Cruising Through formnext 2017: The Best Show in 3D Printing

Imagine sitting in a freshly renovated red caddy with blackened windows. You are riding up an elevator, when leaving it, you are riding along a path in the sun. Heads are turning, boxes and other objects in the way are hastily moved to the side, people are taking pictures when you pass them. Everyone is smiling at you. You feel like a superstar.

That is the feeling you get when working for APWORKS and Altair and you are preparing for your common booth at the formnext 2017 and are using a VW Caddy Youngtimer to demonstrate that 3D printing is not just for the aerospace industry, that printing a front-end structure of a car is possible and with that it offers more opportunities to integrate more functions than before.

The formnext presented with more than 470 exhibitors and over 21,000 visitors, the best in 3D printing. Everyone with a name in 3D printing, offering tools, materials, printers, software, or services was there to show their latest solutions to a very interested audience. After more than 30 years of history, since its first steps into the world, 3D printing has outgrown its infancy and is starting to be ready for industrial applications and series production. At formnext 2017 we have seen the solutions leading the way towards this exciting future.

More than Ready: Industrial 3D Printing

One of the keywords of the formnext is ‘industrial 3D printing’ followed by the question of how the 3D industry prepares for its competition with other manufacturing methods and proofs that it is industry-ready. formnext 2017 is the perfect platform for solution providers such as Altair and APWORKS to deliver answers for questions about designing for additive manufacturing, materials, the benefits of 3D Printing, and the value of its results by demonstrating their applications.

3D Printing – Gaining Popularity in the Automotive Industry

While 3D printing is already widely used in the aerospace industry, the method still has to proof its value for the automotive industry. It is, however, gaining more and more popularity, as demonstrated by several companies showing how an effective use of 3D printing can be realized in the automotive industry. An outstanding example is the aforementioned Caddy of the 3i-PRINT project, the joined project of: csi entwicklungstechnik, Altair, APWORKS, EOS, Heraeus, and GERG, which we presented with APWORKS at our booth.

3i-PRINT is a platform for innovation and shows a 3D printed, complex front-end structure of a VW CADDY Youngtimer. The project illustrates the potential and added value of industrial metal 3D-printing for the automotive industry by including a high degree of functional integration and organic load-bearing structures, optimized for crash performance.

“Having the car at our booth was a great experience and the car is a real attention getter,” said Mirko Bromberger, Director Marketing and Additive Manufacturing Strategies at Altair Engineering. “We were more than busy showing the story behind the making-of of the car. csi entwicklungstechnik used several of our software tools to design, simulate, and optimize the front structure, including RADIOSS for crash analysis, OptiStruct and solidThinking Inspire for optimization, which we could demonstrate at our booth. A further interesting detail is how AcuSolve was used to achieve the structure’s maximum functional integration and how the heat management by load-bearing structures with details for active and passive cooling could be considered. With the car on-site and the possibility to show live demos, we could really show people how the automotive industry will benefit from 3D printing in the future.”

For everyone who wanted even more details on the making-of the 3i-PRINT project, we, jointly with APWORKS and csi entwicklungstechnik, hosted a workshop during formnext (if you missed it, click here for the presentations).

Additional highlights at our booth were the software solutions HyperWorks and solidThinking Inspire®. Inspire now includes features that enable a closed digital process chain for additive manufacturing. Inspire Unlimited – Altair’s platform for product development in the cloud, soon to be available in Europe, was also presented.

Ready for Takeoff: 3D Printing in the Tooling Industry

The tooling industry is certainly another area in which 3D printing really takes off. Great examples for this use case were shown at formnext by PROTIQ, an Altair customer that presented its new 3D printed tools, which were designed, simulated, and optimized with solutions of the HyperWorks Suite. PROTIQ used for example Flux, our high-frequency EM solution to develop a new inductor by simulating the magnetic field and the entire inductive heating process. Another example of PROTIQ’s use of the HyperWorks tools is the development of a 3D printed injection molding tool, where OptiStruct was employed for topology optimization. Used in combination with 3D printing, PROTIQ was able to reduce 75 percent of weight on the tool. In addition, the new tool was also faster than all previously built tools. Read the entire story in our latest issue of Concept to Reality.

More to See: A Rocker Arm’s diet and Other Innovation Highlights

VDMA presented the Amazone Rocker arm, also developed, simulated, and optimized with HyperWorks. The agricultural component presented at the VDMA booth was optimized with OptiStruct and developed using a process Altair and voxeljet had created to combine the advantages of 3D printing and casting. Bringing design optimization, fill and solidification analysis, casting, and 3D printing together addresses the challenges of lightweight design in a new way and enables the setup of an innovative design and manufacturing process that enhances performance and efficiency. Read more in the blog post – A Rocker Arm’s Diet.

Also, other members of the 3i-PRINT initiative, namely EOS and Heraeus, showed their solutions at formnext. APWORKS presented the material Scamalloy® and its ReThink process at our joint booth. Last but not least Altair’s APA partner Additive Works presented their solution Amphyon, a simulation-driven, process software for powder bed-based, laser beam melting additive manufacturing processes. It allows for automatic optimization of part orientation as well as a build-up process simulation and the adaption of process parameters in order to achieve a higher part quality and more process stability.

Looking back at formnext 2017, all participants, exhibitors, attendees, visitors, and organizers seem to agree – formnext 2017 was this year’s best European show in 3D printing and we can already look forward to what next year’s show will bring.

Charlotte Hartmann
Charlotte Hartmann

About Charlotte Hartmann

Charlotte is the Web and Content Marketing Coordinator for Altair Germany, which includes organizing web based events, managing the web presence of physical events and Altair Germany's social media presence. She has been with Altair since 2015 and studied Cultural Studies, Knowledge Management and Logistics in Magdeburg in Northern Germany.