Followed Up Formnext 2016 was a great success. Did it reflect all cutting-edge trends?
Germany - Being considered as a trendsetter only one year after its inauguration is a praise for any trade show. We wanted to know if Formnext 2016 reflected all current trends in additive manufacturing (AM).
The biggest trend is certainly that industrial 3D printing is now fast approaching the long-awaited shift to high volume serial production. Do you agree?
At Formnext 2016 we saw great dynamics, outstanding innovations and many new players on the market. On the one hand, AM processes are becoming more efficient in general and even today, companies like GE manufacture components in relatively large quantities. Also – and I think this is even more crucial – many efforts are being made to combine additive manufacturing with other technologies or to integrate it into existing production processes.
The 3D metal printing industry is expected to grow even further (by up to 25%) this year. Has this trend been reflected by what has been on show at Formnext 2016?
There is a lot going on regarding metals right now. In addition to exciting developments from market leaders like Concept Laser, EOS, Renishaw, SLM, or 3D Systems, Formnext also saw the presentation of very innovative technologies and solutions from new businesses and well-established companies from other industries, who now have also entered the field of additive manufacturing. Examples are XJET with their new printing technology, or OR Laser, who were showing a metal printer for less than €100,000 and received over 40 orders for it right at the fair. This illustrates the high demand for new solutions. The fact that large corporations are entering the market will surely also have a significant impact on further developments. The acquisition of Arcam and Concept Laser by GE has demonstrated how much in flux the market currently is.
Did you notice the trend towards hybrid machine tools in terms of exhibitors?
Yes. The exciting thing about it is that these “newcomers” to AM, if I may say so, come from different industry sectors and thus all have unique approaches and solutions for additive manufacturing. Companies like Arburg, DMG Mori/Sauer, Hermle, or Trumpf are global players in mechanical engineering and have a very long history and vast experience, which enable a wide variety of highly unique innovations and areas of application.