Tag Archives: Formnext

Misc: Formnext 2023


  • 2023/11/13: published
  • 2023/11/11: starting writeup


Another year, another November in Frankfurt (Germany) and Formnext – this is the main event of the year professionally for me. As I reside in Switzerland the travel is fairly easy and short and the 770 exhibitors in two halls (11 & 12) with two floors each is so overwhelming that even 4 days attending is not sufficient.

  • Day 1 (Tue, Nov 7): I spent an entire day to explore hall 12.1 alone, which turns out a good choice as it was a dense populated hall with many smaller companies
  • Day 2 (Wed, Nov 8): visiting with a client half of the day to review some of their possible competition, and then explore 12.0
  • Day 3 (Thu, Nov 9): some schedules meetings and then explore 11.0 and 11.1
  • Day 4 (Fri, Nov 10): revisiting 12.1 and 11.1 briefly, visiting with another client some selected booths to check products on display

I surely missed a few booths in 11.1 and 12.1 still; whereas 12.0 and 11.0 were more large scale industrial AM solutions, mixed with university and regional focused booths which I didn’t have time to explore in detail.

Personal Selection

I feature some companies according my personal professional interests:

Spherene (Math)

I made contact with Spherene before via LinkedIn but I realized I missed the point of what Spherene actually “invented”, at their booth Daniel Bachmann took the time to show me the features of their new class of minimal surface model and it was challenging for me to follow him despite of my own experience with Triply Periodic Minimal Surfaces (TPMS) – after apprx. 20 mins I realized the scope and some of their depth of their “invention”.

In essence, the sphere is used as a base form, and density, wall thickness and other features are processed in a localized manner, filling the space. The main result doing is optimizing a form to distribute inner/outer forces, e.g. the ends of the spheres are perpendicular to the surface providing ideal way to distribute them into a network of thin walled interconnected spheres providing isotropic (“all directions”) property.

The samples on display were printed with MSLA, SLA, FFF/FDM or SLM were indeed very strong in relation to the printed volume, e.g. the hallow rabbit printed with resin barely gave in when pushing on the thin outer perimeter – impressive.

Their approach is available as cloud-based GUI or as Grasshopper/Rhino plugin. The actual details of their procedure isn’t easily found but a patent (WO2020229692A1) by CEO Christian Waldvogel gives some idea.

Genera (DLP Resin)

There are many MSLA/SLA/DLP printer manufacturers, yet, I wasn’t aware of Genera and I was shown their system, an integrated workflow:

  • all resin vats have a lid (only applies for G1/F1 combo but not their bigger machines), which are opened only within the machine
  • the finished prints (still on the plate) are moved in a box into the washing machine (without any person touching resin or the resin coated prints)
  • once automatically cleaned and post-cured, the prints are removed from the build plate manually

In essence one does not interact with resin directly, it’s all contained within the workflow – which I like a lot. They also provide wide selection of resins: hard, soft, rubbery, opaque, transparent/clear.

My idea has been to adapt some of their approach to make my own resin printing with Photon series (4K, X2 and X 6Ks); right now I also have multiple vats, and flex-plate, but moving the printed parts and washing them are still messy.

Quantica (Resin Jetting)

Last year I already visited the booth of Quantica, and so this year again. I asked earlier for printed samples, but they declined, and again this time . . . it is bizarre to see a machine actually able to print, and they don’t hand out samples, but I was told by January 2024 I might get some. This tells me a few things, the printed pieces are very sparse or not yet at the quality they want others to experience – some samples were on display, but sealed behind a glass box unable to have in my hand. So I guess now, they are expecting or already have better and more reliable printing results where the printed pieces match other similar printing processes.

I follow their development closely since ~2 years as I consider it very innovative to print with 7 different resin-based materials at the same time and able to fine-tune material properties on the voxel-level.

