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Formnext 2021

November 28, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 07:40

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a special 21-page report on some of the most interesting developments and recent trends uncovered at Formnext 2021. It was written exclusively for the members of America Makes. Go to this page to learn more about membership. Twelve individuals from ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence contributed to the report.

Thankfully, Formnext is back in-person. This year, 17,859 people from 76 countries attended the four-day exposition in Frankfurt, Germany. This represents a decline from 2019, but several of the 606 exhibitors said the quality of conversations was better, compared to two years ago. The exhibition was spread across three halls, covering 30,000 sq m (322,917 sq ft) of floor space.

One day prior to the exposition, an international gathering of industry experts convened for the Standards Forum at Formnext. It was organized by U.S. Commercial Service, ASTM International, and ISO in partnership with Mesago, the organizers of Formnext. The full-day event focused on the industrialization of AM through standardization.

Software companies presented new design platforms and manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions. Many software products have emerged, almost to a point where it is becoming crowded. Users often must work with and coordinate between multiple products to produce designs for AM.

From our perspective, the event was a major success. The AM industry is advancing with new and improving materials, processes, applications, workflows, and end-to-end solutions. Formnext 2021 Digital Days will be held virtually November 30 – December 1, 2021. Formnext 2022 is planned for November 15–18, 2022, in Frankfurt.

Travel and Events Ramp Up

November 1, 2021

The next two months are full of travel and in-person events. A year ago, COVID-19 cases were spiking, and industry events were postponed, cancelled, or made virtual. In contrast, November 2021 has three major in-person AM industry events. Not all, but many people are willing to travel and are excited about it. RAPID + TCT 2021 in September was a good example of what we may see at the upcoming events. Business is being conducted and the rapid exchange of information is underway. The past 18 months taught us how to work productively from home, yet it does not replace in-person meetings and discussing business over a meal or beverage.

ICAM 2021 and RAPDASA 2021 will be held this week on opposite sides of the world. The sixth ICAM event is organized by ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence. The conference has an emphasis on transitioning research to applications. This is the 22nd year for the RAPDASA event, which is being held in Pretoria, South Africa. Ian Campbell, associate consultant at Wohlers Associates, is presenting the first keynote presentation.

In mid-November, the industry will converge in Frankfurt, Germany for Formnext 2021. At this time last year, it was held as a 100% virtual event. Excitement is growing as the industry convenes at this largest AM exposition of the year. Events will continue in December with the Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) in Aurora, Colorado.

The fifth episode of the Wohlers Audio Series was recently released. Terry Wohlers talks with Deon de Beer, chair of innovation and commercialization of AM at Central University of Technology in South Africa. Deon is one of only three honorary associate consultants at Wohlers Associates. The two of them discuss the current and future AM ecosystem in Africa. Deon is credited with putting South Africa on the additive manufacturing “map” worldwide. The work he and his teams have done in the country has led to world-class products and services. About everything he touches turns to gold. You can find the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and here.

RAPID + TCT 2021

September 19, 2021

Last week, Wohlers Associates attended the first major in-person conference and exposition on additive manufacturing and 3D printing since November 2019. It could not have gone much better. RAPID + TCT 2021 was held September 13-15 at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. SME and Rapid News Publications, the organizers of the event, expected about 5,000 people to attend, but an actual number has not yet become available. The event included 263 exhibitors and 185 speakers, making it the largest event on additive manufacturing and 3D printing in North America.

People were genuinely happy to see one another after nearly two years, even though smiles were hidden by masks, which were mandatory. I could see it in their eyes. When we sat down for coffee, a snack, or a meal, masks could be removed. Time and again, I heard people say that seeing others in-person was a highlight of the event and I could not agree more.

Congrats to SME and Rapid News Publications for working through the daily uncertainty and holding the event. The past 18 months have not been kind to these and other organizations in the business of holding conferences, seminars, and other types of meetings. I hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, even though we do not know what the future holds. Fortunately, last week was a step in the direction we were hoping for, thanks to the success of RAPID + TCT 2021.

In-Person Events Resume

August 9, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event — Terry Wohlers @ 09:35

By Noah Mostow

Last week, Wohlers Associates was represented at an in-person event, the first in more than 18 months. America Makes’ Technology Review and Exchange (TRX) was held at Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio. Nearly 200 participants attended to network and attend presentations on a range of subjects, including in-situ print monitoring, hybrid AM, and materials research. Speakers were from organizations that use AM, government agencies, universities, and producers of AM software and systems. More than half of attendees had never attended a TRX event before, including me.

