5 years of MGA – celebrating our achievements and our birthday

2021 we celebrated 5 years of MGA: Lets take a look back in time on the things we have accomplished together, as a network.

In 2016 companies wanted to face the challenge of printing spare parts faster than they could be produced with conventional production processes without losing quality. But nine companies soon realized that individually they would not be able to overcome the many hurdles on the way to pushing Additive Manufacturing into series production – so the idea of a network was born.

In June 2016 these nine companies, namely Siemens Mobility, Knorr-Bremse, Deutsche Bahn, Leupold Legal, Materialise, eos, Schockemöhle Logistics, Fraunhofer IAPT (formerly Laserzentrum Nord) and SBB Cargo, came together to work out the details for this 3D printing network.

Mobility goes Additive was launched on September 21 2016 at the Kaiserbahnhof in Potsdam, where the first members agreed on the name and the bodies. The Executive Board was made up of Uwe Fresenborg (DB), Johannes Emmelheinz (Siemens), Jürgen Mues (SBB Cargo) and Prof. Dr. Claus Emmelmann (LZN), Treasurer was Philip Janssen (DB) and the Advisory Council was made up of Rolf Härdi (Knorr), Dr. Andreas Leupold (Leupold Legal), Steffen Kuhn (materialize) and Nikolai Zaepernick (eos). And Managing Director has been Stefanie Brickwede since 2016. We celebrate the birthday of the network on October 26 of that year, which is when the official entry in the register of associations happened!

The first year of Mobility goes Additive was filled with lots of talks with other companies and we grew our numbers from 9 foundation members to 55 members within the first twelve months – an achievement that mirrors the need of the industry for an AM network. At the first Annual Meeting in November 2017 in Frankfurt, we welcomed all those new members, presented the results of our first Working Groups “Digital Supply Chain”, “Education & Knowhow”, “Approval” & “Legal” and elected the first honorary member of the network, Peter Sander (Airbus).

At the beginning of 2018 more and more companies became interested in the different aspects of 3D printing and the network started to closely cooperate with IPM to boost Am-specific events and trade fairs. At the AM Forum in Berlin that spring we introduced the first ever Women in AM-Luncheon to help the female members of our industry to connect and help each other – at that time the women’s quota within the AM industry was at a shocking 13 % but since then it has grown and we like to think that Women in AM does not hurt this improvement.

As the AM community and with it the number of our members grew, Stefanie Brickwede and Arvid Eirich soon needed more hands and heads to manage the topics of the network. But it was not just the growing office team that needed space, it also became important, to give the network a physical space where anyone interested in AM could experience the technology first-hand. Therefore, in 2018 and with such esteemed guests as the Secretary of State Mobility goes Additive made the Marienpark, a beautiful historic oasis in the south of Berlin, its home – a place showcasing examples of the many applications of 3D printing to countless visitors in a unique setting.

And the visitors interested in our network already that year were numerous and special: like the delegation from the US Army that came to our office to learn more about AM applications for the defense sector and to teach us a thing or two about printing at the armed forces.

In September 2018 we held our Annual Meeting for the first time at our new premises – and the 3D evening event (Dine, Drink & Dance) at this location made it all the more special. By this time we already had 8 Working Groups in which our members came together to tackle the various problems and it was amazing to see the results of these endeavors on stage.

After the success of the Women in AM Luncheon in 2018 we decided that the female members of our industry needed an even bigger stage: So in March 2019, one day before the AM Forum, the Women in AM Summit took place as a whole day conference at the Marienpark with interesting speeches, coaching and of course a lot of room for networking between the female leaders of the AM industry. The men were allowed to join the women at the pre-evening event for the AM Forum, that we together with IPM also hosted at the Marienpark.

Just one month later, in April 2019, we reached another mile stone in MGA history: we launched MGA Medical – our division focused on AM applications and technologies in the medical sector. Never would we have dreamed of the success that division would have when we started it under the lead of Dr. Cora Lüders-Theuerkauf on a sunny day in the spring of 2019 with lots of ideas and even more plans.

In May 2019 our network tightened its international cooperation: we signed an MoU with the NAMIC network in Singapore and since that day we have worked very closely together with our friends from Asia.

If you needed tangible proof of the added value of our network, in 2019 with the publication of the book “AM Change Management: from hype to implementation” can be bought online. The book is the product of the Working Group “Change Management” and is used by many member companies as a guideline for implementing 3D printing into their daily business.

Many of the achievements of those first three years would not have been possible without the dedication of many individuals and especially a pioneer of our AM industry. Which is why at the Annual Meeting 2019 in the beautiful brewery of Brewdog in the Marienpark in Berlin, our members voted for Uwe Fresenborg to become MGAs second honorary member. His responsibilities as chairman of the board where taken over by Gorden Falk (DB) who was joined by Prof Dr Claus Emmelmann (Fraunhofer), Johannes Emmelheinz (Siemens) and Alain Eicher (SBB Cargo) to be reelected as the executive board of MGA.

Then came the month of November and with it our first MGA participation at the Berlin Partner organized Berlin Brandenburg booth at the formnext in Frankfurt – another example how amazing cooperation can work. The formnext is where we meet the fAMily and in 2019 we met so many members in the halls of the Messe Frankfurt, the 4 days were not nearly enough time to talk to each and every one.