Duet3D (Open Source Hardware & Community Building)

UK-based Duet3D with its Duet boards and RepRapFirmware (RRF) is, as I wrote before, a beacon within the Open Source Hardware community – it isn’t just an example for other companies, and but also a great synergy provider, aiming to bring different individuals, groups and companies together.

Brandon Builds’ Open 5X version was featured on a Voron 0, and a second machine also 5-axis setup with a tool changer.

Rapid Liquid Printing / RLP (Flexible Structures)

While roaming around a small booth of RLP caught also my attention, where a video was featured of a nozzle moving in a bed filled with silicon printing rubber, and other flexible material:

Reinforce 3D (Enhancement)

Another truly innovative approach combining and enhancing existing additive manufacturing processes was shown by Reinforce 3D:

  • using existing AM methods such as SLM, SLA, MSLA and even FFF/FDM to make models with thin walled tunnels and then
  • filling or rather pushing them with strains of carbon fibres along with resin into the tunnels
  • and thereby reinforcing free forms by keeping the result lightweight but incredible strong due the embedded carbon fibres

A very small but significant detail is, that you can print multiple parts on a smaller printer, but once you start to insert the bundles of carbon fiber those segments of pieces get combined in a strong assembly, as the aluminium skeleton shown above.

Plasmics (Inductive Heated Hotend)

INo Trident – inductive hotend by Plasmics: fast heatup and cooldown / 3s from 20C to 220C, 10s from 220C to 150C

At the booth of Plasmics I looked at the inductive hotend and saw the heating up in a few seconds from 20C to 220C and cool-off in a small demo first hand.

The hot part of the nozzle looks like a needle, with little thermal mass, hence the fast heat and cooling-off time, and then surrounded by ceramics with the inductive coil on it.

The hotend incl. the controller board priced at EUR 400 is high for DIY enthusiasts but low for an industrial setup.


Major AM players were present:

  • Formlabs: industrial SLA & SLS
  • Markforged: 3-axis Continueous Carbon Fiber (CFF)
  • Nexa3D: industrial SLA & SLS
  • Prusa Research: the usual lower-end/lower cost printer and their industrial aimed printers of the “Pro” series
  • Elegoo: low-cost resin & FFF/FDM printers, resins & filaments
  • Anycubic: low-cost resin & FFF/FDM printers, resins & filaments
  • BambuLab: cost-effective quality high-speed FFF/FDM printers
  • Creality: low-cost FFF/FDM & resin printers
  • Modix: low-cost but large scale FFF/FDM printers
  • Polymaker: filaments
  • eSun: filaments & resins
  • many smaller filament seller
  • E3D: hotends, extruders

And UltiMaker (after Ultimaker & MakerBot merger) wasn’t present again; the consensus has been that BambuLab‘s printers have taken the higher quality consumer FFF/FDM printers market segment, and the air getting thinner for UltiMaker – at the same time they are doing a great service with the Open Source Cura slicer.

Random Impressions


Misc: Formnext 2021 Review

My first Formnext in 2019 I realized there was no way to explore the expo in 1 day only, so I reserved for Formnext 2021 (Frankfurt, Germany) 4 days fully (November 16-19). Although the expo was smaller than in 2019, it was still massive to explore. I’m not even sure I saw all of the 600+ exhibitors despite roaming the two halls (12.0 ground floor, 12.1 first floor and 11.0 ground floor only) multiple times.

Inhouse Developments: ZPlusSlicer & 5DMaker

I presented my inhouse developments of ZPlusSlicer and 5DMaker for the first time in public (otherwise just illustrated in About: Big Picture), as of November 2021, it’s not yet published or otherwise documented.

About 40+ samples I handed out and alike amount some brief documentation (on paper) on ZPlusSlicer and 5DMaker (5MF processor) – both in early stage of development, and the “overhang stairs” a proof-of-concept of the benefit of both new conceptual layers on top of traditional slicing. By spring 2022 I will publish more publicly on both products once they matured to Beta stage.


