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Revolutionary Innovations in Additive Manufacturing at Formnext 2023

At Formnext 2023 in November, groundbreaking advancements in Additive Manufacturing were showcased. On Friday, Formnext closed its doors following another prosperous year. There were about 900 exhibitors at the show, fifty more than the previous year. Global businesses discussed a broad range of trends and advancements from the manufacturing sectors, such as healthcare, transportation, and defense. In addition, Formnext saw 32,851 visits, up 11.1% from the previous year.

The event provided a distinctive trade fair experience because of the unmatched concentration of innovations, decision-makers, and AM experts. According to Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President for Formnext at Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, the event organizer, “In the context of an extremely dynamic sector, Formnext provides a roadmap for the evolution of cutting-edge manufacturing industries.”

On Displays

Various machines were showcased in the four halls of the show, with a notable emphasis on hybrid solutions. A growing number of producers are combining traditional production techniques like machining and other processes with additive manufacturing. Formnext confirmed what we already knew, which is that these production techniques work in concert with one another. These days, manufacturers actively seek out comprehensive solutions, and additive manufacturing integration is seen through a wider lens. This transition is demonstrated by the rise in the number of devices with quickly swappable tool heads and the prevalence of robotic arms.

Formnext’s outstanding display of innovation encompassed both well-established companies and up-and-coming startups. Among the speakers were Bosch, D3-AM, Reinforce 3D, and Venox Systems, who showcased the newest advancements in additive manufacturing (AM).

Revolutionary Innovation in Additive Manufacturing

Modern robotic 3D printing systems for polymer, metal, and even concrete were on display from the exhibitors. One envelope could print an entire boat. In addition, the well-known British engineering company Renishaw has introduced TEMPUS, a state-of-the-art technology intended to greatly accelerate build speeds for its metal 3D printers, the RenAM 500 series. Thanks to this ground-breaking invention, print speeds can now be increased by up to 50% without sacrificing part quality.

Additionally, Renishaw has unveiled the RenAM 500 Ultra, a model that comes with sophisticated process monitoring software and is already outfitted with TEMPUS. The machine’s current features, which include automated powder and waste handling systems and powerful lasers (one in the 500S or four in the 500Q), are enhanced by this addition. Discover the cutting-edge features and increased efficiency of Renishaw’s most recent products for the best metal 3D printing experiences.

Director of Additive Manufacturing at Renishaw, Louise Callanan, said, “We’re thrilled to introduce the new RenAM 500 Ultra system and TEMPUS technology to the market.” We think that TEMPUS technology and the RenAM 500 Ultra system will allow AM to be used in mass production applications where it would not have been feasible before because of the time and money savings they bring.

Prominent exhibitors such as BMF and Nano Dimension ventured into the realm of nanotechnology and presented creative solutions that opened up new avenues for applications such as 3D printing electronic components. Future applications and products are expected to be numerous as a result of these advancements.

Furthermore, HoliMaker demonstrated its ground-breaking HoliPress, a device that melts plastic pellets and injects them into molds. Its smooth integration with 3D-printed molds is noteworthy, as it emphasizes the mutually beneficial relationship between these two manufacturing techniques. The event’s overarching theme revolved around this synergy and the expanding field of 3D printing applications for molds and castings. The HoliPress’s compatibility with a wide variety of pellets highlights its adaptability. In addition, there is more enthusiasm for pellet 3D printing this year than in previous editions, and there are more committed machine manufacturers.

Materials Focused

The show also featured a diverse array of material specialists showcasing filaments, powders, resins, silicones, and ceramics. This year there was a clear emphasis on machines designed for material characterization, particularly focusing on powders and their manufacturing processes.

Dr. André Klicpera of industry leader Microtrac MRB, highlighted, “In the realm of 3D printing, the significance of particle size and shape for quality control is paramount, spanning metals, polymers, and ceramics. The demand for such work is steadily rising, especially in the domains of research and development.” Material characterization plays a crucial role not only in ensuring quality but also in powder recycling, aligning with the industry’s growing commitment to sustainability.

