FormNext 2022 trends and looking for our next industry hero
Returning home after four days of intensive exhibition in Frankfurt at FormNext makes us reflect on our participation, who we met, and the trends that will influence the coming years in 3D printing.
Throughout the exhibition and at the booth, we presented our industry heroes. These customers make a difference in people’s lives using 3D-printed applications —companies that are way past prototyping.
Our heroes produce customized products in a sustainable and decentralized manner. Together with our partners, we find the right technology bricks to take the complexity out of 3D printing. The implementation and the process optimization are something we accomplish together. We went to Frankfurt hoping to meet our next industry hero, but that’s not all.
We also launched our REALvision Pro 3D printing slicing software for general use, showing it to all the 3D printing technicians and specialists for the first time. Our state-of-the-art 3D slicer, our core technology, allows us to offer a custom version to companies or printer manufacturers with special needs.
With this in mind, we conquered FormNext with a team of seven people from Create it REAL, ready to take it all in.
The value of meeting in person
During the corona pandemic, we learned to meet online, but going back to meet in person is just amazing and has tremendous value. We were blown away by the engagement and the level of the conversations at the show.
If you are interested in additive manufacturing, FormNext in Frankfurt is the place to be, with cutting-edge exhibitors and curious visitors. Eight hundred and two exhibitors in four halls were visited by 29,500 visitors, representing an increase of 32% in exhibitors and 66% in visitors.
From the visitors we welcomed at our booth, we had guests from all over the world. Of course, Germany and central Europe are dominated, but guests from the Middle East, Australia, Asia, Latin America, and North America stopped by.
Trend about how the 3D printing industry evolves
We have people with more than 10 years of experience in 3D printing and have participated in numerous shows and fairs within the industry over the years. So what did we notice in Frankfurt?
- Walking around in the halls of FormNext, the number of metal printers continues to grow, with many using Direct Energy Deposition (DED) and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) techniques to produce metal parts. These 3D printing technologies use metal wire or filaments to create complex, custom-made components and are often much faster than traditional Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) methods.
- More companies from the CNC world are stepping into 3D printing with robot arms and industrial printers and complete solutions from CNC companies.
- Traditional FDM printing companies like Flashforge, Creality, Raise 3D, Prusa, and others added high-end machines to their portfolio. They were focusing on bigger printers and pellets or large multi-material FDM printers.
- Service bureaus that offer 3D printed parts have diverse printers and use various technologies, such as resin, extrusion, and power-bed. They have developed post-processing techniques that make the 3D printed part indistinguishable from mass-production parts.
- Companies focused on continuous production and integration with other processing stations (24h printing, automatic extraction features, etc.)
Trends about 3D printing software
We were particularly curious about the software market trends that a few strong players have dominated for years. Our work with industry leaders has shown us that when the market shifts from prototyping to mass production, it’s vital to simplify the software and provide support and guidance throughout the printing process. With that in mind, what did we experience in Frankfurt?
- Software is set to become the main driver of innovation in 3D printing in the coming years.
- Companies are not only looking for software but also for a software partner who can provide support for successful printing and integration into automated solutions.
- This partner should also be able to create tailored features on demand to deliver on industry-specific applications, moving from prototypes to final products.
- The focus on software partnerships reflects the increasing importance of software in driving innovation and leveraging the capabilities of 3D printing technology. As the market evolves, we expect to see more companies seeking software partners to help them take advantage of the latest developments in 3D printing.
- To achieve professional-grade prints consistently every time, 3D printing users need good slicing software and a team to provide support and regular software updates. Access to a reliable and knowledgeable support team with a fast response time is essential for ensuring that the software is used to its full potential.
- Companies are looking for unique features to solve issues such as lack of strength and porosity in FDM printed parts. Still, they also value the prospect of getting custom features developed.
Four days of intense, action-packed event
We are excited to share the news and trends we observed at FormNext, and are looking forward to continuing our work with industry heroes in 2023.
One highlight from the event was the interest in our 3D-printed wheelchair seats and cushions. Replicating our success with our programmable foam for 3D printed insoles, but this time at a large scale.
Another focus was our 3D-printed spinal braces, corset, or body jackets (as we say in Denmark, a loved child has many names), which offer a more precise and customizable alternative to traditional manufacturing methods. Our guests from this industry were particularly impressed by this innovation.
Our slicing solution, REALvision Pro, also received much attention at the event. With its user-friendly interface, powerful slicing engine, and access to our expert support team, it was a hit among attendees.
Who are our next industry hero?
It remains to be seen whether we met our next industry hero at FormNext, but we went home with hands over our shoulders and big smiles and slept for the entire weekend. We hope to see you next year in Frankfurt!