  • Ultimaker: they didn’t have any booth, yet their machines were placed at many booths, resellers kind of represented them – combination of dominance and absence
  • Makerbot wasn’t there
  • Markforged considers itself as startup but outsiders consider them as big player already – impressive integration of machine, material and slicer, yet, all closed down; hard(er) to integrate with 3rd party software
  • nScrypt micro-dispensing on cylindrical or spherical surfaces, PCB 3d printing and pick-place SMD components:
  • Krause DiMaTec showed its EDDY 3D printer, slow Z axis, but quite affordable at ~8K EUR for the machine with 600 x 600 x 600mm build-volume, and the 3D metal printed hotend was quite an eye-catcher:
  • Duplex3D printer: two nozzles starting to print on upper & lower side of the build plate, once reached some distance, the plate is removed (!!) and 3D prints continues in both Z directions (the front glass is very glaring so not many details, also the representatives didn’t want to me to take too close photos):
  • Prusa Research released its Prusa XL – a Core XY based printer, I took a few photos with a lot of small innovations:
    • 360 x 360 x 360 mm build volume
    • mechanical pressure-based Z calibration built into the printhead (nozzle probes mechanical on the build plate)
    • segmented heating of build plate, heat there where the part is located
    • new printhead with geared filament drive motor
    • optional tool changer
    • optional foldable air-draft prevention
    • pricing from 2.5K EUR to 3.5K EUR
    • pre-order, delivery Q2/Q3 2022 (!!)
  • Modix as sold by 3Dmensional:
    • 600 x 600 x 600mm build-volume
    • fully enclosed
    • DIY kit or fully assembled
    • pricing 3.5K EUR (kit) to 6K EUR (assembled)
  • TreeDFilaments: 55 different materials
  • Kimya: materials too, great (paper) catalogue with detailed information on how to print their filaments and use-cases

Formnext 2021 Impressions

People vs Companies

Although all the companies appear quite anonymous, if you spend more than just a few minutes, and are able to talk to some technical skilled people – aside of the sales representative – you will notice “normal” people with the same passion like you and me: 3D printing enthusiasts, who turned their hobby into a professional passion, either as a startup or joining a bigger company to explore 3D printing further.

The most worthwhile and interesting interactions were the ones I had with little business aim but technical exchange on new slicing methods and algorithms, new G-code extensions or pre-/post-processing, and new hardware designs in particular 4-axis approaches by different individuals and companies based on my slicing software and hardware designs they found via my YouTube videos – which was quite a revelation for me.

Covid & Expo

As of November 2021, Covid-19 isn’t over but I was glad to explore Formnext 2021 in person, a “2G event”, means, either one had to be vaccinated or recovered from Covid. The first days most people worn masks, by each day less and less – me included, as it was hard to talk with the mask on and hear each other properly even standing close to each other due the overall noise level in the halls.


Certainly the overall mood was great among the exhibitors and visitors as well – professional interest, respectful cordial interactions – less noisy than in 2019 which was more hectic due more visitors overall. Tuesday (1st day) and Friday (last day) had less visitors, whereas Wednesday and Thursday was quite overwhelming and significant more visitors.

At last, some impressions of Frankfurt (Germany) itself . . .

That’s it.


Misc: Formnext 2019 Videos

A few worthwhile videos done by 3DMN (3D Maker Noob), Vector 3D (Adam) and others at Formnext 2019. I will update this post as more interesting videos become available.

