One of the countries that is doing a bang-up job of stimulating the 3D printing sector is Singapore. Through Nanyang Technological University’s National Additive Manufacturing – Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) coordinating research, helping startups and hosting events, Singapore has cost effectively made itself a very attractive destination for 3D printing businesses. Whats more, they’re placing themselves to be the ideal place to host Asian headquarters for 3D printing companies from afar. I’ve decided to look a bit deeper at the startups and scale-ups in Singapore to see what’s happening there.
Singapore-based Osteopore International (OSX.AX) is already a listed company on the Australia Stock Exchange. The company makes porous bioabsorbable implants that aid bone growth. The company claims that its interconnected pore structures improve the “vascular ingrowth interface to…adjacent bone”. This helps to mend fractures, such as in craniotomies, where the natural healing process is aided and, after a year-and-a-half to two years, the polymer 3D print disappears. The polymer itself is a TCP-PCL blend, which unites bone-like tricalcium phosphite with the bioabsorable, highly changeable material polycaprolactone.
The firm’s Osteomesh strips have gone through 501(K) FDA premarket submission and are made under good manufacturing practices. The strips can be pressed into fractures to help them heal, has properties similar to cancellous bone, and promote healing through capillary action, sucking cells into fractures. The team has been working on its products since 1996 and have implanted them since 2004. Osteopore will need time and cash to spread its innovation worldwide. Adoption by surgeons could also take time. Having said this, it could be revolutionary and be an evergreen tool in surgeons’ arsenals, once it is adopted.
Bralco Advanced Materials
Bralco Advanced Materials has been using GE Additive’s machines to make magnetic, metal 3D printed components. The Singapore firm wants to use both binder jet and powder bed fusion to create hard and soft magnet components for use in stators and other electric motor components. Targeting markets such as aviation and electric vehicles seems to set the company up for growth potential, if it can reliably and repeatably make magnetic components.
Surprisingly little startup activity is focused on magnets. And the work that is being done is usually by U.S.-based defense contractors working on missile components and the like. So, Bralco has managed to claim a huge niche for itself. Ideally the firm will be able to produce lighter motor components with optimized geometries that are less labor intensive and perhaps lower cost to make than with competing technologies. The company is now working on making soft magnetic components in low-carbon steel and iron, as well as permanent hard magnets in alnico. Alnico is an aluminum, nickel and cobalt material that is popular for hard magnets. Bralco has a huge and burgeoning area to play in and should they be able to keep costs down and make many parts. The firm has a bright future ahead of itself.
Kosmode Health is looking at developing a scaffold 3D printing technology, as well as novel low-cost bioinks, specifically for the cultured meat industry. The company has found a way to extract nutrients from plants. Now, they are developing a new plant protein composite bioink for scaffolds. They can then use this to make scaffolds for bioprinting with tunable properties so that degradation and strength for example can be controlled.
The company has showcased its Wow noodles, a noodle that does not contain starch or cholesterol and is said to have no glycemic response. This, in and of itself as a product, could be very worthwhile. The founders have serious research credentials and deep experience. There certainly seems to be a lot of potential here in a lot of areas. Kosmode could have serious impacts on the food landscape, as well as on bioprinting. But, with so many moving parts and possibilities, can the firm focus and deploy capital where it is most effective?
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