on safety measures to combat COVID-19. Photo via Formnext.
Formnext will be taking place as planned, but with an increased focus on safety measures to combat COVID-19. Photo via Formnext.

Formnext goes ahead with updated safety advice 

Formnext 2020 on the other hand, is scheduled to take place as planned in Frankfurt from 10th-13th November, but with a revised format, and a new health protection concept in place. The new measures, developed in cooperation with event organizers Messe Frankfurt GmbH, will go beyond mandatory legal requirements, in order to provide maximum protection for exhibitors, visitors, and employees. Procedures introduced will focus on hygiene (higher cleaning frequency), social distancing (professional crowd management), and a generous supply of fresh air (including regular exchange of the hall air every hour).

A reinforced registration process will be introduced, with tickets that are only valid on specific dates, and a fully electronic sign-in system, including a mandatory declaration of attendees’ current state of health. Exhibition spaces and booths will be redesigned to make sure there’s enough space for each visitor, with the aisles between the booths being made wider,  increasing from three to six meters. CCTV will be monitored, and trained personnel will be present in the hall, to ensure that coronavirus and social distancing requirements are being observed. New booth construction guidelines are also being adapted accordingly, and recommendations regarding catering, for instance, will also be provided before the event. Formnext is offering exhibitors turnkey booth packages, which are designed to comply with all of the social distancing and health protection requirements, for those that wish to ensure compliance.  

The trade show will also have a more digital focus than previous years, in order to offer participants that are unable to travel, the opportunity to participate. Not only will this online aspect include product presentations and access to industry contacts, but digital matchmaking promises to promote exchange, and offers participants the chance to expand their network. In addition, the format will include live and on-demand transmission of a number of individual supporting events, the content of which will be confirmed closer to the show. 

“Additive manufacturing has made a significant contribution to the fight against the corona pandemic in recent months and is still a driving factor for innovation, resource-efficient production, and the technological management of future challenges,” explains Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President Formnext, Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH. “It is all the more important that with Formnext 2020, we continue to support and advance this trend even in these economically challenging times.”

Two of AMs biggest trade shows 

Formnext and IMTS are two of 3D printing’s biggest events of the year. Although some  COVID-related disruptions were expected, the cancellation of IMTS will still see industry insiders lose the chance to connect and see AM’s newest innovations. Similarly, many will be relieved that Formnext is still going ahead as planned. 

A record attendance at IMTS 2018 witnessed “an unprecedented degree of collaboration among exhibitors,” with 51 3D printing companies taking part, including EOS, Stratasys, 3D Systems, and many more. 

Formnext 2019 meanwhile, saw multinational chemical companies moving to establish themselves as a brand for AM in their own right, and an increasing focus both on large scale manufacturing and sustainability within 3D printing. 

The Formnext start-up challenge brought a range of new ideas and concepts in 2019, with Laser Melting Innovations taking home the prize. Its winning machine, the Alpha 140, is a laser-based system capable of working with multiple alloys.

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Featured image shows the IMTS trade show floor in 2018. Photo via IMTS.