Machines & Printing Speed

Impressively, Formnext 2023 displayed a wide range of printing machines to suit different needs and tastes. Notably, exhibitors like BigRep and Hage3D attracted attention when they announced their mergers and had large-format parts and machines on display in their expansive stands. Conversely, UpNano distinguished itself by choosing micro-printing. The high-speed filament line PolySonicTM PLA, from materials manufacturer Polymaker, was also on display. It was created to address these issues.

This year, we noticed that FDM desktop solutions—especially those that prioritize faster print speeds—were making a comeback. These desktop solutions are a main attraction at the event because it is clear that users are looking for quick and repeatable models.

In addition, Stratasys unveiled the F3330, a state-of-the-art industrial extrusion 3D printing solution that raised the bar for dependability and speed. The F3330 boasts multiple extruders and a redesigned head movement mechanism, ensuring enhanced performance and twice the speed of competing models. This innovation, which comes with a large 600 x 600 x 800 mm print volume, represents a major advancement in industrial 3D printing technology.

Artificial Intelligence

Formnext is an expression of the manufacturing industry’s and the global community’s focus on artificial intelligence. Businesses are relying more and more on this idea, which is noteworthy because it enables machines to mimic human intelligence, which lowers the need for manual intervention and labor expenses.

Automation Acoustics, an Australian company that invented sensors to detect 3D printing flaws by listening to the machine’s output, is one notable example. With a current emphasis on DED and WAAM solutions, the company has refined its skill in interpreting manufacturing machine noises by utilizing seven years of research and data.

Regarding software, the PRINT&GO solution is noteworthy since it makes use of AI to detect printing errors and gather information on prints that have been successfully completed. Using this data to gain a deeper understanding of machine behavior, streamlining workflows, and enhancing overall productivity.

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Image: Fotis Fotopoulos

The Software Market

Formnext outlined a possible loss for large software companies in the field of additive manufacturing software. Notably, Dassault Systèmes and PTC were conspicuously absent, and Hexagon and Autodesk were sporadically present. Growing digital challenges are a result of additive manufacturing’s (AM) maturing status as a production technology, particularly in critical industry applications. As a result, a large number of Formnext attendees stressed the importance of tackling these software issues.

It was odd to see this disconnect at Formnext considering how deeply ingrained businesses like Dassault Systèmes are in the enterprise manufacturer value chain, aided by Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Computer-Aided Design (CAD), and other related toolkits. This is especially significant because a lot of businesses are actively working to integrate these traditional platforms and the AM-specific software that drives 3D printing applications.

Additive Manufacturing
Image: Alfa Romeo

Additive Automobile

Cars took center stage at Formnext, featuring 3D-printed racing cars from Alfa Romeo and BWT Alpine in collaboration with 3DSystems, among others. The University of Stuttgart’s GreenTeam, working with INTAMSYS, made waves with their electric, self-driving, 3D-printed racing car. These are examples of the special uses and powers that additive manufacturing (AM) can achieve. Even though 3D printing seems like a more environmentally friendly option for creating one-of-a-kind items, it’s important to consider AM’s “sustainability” in the larger context of mass manufacturing and the automobile industry.

The industry’s ongoing interest in additive manufacturing is demonstrated by Formnext 2023. Although the geopolitical environment is tense and could have an impact on the market, the atmosphere is vibrant and growth-oriented. While a few exhibitors scaled down their stands, others expanded, and new entrants placed their bets on the event. This marks a pivotal moment for the industry, and the upcoming months are poised to be decisive for numerous stakeholders.

Broad & Varied Supporting Events

With a wide range of supporting events, Formnext 2023 catered to a wide range of user industries, including mechanical engineering, construction, and automotive. The launch of the service provider marketplace brought attention to how important it is for service providers to expand additive manufacturing’s (AM) user base. The well-received multi-stage concept provided a forum for lively conversations on topics relevant to the industry, such as investments, cybersecurity, and sustainability, in addition to showcasing a plethora of AM applications, technologies, and innovations. For instance, Mélanie Chevé from the Renault Group spoke at the Twikit booth about the direction additive manufacturing will take mass customization.

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