Winners of the 2022 Formnext Start-up Challenge announced

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Europe’s leading 3D printing trade show, Formnext, has announced the winners of the 2022 Formnext Start-Up Challenge.

Set up to recognize the ideas and innovations of the most promising emerging firms from across the sector, the contest regularly sheds light on exciting technical advances. This year’s is no different, with the competition acknowledging international projects focused on various 3D printing areas, ranging from on-demand powder production to degradable implants and robotic post-processing.

“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,” said Sascha F. Wenzler, VP of Formnext organizer Mesago Messe Frankfurt. “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 in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo via Mesago/Mathias Kutt.
The Formnext Start-up Challenge in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo via Mesago/Mathias Kutt.

Formnext’s Start-up Challenge

With 3D printing constantly evolving, the Formnext Start-up Challenge provides a glimpse into some of the cutting-edge developments going on behind the scenes. The competition also offers participants a platform on which they can showcase their technologies, and raise their business’ profile in front of potential customers and investors. 

Fomnext’s competition pits emerging 3D printing firms with less than five years of trading experience against each other. The winners are selected based on the novel business idea or technological achievement they’ve submitted, by a panel of industry experts, which again this year, included 3D Printing Industry Editor-in-Chief Michael Petch.

Amongst others, previous competition victors include HARP 3D printer manufacturer and 2021 Formnext Start-up Challenge winner Azul 3D, post-processing system developer DyeMansion and 3D printing software specialist 3YOURMIND

Alongside the winner of the eighth 2022 Start-up Challenge, Formnext has also announced the results of the third AM Ventures Impact Award. Open to all Start-up Challenge entrants, the contest is designed to recognize and raise awareness of the positive social and environmental change that 3D printing innovation can instigate.

Formnext 2021. Photo via Michael Petch.
The Formnext 2021 trade show. Photo by Michael Petch.

Introducing 2022’s challenge winners 

According to Formnext’s organizers, this year’s winning start-ups were selected “both for the high level of creativity demonstrated” and the “viability of the business models” submitted, with each able to provide proof of existing or pending patents as well as demonstrating “extremely promising applications.”

One of these winners, Polish material developer Alpha Powders, has developed a technology for the pulverization, spheroidization and on-demand modification of polymer powders. Having scaled this process down into a prototype device, capable of processing polyamides, TPUs, or polyolefins, the firm believes it could become an ideal material R&D tool for labs developing SLS powders. 

A render of Alpha Powders' Sphero Nano machine. Image via Alpha Powders.
A render of Alpha Powders’ Sphero Nano machine. Image via Alpha Powders.

Dutch microprinting specialist Photosynthetic, meanwhile, has won off the back of a technology it has developed which combines optical hardware, single-photon polymerization resins and computer algorithms. Putting these ingredients together, the firm has managed to create a rapid 3D microprinter, which in high-resolution mode (<1 micron), has a print speed of 50 mm3/hour

Another of this year’s winners is Rivelin Robotics, which is being recognized for developing a rapid new means of post-processing metal parts. Powered by a NetShape control software that relies on both machine learning (ML) and traditional deterministic control theory, the company’s Robotic Finishing Systems are capable of automatically removing supports, while reducing cost, defects and variability. 

Italian start-up SphereCube has been selected as a winner by the challenge’s judging panel due to a composite bonding technology it has developed, that enables the 3D printing of high-performance composites into any desired shape. By curing plastics under heat, the process is designed to improve the wetting and bonding of layers, matrices and fiber reinforcements. 

A diagram depicting the breast growth that can be achieved via Lattice Medical's implant. Image via Lattice Medical.
A diagram depicting the breast growth that can be achieved via Lattice Medical’s implant. Image via Lattice Medical.

Last but by no means least, biomedical start-up Lattice Medical has been picked as one of the winners thanks to a technology it has developed with CHU Lille-France. Through tissue engineering advances, the firm has been able to create bioabsorbable, patient-specific bioprosthetics, with the potential to enhance the success of breast implant procedures. 

Lattice Medical has also won the sustainability-focused AM Ventures Impact Award. As well as the innovative design and method of producing these ‘Mattise’ grafts, it’s said that AM Ventures was impressed by the way they minimized risk of patient rejection, the research presented to support their efficacy and the technical expertise of its developers. 

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Featured image shows the Formnext Start-up Challenge in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo via Mesago/Mathias Kutt.