Exhibitors from Thuringia satisfied with their debut
Managing director Wieland Kniffka: internationalisation planned
The Rapid.Tech 2012 congress closed on 9 May in Erfurt with an eight percent rise in visitor numbers. Overall, the specialist event welcomed 1,300 conference and exhibition visitors from 14 different countries (Belgium, Germany, France, the UK, India, Canada, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and the USA). In hall 2, 67 exhibitors from four different countries (+20 percent) presented products, equipment and services from the field of additive manufacturing.
“Rapid.Tech has thus once again proved to be a key platform for the pioneering technology ‘additive manufacturing’”, believes Mess Erfurt’s managing director Wieland Kniffka. He has announced a greater focus on the international market for the years to come. “What was once a niche technology is now shaping more and more sectors. What was once a niche market is now worth billions. Over and above the technical dimensions of generative product development, economic considerations are becoming increasingly important. Rapid.Tech will respond to these developments.”
Hendrik Bartelt from EOS GmbH (Munich), a global market leader in the laser sintering segment, voiced the exhibitors’ view of the event. “Hats off to the organisers. It was definitely worth EOS coming. We will be back next year.”
One great success was the joint Rapid.Tech debut of businesses from Thuringia. For the first time, 13 companies from the region exhibited together at a joint stand. Jochen Staschewski, permanent secretary to Thuringia’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, explained during his visit that the state was already third in Germany in this business segment, after only Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Günter Ganß from the Thuringian prototyping network Netzwerk Thüringer Prototyper summed up the event: “We – 13 service providers and academic institutions – are extremely satisfied with how the event has gone. Our customers greatly appreciated having a central point of contact for Thuringian businesses. We use all additive manufacturing technologies. Rapid.Tech will also be a must for us in 2013.”
“Additive manufacturing” refers to a technology which began in the USA over 20 years ago and is now taking industry by storm. It means the rapid production of components using digital design data which allow the functions or design of a planned application to be tested and optimised at an extremely early stage. Materials and processes already enable direct production of individual items or in small series, or indeed in many cases large volume production. Above all in innovative sectors of industry such as the aeronautical and aerospace, automotive and automotive supply, and medical and dental technology sectors, additive manufacturing is already an integral of everyday operations. The range of products manufactured in this way is amazingly diverse, ranging from aeroplane components, hearing aids and dentures to bone implants and car gear knobs. Experts estimate that the former niche technology now has a global market worth around 1.2 billion dollars. The consultancy firm Wohlers Associates is predicting a growth in turnover across the sector to 3.1 billion dollars by 2016 and as much as 5.2 billion dollars by 2020.
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