10 Technologies to Watch Out for at Formnext 2019
14 November 2019
In less than a week, the 3D printing industry will gather in Frankfurt, Germany, at Formnext — the largest Additive Manufacturing (AM) trade show.
For its 5th edition, Formnext is expecting its biggest show yet, with more than 740 exhibitors – including AMFG – poised to exhibit.
To help you better navigate the crowded show floor, we’ve compiled a list of 10 technologies to keep an eye on at Formnext 2019.
1. Farsoon Technologies’ new metal 3D printer
China-based manufacturer, of both metal and polymer AM systems, Farsoon Technologies, will debut its latest metal 3D printing platform, the FS301M, at Formnext 2019.
What’s new: The machine, introduced in October this year, has been designed to address the pain points of Farsoon’s customers, some of these points being a lack of user-friendliness and safety issues. When developing the machine, the company focused on improving productivity, safety, stability and ease of use.
For example, the FS301M features an integrated powder feed connector, which is said to increase powder handling safety, by allowing a metal powder to be fed into the system in a protected environment. As a result, it prevents the operator from being exposed to potential contamination and hazards when handling the powder.
Farsoon further stated that the FS301M offers an open system, in which both machine parameters and powder choice are unlocked. Offering this capability is in line with a growing trend of introducing open AM systems, both in terms of materials and build parameters. Having an open system, ultimately gives users greater freedom and flexibility when developing new metal 3D printing applications.
2. VELO3D’s Assure quality assurance software
VELO3D, one of the most innovative companies in metal 3D printing space, has launched Assure quality assurance and control software for its Sapphire metal 3D printer. The company will debut the software at a press conference at Formnext, together with its first adopter, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.
What’s new: Laser-based Sapphire 3D printer made a splash last year, offering the possibility to print parts with fewer supports and much greater repeatability. One of the differentiating features in the Sapphire 3D printer is a wealth of sensors. The idea is that by intimately controlling the environment and process, you should be able to achieve higher part quality and increase print reliability.
Now, the new Assure software can monitor, gather and interpret sensor data and then place it in the hands of the Sapphire operator. This should allow Sapphire users to have more intelligent direct control of 3D printing operations, thus achieving higher part quality.
With quality assurance being one of the biggest challenges facing metal AM users, solutions like Assure could assist the part qualification process by ensuring the part is being printed within specifications. If specifications are met, then the entire print should be of the highest quality.
For those tracking the progress of metal 3D printing for production, this development is definitely the one to keep an eye on.
3. Incus debuts its polymerisation-based metal 3D printer
Incus GmbH, a spin-off of Austria-based ceramic 3D printer vendor, Lithoz, will debut its new metal photopolymerisation 3D printing process at Formnext.
What’s new: Incus will introduce a new series of metal 3D printers: the Hammer Series. The technology behind a new 3D printer is based on vat polymerisation techniques like SLA and DLP, which are typically used with liquid resin materials. Incus’ process, however, is tuned to cure a material that contains metal particles with a powerful projector.
Potential advantages of this process over other metal AM techniques include an ability to work with new ‘non-weldable’ metals, improved safety (due to the avoidance of airborne powders), increased accuracy and, since it’s light-based, faster build speeds.
The technology is expected to have applications across multiple verticals, including medical, automotive, aerospace and luxury jewellery.
4. Laser Melting Innovations’ lower-cost metal 3D printer
Another exciting development to see in Frankfurt comes from Laser Melting Innovations (LMI), a spin-off company from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT). LMI has developed a low-cost laser-based 3D printing system, Alpha 140, which won this year’s Formnext Start-up Challenge.
What’s new: The technology behind LMI’s system integrates more cost-effective components to reduce the equipment costs. For example, it uses a diode laser instead of an expensive fibre laser. Also, instead of expensive scanner systems, the Alpha 140 is equipped with a Cartesian-motion laser system.
Thanks to these changes, the company was able to lower the price of the machine below €100,000 – which is significantly cheaper than more established laser-based 3D printers.
The system adds one more option to the growing market of lower-cost, compact metal 3D printers and should be of interest to research institutions and small businesses looking to adopt metal 3D printing.
5. AMT Technologies’ 3D-printed stand
AMT Technologies, a UK-based provider of post-processing solutions, will exhibit its PostPro3D range of surface finishing and colouring hardware.
What’s new: To showcase the capabilities of its post-processing solutions, AMT has built a modular 84 m/sq stand construction, featuring more than 6000 3D-printed and post-processed parts that connect 1100 metres of lightweight aluminium tubing. The structure is said to weigh no more than 120 kilograms.
