Organized by Swiss technology group Oerlikon, this year’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Conference (AMTC) welcomed industry leaders and experts from across industry, government, and academia to discuss the future of additive manufacturing.
The conference took place between 12th-14th October 2021 in Aachen, Germany, under the umbrella theme “Momentum for Growth”, and brought together more than 60 speakers to address the latest developments in the 3D printing industry and the role it can play in tackling timely issues such as climate change, population growth, and increasing consumer expectation for personalized products.
Oerlikon Chairman Professor Dr. Michael Suess shares the key themes and takeaways from the conference, and his insights on the future direction of additive manufacturing.
AMTC 2021 in numbers
There were more than 3,000 registered online and on-site attendees at this year’s AMTC, with 200 of them in-person. The event’s virtual conference platform received north of 36,000 clicks, 550 chats, and 200 questions were submitted. Attendees hailed from 68 countries, with the hybrid format clearly providing ample opportunities for delegates far and wide to partake in the conference.
In comparison to the 2019 edition of the conference, AMTC 2021 achieved double the number of participants and countries reached, and also increased the number of speakers by 25 percent.
Representatives from the likes of Boeing, Siemens, McKinsey, and Audi were among the 60-plus speakers who addressed the latest developments in the 3D printing industry throughout this year’s conference.
Over the course of three days, the conference hosted seven startup pitches, 11 conference topics, six breakout sessions, and five workshops, all of which prompted numerous in-depth discussions around the industrialization of additive manufacturing.
During the conference, key speakers presented success stories regarding new materials, education, standards, scaling and customizing hardware, among a plethora of other topics. Meanwhile, panel discussions presented the challenges and opportunities currently facing the industrialization of 3D printing and advanced manufacturing.
AMTC 2021 hailed a success
According to Prof. Dr. Suess, the numbers coming out of the conference clearly demonstrate the event’s success, and have positively surprised Oerlikon.
“It is a fact: The AMTC has become one of the most important international AM conferences,” he says. “We had strong content discussions and breakout sessions, and over the whole conference there were very good questions from the audience.”
The high number of questions and discussion contributions can be considered as positive feedback from participants, and a more extensive survey of conference participants is underway.
“The feedback from the AMTC-Partners was very positive,” Prof. Dr. Suess continues. “Particular emphasis was placed on the high quality of contacts. At the AMTC, large industrial companies such as Siemens, Audi and Boeing came together with manufacturers of 3D printing technology, as well as AM service providers and material suppliers, and were able to have an open exchange.”
Key takeaways from AMTC 2021
According to Prof. Dr. Suess, the general mood within the 3D printing community seems positive again, with this sentiment reflected in the speeches and presentations delivered during the conference.
Three “blueprint cases” were presented during the event, the first of which was Audi’s first 3D printed components for use in cars. The second blueprint case focused on Siemens’ fully 3D printed gas turbine blades which delivered significant efficiency improvements, and the third centered on Boeing’s 20 years of experience in metal AM, with a renewed focus on the metal 3D printing process.
“The conference presentations made it clear: the markets for AM are picking up, real industrial applications are increasing, and AM technology is continuously improving and had already reached an industry-ready level,” Prof. Dr. Suess added.
Challenges and opportunities for industrialization of AM
The roadblocks along 3D printing’s path to industrialization were also a key focus of this year’s AMTC, and can be condensed into six main challenges summarized in this thesis by Prof. Dr. Suess and Dr. Sven Hicken, Head of Oerlikon AM and CTO of Oerlikon OSS.
“We need experienced AM specialists in the production development process involved as early as possible,” says Prof. Dr. Suess. “We need adjusted curricula at universities and specific training programs to educate engineers on the potential of AM. Further developing today’s versions of 3D printers will support having more AM products in the markets, and the definition of binding standards will accelerate the industrialization of AM.”
While there remain certain challenges to the industrialization of additive manufacturing, the conference also highlighted numerous opportunities for the technology to scale up to production levels.
“The AMTC has made it clear that the most important way to industrialize AM is through collaboration,” Prof. Dr. Suess offers. “This involves collaboration on standards and norms, on specific use cases for AM and on the further development of 3D printing technology, as well as on AM training for engineers.”
Additionally, the blueprint cases highlighted during the conference have shown that overcoming the usual thought patterns around manufacturing, such as the production of parts via conventional methods, opens up opportunities for 3D printing to exploit its potential regarding design freedom, speed with small quantities, weight reduction and other benefits.
“AM is already an indispensable part of today’s industry,” He adds. “Today, we already see industrial applications in safety-critical areas such as energy technology, aerospace and defense – but also in medical technology and in tooling and pre-series-production. But, large-scale industrial applications are also not far behind.”
Next steps for AMTC
The next AMTC will be held between 5th-7th October, 2022, in Munich, with the goal of increasing the number of participants and further growing the additive manufacturing community. Through this, Oerlikon and its partners hope to foster further cooperation and knowledge exchange surrounding 3D printing and its industrialization.
“In 2022, we will try to show even more concrete use cases and even more examples of how the successful integration of AM can work,” Prof. Dr. Suess says. “We want to continue the ‘Momentum for Growth’ with AMTC 2022.”
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Featured image shows AMTC 2021 Day 2 at Eurogress in Aachen. Photo via Robert Gongoll/Oerlikon.