3D Printers

[INTERVIEW] SphereCube Formnext Start-up Challenge 2022 Winner

The 2022 Formnext Start-up Challenge Winners are selected by jury looking for enterprises that are “new, creative, viable, and above all, sustainable business ideas from the world of Additive Manufacturing”.

This year the winners are Photosynthetic (Netherlands), Lattice Medical (France), Rivelin Robotics (UK), SphereCube (Italy), and Alpha Powders (Poland). A further award, the AM Ventures Impact Award, went to Lattice Medical.

You can meet the winners in Frankfurt this week at Formnext, Hall 11.0, D72.

Also, read more in our series on the 2022 Formnext Start-Up Challenge winners here.

3D Printing Industry: Please introduce yourself and your company? 

Valerio Di Pompeo, CEO, SphereCube: Valerio Di Pompeo, Mechanical Engineer, CEO of SphereCube – enabling 3D composite technologies. 

Valerio Di Pompeo SphereCube CEO. Photo via SphereCube.
Valerio Di Pompeo SphereCube CEO. Photo via SphereCube.

3D Printing Industry: What is the problem your business solves? 

Valerio Di Pompeo: High-performance composite parts are manufactured with many processing steps, up to 10 different steps in some cases. This is reflected in a long time to market, low flexibility, and high manufacturing costs. 

To create these high-strength parts using molds is mandatory, making it expensive, and for batches of a few, the cost effort unaffordable. Furthermore, the use of molds limits the geometrical complexity of the final parts. Last but not least, the traditional production flow creates a large amount of scrap that has a high impact on the sustainability of the overall process.

This is where SphereCube enters the scene! Our start-up is developing a state-of-the-art 3D printing system to process thermosetting polymers and long fiber reinforcements in a shorter process, with the clear mission to reduce the cost and time to market but also to get rid of processing scrap and molds. This will reduce the environmental impact of composite production. 

3D Printing Industry: How does your company fit into the additive manufacturing ecosystem? 

Valerio Di Pompeo: SphereCube aims to supply an end-to-end system. We are developing our own 3D printer for continuous fiber-reinforced composites based on thermosetting polymers. We want to supply our materials as well, prepared with a patented system.

The innovative 3D printing system for high-performance composite materials combines, raw polymeric and fiber materials, the software which guides the user and allows the process to run, and the 3D printer itself. 

The main differences with our competitors are the 4-axis small-volume printer and the polymerization method. Our patented technology cures the material thermally, allowing the use of a wide range of resins and eliminating the UV-curable resin constraint.

A rendering of the SphereCube 3D printer. Image via SphereCube.
A rendering of the SphereCube 3D printer. Image via SphereCube.

3D Printing Industry:  What are your expectations and hopes from exhibiting at Formnext 2022? 

Valerio Di Pompeo: Formnext is a great showcase to meet potential clients which might want to use and validate our technology through PoC projects. We are also thrilled to see the newest technologies on the market and to meet other companies and startups. 

3D Printing Industry: What advice would you offer to someone considering launching a start-up in the 3D printing industry? 

Valerio Di Pompeo: Our advice as a 3D printing startup is “look for what is missing”! The 3D printing industry is growing very fast and has an inner flexibility that makes it able to cover different aspects of production, from software and materials to hardware and post- processing.

There might be the temptation to think that everything has already been invented or patented. However, the truth is that there is still a very large margin for technological improvement in many different aspects, especially in part development and applications. Following the “Blue Ocean Strategy” to avoid the overlap with already developed solutions is definitely the best option, in my opinion.

The SphereCube team. Photo via SphereCube.
The SphereCube team. Photo via SphereCube.

3D Printing Industry: How would you describe the roadmap for your enterprise over the coming years? 

Valerio Di Pompeo: We have a patent on a machine to improve the long reinforcement processability and the small prototype of the 3D printer. 

At this moment we are developing a 3D printer with a higher volume which will be ready before the end of the year. After this, we will start to validate our system by working as a service provider for external customers to understand how our system can meet their needs in the best possible way and, at the same time, let the customer experience the potential of our 3D printing system. 

The feedback from the customers will be essential to let us implement key improvements in our technology, to optimize the process and make it as versatile as possible. 

From our roadmap, we foresee the first SphereCube 3D printer entering the additive manufacturing market in the next years, while at the same time, the company will keep working on research projects to make the thermosetting resin more sustainable. 

Learn more about SphereCube here.

Meet the winners in Frankfurt this week at Formnext. Hall 11.0, D72. 

2022 Formnext Start-up Challenge Jury 

Kristian Arntz, CEO, Fraunhofer Center for Networked Adaptive Production, ICNAP

Stefanie Brickwede, Head of 3D Printing Deutshse Bahn, Managing Director, Mobility goes Additive

Arno Held, Managing Partner, AM Ventures

Peter Mayr, Professor of Materials Engineering of Additive Manufacturing, Technical University of Munich

Alexander Oster, Director Additive Manufacturing, Autodesk

Michael Petch, Editor-in-chief, 3D Printing Industry

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Featured image shows the SphereCube team. Photo via SphereCube.