The biggest event in additive manufacturing looks a bit different this year, as Formnext Connect connects us virtually.
While the traditionally Frankfurt-based show remained optimistic until rather late in the game about its potential to happen in person, 2020 had other plans. The call was made in September to move Formnext fully digital. Given the ongoing rises in virus transmission across Europe and the US especially, it was clearly the wise choice.
But that doesn’t make it an easy choice — or an easy thing to make happen. By delaying the decision to be 100% virtual, the Formnext team essentially had only eight weeks to plan for the industry’s largest happening to happen on our computer screens.
With that in mind, my genuine congratulations to that team for their incredible work. I can’t say I ever envy event organizers, but the sheer scale here is pretty mind-boggling. With the many thousands of people who generally haul over to Frankfurt for such a massive event, translating the experience to the digital realm was never going to be a smooth or simple thing.
Indeed, the team saw a major stumble last week with their earlier virtual event. As the Formnext team explained on Facebook, “the first Formnext Fusion event didn’t go to plan, as the AI wasn’t able to cope with the demand for meetings – stupid AI!”
But yesterday, Formnext Connect kicked off. With 203 exhibitors — perhaps fewer than we’re used to at Formnext, but a substantial number of companies at a single virtual event — and thousands of registered and active attendees, Formnext Connect still worked to connect the industry.
If memory serves correctly, at yesterday’s end-of-day briefing, organizers mentioned more than 8,000 registered users, more than 6,400 attendees, and more than 2,000 meetings emerging from the more than 10,000 connections made between those users.
Some of the benefits of the platform, Grip, that Formnext Connect is using include an AI feature to do “smart matchmaking,” suggesting connections for networking, and my personal favorite, an easy-to-use meeting scheduling feature. While one of my meetings yesterday had some A/V issues, once we tried the good old fashioned turn-it-off-and-back-on-again, we were able to speak easily for some product updates.
A lot of the event is centered, naturally, around virtual presentations. We’ve seen several big product launches already — check out the remarkable 12-laser 3D printer from SLM Solutions, for example, or Mimaki’s new entry-level full color 3D printer — and some solid expert-driven panel discussions.
As with any event, many of these overlap on the agenda; a big benefit of this virtual platform, though, is the capability to play back missed sessions. There’s something you can’t just do at an in-person show!
And now, writing in live time I need to get back to my scheduled meetings, sessions, roundtables, and happy hour catch-ups for day two. (I’m available on the Formnext Connect platform to connect and catch up! See you there?)
We’ll have much more from Formnext Connect to come.
Via Formnext Connect