Wohlers Associates helps organizations take advantage of technologies and strategies that enhance the rapid product development and manufacturing process.
By Ray Huff
Walking into any one of the four halls at Formnext 2022, it was obvious the AM industry has filled its “lungs” with fresh enthusiasm for present and future opportunities. The aisles were abuzz with discussions of new technologies and applications. Booths were full of handshakes and warm greetings among friends and colleagues, old and new. A surprising plethora of robotic arms whirred about with extrusion heads from new directed energy deposition (DED) and material extrusion (MEX) system developers such as Cogit and Alpha Laser. Other end-effector-rigged robots demonstrated new production methods and software from Rivelin Robotics, ModuleWorks, and Print&Go. Cabinets filled with 3D printers were on display by Mosaic and Prusa Research. Prusa and Moso3D showed MEX systems with tool changers for printing multiple materials.
Large-format AM is getting even bigger, with impressively large parts on display from Adira, Fiberneering, and others. Additive construction companies are showing up in larger numbers, with beautiful cement-based architectural parts on display from Concr3de, Constructions3D, and WASP. Post-processing solutions are coming into their own with returning companies Rena and DyeMansion and new entrants such as 3DM and Eneska. Novel materials testing solutions like that from Plastometrex demonstrated that part qualification is being considered in creative and practical ways. Diabati and nTopology showed how software is taking design beyond the usual constraints of CAD.
Partbox’s global network of 3D printers showed a reimagining of the AM supply chain. ZSK’s continuous composite AM system resembled a robot-controlled sewing machine and was, by far, the most unique system I saw at the show. Big MEX systems continue to grow bigger, such as those from Breton and Cms. Countries often underrepresented displayed exciting AM activity from their homeland, including Finland’s 3D Formtech and Finnish Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem (FAME). One thing is for sure: the AM community remains strong, connected, and vibrant with fresh activity and a bright future.
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