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Insight into the latest 3D printing technologies at Rapid.Tech 3D

Rapid.Tech 3D, which took place in Erfurt from May 14 to 16, 2024, marked its 20th anniversary and once again underlined its importance as a central platform for industrial 3D printing. With over 2,700 visitors from Germany and abroad and the VDMA’s Additive Manufacturing Working Group as the conceptual sponsor, the event offered a comprehensive insight into the latest applications and developments in the industry.

The keynotes and specialist presentations at the congress showed that additive manufacturing (AM) is firmly anchored in series production. In particular, the applications in established sectors such as aerospace, medical technology and automotive as well as in newer industries such as microelectronics and chemicals demonstrated the versatility of this technology. Dr. Brent Stucker from Wohlers Associates emphasized in an interview that after an overheating phase, the AM industry is now experiencing steady growth, which offers great opportunities for German technology providers and machine manufacturers in particular.

Another focus of the event was on the use of AM in the semiconductor industry. Dr. Radu Donose from ASML explained how the use of additively manufactured metal, plastic and ceramic parts increases the performance of lithography systems. ASML has even developed an internal standard that ensures continuous quality in production.

The AM4industry forum, which took place for the first time, focused on AM applications in mechanical engineering. Contributions were presented by companies such as Reintjes, DiManEx, toolcraft, Hermle, Siemens and Trumpf.

Rainer Gebhardt, Project Manager Additive Manufacturing at VDMA, estimates: “The many possibilities that AM offers with and for mechanical engineering are far from being fully known. Events such as Rapid.Tech 3D, where suppliers and users meet, are excellent opportunities to network know-how providers with potential users. At our first AM4industry forum, companies demonstrated how additive manufacturing can contribute to greater efficiency and sustainability, for example in shipbuilding or for low-emission mobility. The speakers also presented the advantages of combining traditional subtractive and new additive processes, particularly in connection with digitalization and intelligent networking of processes. The response to this offer shows that Rapid.Tech 3D is the right platform to present and discuss the focus topic of AM and mechanical engineering.”

In the automotive industry, Jochen Wendling from BMW presented an innovation in the inorganic 3D printing of sand cores that enables CO2-free production. This process is used daily for up to 4,500 cores and helps to reduce weight and costs.

Dr. Brummund’s conclusion: “Our presentation in Erfurt far exceeded our expectations. As a development and service partner to the chemical industry, we have been involved in additive manufacturing for some time and presented our 3D-printed flow reactors at Rapid.Tech 3D. The response to both my keynote and our stand was overwhelming. As users, we found exactly what we were looking for: the exchange with 3D printing experts that we need to further improve our products and processes. In return, the AM specialists are just as interested in our requirements. The event offers the right atmosphere for this exchange. The quality is right here.”

“The Chemistry and Process Engineering Forum at RapidTech.3D was a complete success from our point of view. The contributions showed how diverse the possible applications of additive manufacturing are in the process industry and where it is already being used everywhere. Rapid.Tech 3D offers the opportunity to network this community even more closely with suppliers and developers, but also with other user industries, and to learn from each other,” says Dr. Kathrin Rübberdt, Head of Science and Industry at DECHEMA.

Finally, the 3D Pioneers Challenge demonstrated the advanced possibilities of additive technologies. The US team won the main prize with a project for 3D-printed electronic skin that imitates the flexibility and sensitivity of human skin.

Co-founder and CFO Christian Ladner was thrilled by the enormous response: “We are a start-up company, but we have been familiar with Rapid.Tech 3D for several years. Last year, we were a finalist in the 3D Pioneers Challenge with our five-axis 3D printing process. We are now in the process of commercializing this innovative technology, which allows double-sided printing of filaments or granules with virtually no support structures. The presentation together with our cooperation partner, the extruder manufacturer Metexon, was worthwhile. We were able to present our product to an expert audience and discussed the requirements of the market with potential users.”

“We are one of the pioneers of Rapid.Tech 3D, so to speak, as we have been an exhibitor from the very beginning. It is important for us to showcase our range of services here. As a partner for prototypes and small series made of plastic and metal, we bridge the gap between additive manufacturing and casting technology,” says Managing Director Holger Krause.

Rapid.Tech 3D will take place in Erfurt again in 2025 and promises to drive developments in 3D printing forward.

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