‘We believe it’s the first time anyone has tried to do this … And what is key here, is that without the technology that we’ve developed, we would not have been able to produce this. We’d have been able to print the parts, but would not have been able to finish them and get them to the right quality required to actually build something’, explains Joseph Crabtree, CEO of Additive Manufacturing Technologies, in a recent interview with AMFG.
AMT’s stand promises to be one of the show’s most exciting highlights, so don’t miss out!
6. Live demos of Essentium’s High-Speed Extrusion Platform
Essentium is a US-based manufacturer of extrusion 3D printers, which it claims are the fastest on the market.
What’s new: According to the company, the machine’s printhead can move at a speed of 1 m/sec, which is extremely fast for an extrusion 3D printer. At its stand, Essentium will have live demos of its High-Speed Extrusion (HSE) 180•S 3D Printing Platform Series and we’re very excited to see this technology in action.
The company will also showcase its new high-temperature materials designed to deliver high heat, chemical and fatigue resistance, and high strength for industrial applications.
7. Desktop Metal will premiere its polymer Fiber platform
Desktop Metal has recently announced a new thermoplastic 3D printer, the Fiber. For the company solely focused on the development of metal 3D printing technology, this is quite a surprising move.
What’s new: Desktop Metal is set to debut the Fiber platform at Formnext. A new desktop 3D printer is integrated with automated fibre placement (AFP) technology and offers the possibility to place continuous carbon fibres within a part. This results in a robust part that matches, or even surpasses, the strength of some metals, while remaining lighter weight.
The composite space is one of the newest segments in 3D printing. To date, there are only a handful of vendors developing composite 3D printers. However, the opportunities in composite 3D printing are as huge as in the metal and polymer segments. With the introduction of the Fiber 3D printer, it will be interesting to see Desktop Metal tapping into this growing market and competing with more established players like Markforged.
8. 3DCeram’s new ceramic 3D printer
3DCeram is one of only a few players in a rapidly growing ceramic 3D printing market. Later this month, the company will present its new C3600 Ultimate 3D printer, designed for the production of large-scale ceramic parts.
What’s new: Expanding its line of CERAMAKER SLA ceramic 3D printers, the C3600 Ultimate will be the largest of 3DCeram’s systems, equipped with a build volume of 600 x 600 x 300 mm.
The C3600 Ultimate’s build size makes it particularly suited for producing large ceramic parts, like satellite mirrors in the aerospace industry. Furthermore, 3DCeram has equipped its new system with 4 lasers to overcome the issue of a slow printing speed, common in SLA ceramic 3D printing.
3D printing users in the dental industry should also pay attention. The new 3D printer can operate with advanced ceramic materials like zirconia, which has excellent corrosion and chemical resistance, and alumina, a bioceramic, commonly used in dental applications.
9. Evonik will present new materials
Germany-based Evonik boasts more than two decades’ focus on polyamide powders for AM among its specialty chemical activities. At the beginning of 2019, Evonik acquired 3D printing materials start-up Structured Polymers to expand its offerings even further. In Frankfurt, the company will unveil the results of this acquisition – two new copolyester powders for Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).
What’s new: The new copolyester powders are highly elastic and flexible, yet exhibit excellent recovery. Compared to other flexible SLS materials, the copolyesters remain tough and flexible after printing, with no sacrifice in surface quality.
Some of the applications for Evonik’s newly developed material include athletic equipment like individual protectors, technical components and functional design objects.
10. nTopology’s generative design software
New York-based start-up, nTopology, is developing Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software specifically for advanced manufacturing. Its nTop software platform combines generative design (lattices, topology optimisation, etc.) and production preparation in a bid to bridge the limitations of existing CAD programs.
What’s new: This year’s Formnext will see nTopology showcasing applications achieved thanks to its advanced design software tools. Among them are optimised heat exchangers, rocket nozzle and aircraft components.
One of the exciting capabilities of nTop is the possibility to import CAD data directly to a 3D printer, with no STL files involved. Eliminating the need to use cumbersome STL files is a growing trend in the 3D printing software space, promising to introduce greater interoperability and ease of use to AM design workflows.
Bonus: AMFG showcases its MES platform
With preparation in full swing at AMFG, we’re thrilled to return to Formnext this year with our leading MES AM software.
In Frankfurt, we’ll be showcasing our MES solutions for AM, including our recently announced machine connectivity partnership with EOS and a collaboration with Autodesk, whereby our MES software will be linked with Autodesk’s design and simulation software, Netfabb®. Connecting machines within a single platform will enable seamless data flow, which will provide traceability and scalability needed to help push AM to industrialisation.
Also, introducing connectivity and interoperability across the AM workflow is a crucial piece to achieving a truly end-to-end workflow.
Come visit us at Stand G81 (Hall 12.1) to discuss how our solutions can help you optimise and scale your AM operations.
Arrange a meeting with our team here.
We look forward to seeing you there!