Formnext 2022, towards a more consolidated additive manufacturing market


That's it, the long-awaited meeting of additive manufacturing closed its doors last Friday evening. A new edition still full of success that is reaching new records, a bit like before COVID.

802 exhibitors, 29,581 visitors from 96 countries, innovations presented every day:

in short, this Formnext 2022 is a real breath of fresh air in a market that badly needed to find itself. And if most Asian countries were still missing, it is clear that the market has further evolved and consolidated through many strategic partnerships and collaborations of tomorrow. Let's go back together to the results of this Formnext 2022!

What particularly struck us this year in Frankfurt is the number of robotic arms presented on the exhibitors' stands, these solutions which allow access to more impressive printing volumes in different materials.

CEAD, Caracol, MX3D, Fraunhofer, Weber Additive, VLM Robotics, Meltio and ALOtec Dresden are the few players who offered this type of machine at the show – a list of course not exhaustive.

The robotic arms of Formnext 2022

Strolling through the four halls of the show, we could not miss the many robotic arms extruding metals or polymers, most often quite impressive parts, on XXL machines – we think of Italian manufacturers like Breton or CMS which presented solutions several meters long, attracting the curiosity of multiple visitors.

It must be said that these machines often include different tool heads, easily and quickly adjustable, which widen the range of possibilities in terms of manufacturing.

When discussing with the manufacturer CEAD, this is an observation that was shared – Emiel de Voogd, Sales Robot Extruder at CEAD explained to us: “Although this is the case for many different 3D printing processes, robotic arms have their own advantages.

They are very flexible of course, you can change the heads for 3D printing as well as for processes like milling, but also cheaper. Robotic arms can be bought second-hand online for 6,000 euros and then adapted to the needs of the user with different heads.

And I expect we will continue to see growth in robotic arms for these reasons. They respond to key trends, particularly for the continuous printing of small and medium series .” 

We also stopped at the stand of the Italian Caracol – Violetta Nespolo, the Marketing and Strategy Manager told us:

“ Above all, robotic arms allow great printing flexibility. This makes it easy to print very complex geometries. For example, our robotic arms can print at a 45° angle to create hollow structures.

Another positive point is the use of granules as printing material. This allows us to work with a wide variety of materials and experiment with new formulas. In addition, the use of pellets promotes a circular economy:

they can be obtained by grinding customers' own waste and garbage, or by purchasing materials from recycled sources..” There is therefore an advantage in terms of geometry, shape and size but also a significant benefit on the material side, where we again find the importance of durability and respect for our environment , a trend already widely observed in the Formnext 2021.

And it is also interesting to see that some startups present at Formnext 2022 have chosen robotic arms to develop their innovation, such as the start-up Rivelin Robotics and its post-processing system or the manufacturer REV3RD.

In fact, its founder, Alessandro Torre, told us: “  Why are more and more companies using robotic arms for 3D printing?

First, the technology helps to optimize the amount of material used, especially when dealing with large parts that require large amounts of material. In addition, you have a fairly large choice of materials, allowing you to use the one that best suits your needs, as well as printing complex shapes and precise details.

Last but not least… It's the technology of the future! There are still a lot of things to discover and invent, and that's what's most interesting! "


A consolidating market

The additive manufacturing sector is an ecosystem that must rely on collaborations throughout its value chain: chemists must work with machine manufacturers, equipment manufacturers with software publishers, and even OEMs with 3D solution developers.

If the market tends towards industrialization, it will only be able to reach its full potential by forging strategic partnerships between players. And the machine has been running for a few years now; however, there is a significant peak this year, with many announcements made during the show.

We can indeed speak of strategic partnerships between 3D printer manufacturers and post-processing machine developers such as AMT and HP, or even DyeMansion and Nexa3D, proof that the market is looking for end-to-end solutions.

end. The idea is to be able to rely on machines that will make it possible to achieve high levels of productivity. Kevin McAlea, explains:

“  It was only natural for us to partner with DyeMansion, the leader in automated post-processing solutions for powder sintering, so that our industrial customers can take advantage of end-to-end manufacturing capabilities. and reduce their total cost of operation . »

On the materials side, collaborations between market players are more and more frequent. More materials are certified on this or that 3D printer, which facilitates the manufacturing and certification processes.

We are thinking, for example, of certain solutions from the giant Stratasys which are now open to the use of materials developed by Kimya, Victrex or even Covestro.

And if we come back to this idea of ​​sustainability and materials that are more respectful of our planet, the collaboration between Thought3D, LEHVOSS Group, Ultimaker and Aquafil is particularly interesting. Together, they developed a PA6 made from renewable energies and fully recyclable to be transformed into raw material.

Towards the industry of the future

Finally, a key point of Formnext 2022 obviously revolves around this idea of ​​industrialization of processes, their automation, Factory 4.0. Many exhibitors and participants have entrusted us with their desire to develop and find solutions that meet these expectations.

The goal is to achieve even higher levels of productivity while reducing human intervention. It was enough to see the number of robots present on the show, able to remove the plate of a 3D printer and place another so that the machine can run without interruption.

Of course, there are still a few steps to go before we can fully automate additive manufacturing processes and we can't wait to see what the market will look like in 5 years. In the meantime, we give you an appointment for the 2023 edition of Formnext which will take place this time from November 7 to 10, still in Frankfurt.