Editorial: Survival of the fastest

by Sascha F. Wenzler

For members of the human race on Earth, time is a constant we can neither stop nor turn back. On occasion, arriving too late at a train station, an airport, or an important meeting gives us a rather harsh reminder of that fact. Time is, after all, like many other things: You only realize how important it is when you don’t have enough. This is why economists view time not as a physical dimension, but as an object of value.

Indeed, humans seem to be the only living creatures on the planet that put themselves under pressure to meet certain appointments – and then complain about the resulting stress. Most animals take a more relaxed approach to the notion of time. Perhaps the best example is a type of giant sponge found in Antarctica, whose lifespan has earned it a reputation as the oldest animal on Earth. Scientists recorded measurements of the creature for 10 years, only to determine that it had barely grown at all. This led them to conclude that attaining its two-meter diameter must have taken the sponge around 10,000 years – meaning it was alive when humans were still hunting woolly mammoths.

One of the things we witness at formnext is that our industrialized world has much different standards when it comes to time. Every year, start-ups and more established firms develop new additive technologies and cutting-edge production techniques with breathtaking speed and bring them to Frankfurt for all to see. The industry’s dynamic nature more or less forces these companies to achieve their next breakthrough … or risk seeing their particular success story come to an end. Facing this kind of pressure, who can afford to be an Antarctic sponge?

Certainly not Concept Laser or Desktop Metal, two companies featured in the current issue that have come to terms with these demands and realized that growth is of the utmost importance. Or, to stick with the biology metaphor: Survival in our industry is not guaranteed to the fittest. You have to be the fastest, as well!

I hope you enjoy this edition of our magazine and take inspiration from the many exciting articles, use cases, and developments it contains.