There is much to look forward to at the upcoming Formnext 2022 international exhibition in Frankfurt. As in previous years, hundreds of exhibitors from across the additive manufacturing industry as well as thousands of attendees from around the world will come together at Frankfurt/Main to see the latest AM technologies, applications and trends.
This year is particularly special in that it represents something of a return to normal for the international trade show in terms of scale and attendance since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. To learn more about Formnext 2022, we spoke to Sascha Wenzler, Vice President of Formnext Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, as well as a France Additive representative to speak about Formnext 2022’s partner country, France. They shared with us numerous insights and made one thing abundantly clear: this year’s edition of Formnext is not one to miss!
3dpbm: Based on this year’s exhibitors, are you seeing growing interest from a particular geographic region? Or a particular segment of the AM industry?
Sascha Wenzler: With around 800 exhibitors (of whom 60% are international), Formnext 2022 is moving towards the pre-Covid figures of 2019. That´s brilliant, especially when you take into account that Asia and particularly China are more or less closed and don´t have travel to Europe or Germany.
We have a clear number one when it comes to international exhibitors: the USA has over 60 companies exhibiting. In addition to the US, Europe in general is very active. France, our partner country this year, has 50 companies exhibiting, the Netherlands has 40, the UK has 35 and Italy has 30 exhibitors. This is the TOP 5 list of international companies attending.
Looking at the represented exhibitor segments, solutions for AM are number one. But there is growing interest on the material side, pre-processing and especially post-processing and digitization or automation. This shows how mature additive manufacturing has become and that there is further development in the industrialization of the technology.
3dpbm: What is the scale of Formnext 2022? How has the event accommodated continued growth?
SW: In 2019, we hosted 852 exhibitors on 53,000 sqm and welcomed 34,532 visitors from all over the world. Last year 606 companies were attending on a show floor space of 38,100 sqm and we had 17,859 visitors. This year, around 800 companies cover an area of more than 51,000 sqm. So we are near the 2019 figures and have a growth of more than 30% compared to 2021, which is excellent.
We started 2015 in hall 3 on one show floor; we now have halls 11 and 12 with four show floors and the Portalhaus building running for Formnext 2022. For me, this reflects the growing importance of AM in the manufacturing industry and we are happy being a part of it and having the opportunity to offer the best possible platform.
3dpbm: Will there be a virtual component to Formnext this year?
SW: Together with our community, we are focusing this year on the physical event in Frankfurt. We develop Formnext in a very close dialogue with our advisory board, the industry and the community. Although we are more and more accustomed to digital tools now, everybody is excited about having real person-to-person meetings again. Nevertheless, it remains important to be present digitally. On the AM4U stage we have a full day—a program of sessions, lectures, news and panel discussions—which will be broadcasted live from Formnext to the world via Formnext.TV. So stay tuned if you are not able to travel to Frankfurt.
3dpbm: Can you comment on Formnext’s global expansion, with the announcement of Formnext Chicago? How will the new event differ from Formnext Frankfurt in scale and scope?
SW: Within Messe Frankfurt group there is a strategy to think global and to act local. With Formnext as the leading global trade fair for AM and innovative manufacturing solutions, it’s a logical step for us to place brand events in local markets where the technology is also a hot topic. These locally adapted events are organized through local partnerships including our sister companies in the Messe Frankfurt network. The format is also adapted to the needs of the local market and the local industry. However, all of them have the same strategy of a clearly focused industry event in common. So we have the Formnext Forum in Tokyo as a yearly conferencing format in September. And Formnext + PM South China Shenzhen as a yearly trade fair in September combining AM and material. New in the round is Formnext Chicago, starting in 2025, which is a cooperation with AMT (organizer of IMTS), Gardner Business Media (GBM) and MF Inc. USA.
Before we launch the trade fair in Chicago in 2025 we will have a Formnext Forum Austin in 2023 and come back to IMTS (like this year) with an AM4U stage to IMTS 2024 Chicago. Having such a strong partnership in the US we can shape Formnext Chicago exactly to the needs in scale and scope of the American market and industry. So we have a perfect combination of the global event Formnext in Frankfurt and the local events like Formnext Chicago.
3dpbm: What is France Additive’s mission in partnering with Formnext?
France Additive: France Additive brings together the entire French 3D printing industry. The key players in industry, research, innovation, digital chain and startups come together to pool skills and move forward together. Our mission is to structure the French 3D printing industry to make it visible, to facilitate interactions. FORMNEXT 2022 will get a French accent this year. As partner, we will extend our community spirit to the world, particularly through animations, conferences and delegation tours.
3dpbm: Are there are any particular areas of the French AM industry that will be highlighted?
FA: I guess that our conference program on Wednesday 16th is a good synthesis. It includes several topics highlighting different aspects of the French AM community, such as:
- France, an AM startup nation
- Adoption is accelerating in consumer goods, automotive & space
- Filament and powder: a field of innovation, sustainability and sovereignty
- As an answer to the US’ “Forward AM” plan, how can we build and leverage all together an AM acceleration plan at European level?
- Software: a key component to serve the promise of mass personalization, distributed manufacturing, IP protection
- Data, AI to serve AM
- How our network of excellence in the field of AM research serves international projects.
Thanks again to Formnext and Mesago team for such an opportunity. Up to 45 french exhibitors can’t wait to meet you there!
3dpbm: Are there any new events or offerings taking place within Formnext 2022 that you would like to mention?
SW: Throughout the exhibition week (and even the day before Formnext starts), we have a large variety of events running in parallel. On Monday, November 14th we present ASTM´s Standards Forum and the Wohler´s Report Live event. We also have the TCT conference with high-end speakers and keynotes and the TCT introducing stage for exhibitors. For AM newbies, we offer our famous Discover3Dprinting seminars. The Start-up Challenge ceremony and Pitchnext event gives a spotlight to new players in the AM-field. We have our above mentioned Formnext.TV program at the AM4U stage.
Our honorary sponsor VDMA offers a user-case-area with industrial AM applications and business cases. And we highlight AM in building and architecture together with BE-AM on a special area. The purmundus design challenge shows us the very best designs in the showcase Best-of-10-years. Thursday is the career day with talks, presentations and consulting at the AM4U stage, and on Wednesday our partner country France will be taking over the stage and offering insights into the French AM world. Women in 3D Printing will also have an event during Formnext.
A new format is the Deep Thought on Thursday at the AM4U stage where we focus deeply on special areas of AM starting with a keynote from Boeing and a panel discussion around aerospace and sustainability. And last but not least, we have a silent auction hosted by the Together-we-are-strong initiative in support of the people of Ukraine.
3dpbm: Broadly speaking, what are some of the most interesting trends in AM right now?
SW: AM has grown up and has become a serious and recognized manufacturing technology. It is facing industrial scale and scope, opportunities and challenges. Standards, quality control and automation are just some of the biggest topics. Material development, pre- and post-processing workflows, machine communication and AI-learning or industry 4.0 with AM are some others. You see, we are in another dimension with AM compared to some years ago. Formnext always focused on the whole industrial process and we are very happy to welcoming the fAMily in Frankfurt to push the boundaries for AM further.