With just over 600 exhibitors — about twice as many as the largest 3D printing show in the US — the event is planning to welcome nearly 20,000 attendees this year. Here is what you need to see.
Certainly, every booth will not be relevant to you. Exhibitors — aside from 3D printer makers — include software providers and companies that make metal powders. There are also 3D printing service companies and purveyors of machines to clean and post-process your parts. There are educational and research institutes to help you with R&D and companies offering 3D scanners and filaments. In a nutshell, exhibitors encompass everyone with anything to do with additive manufacturing. There’s so much to see, it’s easy to lose sight of your buying objective.
“About twice as many as the largest 3D printing show in the US — the event is planning to welcome nearly 20,000 attendees this year.”
This guide to printer shopping will help you make the most of your $110 a-day 110-a-day expo pass.
What is especially interesting here is the variety of metal technologies. You can talk to WAAM3D (B81) about their new wire arc additive manufacturing technology for near-net metal pieces and see how it compares to similar technologies, like the interesting metal solid-state technology from Meld Technologies (B41). In this hall, you’ll also find the giants of metal powder bed fusion, including GE Additive Concept Laser, BLT, and Renishaw.
According to the pre-Formnext press releases, there won’t be much being debuted in this hall, but if you’re in the market for a metal production solution, it’s not to be missed. Fortunately, this isn’t the only hall of metal at Formnext.
First of all, the desktop-size metal extrusion from the likes of Markforged, Rapidia (just coming out of stealth mode), Pollen with its intriguing metal pellet material, and Desktop Metal are all here to compare. These companies are not introducing new printers (or haven’t indicated that they will). For more metal FDM offerings, you’ll need to venture into the polymer Halls to the companies offering metal filament solutions, such as BCN3D and Raise3D among others.
For researchers or medical manufacturers on the hunt for electron beam melting (EBM) metal technology, Freemelt says it will debut its new eMelt 3D printer at the event. For comparison shopping in EBM, walk a few aisles over and check out Wayland Additive, then, in the same general area, you’ll find JELO and ProBeam.
This Hall is also the innovation hall, where you’ll find the Start-Up Area. It’s always fascinating to check out the technology coming over the horizon, but if you’re on a mission to sign a purchase order by the end of the show, save this for last.
If 3D Systems is out of your price and size range, conveniently located next door is Formlabs. Their desktop resin machines are category leaders but don’t be surprised if they focus a bit more on their selective laser sintering solution, the Fuse 1+ 30W, since it was significantly upgraded in July.
If desktop resin 3D printers are your focus, walk over to Nexa3D and take a look at the newish Xip and then the brand-new Zortrax Inkspire 2. Compare these to the new Photocentric Titan, which is inconveniently back over in Formnext. The focus is on shop-floor-size resin for higher volumes. If this is your focus, head over to the Carbon booth and check out their new M3 & M3 Max.
Switching technologies now and focusing on shopfloor SLS printers, you’ll find a wide variety to compare. Start your SLS tour with the above-mentioned Fuse, then compare that to the similar Lisa X at the Sinterit booth a few aisles over. Just a few booths down from Sinterit is Sintratec, with its SLS offering the S2. All three of these printers come with depowdering and sintering units.
If you’re looking for higher capacity and faster industrial SLS, you can’t miss the giant EOS booth in the center of the floor. Here talk to their experts about how the number of lasers and laser power makes a difference in SLS printing. Right across the aisle is Nexa3D showing off its new quad laser SLS solution, the QLS 820.
If you have your mind set on a new industrial polymer FDM, there are several here at the event not to miss, particularly the new one from miniFactory, but they are a bit distributed across the halls.
3D printing giant Stratasys is launching 13 new validated materials for the Fortus 450mc FDM, but otherwise hasn’t hinted at anything new debuting at Formnext. Their new two new desktop composite-ready additions to the popular F123 series, launched in May, are sure to be on hand.
If you’re on the hunt for robotic extrusion systems, you’ll find the new Heron AM from Caracol, Bloom Robotics‘ recycled plastic 3D printing cell, and the end-of-arm extruders from Dyze Design. If you want to see the Hans Weber robotic arm and extrusion nozzles, you’ll need to walk back over to Hans Weber.
There are fewer new printers from established brands slated to debut at Formnext than in previous years, likely because there were so many released earlier in 2022, but there are always manufacturers with surprises up their sleeves.
When it comes to debuts, don’t miss the technology from these especially intriguing start-ups, although they may be years from being commercially available:
Liqtra makes a 3D printer with a seven-nozzle print head.
Fiberneering offers a DLP resin printer with a nearly 1 square meter build volume.
Grob is presenting liquid metal printing technology for making near-net-shape components
Namma develops 3-in-1 hybrid machines that combine 3D printing, machining, and laser engraving
Ponticon will debut its pE3D system for using liquid metal for additive manufacturing, coating, and repairing complex-shaped parts
Smart Materials 3D will debut its PLA material made with waste from the olive industry
Although our focus here has been printers, there is so much more that happens at Formnext — and not just talking about the expo floor happy hours.