  • 2019/12/11: added 3DMN Trilab DeltiQ 2 video
  • 2019/12/02: added Joel’s (3D Printing Nerd) Formnext 2019 video

3DMN: BCN3D Epsilon

BCN3D Epsilon by BCN3D:

  • build volume: 420 x 300 x 400mm
  • dual independent extruders / printheads (IDEX)
  • price: 7000 EUR

3DMN: Craftbot’s Flow Generation

Craftbot Flow Generation:

  • dual independent extruders / printheads (IDEX)
  • build volume: 425 x 250 x 250-400mm
  • price: 3200-4000 EUR (plus VAT)

3DMN: Trilab DeltiQ 2 (Delta)

Trilab DeltiQ 2 (Delta) specifications:

  • build volume: 250mm diameter with 300m height
  • bowden style, optionally direct drive style setup (Trilab FlexPrint)
  • price: 2600 EUR (minimal configuration)

Vector 3D: Continuous Carbon Fibre by Anisoprint

Anisoprint mixes Nylon, PC, PLA, TPU and PETG with carbon fibres (CCF) in their continueous 3D printing procedure.

Vector 3D: Dyze Design & Craftbot

Dyze Design: High volume printing from pellets with 1-5mm large nozzles.
Craftbot: Briefly discusses “Craftbot Flow Generation” 3D printer series, not very informative (sales talk).

Vector 3D: More of Formnext 2019

  • Tiertime X5 by Tiertime: automatic bed switching
  • Prusa Mini by Prusa Research: low cost Prusa printer at 380 EUR
  • Phrozen by Phrozen3D: DLP printer
  • Raise E2 by Raise3D: dual independent printheads (IDEX)
  • BuildTak: build sheets / platforms
  • The Box by BLB Industries : really printing big > 1000mm with 1-14mm nozzles with pellets

Vector 3D: Best of Formnext 2019: FL 300 by FuseLAB

FL 300 Revolving Extruder

Adam from Vector 3D select the FL 300 by FuseLAB as “best of”:

  • revolving filament extruder (proprietary, patent pending)
  • dual printheads
  • price ~7000 EUR

It surely is an interesting design, but I wonder what this additional complexity adds in actual print quality.

3DNatives: Top 5 (Industrial) 3D Printers

  1. AM Polar i2 by DP Polar: rotating platform
  2. C3600 Ultimate by 3DCeram: ceramic printing
  3. Meltio M450 by Meltio: metal powder & wire printing
  4. T3500 by Tractus3D: huge delta, FDM
  5. LASERTEC 125 BY DMG Mori: 5 axis milling combined with direct energy deposition

3DNatives: Top 5 3D Printing Applications

  1. 3D printed boat by Autodesk, endless fiber & resin
  2. 3D printed car by BAC & DSM, carbon fiber & graphine
  3. 3D printed robot by 3DGence: PEEK, Nylon and PLA
  4. 3D printed bike by VMR: SLM metal printing
  5. 3D printed dinosaur by Lincsolution: SLA printed

igus: 3D Printed Wear Parts

igus: more infomercial, yet informative: wear resistant filament / prints (e.g. gears) with their own polymer mixture called “iglidur”, optionally also food save.

3D Alliances: Xact Metal

XM200C by Xact Metal:

  • SLM (Selective Laser Melting), metal powder based
  • build volume: 127 x 127 x 127mm
  • price 90K EUR (considered low-cost 2019/12)

3D Printing Nerd: Formnext 2019

  • Craftbot Glow Generation: closer look at dual independent extruders (IDEX)
  • DyeMension: eye wear with powder bed printing (SLS) and other applications
  • Raise3D: Raise3D E2 also IDEX
  • Desktop Metal: Desktop Metal Fiber contineous carbon fiber mixed with polymer, priced at 35K USD / year; Desktop Metal Shop System, binder jetting at 1600dpi (SLS)
  • BCN3D: closer look to Epsilon (IDEX) also presenting their BCN3D Cura with cloud printing
  • Loctite: resins and bonding polymers

That’s it.

Misc: Formnext 2019 aka “just too much for one day”

I decided to visit Formnext 2019 in Frankfurt (Germany) November 20, 2019. And to give you the essence first, it was too much – 800 exhibitors in two larges halls each with 2 floors – one day is not enough, and others told me, not even two days is enough to have time to absorb what has been shown at this exhibition.

