Although the psychosis associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has diminished, a number of restrictions made at the beginning continue to apply. One of the business sectors that has been most affected by restrictions associated with the fight against coronavirus are the organizers of fairs, conferences and events. Over the past few weeks we have informed about events that have been canceled or postponed – today we have a sad obligation to inform about the next. The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in the US has been canceled for the first time since World War II. At the same time, the organizers of another fair event – Formnext, still hope that their autumn event will take place. However, they introduce a number of restrictions for visitors…

The IMTS is held every two years in Chicago, Illinois and is organized by AMT (The Association For Manufacturing Technology). In 2018, the market halls had a total of 1.4 million square meters of exhibition space, which was visited by 2,563 exhibitors and 128,415 visitors. The fair will not be postponed, but canceled completely. The next edition is planned in March 2022.

Although IMTS has a very wide thematic nature, covering a wide range of industry solutions, additive technologies have played an increasingly important role. According to the organizers, during this year’s edition the pavilion with companies from the 3D printing industry was to be 40% larger than two years ago.

At the same time, it is still a great unknown whether the largest trade fair event dedicated to 3D printers in the world will take place – Formnext in Frankfurt am Main in Germany, Europe? For now, the organizers ensure that everything will go according to plan, while constantly modifying it and adapting to changing circumstances. This week, the following restrictions have been announced:

  • fair participants will be able to visit them only on selected and assigned days
  • registration will be completely electronic and payments will only be made in digital form
  • each of the fair participants will have to sign a declaration of their health (is it possible that the entrance will be tested body temperature?)
  • the avenues between the stands will be twice as wide – they will be 6 meters instead of the usual 3 meters
  • on both sides of the stand will be surrounded by an additional 1-meter wide communication strip
  • staff will monitor visitors using video cameras whether they maintain social distance?
  • the guidelines for the construction of booths have also changed to encourage participants to distance themselves from each other
  • Formnext offers its own booth, designed to meet all requirements regarding social distance and health protection.

If that wasn’t enough, everything should be additionally cleaned, disinfected, and the air in the halls more intensively ventilated than usual.

Aside from how much the new regulations will affect the quality and comfort of visitors and companies presenting their products and services, whether the fair really takes place is the responsibility of the Hesse authorities – the federal state of Germany in which Frankfurt am Main is located and the German government itself. Considering the development of the coronavirus-related situation in Europe and in the world, any predictions in this matter are at the moment useless… One can appreciate the efforts of the organizers to bring the fair to effect, however, less and less depends on them.

Paweł Ślusarczyk
CEO of 3D Printing Center. Has over 15 years' experience in buisiness, gained in IT, advertising and polygraphy. Part of 3D printing industry since 2013.

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