On the first day of the event, the Open-source Additive Scanning Implementation Strategy (OASIS) challenge winner was named. In partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory, teams worked to create and optimize scanning patterns for metal powder bed fusion. In the end, nine teams submitted code, but only a handful produced successful builds. The raster scanning pattern can improve or destroy the quality of parts being built. The team at OSU won the challenge.

The second day of the event began with a panel that included Shawn Springs, CEO of Windpact. More than 20 years ago, he was a cornerback at OSU, playing in the stadium near the conference venue. Springs discussed the use of 3D printing for impact protection solutions (i.e., helmets).

A mask mandate was implemented at OSU the day before the event began. Even so, it was great to attend our first in-person conference in 1.5 years. Networking, which can be a challenging for virtual events, was also fantastic. Terry Wohlers and I look forward to attending next month’s RAPID + TCT 2021 in Chicago.

Wohlers Audio Series

June 29, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,future — Terry Wohlers @ 12:58

By Noah Mostow

The additive manufacturing industry is evolving rapidly. To continue to bring insight throughout the year, Wohlers Associates has launched the Wohlers Audio Series. As part of it, we are talking to experts from across the AM industry to discuss the history of the industry, creative ways of applying the technology, and perspectives on where it is headed. We have an exciting lineup of guests who will provide an exclusive look into the 3D printing industry.

The first episode is a conversation between Terry Wohlers and me. We touch on the origin of the Wohlers Report and views on what the future may look like. We are fortunate to talk with people from around the world on new developments and trends in AM. Terry is part of a unique group of experts who have been following this industry since its inception.

                        

Terry and I frequently talk and exchange emails about new and exciting applications. Many of them get posted on this blog or LinkedIn. I am excited to share this conversation because I think it is critical to understand the past and look to the future of our industry. You can find the first episode at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and here. Please share your feedback and let us know if you have ideas for a future episode.

How Wohlers Report 2021 was Produced

March 21, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 16:38

By Noah Mostow

Helping to develop Wohlers Report 2021 was an unbelievable experience. The report was published last week. I learned that it takes an army of bright and dedicated individuals. This year, 88 co-authors and contributors from 34 countries were a part of it. My primary role was to research and write new sections on a wide range of subjects related to additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Also, I edited content provided by the contributors, and collected and processed data from more than 130 companies.

                                             

Organizations from around the world generously responded to our requests for information. They supplied us with the some of the most detailed information available in the AM industry. Much of what was supplied is sensitive, making the job even more challenging. As a part of the team, I saw data as it arrived. This work eventually led to our conclusion that the AM industry grew by 7.5% in 2020. From the stories told by those who contributed to Wohlers Report 2021, the past 13 months have been challenging. Even so, many companies see a big potential for 2021 and 2022.

I hope you enjoy the new applications and other developments from across the industry in the new report. My personal favorite is 3D-printed food. Perhaps, I will write blog post on it at another time. The secret to this report, in my view, is the dedication, excitement, and attention to detail from Terry Wohlers. Over the past few months, he would arrive at work early—often by 4:00 am—to help produce this industry-leading report. Many refer to it as the “bible” of 3D printing. For more information about Wohlers Report 2021, click here.

TIPE 3D Printing 2021

January 11, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,future — Terry Wohlers @ 19:03

The TIPE 3D Printing event is less than 2.5 weeks away. (TIPE stands for technology, industry, people, and economics.) The organizer of the January 27-28 virtual conference is Women in 3D Printing. It features an all-female line-up of more than 120 speakers and panelists globally, which I find interesting and is a first. Women in 3D Printing has developed into an organization of more than 75 chapters in 28 countries, representing one of the largest additive manufacturing communities anywhere.

                              

Sara Safari is keynote speaker of the event. She is an author, professor, engineer, and advocate for women empowerment. Sara is clearly a high achiever in more than one way. She has climbed the seven highest peaks on every continent, including Mount   Everest, which I find remarkable. Sara grew up in Iran with few personal freedoms or rights under the law, so I am sure her perspective on an array of subjects will grip one’s attention.

Women in 3D Printing and TIPE serve as inspiration for females of all ages, but especially for those who are young. Seeing what this organization is accomplishing, coupled with the TIPE event, will surely motivate people to learn more about 3D printing and the career opportunities this vibrant industry offers.

