Interview With Sascha F. Wenzler of Formnext About 3D Printing Tradeshows and Formnext 2018


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Formnext is fast approaching and it will be massive. Just based on the number of interview requests, press releases and press conferences we’ve been invited to there will be an avalanche of news during Formnext. Started only a few years ago Formnext has quickly become one of the if not the 3D printing tradeshow worldwide. Its a must-attend event for everyone who wants to enter or participate in the 3D printing market in Europe and connects many people from all over the world to global markets. Reason enough for us to interview Sascha Wenzler who is the Vice President of Formnext about the tradeshow.

What is Formnext going to be like this year? 

“More than 600 exhibitors, nearly 60% of them international, 36.000 sqm gross in a full hall 3.0 in Frankfurt – Formnext 2018 is definitely the place-to-be for anyone active in the field of Additive Manufacturing, industrial 3DPrinting and innovative modern manufacturing. More and more user industries discover the advantages and the potential AM has when used on the right place and with the right technology. And more and more applications, materials and technologies emerge nearly day by day – that´s highly fascinating and Formnext is the showcase for all of them.”

Have you seen any major changes in the participants over the years?

“Still, Formnext is a very young trade fair. We started in 2015, that´s in total only 12 show days until now. And indeed we grew and developed the fair on such a high rate like the whole industry we have the platform for. Back in 2015, the major part of the exhibitors and visitors were the hardcore AM community. But over the years more material, software or pre- and post-processing companies joined on the exhibitor side reflecting the different process chains in AM. And the exhibitors look exactly for these process solutions as a product always needs much more than just a single printer. Serious industrial manufacturing needs process solutions and that´s the way Formnext and the participants changed.”

Why should I attend as a visitor? 

“Nowhere in the world of modern manufacturing and AM you can see a larger variety of cutting-edge technologies using AM to design and manufacture our future products. Formnext is a pure b-b business platform for experts exchanging about how to produce their newest products and product lines – faster, cheaper, with new design freedom and different materials from polymers, metal to ceramics, CFK, sand even glass and more. AM becomes a part of industrial production and it is the future of manufacturing you can see and feel at Formnext.”

What advice would you give me as a visitor?

“Nearly every day you can hear news about new machines for AM, new technologies in AM, new companies on the market, new materials, new processes. That reflects the highly dynamic market we are in. On the other side for companies beginning to come in touch with AM this can be also very complicated and the decision to make a big investment in AM technologies needs time and know how. You can see everything on the show floor but I would recommend attending our „Discover 3DPrinting“ seminars taking place every day in the hall where we offer intensive short lessons for beginners to be prepared for the world market you can see in the hall. Also, we have the User-Case-Area from our honorary sponsor VDMA AG AM with hands-on and best practice cases and the high-end conference in hall 4.0 from our content partner TCT to have more insights in the world of AM.”

Why should I as a company showcase myself at Formnext?

“If you offer a product, technology or service in AM Formnext is the place. In 2017 we welcomed 21.492 exhibitors (around 50% international ones) from every user industry possible, like automotive, aerospace, medical technology, dental, machine building, white goods, jewelry, construction, healthcare, offshore and many more. So when you are ready for the market, join Formnext. Moreover, the process chains offer new potential in areas such as material, software, pre- or post-processing, metrology where you can specialise your products for AM using customers. And when you are a new start-up company we have a special start-up-area that has attractive packages for new companies and entrepreneurs making their steps towards the global market.”

What advice would you give a company exhibiting at Formnext?

“You will join a strong and open community reaching out to fascinating user industries testing AM or already using AM in their daily production. Yes, there is competition but still, the AM world is an enthusiastic community also having an intense dialogue together, and a lot of people know each other. As an exhibitor, you become part of this. Furthermore, the exchange of know-how and networking effects are enormous in these four event days. Be a part of it but don’t miss the application deadlines for 2019 – this year the hall was full, and we move to new halls 11 and 12 in 2019, so be quick to have a good place secured.”

What new things will you be introducing this year?

“There will be premieres from the machine manufacturers, new material companies and giants are joining the AM sector, multi-laser machines with more lasers, faster processes, bigger and smaller built chambers, a lot of post-processing machinery, multi-material prints and multicolour prints and much more. The world of AM is fast on a high development rate. Everybody is invited to see and feel this at Formnext.”

Why do you think that Formnext has gotten so large? 

“From 203 over 307 to 470 exhibitors and from 14,028 over 18,702 to 28,129 square meters of exhibition space and from 8,982 over 13,384 to 21,492 visitors in the years 2015 to 2017 are growth rates that are not often seen at new industrial fairs in Germany or Europe. This year we will have more than 600 exhibitors with an international share of almost 60% and expect around 25,000 trade visitors from all over the world. That makes us proud and thankful. Because we have the pleasure to host one of the most fascinating, dynamic and innovative industries all over the world. We share the same spirit and have a strong cooperative and partnering way of how we see the business. The concept has been developed with our advisory board where we have a close and reliable link to the industry and an intense exchange all over the year. To have reliable cooperation with your business partners and to listen to their needs and realise a joint strategy in a good concept with a good team – that´s, in my opinion, the key to a success story like Formnext. Another point is that as Mesago Messe Frankfurt we are part of Messe Frankfurt Group making us part of a family within world´s largest trade fair company with own fairground and a network all over the world. Through this network, Formnext is never far away from the customers.”

Do you think that tradeshows are under threat? 

“We live in a fast and digital world becoming quicker and more digital every day. That offers us a lot of new possibilities to receive information. Yes, you can think an analog meeting place like a trade fair might not be necessary anymore. This was a question for fair organisers already with the internet coming up. But we experience another effect out of this speedy environment. Since the beginning of mankind, we want to come together, see each other, talk to each other and taste and touch the products we live with or with which we work. A trade fair is a perfect place for this. You meet a community with a joint interest and see products for this interest as well. You can exchange and socialise together with live product experience and receiving information in one place under one roof. That is the trade fair feeling, and it always will be necessary for making decisions especially when we talk about investments in high tech machinery. You will never buy a several hundred thousand Euro machine on a webpage. But as an organiser you must try to offer all the supporting digital gadgets making life and work easier and more comfortable to support this human experience you can have only on the fairground.”

Where should we go eat and drink in Frankfurt?

“After a long show day Frankfurt has a lot to offer from famous apple wine pubs in Sachsenhausen to highly stylish restaurants in the banking district, cosy bars in the old town and glittering tower rooftops for a drink or two. Not to forget our Formnext exhibitor parties and our own Formnext Party. So 4 days at Formnext and in Frankfurt mean a lot of business and networking and also fun and not too much sleep. Welcome and see you at Formnext in Frankfurt.”

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