Metal Printing: one of the huge topics of Formnext 2019 was . . . metal printing aka “no more plastic”, it seemed like the motto for 2019, in the corporate sense of it.

The printers were huge, car or even tractor sized 3D printers.

The kind of faceless corporate world:

Ultimaker booth

Ultimaker: So I spotted Ultimaker booth, and asked for “Daid”, nobody seemed to know, but “David” was known (as author and driving force of Cura) but not there, as he left the company 2 months ago I was told – either way, I spoke with Roger Bergs and expressed my gratitude for Cura being Open Source and he replied: “you know, we come from there, it’s part of our company culture” . . . nice to see such a commitment to the Open Source, especially compared to the next:

MakerBot: . . . and to my surprise, there was a mid-sized booth of MakerBot, the owner of the struggling Thingiverse, on the brink of collapse. After some brief delay, I was able to talk to Jason Chan, responsible for Thingiverse who was on site, and we had a brief talk:

MakerBot booth
  • I acknowledged the role MakerBot played in early days of 3D printer development in contrast to the later abandonment of the Open Source principle with the acquisation by Stratasys . . .
  • I pointed out how important Thingiverse was and still is for existing projects, which still reference the STL files on Thingiverse and if it were to disappear it would be devastating and break many projects out there (not all migrated to github or other 3D model repos)
  • further I expressed my experience about other the 3D model repositories being functionally inferior compared to Thingiverse
  • Thingiverse was unbearable slow and unreliable – Jason acknowledged and confirmed my concerns of the current functionality of the site
  • Jason responded as following:
    • only 2 web developers are assigned to Thingiverse maintenance as of 2019/11
    • there is a backlog or debt of problems unaddressed for the years and MakerBot is aware of it (to the public it seemed nobody cares at MakerBot)
    • Thingiverse is costly running it, and provides no (significant) income
    • there are commitments within MakerBot to reboot Thingiverse and fix all the backend issues and resolve the “slowness” of the site (that has been said before, nothing happened – just check @makerbot Twitter account)
    • development of a financially sustainable foundation for Thingiverse, means, to create income – how this is planned he didn’t wanted to reveal in more details
    • MakerBot kind of was surprised of the immense success of Thingiverse of the past years

Josef Prusa: While visiting Hall 11, I came across Josef Prusa walking alone, and I just briefly shared my admiration for his success by combining Open Source and business to a self-sustaining model. I later visited the Prusa Research booth, and it was packed with visitors and and catched this short video showing Prusa Mini in action:

BuildTak: Just a brief talk with Igor Gomes, about their new products and shared a bit of my stuff as laid out on this web-site.

Creality booth

Creality: . . . and there it was, a tiny small booth of Creality – 4 or 5 shy representatives sitting there, and I walked toward them and greeted them in english, and a smile rushed unto their faces (to my surprise), and I expressed my thankfulness of their move to Open Source the Ender 3 entirely, that this move or gesture really was acknowledged in the Open Hardware and 3D printing community in the “West”. In a way it was bizarre, there was this small booth, while in reality, this company had more impact than perhaps the rest of the exhibitors of the entire hall – nobody else ships as many 3D printers as this company as of 2019.

Misc Small Chinese Exhibitors:

Too little time to explore their products in more depth.

E3D Online: Just briefly glanced at their booth, as I watched already videos online of their tool changer, and I was already significantly exhausted.

E3D Online: Tool changing with metalbrush to clean the changing toolhead

NinjaTek: just passing by . . .

FelixPrinters: . . . also too little time and openness left from my side cut this visit short, but their printers looked very well thought out.


Printing Big

Misc Perls

Anyway, after 7 hours I was exhausted from all the impressions – it was too much of visual stimulis and constant noise – and I left the exhibition and headed back to Switzerland by train again, and arrive at midnight finally – it was worth my time.

That’s it.