Formnext Start-up Challenge Announces Five Winning 3D Printing Startups


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We’re several days into September now, which means that it’s only two short months until this year’s Formnext exhibition and conference in Germany. But before its November event, Formnext holds two international challenges, and the winners of this year’s Formnext Start-up Challenge were just announced.

“Additive manufacturing needs good ideas and new business models,” the website reads. “The Formnext Start-up Challenge honors the five most innovative companies.”

Notable past winners of the contest include Sinterit’s Lisa desktop SLS 3D printer and Identify3D. Formnext just announced the five winning startups of this year’s challenge, which, according to Twitter, majorly impressed “the judges with their groundbreaking AM innovations.”

The Formnext Start-up Challenge, organized in cooperation with UnternehmerTUM, honors startup companies founded within the last five years that have innovative, yet viable business ideas. The 2019 winners are:

  • AdditiveLab
  • Exponential Technologies Ltd.
  • Glassomer
  • LMI – Laser Melting Innovations
  • Spectroplast

The judging panel, made up of representatives from the industry, investment, media, and science sectors, were impressed with the startups’ wide range of AM innovations.

“The high quality of innovation, specialization, 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,” said Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President for Formnext at Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH.

Belgian startup AdditiveLab BVBA developed advanced simulation software for powder bed 3D printing of metal components. Its mechanical analysis uses a multi-scale approach to predict distortions and residual stresses, which makes it possible to optimize problem areas that could compromise quality before production even begins.

“Several of the companies that started out in the Formnext Start-up Area turned into established and sustainable players in the AM field,” said Dr. Christian Rossmann, Co-Founder of AdditiveLab. “It is a great honor for us to follow that path and opportunity for us to participate this year in the Formnext Startup-Area.”

Exponential Technologies Ltd., headquartered in Latvia, aims to create new materials, in addition to automatic adaption to new materials, machines, and production processes, and uses machine learning algorithms and advanced AI to do so. The startup has created software that speeds up the time it takes to find optimal production parameters and machine configurations for 3D printing, laser machining, and CNC machining.

“We will launch our two new products, xT smart_DoE and xT edge, at this year’s event,” Matthias Kaiser, the CEO of Exponential Technologies Ltd., said. “We are excited to get feedback from the market and we hope for many constructive discussions on how to improve our products even further.”

Glassomer GmbH, one of two German startups that won this year, specializes in the SLA 3D printing of glass, and developed a special silica nanocomposite, named after the company. The startup has performed feasibility studies on its Glassomer material, and manufactured it in small series. The overall goal is to develop new additive manufacturing technologies for mass production of pure quartz glass that’s industry-compliant with the optics and photonics industries.

“Formnext is the leading exhibition on additive manufacturing and is a great platform to present our new development in the 3D printing business of glass. We are excited to find out about the latest trends and to impress the customers with our 3D printed glass parts,” said Dr. rer. nat. Dorothea Helmer, the startup’s specialist in organic and inorganic material chemistry.

The other German winner is LMI – Laser Melting Innovations, which developed a low-cost metal SLM 3D printer that’s targeted at SMEs. The durable Alpha 140 was launched last year, and is less expensive than comparable systems because it offers a compact design, cost-effective diode laser, and got rid of pricey components.

“We regard Formnext as the leading trade fair for additive manufacturing as one of our most important communication instruments in marketing to carry our message to the whole world,” Mirjam Tabea Henkel, the CEO of LMI – Laser Melting Innovations GmbH & Co. KG, said.

The final winner is Swiss startup Spectroplast, a spinoff from ETH Zurich that’s working to drive high-resolution, industrial silicone 3D printing. Spectroplast offers its SAMT service for silicone materials with a Shore hardness from A0-A80 in all colors.

“Spectroplast offers World’s first high-precision pure Silicone 3D printing technology,” said Dr. Manuel Schaffner and Petar Stefanov, the co-founders and CEO & CTO, respectively, of Spectroplast AG. “We are thrilled to announce the launch of our print service at with the widest portfolio of high-performing silicones.”

The official award ceremony for the Formext Start-up Challenge will be held at the event on Tuesday, November 19th. The five wining startups will have the chance to showcase their innovations at free, fully equipped exhibition booths in the Formnext Start-Up area, and will also receive trophies sponsored by Voxeljet. The startups will also get to present at the Pitchnext event, and be incorporated into all of Formnext’s relevant marketing and communication activities.

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

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