It’s nice to think 2021 means a return to in-person events for the 3D printing industry, but such a return isn’t a linear proposal.
Last month, we saw a couple of events come back to the physical world, as exhibitors at AMUG and TCT Asia welcomed real visitors to real booths. Other major industry events like RAPID + TCT and Formnext are preparing to open their doors later in the year. Even with face masks still a common accessory and more elbow bumps than handshakes in greeting, the promise of really seeing people and tech again is an alluring proposition.
But we’re not out of the pandemic yet, and cancellations are still happening.
A month before the scheduled June dates — already pushed back from traditional March timing — Arburg cancelled its Technology Days event. The company made the same decision last year, cancelling Technology Days as a preventative measure.
“Arburg is cancelling the Technology Days event it was planning to hold between 7 and 12 June 2021. Consultations with official bodies and due consideration of the ramifications of the global coronavirus epidemic that are still clearly evident prompted the decision that was taken last Friday. The so-called ’Federal Emergency Brake’ applied by the German government has a decisive influence on this situation.”
“The postponement of the traditional timing of this event from March to June, the extension from four to six days, a Covid-compliant invitation and visitor management system, a meticulously planned hygiene and testing concept – with all of these measures, the safety of visitors and employees was always at the forefront of our deliberations.”
While the big event in Lossburg, Germany has been called off, Arburg has noted participation in two upcoming events — one of which is in-person.
On June 16, Arburg will give a presentation at the Virtual Engineering Days event sponsored by Informa PLC. In Uncasville, Connecticut on June 23 and 24, Arburg will be exhibiting live at the free-to-attend Design2Part event.
Certainly geography plays into event planning as some areas have seen significant rises in vaccination rates and corresponding drops in cases. In the US, where 51% of the population has had at least the first dose of their vaccines, many states are removing restrictions. Fewer restrictions mean, naturally, more gatherings. With among the higher rates right now in vaccination, the US is hosting more events than regions like Europe where vaccine roll-outs have had more of a wait.
Just a few weeks ago, AMUG brought hundreds to Florida — but with a less-international presence than was common pre-pandemic. Even some of the AMUG team were unable to attend as international border closures prevented travel from, for example, the UK. While TCT Asia looked to be an excellent event, including some promising new product introductions, it too was attended largely by those local to its Shanghai venue. Still, that was a reported 250 exhibitors and 11,245 visitors.
Optimism is high though that as 2021 continues on and vaccination efforts continue around the world, more in-person opportunities will open up along with borders.
RAPID + TCT is on schedule for its new autumnal calendar slot — this is also the first in-person event I plan to attend. The event is planned for September 13-15 in Chicago.
Hopes are up as well for another major 2021 show with Formnext on the horizon in November. As of early May, 350 exhibitors had already registered for the event. The in-person 2021 edition is planned for November 16-19 in Frankfurt, Germany; Formnext Digital Days will also run virtually November 30 – December 1.
Safety measures in place for all in-person events are nicely outlined online. RAPID + TCT will abide by the measures outlined via the Healthy Meetings Chicago digital platform. Formnext offers insights into its exhibitor and visitor precautions on its site.
While we are seeing a return to in-person, we have to keep in mind cautions like that of Arburg Technology Days where even with safety measures in mind from the start, larger regulations will have significant regional impact on whether plans can move forward or not.
One thing we’ve all learned over the course of the last 15 months has been adaptability. Whether that’s meant working from home, masking up, pivoting operations to make hand sanitizer and PPE, or becoming Zoom-adept, new ways of working and living have emerged as we work back toward a safer world. It’s exciting that we’re now getting back to the face-to-face events that help drive so much business. We all have to remain flexible and patient as conditions evolve and regulations continue to take in and respond to the latest data.
“As unfortunate as things are at present: We stand by our view that the whole world is looking forward to getting back to normal events and trade fairs”, states Juliane Hehl, the Managing Partner responsible for Marketing at Arburg. The Technology Days could have acted as a beacon for an entire sector, so it was entirely right and proper for us to have made every attempt to organise and hold the event. “We therefore extend an even warmer invitation to the World of Plastics to visit our Technology Days here in Lossburg in March 2022!”
I know I’m not alone in excitement in looking forward to seeing the industry again — safely — as soon as we can!