On the Ground at AM Forum Berlin 2023

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For its 8th iteration, Germany’s AM Forum has brought 700 attendees from the world of 3D printing to Berlin this week. While, most of the participants are German, people come from all over Europe and the world at large to attend the event. Everyone is a professional steeped in additive manufacturing (AM) experience. Because of this, all of the conversations are relevant and there’s something to learn for everyone.

The Venue

The venue itself is nice: The Estrel is an immense, 1,125-room hotel, adjoining the conference hall, all of which is clean and nicely appointed. Apart from the conference, the venue is filled with people in their golden years going for a hotel night and some light entertainment, such as an ABBA revival or a musical. I feel young a vital going to breakfast and there’s no noise at night. The surrounding neighborhood of Neukölln is diverse with cuisines from all over the place. It has dicier areas, but has increasingly become a refuge for artists displaced from the now pricier Kreuzberg, which is pushing out those who settled there with families.

Pre-conference Activities

The event included site visits to Berlin-based wire arc AM firm Gefertec, Formlabs’ European headquarters, BigRep and the Mobility/Medical goes Additive network, which is marshaling companies and resources to pursue additive as a coalition. The night of July 3rd, we had a lovely networking event at a beautiful lakeside house belonging to the Würth Group. Set in the sun, it was a relaxing way to get to know some new people with tasty bites offered by excellent staff.

The dinner featured speeches from such high-profile guests as Franziska Giffey ,the Mayor and Senator for Economy, Energy and Public Enterprises for Berlin, as well as an introduction to AMBER, an innovation cluster for Additive Manufacturing Berlin Brandenburg. AMBER hopes to make Berlin the 3D printing capital of Europe, in which an ecosystem forms that showcases innovation and new ways of making. The money comes from the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, as well as Berlin Partner. Word on the street is that they really want to entice firms to come do business here. 

3D Printing Panels at AM Forum Berlin

The morning of July 4th started with a short opening by Daniel Wäldchen, a member of the Executive Board at the Institut für Produktionsmanagement (IPM). This was followed by a panel titled “The role of Additive Manufacturing in a VUCA world.” This dealt with 3D printing in the context of a global environment filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). As we all know, distrust about the future and present, as well as a breakdown in optimism, is currently a positive force for 3D printing. With fears of new conflicts and disruptions, a desire for self-reliance powers your local prepper, in addition to the scenario planner at your multinational. On hand to discuss the VUCA world were Sascha Hartig, the Coordinator of AM for the German Navy, who was such an engaging speaker at 3DPrint.com’s own Additive Manufacturing Strategies, as well as Martin Back, the newish director of BASF Forward AM, and Andreas Langfeld, the President of EMEA at Stratasys.

Then, SLM Solutions´ Sam O´Leary spoke with Bosch´s Kai Kuhlmann about implementing AM in business. This was followed by Hanne Gielis, of Materialise, and Peter Ommeslag, of CNH Industrial, talking about partnering towards a shared additive future. HP´s Francois Minec discussed increasing the total addressable market for AM through significant reductions in total cost of ownership.

3DPrint.com Executive Editor moderates a panel on “For a more responsible production – What AM can contribute.”

Next, the theme shifted to ¨In-house production: How to become your own supply chain,¨ and we heard of the travails and successes of Daimler Truck AG – Daimler Buses, MT Aerospace and Siemens Mobility. Siemens´ Karsten Heuser discussed the use of case of a robotic gripper in which AM was able to reduce carbon footprint by 82%, weight by 64%, part count by 85%, and cost by 73%. Heuser illustrated how end-of-arm tooling has huge potential for 3D printing. That kind of a summing up of applications and their benefits was really emblematic of the day.

Takeaways

All in all, the event was very well organized. Catering, planning and the everyday logistics of attending were superb. The speakers were great, immersed in the everyday but aiming towards the stars—really kind of a helicopter-overview, big-idea approach, but based on practical experience. There were numerous stories by users as well.

A photo from the Women in AM Luncheon.

So, for whom is this event? If you are aiming to do business in Germany, AM Forum Berlin unmissable. If you’re currently selling into Germany, it is also something you should attend. This is a great opportunity to meet people from the region and to talk about steps in additive.

People tended to discuss applications and cost savings at AM Forum Berlin. Some of it was rather salesy, while other aspects were extremely helpful. A lot was much more environmentally minded than we usually see in the States. Much of the talks referenced actual 3D printed parts, scars, and all, which was nice to see. It wasn’t all talk about the potential that the industry has, but rather a discussion of experiences, learning, and, above all, applications. Applications is where the industry is at right now and it was refreshing to learn about it in the lovely city of Berlin.

All images courtesy of AM Forum Berlin. 

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