Formnext 2021, Day 2: 3D Printing’s Best Stands and Experiences


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Yesterday, I ate nine mini packets of Gummy Bears, a muffin, Jamon de Bellota, two mini Twix, a superb scallops dish and venison. I drank six espressos a liter of water and two lovely glasses of Barolo. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, on the whole, everything at Formnext is more sophisticated. Refined even. Sedate perhaps. As I’ve stated before, the parties are worse, but the watches are better. It’s quieter and there’s a lot more space to move around. More hotel lobby, less Best Buy on Black Friday. The tire kickers are gone. The day trippers are, as well. It’s just us. And, boy, have we grown up.

It’s a lot more international today than a decade ago. We’ve got people and brands from all over. Where we once saw a lot of in-your-face venturing money a few years ago, we now see money from cashflow, budgets and big plans. The scuttlebutt centers around a belief that the giants are weak. Poor stock performance by some may hurt us all, but also will give people room to compete head-on. A new generation is popping up and making itself heard.

To give you a taste of the full experience, here’s a brief run-down of the event.

Best Stand 

Trumpf. Yes, I said it. Trumpf. It was amazing. Huge stand, lots of lounge and chat space, good catering and a good ambience. Everything was well laid-out and explained and there were lots of example parts. Just really well-done and you just felt very comfortable there. Booth 12.0D81

Best Coffee

As always, Twikit. They have had a lock on this for years now and this year, again, it was well-made, quality coffee. They’re at 12.1-E41 if you’re in need.

Best Stand Party 

This year, the stand reverie stuff is basically a bunch of pooped people clinging to chairs like discarded beach towels. It was more of a “oh, the resellers are tired, too” thing than it was the parties of yesteryear. Well, apart from DyeMansion, of course, who had a huge get-together at their stand, which was bustling and lots of fun. Also, I’m worried again that some super spreader event will kill off our Dinosaurs (AMUG Dinosaurs that is). Booth 12.1D21

Best Stand Food 

Meltio hands down. They had stranded nuts and stuff and, then, out of nowhere, a plate of Jamon de Bellota appeared. Beautiful.

Best Marketing 

The Prusa Pup was super effective. Drew crowds everywhere.

Most Surprising Attendance 

Bosch. So, Bosch—as in the ginormous manufacturing firm that makes electric bike batteries, vacuum cleaners, powertrain components, that one—had a stand. Had they always had one and did I not notice?

Anyway, Bosch will 3D print you ceramic parts as a service. Like, what? Why doesn’t anyone tell me anything? Amid all of the me-too idiotic press releases—”we have a software upgrade”, “industry leading…lies”, “oh look we’ve got a iPhone photo of two white guys shaking hands”—I would have liked someone to have told me about this.

So, Bosch, a formidable engineering firm which has been doing a lot of amazing 3D printing work and developing 3D printing IP is now a 3D printing service, as well. You could go to them and have parts made on Lithoz systems for medical, industrial and other applications. I think that this is amazing news and a Great Leap Forward in our industry. This is super, totally huge and is a clarion call for a change in our industry as OEM, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies now start to make and offer parts worldwide. This will change everything. Booth 12.1B11

The AhaErlebnis(Epiphany) Booth

OK, so I’m walking past Admatec,  a Dutch firm a few miles away from my parents’ house, and I finally take the time to understand the technology. Yes, it’s slurry SLA ceramics, but with a refinement and speed that completely blew me away. Super impressed with this firm and what they do. Booth 11.0B60

Most Important Realizations

We’re truly a global show now and, through weathering this, the definitive show as well at Formnext.

Fried Vancraen told me that he thinks that people should still come to Formnext, but that we should scrap a lot of the other shows to save on CO2. This was an interesting thought and made me think that perhaps a flight to quality will make Formnext more prominent and more important next year?

Most Important New Thought: Refined FDM

So, we’re seeing a lot of refinement in fused deposition modeling (FDM) with improved, better, high-quality pro FDM printers. This includes a lot of high-temperature printers and systems with linear rails and other improvements. Sculpman (11.0D11) is showing off its variable nozzle technology. Meanwhile, Plasmics, 12 B81P, is showcasing an induction nozzle tied to machine learning.

So, I’m thinking, what if the future of FDM is a more refined FDM where we can determine at each point the right forces to obtain better layer adhesion depending on flow, wall slip, geometry and more? So what if we could combine some of the functionality of Sculpman with Plasmics, Full Control and nonplanar.XYZ? So, you then would have a nozzle that prints at an angle, some kind of pressure release, and a quick heating functionality, while also being able to print with a nonplanar method. But, with FullControl, you’d then dial in your geometry to optimize layer adhesion at every single point by inputting the best settings for that geometry manually until the system could refine it to optimize the entire build ,not just one part. That would be amazing. It would be like Super Material Extrusion. Don’t think someone out there isn’t already working on it. 

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