Tobias Schmidt - on the left - Barbara Weingarten - on the right - credit: IPM AG

In just four years, the additive manufacturing forum held in Berlin has grown so fast that it succeeds to establish itself as a reference in the world of conferences/exhibitions dedicated to additive manufacturing.

When looking at the figures, the Berlin-held forum started with 450 participants (exhibitors & participants combined). Last year, the event doubled its size with about 857 participants and they would have doubled this size again (about 1200 participants) if not for the challenging times that are currently impacting the whole world.

Nevertheless, the fourth additive manufacturing world attracted several new companies and was worth attending, as described in our report.

In the midst of this exciting growth, we caught up with the people behind the organization of this event to discover what makes this event outstanding.  Tobias Schmidt, Partner at IPM AG, & Barbara Weingarten, Senior Project Manager, revealed key insights into their world and how their activities are unconsciously a strong base for driving the whole additive manufacturing industry.

Bringing together the “right people”

IPM AG, short for Institute for Production Management, organizes a series of C-level conferences in various industries including automotive, aerospace & aviation and rail industry. It’s been a decade that they have been bringing together decision-makers that can track and foster the adoption of innovative solutions in various industries.

Over time, they realized that these industries, sometimes shared common needs and address the same technological perspective when it comes to solutions that might help them further develop their products.

It is no secret that additive manufacturing plays a key role in the aforementioned demanding industries. Based on the request of some aerospace companies, IPM AG started to include a space to discuss AM in its aviation-dedicated conference 5 or 6 years ago.

Over time, a single module to discuss AM was no longer enough. We kept receiving more questions on additive manufacturing, and they did not only come from the aviation industry”, explains Barbara Weingarten.

At some point, you have to listen to the market as it tells you what it is looking for. A thorough analysis of the market shows that decision-makers we succeeded in bringing together are the ones that are likely to leverage AM the most. Therefore, due to the connections we have with other events, we were able to offer AM companies the right people”, completes Tobias Schmidt.

That’s how the Additive Manufacturing Forum comes into play. In keeping with its principles of bringing the right people together, IPM AG managed to gather both industrial companies & AM companies as founding partners of the show. They include: Airbus & DB on the one hand, Stratasys, 3YOURMIND, Mobility Goes Additive & recently BASF, on the other hand.

The event is now backed by a growing list of sponsors, cooperation partners & media partners.

Is Additive Manufacturing Forum (AMF) a Germany-focused event?

Apart from international gatherings such as Formnext or Rapid TCT, in this industry, it is likely to see AM conferences & exhibitions that are organized with a key focus on the regions in which they are held.

As far as AMF is concerned, Schmidt explained that they are free to go wherever they want. “We place the event where we believe the market is based”, explains IPM AG’s partner. “For automotive-dedicated events for instance, events can be held in cities that host the big names of this industry. Sometimes, this might be easy at the organizational level if a tour is planned during the said-event”, completes Schmidt.

Something is undeniable, AMF gathers a lot of companies that are looking for business opportunities in the DACH region or that are based in the DACH region – hence the strong presence of German in the conference.

Since the second conference, we noticed an increasing interest of international companies in participating in the conference. We have adapted our communication supports and even our offering to a certain extent. You will realize that, contents are now available in both English & German, attendees that are attending the conferences can listen to keynote speakers in English as well – since we have integrated simultaneous interpretation, says Weingarten.

In light of recent news regarding the Covid-19, do you believe that turning the conference into a digital event would have had the same impact?

As a reminder, even though the situation was not catastrophic as it is right now, IPM AG has managed to hold its AM event in the midst of several events cancellations/postponements, with the consent of Neukölln, Berlin-based responsible health authority. In this regard, the organizers deserve a big shout out as they managed to keep safety as a top priority throughout the event. However, we couldn’t help but ask them if they had envisioned a digital event:

We have once tried to send some digital contents to participants in the past but the results were not brilliant. In our experience, it is neither easy, nor very practice to sit down behind a computer for thirty minutes or more to listen to a conference. If we recognize, we have to look for better digital and interactive solutions, we strongly believe that a digital content will never replace the original content that you can absorb in-situ, declares Schmidt.

Let’s look at it the other way. Those people spend a lot of time exchanging emails & holding virtual meetings across the world. At some point, the need for meeting is crucial, not just to strengthen a collaboration, but also to find new partners, and learn how to develop new business ideas. And that’s the key role of an event”, states the Senior Project Manager.

How do you perceive the evolution of AMF?

We are very proud to organize AMF as it is the fastest growing event within our portfolio. In the long-run, we ambition to become a European conference without loosing our German roots”, concludes Schmidt.

We are already on track for the organization of the 2021 edition. Some leading keynote speakers including BMW, LEGO as well as Foster and partners have already confirmed their participation. 30% of the booths are even already sold and more companies will be taking part to the event. We are already looking forward to bringing these industries together”, concludes Barbara Weingarten.

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