Formnext Connect 2020: The verdict?

Image: Formnext

When Petra Haarburger, President of Formnext, kickstarted Formnext digital edition, she said: “We hope that everyone will experience a little bit of the Formnext magic during these two and half days”.

Although the platform will remain open until December 31st, to enable those who would like to watch some content on demand to do so, the end of officially planned activities was on Thursday, 12th November at 02.00 pm CET.

Recorded figures by Mesago show that “Formnext Connect attracted 203 exhibitors with about 2200 representatives, and showcased 1412 products. 8541 active participants from more than 100 nations (1/3 national, 2/3 international) made great use of the intelligent and modern matchmaking function, which managed to generate more than 450000 recommendations for products and other participants. Further, 23311 new contacts and 4733 business meetings in the form of video calls were enabled. The 221 lectures and presentations of the high-profile program of stage events and sessions were watched by 45000 spectators”.

But these are just figures, in the end, was “the Formnext magic” there? What are the final impressions of the organizers, exhibitors and attendees?

On November 11th, we reported on a mix of understandable and diverse feelings from the organizers, the exhibitors and the attendees.

Before anything else, let us congratulate the creative team of Formnext for putting together such a massive digital event in just eight weeks. Despite the constraints of the digital format, “Formnext” will remain one of the rare AM events, if not the only AM event to create such euphoria within the industry.

For Sascha F. Wenzler, the digital format of Formnext Connect will also play a role in future trade fair formats. “Born out of necessity due to the worldwide corona restrictions, Formnext Connect […] will continue to form an important part of future exhibitions.” That being said, Wenzler is of the firm belief that it can never make up for the direct contact and personal interaction of a physical event.  

As a reminder, what’s interesting about the Grip platform used for Formnext Connect, is that it was based on AI-driven matchmaking. The same platform has already been used by the Additive Manufacturing Forum in Berlin to plan meetings prior to the in-person conference – but not in such an extensive way, with a whole set of digital activities. 

The matchmaking tool is a very nice aspect if you want to make the most of your digital experience – or your time during a physical attendance at a show, as it matches people that share common interests. But let us not forget that a good deal can often come out from an unexpected conversation, or from the eye-catching product that draws your attention when you are walking down aisle of an exhibition hall.

In this vein, most exhibitors we talked to, told us that they did not have the same traffic they usually got while attending Formnext, which is quite understandable. Indeed, in addition to “unexpected conversations” that usually occurred during a physical event, and despite the fact that the program aimed at facilitating people from different time zones (USA, Europe, and China) to take part in the event, people were not always gathered at the same time and on the same platform. As mentioned on November 11th, most companies carried out their presentation and product launches on their preferred digital platform – and this was often an external platform to Grip. Not to mention that some expert and interactive sessions had some limitations in terms of attendance capacity.

As far as attendees are concerned, we believe each attendee will have a different story to share about Formnext Connect. At 3D ADEPT Media for instance, we usually showcase our products as exhibitor and cover the show thanks to a well-thought out media planning combined with a booth-to-booth approach on the ground.

This time, in addition to some major product launches and updates from companies, we focused on some interesting newcomers & rising AM players that we will introduce in a couple of days.

While we’ve heard some attendees say that they wanted to discover more about a specific topic, for other attendees (that were actually AM companies), the goal was just to “network virtually”.

In the end, did you feel a bit of that “Formnext magic”?

Notwithstanding each personal digital experience, it should be noted that Formnext has maintained its standard in terms of quality content and experts.

Apart from the start-up challenge and the purmundus challenge, key topics addressed during the event range from sustainability, engineering and aerospace to industrial use cases in automotive, financial services in AM, as well as standardization and certification. In addition to China as a partner country, the event has made a closer look at Israël as an AM hub and explored the possibilities in the mould & die industry. 

Lastly, to extraordinary year, extraordinary measures, and thus extraordinary Formnext. From what we saw on social networks, beyond business objectives that have been achieved or not, this Formnext was about “connecting the fAMily” in the new Covid-19 world before next year’s annual gathering to Frankfurt  – and that to me, is the sign that the “Formnext magic” was somehow there.

Formnext 2021 is scheduled to return to Frankfurt am Main from 16 to 19 November 2021. In the meantime, stay healthy & take care of your relatives.

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