With the conclusion of this year’s Formnext conference in Germany, organizers made a startling announcement: they are strongly moving into the US market.
For years now, the annual Formnext exhibition in Germany each November has been the single most important exhibition for 3D printing technology on the globe. It’s far larger than any other similar event, hosting tens of thousands of industry attendees, almost one thousand exhibitors and more.
It’s also the event where companies announce their new equipment. I can attest to this personally, having been avalanched with many dozens of press releases from companies detailing new products and services. In fact, there’s very likely many more that didn’t make it to our inbox.
What I’m trying to say here is that Formnext Germany is really, really important for the industry.
After the event, Formnext organizers (Mesago Messe Frankfurt), announced they are working towards a similar event in the USA. They say:
“Mesago Messe Frankfurt the organizers of Formnext and Messe Frankfurt North America announce a strategic partnership with AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology and Gardner Business Media. The new show creates one event in the United States dedicated to all aspects of industrial additive manufacturing.”
Specifically, they released this chart of their intended activities:
Starting at the bottom, we can see they have run Formnext 2021 in Germany. Then we see them presenting at IMTS in 2022 in Chicago. This is not their own event, but a place where they can gain experience and exposure in the US market. They do something similar in 2023 and later in 2024.
But then we see this at the top: Formnext USA Austin in 2024 and Formnext USA Chicago in 2025.
Those are standalone events that are not embedded within another existing event. Those are events that most likely will attempt to duplicate the massive success of Formnext Germany, except in the USA.
It’s likely they will succeed, given their prior success in Germany and now-famous brand.
The implication is that their event will likely draw in much of the marketing dollars that would have otherwise been spent on other events. Company marketers do have budget constraints and they will definitely spend their money wisely where they can get the most bang for their bucks.
While this could be good news for exhibitors that seek well-run, large-scale exhibitions to show off and announce their new products, it could be very bad news for competing events.
The largest competing event would be Rapid+TCT, which takes place annually. To date it’s been the largest North American event dedicated to 3D printing, and is usually about half the size of Formnext. However, having attended both events multiple times, I can tell you there is a lot more money being exchanged at Formnext, and that will be very attractive to exhibitors.
For smaller AM events in North America, this is also bad news. They’ll all have to compete with the “big guy” from Germany and may have a tough path forward.
We might see some of these events change up their strategy and morph into specialized events, or events with different structure. For example, AMUG has been quite successful using a networking and presentation format, which would not directly compete with Formnext.
This is a very strategic move for Formnext, as the next few years are likely to see very significant adoption of AM by major manufacturers. That will greatly expand the market not only for equipment and materials, but also for exhibitions, and Formnext appears to be placing themselves in a position to benefit.
Via Mesago (PDF)