Formnext 2019 Start-up Challenge winners

Editor: Steffen Donath

Metal, glass or silicone? The different start-ups impressed the jury with their different approaches to additive manufacturing and these are the winners.

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The winners of the Formnext Start-up Challenge 2019 presented some outstanding innovations that offer clues about the future development of the additive manufacturing sector.
The winners of the Formnext Start-up Challenge 2019 presented some outstanding innovations that offer clues about the future development of the additive manufacturing sector.
(Source: Mesago)

The winning start-ups, Additive Lab (Belgium), Exponential Technologies Ltd. (Latvia), Glassomer (Germany), LMI - Laser Melting Innovations (Germany) and Spectroplast (Switzerland) impressed the international judging panel with a diverse range of industrial 3D printing innovations, including software and simulation solutions for more efficient additive manufacturing, a low-cost metal printer and additive manufacturing solutions using glass and silicone.

The importance of improving efficiency in the AM industry is also reflected in the award-winning software developments: Additive Lab's advanced simulation technology supports the production of metal components using the powder bed process, enabling the optimisation of problematic regions prior to production; Exponential Technologies Ltd. has developed software that significantly shortens the time required to find the right production parameters; “LMI - Laser Melting Innovations” is taking a further step toward increasing the uptake of additive manufacturing with a low-cost metal printer using selective laser melting technology that is targeted primarily at SMEs; Spectroplast is focused on driving forward the industrial 3D printing of silicone; and Glassomer is enabling the precision, industry-compliant additive processing of glass, for optics and photonics for example.

The international winners will present their innovations in the Start-up Area of Formnext 2019. Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President for Formnext at Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, the exhibition organiser: “The high quality of innovation, specialisation and industrial focus of the winners shows that the international start-up scene is also evolving and that the Formnext Start-up Challenge offers a globally acclaimed platform for sharing ideas and finding customers, partners, and investors.”

The Formnext Start-up Challenge 2019 honours companies founded within the last five years. Organised in co-operation with UnternehmerTUM, the competition recognises innovative and viable business ideas. The distinguished judging panel consists of prominent representatives from the realms of industry, science, media, and investment. The official award ceremony will be held on Tuesday 19 November 2019 at Formnext, and the five winners will receive trophies sponsored by Voxeljet. Together with other start-ups, they will also have the chance to present a short business pitch as part of the Pitchnext event, giving visitors a unique insight into the latest innovations in additive manufacturing as well as a preview of future developments in the industry.

The five prizewinners will be rewarded with a broad range of services designed to guide them toward further success, including a free, fully equipped exhibition booth. The start-ups will also be incorporated into all of the relevant marketing and communication activities Formnext conducts around the world. Besides business coaching, the companies also win a company profile on the industry portal of panel member The involvement of co-operation partner UnternehmerTUM, a centre for innovation and business creation that identifies innovative technologies and supports start-ups and applications in the field of AM at every stage of development, brings further benefits.

The winners: Additive Lab BVBA, Belgium, has developed simulation software for the additive manufacturing of metal components. Additive Lab’s powerful mechanical analysis utilises a state-of-the-art, multi-scale simulation approach to predict residual stresses and distortions in a layer-by-layer fashion. This empowers the users to identify and address problematic regions which compromise the manufacturing process and the endquality of the manufactured part.

The objective of Latvian company Exponential Technologies Ltd. is the development of new, innovative materials as well as automatic adaptation to new materials, machines and production processes. The start-up utilises advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to do this. These determine the most suitable machine configurations for laser machining, additive manufacturing and CNC machining, as well as optimised material mixes ultimately bringing significant time savings.

German start-up Glassomer GmbH specialises in 3D glass printing technology using stereolithography. The young company has developed a special silica nanocomposite (Glassomer) with which it has performed feasibility studies and manufactured in small series. Its aim is to develop new additive technologies for the mass production of glass. Glassomer allows the structuring of pure quartz glass that is fully compatible with the requirements of optics and photonics.

German start-up “LMI – Laser Melting Innovations” impressed the panel with its low-cost metal printer targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises. LMI has reduced the price compared to existing metal printers by eliminating costly components while at the same time offering a compact design, durability, and high cost-effectiveness of the diode laser.

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Switzerland-based Spectroplast is an award-winning spin-off from the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The team specialises in industry-standard silicone 3D printing at the highest level of precision and performance. The start-up provides its SAMT service for silicones in a Shore hardness from A0-A80 in all colours.