After a two-year break, FORMNEXT2021 was held again as an in-person event middle of November in Frankfurt Germany. Everyone attending the show had to be vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19. So what was the big news at this FORMNEXT? Many of the novelties had been announced online over the last two years, but it was still great to finally see these products and solutions life and in action. EOS and ZEISS The two German companies announced a collaboration on a process monitoring solution for EOS DMLS® systems. ZEISS has been offering a range of inspection solutions for metal Additive Manufacturing, from powder analyzers to CTs for post-process inspection. EOS has been with EOSTATE Exposure OT (where OT stands for Optical Tomography) already a process monitoring tool for their metal L-PBF systems.
Courtesy: Zeiss However, the new QA solution is focussing on an AI-powered evaluation of the exposure data to allow the intervention of a running process and to streamline the post process quality assessment. In applications with the highest quality requirements post-process inspection, through non-destructive testing (NDT), can make up to a quarter of the total costs. Process monitoring and live evaluation can lead to significant savings in metal AM production.Read the full press release here OECHSLER AG presented a range of technologies and applications at FORMNEXT.
A real eye-catcher was the lattices structures, probably best known from ADIDAS 4D shoes. But OECHSLER presented not only furniture featuring the 3D printed cushioning, using Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) as HPs Multi Jet Fusion, but also a car seat with multiple AM inserts.
Courtesy: CONSULT3D The car seat hadn't have any branding, but PORSCHE AG launched a new seat option. The seats are featuring additively produced / 3D printed cushion and backrest just a month earlier. The cushioning comes in three different rigidity grades for the drivers' and passengers' preferences. Further, PORSCHE is planning '3D-printed body form full bucket seats, adapted to the individual body contours of each customer'. Exciting times...
Read the full press release by PORSCHE here My personal highlight was the Calibur3, an Electron Powder Bed Fusion System (E-PBF), by Wayland Additive Ltd. Wayland made an interesting tweak to the Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion (E-PBF) technology. The system is electrically neutralising the process chamber, why Wayland named the technology NeuBeam®. This means no electrical charge is building up, which usually causes the so-called 'spraying effect'. Thus, there is no need for pre-sintering of the powder cake. This is not only saving valuable time during the printing process, and thus increasing productivity, but also making postprocessing much easier. No pre-sintered powder cake means, easy 'powder' removal from the build as from internal cavities of the part. This is a real game-changer, as the highly productive standard E-PBF process is often not suitable for parts with intricate internal features. To be fair, the surfaces of the demo parts still looked a little rough, but this is something the team is certainly working on.
The power industry, aerospace as heavy-industry will certainly welcome this new player and the technological advantages over the traditional E-PBF / eBeam process.
However, the laws of physics also apply to this electron beam technology, limiting the maximum possible build space and thus the size of components that can be built. Nevertheless, this is one is probably the most exciting step in metal AM technologies in recent years.
These were only three examples of new products and services presented at this year's FORMNEXT. There have been many more news and announcements. Adjustable extruder hotends for Filament Free Form Fabrication, for example. One thing I recognised was the constant queue and business at the booth of PRUSA. So the AM market keeps growing at the high and also at the not so high-end.
The number of exhibitors was with 606 a little lower, compared to 852 in 2019, but this fact was understandable considering the circumstances. However, there was a solid increase from about 27 000 visitors in 2019, to almost 34 500 in 2021.
The dates for the FORMNEXT 2022 are set and listed in our > 2022 AM industry event list