»Many groundbreaking innovations«

The formnext press conference gives a foretaste of what visitors can expect in Frankfurt this November

16/10/2018 - »Formnext has become the leading event we all hoped for,« stated Rainer Lotz, CEO of Renishaw GmbH and Chairman of the exhibitors’ advisory board of formnext, at the latest press conference for formnext 2018 in Frankfurt am Main. Every year, formnext and its exhibitors spotlight »sometimes sensational advances of particular interest to visitors.«

Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President for formnext at event organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, presented the latest good news about the exhibition: The two levels of Hall 3 are fully occupied with almost 600 exhibitors; and a record 56% of exhibitors are from outside Germany. With these »incredible growth rates,« formnext is also setting a new record when it comes to visitors: Sascha F. Wenzler and his team expect to welcome 25,000+ more trade visitors at this year’s formnext.

Powder prices are falling

Rainer Lotz said that, as in earlier years, visitors can expect many groundbreaking innovations spanning the entire process chain. On the one hand, there will be leaps ahead in the performance and productivity of additive manufacturing equipment. Because a growing number of companies are now discovering what the materials market has to offer them, powder is also developing in ways that are very attractive for users: Not only are prices falling, but new alloys such as hard steels are also coming onto the market, enabling new applications. According to Lotz, the quality of powder has also increased considerably.

Overall, Lotz welcomed the fact that all additive processes are represented and on show at formnext. And he added that the individual technologies are not in competition with each other. »Every process has its place.«

AM Field Guide

To give visitors to the event an overview of the world of additive manufacturing, formnext also presented an »AM Field Guide«, developed in cooperation with Reutlingen University. The additive manufacturing processes for various materials are presented and briefly explained here in a graphical overview. »We cover 98% of current processes,« reports Prof. Dr.-Ing. Steffen Ritter. The AM Field Guide provides visitors to the exhibition with guidance designed to help them find their way around the complex world of additive manufacturing. To enable visitors to the exhibition to systematically search for the process that is right for them, the AM Field Guide also offers a standardized list of questions.

200 components identified

Dr. Markus Seibold, Director Advanced Manufacturing Technologies at Siemens, presented the latest developments from the user industry. The technology group has already identified 200 components that are to be produced using additive techniques by 2025. Of these, 15 have already been »commercially implemented.« For example, Seibold sees turbine blades, where Siemens aims to further increase efficiency, as a lucrative area of application. To further advance its Additives Manufacturing division, Siemens is planning to build a new AM factory in Sweden. According to Seibold, €30 million is to be invested in the 4,500m² plant. To successfully implement this and other projects, Siemens relies on cooperation across multiple industries, »and formnext provides us with a suitable network for this purpose.« ?

Processes well under control

The success of formnext is also built on the steadily increasing acceptance of the technology. »Additive manufacturing processes are not only increasingly finding their way into industry, but are already standardized,« said Sascha F. Wenzler. Rainer Lotz stated that users are now able to get additive processes well under control. The other challenges lie primarily in the area of post-processing. But here, too, the industry is developing rapidly, as also reflected by an increase in the number of exhibitors in this sector (up 42%). In light of this, visitors can expect many innovative post-processing solutions at the event.