Applications in 3D Printing" Five emerging companies triumph at Formnext's ninth Start-up Challenge

Source: Mesago Reading Time: 5 min

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Formnext's ninth international Start-up Challenge recognises five emerging companies for their groundbreaking work in additive manufacturing. Hailing from four different countries, these winners showcase innovations ranging from medical applications, material recycling and new 3D printing technologies for various industries.

The five winners will each receive a 3D-printed award, as well as an impressive exhibition and marketing package sponsored by Formnext and its partners.
The five winners will each receive a 3D-printed award, as well as an impressive exhibition and marketing package sponsored by Formnext and its partners.
(Source: Mesago Messe Frankfurt/ Marc Jacquemin)

As part of its ninth international Start-up Challenge, Formnext has recognised emerging companies from the world of additive manufacturing for their innovative business ideas and technical developments. The winning innovations demonstrate the wide field of applications for Additive Manufacturing, ranging from medical applications to material recycling of titanium, analysis software and new 3D printing technologies for the automotive, electronics, dental and engineering industries, among others. The winners, who will also exhibit at Formnext 2023, are Endless Industries (Germany), Helio Additive (USA), Odapt (Spain), Progresja New Materials (Poland) and Vitro3D (USA).

The Start-Up Challenge will give the emerging companies participating in Formnext the ideal opportunity to expand their network, exchange ideas with experts in the AM industry and find potential partners or investors. They will be given a unique stage to present themselves and their innovations to the great and good of the AM world. All five winning start-ups demonstrate highly advanced technological solutions and impress with the breadth of their technologies and potential applications. The fact that the winners come from four different countries also reflects the strong international relevance of the Formnext Start-up Challenge.

Endless Industries and Vitro3D have developed existing 3D printing technologies (fibre reinforced part manufacturing and stereolithography), promising faster production speeds and higher part quality. Helio Additive, with its Dragon slicing analysis software, is also focused on improving the printing process. Odapt has developed a customised base plate for ostomy patients that simplifies care while eliminating waste. Sustainability is also important to Progresja New Materials, a Polish start-up that aims to recycle titanium to produce powder for additive manufacturing. The company also took home the 5,000 euros AM Ventures Impact Award, presented as part of the Formnext Start-up Challenge.

“The winners’ wide-ranging solutions demonstrate the AM industry’s huge potential for innovation and the versatility of the current and future applications of AM. They also show that this exciting technology can enable a wide range of innovative products and give us a powerful, practical tool for tackling current challenges such as climate change,” says Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President Formnext at trade fair organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH.

The five winners will each receive a 3D-printed award, as well as an impressive exhibition and marketing package sponsored by Formnext and its partners. The winners will also participate in a pitch event on the Industry Stage at Formnext, broadcast live on Formnext.TV. The award is given to companies that are no more than five years old. The contest recognizes viable new business ideas, and the distinguished judging panel consists of prominent representatives from the realms of industry, science, media, and investment.

A new approach to printing with carbon fiber

With a new approach to 3D printing continuous carbon fibre, Berlin-based startup Endless Industries aims to shake up this fast-growing market. These extremely strong components are mainly used in the automotive, engineering and other industries. Rather than launching its own printer, Endless Industries is focusing on the material it has developed, its own software and a patented nozzle that processes carbon fibre and plastic simultaneously. With this solution, even large parts can be produced very efficiently. As the start-up does not produce its own 3D printers, it is looking to work with established manufacturers. Co-founder Stephan Körber says this will allow it to, “deliver the best solution for the customer.”

Thermal simulation for better printing results

Helio Additive, a startup founded in China in 2020 and now based in the US, will use its slicing analysis software to improve 3D printing of plastics and composites. The company's Dragon software is a thermal simulation of the additive manufacturing process: It slices 3D models into individual voxels and records their thermal evolution. Helio Additive is targeting the fact that different plastics, such as PC and PA, expand at different rates when exposed to heat and therefore produce different results in the printing process. The Dragon software is designed to use physical calculations to eliminate printing errors and enable faster, more reliable and scalable printing.

Customised baseplate for stoma bags

Worldwide, 15 million people are unable to empty their bowels on their own and wear an ostomy bag. This is attached to a base, or skin-protecting plate, that is fastened around the artificial opening. Spanish start-up Odapt has now unveiled a 3D-printed solution that can improve usage while significantly reducing waste. "Stool or urine leakage is common because current pouches are not adapted to the different shapes of ostomies," explains the up-and-coming Barcelona-based company. Odapt has developed the first 3D printed silicone base plate that promises to prevent leaks. Thanks to 3D printing technology, the design can be adapted to any stoma shape and any commercially available pouch.

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EU-wide titanium recycling network

Polish start-up Progresja New Materials specialises in recycling titanium throughout Europe. While the EU is home to a large proportion of additive titanium powder processors, the raw material often comes from China or Russia. According to Progresja New Materials, the recycling rate of end-of-life titanium in the EU is extremely low, and the company wants to change this as quickly as possible. Scrap titanium is collected from across the EU and undergoes various processes such as cleaning, thermo-chemical treatment, mechanical processing and atomisation to produce a powder suitable for additive manufacturing. The company is now close to starting large-scale production. To this end, a network of titanium recycling centres will be set up across the EU at a later stage, located near aerospace hubs.

Fast volumetric 3D Printing

US start-up Vitro3D has developed a volumetric additive manufacturing technology that boasts high speed and other features. Vitro3D processes a wide range of materials, including high-viscosity resins, and can combine different material properties in one part. The cartridge-based printing technology also eliminates the need for support structures. The Boulder, Colorado, start-up plans to focus initially on the dental and electronics markets. It will enable fast, direct printing of aligners and allow electronics manufacturers to offer more complex printed circuit boards without the need for new tooling.

All winners will exhibit their innovations at their booths and present at the Formnext Pitchnext event on Tuesday 7 November 2023. Further information is available at