Register now for the event. I look forward to seeing you there!

Impact of a University Instructor

August 23, 2020

Filed under: education,life — Terry Wohlers @ 17:10

When attending the University of Nebraska at Kearney, I learned that first-year students were required to take a 100-level English composition course focused mostly on writing. If you did not receive a B or better in the course, you were required to take it again. The instructor (I do not recall her rank) and I did not get along well, which may have contributed to the C+ I received in the course. Alternatively, the score may have been due to my poor writing skills.

I had to repeat a course in a subject that I did not like, and I was not happy about it. Fortunately, I had a different instructor (also a relatively young woman whose rank I do not recall) the second time around and it turned out better than I could have possibly imagined. It was many years later when I began to appreciate what she did for me and probably many other students. I wish I could remember her name. She inspired me to work hard on the fundamentals of writing, so I practiced, listened to her suggestions, and improved.

          

To this day, I credit her for helping me to create an interest in writing and for understanding that it can take years of practice. It is somewhat like skiing or mountain-bike riding. The more you do it, the better you get at it and the more you appreciate the result. Like new product development, writing is an iterative process. The product improves with each iteration. My experience in the course created a strong foundation for what was ahead. At the time, I did not know that writing would become such an important part of my work and daily life. One cannot ask for more from a college instructor.

The Stars Aligned

August 9, 2020

Filed under: CAD/CAM/CAE,education,event,life — Terry Wohlers @ 16:26

Good timing and luck can do wonders. In November 1986, Wohlers Associates was launched. Joel Orr, PhD, an extremely influential and successful engineering consultant, author, and speaker, provided the inspiration. When attending his fascinating presentations and meeting in person, I told myself repeatedly, “I want to do what he does.”

Prior to the founding of our company, I was completing my fifth year as an instructor and research associate in the Department of Industrial Sciences at Colorado State University. A year earlier, I was lucky enough to author a CAD textbook for McGraw-Hill. The publisher asked if I would create a second edition of the book in 1986, so it was time to say good-bye to the university, with book royalties serving as a safety net.

               

Consulting was slow at first. I learned from Joel and others how important it is to travel, meet people, and begin to carve out a niche. I began to write and publish articles and speak at industry events. I met many good people and one thing led to another. The first two major clients were especially helpful in establishing the company and I learned so much. This work served as a foundation for what was ahead.

My wife, Diane, has been an anchor of support over the company’s 33 years. Without it, I could not have survived. Autodesk played a role in the early years because I relied on AutoCAD for the hands-on training that I conducted, content for articles and speaking, and hands-on instruction at CSU. It may not be viewed today as the most advanced design software for 3D modeling and simulation, but at the time, it was the de facto standard CAD software worldwide.

I credit many for contributing to the decision to start the company and for supporting it in its first several years. Many thanks to my wife, Joel Orr, McGraw-Hill, Autodesk, and CSU. Without these “stars” aligning in 1986, Wohlers Associates would not have emerged.

Distributed Manufacturing

May 31, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 08:08

Most mass manufacturing is done at centralized locations. Many produce millions of products annually. Envision a future where this capacity occurs in many more locations much closer to the customer. Deliveries occur faster and less expensively. Relatively small quantities of products are tailored to the needs of the geographic area. Inventories are smaller, with true just-in-time delivery closer to reality for a greater number of companies and products. Functionality, quality, and value improve.

This development is slowly and quietly underway. It is being made possible from the flexibility and responsiveness of companies running additive manufacturing systems and ancillary processes. The diffusion of this approach is still small compared to the opportunity. Even so, it is real and exciting to watch develop. Most large manufacturing sites are not breaking up into smaller ones. Instead, entirely new products and businesses, such as custom eyewear, footwear, jewelry, spare parts, and after-market products are developing. Production runs are a small fraction of what a large factory produces.

How AM Addresses Supply Chain Gaps and Distributed Manufacturing is the subject of the second in our Virtual Game Day Series brought to you by America Makes and Wohlers Associates. This 90-minute panel session is on June 18 and is free of charge. Four experts will answer questions and address important issues associated with supply chain challenges and how distributed manufacturing and other factors can help address them. I have the pleasure of moderating the session. Virtual networking opportunities will occur before and after the 12:00 Noon ET panel.

Plan to be a part of shaping the future of our supply chains and distribution manufacturing by attending this event. Your questions and participation are welcomed. I hope to see you there.

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