Bioabsorbable breast implants and robotic post-processing: Winners of the Formnext Start-up Challenge

For the eighth time, the international Formnext Start-up Challenge has recognized young companies from the world of additive manufacturing for their innovative business ideas and technical developments. From the on-demand production of AM powders through degradable implants and efficient robotic post-processing: The award-winning innovations are shining examples of the high innovative power of 3D printing and the AM market. The international winners, who will all present themselves to the AM world at Formnext 2022, are Photosynthetic (Netherlands), Lattice Medical (France), Rivelin Robotics (UK), SphereCube (Italy) and Alpha Powders (Poland). The AM Ventures Impact Award also went to Lattice Medical.

The innovations of these start-ups were selected both for the high level of creativity demonstrated in product development as well as the viability of the business models. The start-ups were able to provide proof of existing patents or patents pending and also demonstrated extremely promising applications.

Warsaw-based start-up Alpha Powders has developed and patented a technology for the on-demand modification of polymer powders. Similarly working with minute dimensions is Dutch start-up Photosynthetic, which specializes in fast and cost-effective micro 3D printing. British start-up Rivelin Robotics, on the other hand, has its sights set on improving efficiency in the additive process chain. Its NetShape robots offer the potential of reducing operating costs and errors in post-processing by a factor of 10. For Italian start-up SphereCube, greater stability is the focus. The company has developed 3D printing technology that is able to process continuous fiber composites, thus enabling the automated manufacture of products from high-performance composites in any desired shape. Biomedical start-up Lattice Medical has developed a disruptive, bioabsorbable, and personalized implant for breast reconstruction and breast augmentation using patented 3D technology, which encourages the natural regeneration of adipose tissue without the introduction of foreign bodies.

With its submission, Lattice Medical was also able to secure the AM Ventures Impact Award, which honors particularly sustainable approaches. In addition to the innovative design and production method, AM Ventures was particularly impressed by the minimization of risks that Page 2 Formnext Frankfurt am Main, Germany 15-18 November 2022 can occur with traditional implants, the technical expertise of the team, and the sound research results that support the application.

Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President of Formnext at organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH: “Every year, the start-ups in the AM industry take technology and application innovations to the next level and continue to impress with the rising quality of their developments and business planning. Once again, these companies have showcased the great potential of this industry, highlighting the fact that the sector produces significant developments that, in the future, will influence our industry, medicine, and other areas of life.”

The Formnext Start-up Challenge 2022 recognizes inventive, viable business ideas from companies founded within the last five years. The distinguished judging panel consists of prominent representatives from the realms of industry, science, media, and investment. The winners will each have a dedicated exhibition booth and will also present themselves at the Formnext Pitchnext event on Tuesday 15 November 2022.

The winners of the Formnext start-up challenge

On-demand SLS powder modification Warsaw-based start-up Alpha Powders (booth 12.0-B81G) has developed and patented a technology for the pulverization, spheroidization and on-demand modification of polymer powders. The company’s current focus is the development of a compact device specifically for R&D laboratories working on new SLS powders. The prototype has been tested with a variety of materials, including polyamides, TPU, or polyolefin powders, and has been proven to reliably produce spherical SLS powders by dry process.

The company continues to develop this technology and aims to offer pilot and production scale solutions in the coming years. 3D-printed bioabsorbable implants to improve healing Lattice Medical (booth 12.0-B81B) is a biomedical start-up that was founded in October 2017. The French company has developed a patented 3D technology in cooperation with CHU Lille-France that enables the natural regeneration of adipose tissue, bringing enormous improvements in breast implant procedures, for example. The Mat(t)isse bioprosthesis is made of 3D-printed biomaterials, is fully bioabsorbable, and is adapted to the individual morphology of the patient. Breasts are thus entirely reconstructed from the patient’s own tissue, and no foreign bodies are introduced.

Fast micro 3D printing Photosynthetic (booth 12.0-B81H) specializes in fast and cost-effective micro 3D printing. 3D microstructures are generally fabricated using conventional methods such as two-photon lithography (TPL), stereolithography (SLA), and optical grayscale lithography (OGL). The Dutch start-up’s patented technology, on the other hand, uses an optical hardware system, resins based on single-photon polymerization, and computer algorithms to control the printing process. Photosynthetic’s Page 3 Formnext Frankfurt am Main, Germany 15-18 November 2022 new micro 3D printer enables fast microfabrication (50 mm3 /hour) in high-resolution mode (< 1 micron).

Significant cost savings in post-processing

With its NetShape robots, British start-up Rivelin Robotics (booth 12.0- B41) has developed a solution for the rapid post-processing of additively manufactured metal parts and components. In many metal AM applications, post-processing contributes upwards of 30% of unit cost per part. For support removal and targeted finishing, Rivelin has developed NetShape Robots, driven by the powerful NetShape control software which uses both machine learning and traditional deterministic control theory. The result is an automated support removal solution that reduces defects by 90%, results in a 10-fold reduction in operational costs, and eliminates human risk and variability.

 Improved AM composite bonding

Italian start-up SphereCube (booth 12.0-B81A) has developed 3D printing technology that is able to process polymer-based composite materials or a thermosetting matrix with continuous fiber reinforcement, thus enabling the automated manufacture of products from highperformance composites in any desired shape. According to the company, its technology differs from the processes currently available by curing the plastic under heat, which improves wetting and bonding of the fiber reinforcements, matrix, and the 3D-printed layers.

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