Oerlikon, a $3bln+ industrial materials, automation and production service provider organized and held the its second annual AM conference at the Technische Universitat in Munich (TUM). MTC2 gathered over 1000 international experts from the additive manufacturing industry as well as high profile speakers and industry stakeholders.
For its impact, scope and success the event resembled the 2014 Materialise World Congress. MWC 2014 was Materialise’s second global convention and its most successful one. The company invited all its partners and many high profile experts. However, while Materialise was then focusing on introducing AM as a development and low-batch production tool for several advanced industries such as medical and even consumer products, Oerlikon is now focusing primarily on large scale industrialization of the technology.
The times have changed and Materialise’s objectives in 2014 have been in part achieved. Now it is time to scale up and Oerlikon wants to take a leading role in promoting collaboration with key partners such as GE, Siemens, and all major AM hardware manufacturers toward completing the industrialization process of AM in various areas of industrial manufacturing. We spoke about this in our exclusive interview with Oerlikon’s global CEO, Dr-Ing Roland Fischer, who is among the strongest supporters of Oerlikon’s $100 million move into AM. The interview will be published on this channel next week, so stay tuned.
Unparalleled MTC2 hardware line up
During the first day of the conference, the Oerlikon team was able to attract the CEO’s and founders of some of the most important AM companies in the world who are also Oerlikon’s partners in working to evolve AM as a fully industrialized end-to-end production process. including Dr. Hans Langer (EOS) and Frank Herzog (Concept Laser) participated in roundtables with Dr. Thomas Fehn (Trumpf), Dr.-Ing. Gereon W. Heinemann (SLM Solutions) and Mathias Wolpiansky (Realizer), and Dr. Xu Xiaoshu (Farsoon Technologies). These are the CEO’s and founders of some of the most important metal powder bed fusion manufacturing companies, who compete every day for market dominance. They sat together at the at the same roundtables to discuss how to effectively advance the technology.
And this was only one session. Other sessions saw discussions with the people who are at the helm of the companies leading the industry. The top executives from both the current industry leaders, 3D Systems’s President CEO Vyomesh Josh and Stratasys Executive Vice President Andy Middleton were present. As were the CEO’s from all the primary challengers for market dominance, who often compete with each other and instead were all present to discuss how to work together. These are the giants who are investing the most on the future of AM, such GE Additive President & CEO Jason Oliver, Siemens CEO Division Digital Factory Dr. Jan M. Mrosik and HP General Manager of Metal 3D Printing Dr. Tim Weber. Yet other sessions saw the participation of Desktop Metal CEO and Co-founder Ric Fulop and XJet Founder Hanan Gothait, who are driving some of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies in all of AM.
The state of adoption
As a further confirmation of Oerlikon’s key role in promoting collaboration in AM, the conference also saw the participation of representatives from several major AM industrial adopters in several different segments of manufacturing. These ranged from automotive to aerospace, with Gero Corman (Volkswagen Group Digitalization Head of 3D-Printing/Additive Manufacturing) and Maximilian Hauk (BMW Group Vice President Production Pilot Plant), sitting at the table with José Enrique Román (Boeing Managing Director Boeing Research and Technology Europe), David Joyce (Vice Chair, GE, and President & CEO, GE Aviation) and Lars Wagner (MTU Aero Engines Chief Operating Officer).
Medical applications were also represented by top companies such as Stryker, with Orthopaedics Director
Advanced Operations Dr. Naomi Murray and Dr. Charles Tomonto from the Johnson & Johnson Engineering Fellow, Material Characterization Lead, 3D Printing Center of Excellence, among several other experts. The list goes on, however the presence of the top brass from each one of these companies at the conference is a significant statement as to how much is at stake and how successful the conference was in initiating a dialogue which is of key importance for the future of AM.
MTC2 asks what future for AM
The interdisciplinary exchange about major challenges and opportunities posed by the broad industrialization of additive manufacturing is more relevant than ever. The consistent use of AM necessitates the complete rethinking of the manufacturing process at multiple levels. AM technology can be used to supplement or replace existing processes and can be used to improve upon weaknesses in others, for example in vehicle and aircraft construction.
“Additive Manufacturing is the ‘physical arm’ of digitalization,” commented Prof. Dr. Michael Süß Chairman of the Board of Oerlikon. “The full potential of this technology can only unfold in an ecosystem comprised of strong partners at every step of the value creation chain. The Munich Technology Conference (MTC) offers an ideal platform for the exchange of ideas among these partners.”
This was just day one. Day two of the conference features a thick line up of workshops with AM experts from all participating companies, adding a more practical side to the ideas expressed and collected. Definitely a key moment for the AM industry, in anticipation of formnext, just a few hundred kilometers from Munich.