Weeks before international exhibition and conference on the next generation of manufacturing technologies Formnext take place, organiser Mesago already reported record numbers. The event mirrors the rising interest in additive manufacturing.
It sounds a little bit contradictory: The big hype on 3D printing is over and still, additive manufacturing is becoming more and more important for manufacturers. The reason is quite simple. When additive manufacturing and especially 3D printing became popular in the early 2010s because of matured technology, the media and popular interest was extremely high. People expected the technology to disruptively change the world of manufacturing and to take over areas of traditional machining. Stories were told, how normal people will be able to produce their own individualised products at their own printer at home, replacing traditional plastic processing companies. That still has not happened today. Instead, 3D printing has matured. We don't have 3D printers at home to produce our own toys, pen holders or bottle openers (not to speak of our own houses or cars).
3D printing nevertheless is a success story. While it has not arrived in our homes, it is more and more accepted by the industry. Many manufacturers have recognised the potential it offers for a improved production. Tool and mould makers have discovered additive technologies for optimised cooling channels, allowing for an improved finish of the product due to uniform temperature. In the meantime, 3D printing gains more popularity in areas where users have a particularly huge advantage of the possibility of individualisation, for example, prostheses that have to be adjusted to the unique body of the wearer. The result of the developments of the last years is mainly the understanding that, while 3D printing will not replace traditional methods, it can be a valuable step in the process chain of manufacturing.
Formnext proves to be a success story after three years
Event organiser Mesago has seemingly stepped up at the right moment with Formnext powered by tct, the international exhibition and conference on the next generation of manufacturing technologies. For the second year in a row, the event is registering rising numbers of exhibitors. Since 2015, when Formnext was held for the first time, the number of exhibitors has doubled. To make space for this big rush, the exhibition hall will expand to two additional levels, Mesago reported.
At Mesago, there is a clear idea of the developments of additive manufacturing. On the one hand, Sascha Wenzel, Vice President for Formnext at exhibition organiser Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, sees a development towards better hardware, on the other hand he sees the potential of 3D printing to improve existing processes: “Many new developments are indeed designed to make systems and processes increasingly efficient overall, which in turn makes it possible to further reduce the cost of additive production. As a result, components manufactured using additive techniques are becoming more competitive in additional application areas.”
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