Coronavirus Impacts 3D Printing Events: MWS 2020 Postponed

By on March 4th, 2020 in Event

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 Materialise World Summit 2020 has been postponed [Image: Materialise]
Materialise World Summit 2020 has been postponed [Image: Materialise]

Another 3D printing event has been impacted by coronavirus countermeasures.

An abundance of caution is recommended when dealing with viral outbreaks, and coronavirus is the latest global threat. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, traces its origins to the Wuhan, China area but has been making its way around the world. 3D printing is among the many industries having been impacted, with events cancelled and pushed back.

3D Printing Event Impact

In January, TCT Asia announced that its initial February dates for the 2020 show would be pushed back. Per the TCT Asia website, the Shanghai event will now be held July 8-10.

Precautions have since spread well beyond Asia, however, and European events were the next to be impacted.

A week ago, ARBURG announced the cancellation of its International Technology Days, originally slated to be held next week. The announcement stated, in part:

“On the basis of the information currently available, the decision was made not to take any risks. Cancellation of the Technology Days, attended every year by around 6,000 invited guests from all over the world, is purely preventative. At present there are no known suspected cases in the direct vicinity of the company. The opening of the Training Center on March 6th, 2020, with VIP guests from the region, will take place as planned.”

As noted here, ARBURG’s event cancellation is due not to known cases of coronavirus, but out of an abundance of caution. Any event bringing together thousands of people from the world over, and thus with tens or hundreds of thousands of handshakes and other casual contact, brings with it the potential for contagion. My cosplay friends refer to this general phenomenon as “con crud,” in which they tend to become ill following a crowded con; with an actual viral outbreak on the rise, the risk is significantly more than coming down with “crud”.

Materialise World Summit 2020

Today, the latest announcement to come out in 3D printing is the postponement of Materialise World Summit (MWS).

The last edition of MWS, held in 2017, was one of my personal favorite events I’ve attended. Held every few years in Materialise’s home base of Belgium, the event is designed to draw together experts for two days of high-intensity idea exchange.

For 2020, the event is designed with an AM Track and a Healthcare Track. Both have attracted excellent speakers both from Materialise and from real-world end-users and outside experts.

Initially slated to be held in mid-May, the event has now been rescheduled to early November — the week before Formnext is to be held in Germany. The announcement is pretty short and sweet:

“We’ve decided to postpone our event until November 5-6, 2020 following reduced travel due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Once again, a European event has taken notice and decided to go the route of preventive caution. The hope, clearly, is that the greatest threat will have abated by later this year.

MWS has pushed back later in the year than the closer-to-the-original-outbreak TCT Asia, indicating indeed an abundance of caution. The move to such Formnext proximity could either ease or make more difficult attendance, as some international attendees may choose to go to both and simply stay in Europe between the Brussels- and Frankfurt-based events. Others may not have the option, and will have to choose one over the other. The presumption would be that Formnext might win out here, as that show is significantly larger, but the two events have very different focuses in terms of summit versus trade show, and thus the audience overlap is significant but not 100%, especially in terms of event goals.

3D Printing And Coronavirus

As coronavirus continues to spread and to be fought, 3D printing is seeing impact in terms of not only cancellations, but combating.

The technology is being increasingly put to use in point-of-demand production of personal protective equipment such as face shields and eye shields, and surely will see more usage arise.

Future impacts remain to be seen. Surely more events will see the impact of travel restrictions and preventive caution.

Some of the next major events in additive manufacturing are slated for the US, which at this time does not have imposed restrictions on travel. AMUG has announced its intention to continue as scheduled later this month in Chicago, Illinois. As of right now, RAPID + TCT has not made a statement either way regarding coronavirus, so it looks like the event is not anticipating impact to its April scheduling in Anaheim, California.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on event availability and impact — as well as any impact on our own attendance scheduling for 2020.

Via Materialise

By Sarah Goehrke

Sarah Goehrke is a Special Correspondent for Fabbaloo, via a partnership with Additive Integrity LLC. Focused on the 3D printing industry since 2014, she strives to bring grounded and on-the-ground insights to the 3D printing industry. Sarah served as Fabbaloo's Managing Editor from 2018-2021 and remains active in the industry through Women in 3D Printing and other work.

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