Now in its fifth year, the AMTC conference has carved itself a leading role as the main event to start the new “season” of 3D printing. Oerlikon, the metal AM specialist company, launched it with the goal, now within reach, to transform it into a major collaborative, industry-wide effort. AMTC 2022 was again able to combine the consolidated expertise of AM leaders and pioneers with a fresh, digital approach to both innovative ideas and communication strategies.
Better than perhaps any other industry conference, AMTC combines a physical presence with virtual attendance and participation, for both speakers and audience. This is something that became necessary during COVID and has been fine-tuned for the post-pandemic editions.
“When we started AMTC five years ago we set out with a clear focus and a consistent approach, starting with choosing the right partners,” Oerlikon Chairman, Dr. Michael Suess, recently told 3dpbm. He and the Oerlikon senior executive team strongly believe in additive as a solution to many future challenges and envisioned this event from the start as a collaborative effort among those companies that share a similar vision. “At the time there was no similar C-level event for the global AM community, nothing where you could have this concentration of experts, users, and decision-makers.” That has all changed now, thanks in no small part to AMTC.
Industry collaboration first
“People today are much more open to AM – Dr. Suess continued – but we should always keep in mind that metal AM has a very young history. It has been around for just over 20 years and in the last five of those years we have been running the AMTC conference.” While Dr. Suess conceded that widespread adoption of AM may take longer than most have initially envisioned, he is also very confident that the collaborations set in motion by AMTC will continue to accelerate this process.
These collaborations have already reached one major achievement, which was officially ratified during this edition of AMTC: the launch of the Bavarian AM Cluster. This initiative, which is not limited to Bavarian companies, nor to the founding partners, is in fact open to all companies that are interested in developing and industrializing AM processes and applications.
It is intended as a way for Bavaria-based AM-adopting and AM-promoting companies such as Siemens, Audi, MTU Aero Structures, Linde, along with Oerlikon and PBF industry leaders EOS and GE Additive, to create a movement that supports the establishment of AM workflows around the world. This collaboration also wants to generate effective collaboration between governmental institutions, academic institutions and private companies. TUM (the Technical University of Munich) – where the AMTC event takes place – is a member of the cluster, providing scientific research, and more companies are welcome to join in the future.
Having competitors such as GE and Siemens, as well as GE and EOS in the same group already goes a long way toward demonstrating the collaborative spirit of this initiative. The fact that GE, an American company, is part of the cluster also shows the international approach, of both the cluster and the AMTC conference in general. Kimberly Gibson, Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem Director at America Makes, was invited to participate along with several other key US-based AM leaders and startups, and representatives from the World Economic Forum, Singapore and the European Commission, further highlighting the conference’s broad international reach.
Although they were concentrated in one day [see the full program and speaker list here], the panels and conferences confirmed the high-quality level that AMTC participants have grown accustomed to, with an opening address from Ilse Aigner, Bavarian State Parliament, President of the Bavarian State Parliament, followed by talks by Prof. Michael Suess, Oerlikon, Executive Chairman, Dr. Peter Koerte, Siemens AG, Corporate Vice President, Chief Technology & Chief Strategy Officer and Oliver Hoffmann, Audi AG, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development.
During the day, top blueprint cases, especially in Aerospace, were presented by representatives from Airbus, Boeing, Eaton, Collins Aerospace. The topic of sustainability also received particular regard in a panel that saw Dr. Karsten Heuser, Siemens AG, Vice President Additive Manufacturing, and Markus Glasser, EOS, Senior Vice President EMEA debate along with representatives from the World Economic Forum and the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA).
In with the new
Now a standard and welcome part of the AMTC, the entire first-day of the conference was dedicated to AM startups and pitches. Six companies pitched their idea on the center stage and many more were present in a dedicated area, where they could present their ideas and products to potential investors. AM Ventures, the VC fund created by the Langer family (owners of EOS), is the primary promotor of this initiative, led and presented by Arno Held.
The Startup Pitch event was opened by James DeMuth, CEO of Seurat, a startup that has raised nearly $100 million to bring to market a powerful new high-speed metal PBF technology. Among his suggestions to the pitching startups, he highlighted the importance of adequately communicating the story around an idea early on, something that 3dpbm has been promoting for years. More companies in AM are now recognizing how important it is to dedicate adequate resources to communicating their ideas, products and projects, early on, because even the best idea is worthless if the right people don’t hear about it.
Some of the most interesting ideas that were presented at AMTC included the Cold Metal Fusion process (now also an association) from Headmade Materials [hear about it in 3dpbm’s Podcast] and the F3nice AM powders from recycled metal [winner of the AdditiveStartup Italia 2021 competition], both of which have already received significant funding and are now in the process of entering the market. Polish company Amazemet presented its atomizer along with an interesting new technology for automatically removing metal support (by dissolving them) for serial production. Another Polish company, Alpha Powders, presented an interesting project to bring to market polymer AM powders from recycled sources.
The winner of the Pitching event Fortius Metals, is a spinout from Colorado-based AM material specialist Elementum3D and presented a very practical business model for developing and commercializing AM-specific metal wire for use with WAAM technologies [they will be featured in 3dpbm’s upcoming Metal AM Focus 2022 eBook, coming out in early November]. More interesting products and technologies came from two French companies: Replique, a provider of digital warehouse systems now working transportation giant Alstom, and 3Deus, a company that developed a unique, effective and very innovative technology for printing with silicone materials.
But AMTC is not a new concept only in terms of embracing new ideas. The conference itself has taken digitalization to a level unprecedented for manufacturing industry events. The organization around the live streaming requires a large dedicated crew and an entire room of video equipment, to enable smooth interaction between the virtual and physical audience and presenters. Oerlikon is one of the first large companies to have fully embraced the new generation of broad-reaching digital AM trade media, such as 3dpbm, as key partners of AMTC.
At the same time, Rachel Park, a well know AM industry journalist that contributed to building digital media in AM, regularly conducts on-site interviews with AMTC participants and speakers. This combination of new opportunities and consolidated expertise is part of the winning image that Oerlijkon and AMTC have been able to create and will go a long way toward making AM appealing to more and more industrial adopters, institutions and organizations around the world.