Formnext Connect attracted 203 exhibitors with about 2,200 representatives, and showcased 1,412 products. 8,541 active participants from more than 100 nations (1/3 national, 2/3 international) made great use of the matchmaking function, which managed to generate more than 450,000 recommendations for products and other participants. Further, 23,311 new contacts and 4,733 business meetings in the form of video calls were enabled. The 221 lectures and presentations of the program of stage events and sessions were 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.
With international product launches, amongst them numerous new materials, a SLM machine with 12 lasers as well as post-processing solutions for finishing, de-powdering and curing and exciting new developments on show, Formnext Connect demonstrated that the AM industry remains highly innovative, even in this year of corona, and urgently needs a platform for business opportunities and networking. “The newly developed digital format of Formnext Connect has enabled us to meet the demand from the AM community and target industries for dialog, 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.”
Wide-ranging content program
In the content program, 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. An ever-present accompaniment to Formnext Connect was the varied program from the Additive Manufacturing Capital Studio. This was broadcast on the main stage in consideration of different time zones, and presented a varied program with a number of high-profile names. There were 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 mold 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 3D-printed 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 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 organisations were also on hand to share their in-depth knowledge. The purmundus challenge and the winners of the Start-up Challenge provided a glimpse of the future of 3D and 4D printing as well as future business opportunities. Throughout the event, Discover3Dprinting seminars, which were presented in cooperation with ACAM (Aachen Center for Additive Manufacturing), provided tips and information for newcomers to industrial 3D printing. Over 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 looking at 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.
For Sascha F. Wenzler, the digital format of Formnext Connect proved a success: “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.” That being said, Wenzler is of the firm belief that it 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 can 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.” In view of the positive experiences from Formnext Connect, however, the digital component is to be further developed for the future.
Following the conclusion of the live Formnext Connect program, the platform will continue to be accessible until 31 December 2020 and will still offer opportunities to engage with others via text-chat as well as a wealth of on-demand content.
Formnext 2021 is scheduled to return to Frankfurt am Main from 16 to 19 November 2021. For further information please visit: www.formnext.com