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Five trends expected at Formnext 2022

Laser Systems Europe is looking forward to attending Formnext 2022Below are some of the key additive manufacturing (AM) highlights we’re excited to see this year.

1. Sustainability

Looking ahead at the accompanying conference programme, we can see that more than ever sustainability will be a key focus at this year’s show. Presentations will highlight, not only the CO2 reductions that come from incorporating lighter AM parts in transportation, but also the reductions in energy consumption, water usage, scrap and hazardous waste that can be achieved when adopting AM over traditional manufacturing.

Experts will cover everything from optimisations within the AM systems themselves, to ways of making the entire surrounding production chain more sustainable – with regards to raw material sourcing, material transport, waste management and recycling. 

2. Beam shaping

Similar to the benefits they are offering in traditional laser materials processing, we are also seeing beam shaping modules and adjustable beam mode lasers continually deliver advantages to AM processes. 

Through offering tailored laser energy distribution profiles to the materials/geometries of printed parts, these technologies are further enabling laser powder bed fusion to become a mainstream, high-throughput manufacturing tool. 

Such innovations are helping push the state-of-the-art in this field even further, enabling higher build rates, dramatically lower energy consumption and cost, as well as less resultant scrap compared to current best-in-class laser powder bed fusion technologies.

3. Multi-laser systems, optimised gas flows and sophisticated sensor technologies

To become a trusted serial production tool, AM must further become a high-throughput, highly-precise, and overall highly repeatable technology.

This transformation continues to accelerate with the ongoing emergence of AM systems equipped with anywhere from two to twelve lasers to facilitate rapid parallel processing, enabling build rates all the way up to 1,000cm3/h and beyond. Such systems now also boast a range of sophisticated, AI-enhanced process monitoring technologies as well as optimised gas flows to help ensure repeatable, reliable build results delivering parts with increasingly consistent mechanical properties.

4. Larger build envelopes

The increasing repeatability and reliability of AM systems is also enabling parts to be produced on a much larger scale, and so now even the most extreme multi-laser systems are being released with larger build envelopes in order to accommodate this.

We are seeing machines emerge with build envelopes now well over 1m3, which will no doubt push the boundaries and extend the range of parts that can be produced using AM technologies in industries such as automotive and aerospace.

5. New start-ups to watch

Now in its eighth iteration, the Formnext Start-up Challenge once again took place this year to highlight young companies with new, creative, and viable business ideas in the field of AM.

Winners of the challenge will be presenting their technologies at the show, in addition to the start-up who won the AM Ventures Impact Award, which – in line with the first theme in this list – recognises a firm’s admirable approach to sustainability, such as its usage of green energy and resource conservation. 

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