Later that same month, and again in cooperation with Berlin Partner, we hosted the first ever TechJourney, offering a deep dive into Israel’s AM ecosystem with a focus on industrial manufacturing and AM in the medical field. It was a great opportunity to see first hand one of the most forward-thinking nations of our industry, with lots of innovative start-ups as well as research facilities. The group including many members that came together and made the trip to Israel with us was definitely one of a kind and the spirit and comradery of the travelling party was part of what made this trip unforgettable. The TechJourney was a fitting end for a year full of highlights!

At the beginning of 2020 we had all heard of the new virus that had started to spread in Asia – but most of us were quite unaware of what was to come… At the end of February we hosted the MGA/VDI Students Competition here in Berlin. For that great event, more than 60 students from all over Germany as well as Austria came together to face a challenge with the help of 3D printing within a set timeframe and against other competing teams. For our members and partners it was a great opportunity to recruit fresh young minds, for the students it was a chance to meet likeminded people from other universities and to connect with possible employers – all in all it was a really great success!

At the beginning of March, more and more cases of the so called Corona virus, that by now is part of our everyday language but was new to many people two years ago, were reported all over the world. Rumors of potential lockdowns started spreading, but were still a part of the AM Forum and hosted a very small Women in AM Summit in Berlin. And then just a few days later, Germany and many other countries went into a lockdown and the craziness that has been the past two years hit us all in full force. But as always, we did not bury our heads in the sand but quickly organized the network into a new Working Group: 3D printing fights Corona. The initiative hosted webinars on how our members can help the community through the pandemic and was able to donate more than 5.000 face shields to the Johanniter.

Our network powered through lockdowns, home office, travel restrictions, event cancelations and the strained economy. In September 2020 we hosted the first ever hybrid Annual Meeting, allowing members from all over the globe to join us virtually, even if they could not make it to Berlin in person due to the ongoing pandemic, and to also vote for a new member of the board: Güngor Kara (Ottobock) now represents our Medical division on the executive board. Furthermore, at the Annual Meeting our “Approval in Rail” Working Group presented another great milestone that resulted directly from the amazing cooperation within the group: the conclusion and print of the final report “Approval of safety-relevant components for short-distance rail traffic”. And last but not least we opened the Industrial Additive Manufacturing (IAM) Hub Berlin, the first step on the road of making the Marienpark the home of AM in the capital of AM.

Most of us thought that by the beginning of 2021 the pandemic would be over, things would start to get back to normal and we would maybe, just maybe, hit the restart button. But of course that did not happen and 2021 was still dominated by Corona headlines. But our Working Groups did get used to meeting virtually so they continued to produce results and in 2021 some of the hard work of the past years resulted once again in tangible benefits of the cooperation within our network. First of all, our WeBoostAM-platform, a result of the Education Working Group, went online and was soon filled with life through the efforts of our Materials Working Group (of course, our biggest Working Group achieved so much more than that, if you would like to know more, click here). Then our Medical Approval Working Group was able to publish a Decision Tree for easier handling of the complicated and confusing MDR. And last but again not least, our Education Working Group published a “Modul Catalogue of a further education structure in the field of Additive Manufacturing” to help structure and align the different AM training approaches.

During the summer of 2021 the situation started to relax a little more and together with IPM we hosted the 4. Women in AM Summit in Berlin, for the first time without the corresponding AM Forum happening as a physical event the next day but it was nonetheless a success and a platform for female representatives of the AM world to network. What made it even more of a success was the fact that it was the first AM event after the lockdown for so many of us and it was great to once again be able to network with likeminded people from our community in an inspiring setting.

Just two weeks later Autodesk, Ultimaker and MGA welcomed the first participants of the MGA 3D printing KidsCamp: lesson learned was definitely that teenagers are a lot more work than we anticipated but it was amazing to see how easy it is to get 10 – 15-year-olds exited about AM. The kids left the one week camp with knowledge and 3D printed goodies and we definitely inspired some of them to stick with the topic of AM.

Then in September everyone was exited to meet in person again and so many of you came to Berlin to celebrate the 5th birthday of MGA at the Annual Meeting together with our executive board, our advisory council and our office team. It was a blast to see so many of you, to hear from our Working Groups as well as the esteemed guest speakers and of course to have you vote Arvid Eirich to become the third honorary member of the network. For those who joined us virtually and missed the cutting of our enormous birthday cake – sorry, but it really was delicious!

In November Covid numbers were rising once again but we saw many of you at the formnext in Frankfurt, where we were once again part of the amazing Berlin Partner managed Berlin Brandenburg booth. And then it was time to premiere the first ever AM Medical Days here in Berlin. Together with IPM we hosted the two day event that was all about AM in the medical sector and according to the feedback that IPM received afterwards it has been the most successful event ever hosted by them – we could not be prouder and cannot wait for next year when we can hold the event without travel restrictions. Once again, the year ended incredibly successfully and we can only thank each and every one of our members for that.

Throughout the five years of the MGA network, we have grown our numbers from the 9 founders to an astonishing 141 member at the end of 2021. We started off with one Division and 4 Working Groups, now we have 7 Mobility Working Groups with 6 more Focus Groups and 5 Medical Working Groups, meeting more times than we can count.

We have found cooperation partners like IPM, formnext and Berlin Partner who enable us to shape the conferences and trade fairs and to place the most important topics wherever possible and necessary.

Through the contacts in our network, startups have been founded and business contacts have been made that would otherwise never have happened.

Our office team is part of many juries and committees, both political and otherwise, always pushing the topic of AM.

We have found the ear of many politicians and through the 3D industrial initiate we have professionalized our communications with the most important political committees.

We have already achieved so much, but our journey is far from over. Thank you, dearest members and friends, for your dedication and hard work throughout the past 5 years… now on to the next ones!
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