2021 Formnext Start-Up Challenge & AM Ventures Impact Award Winners Announced


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While the physical event was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Formnext is back live and in-person this year, November16-19, albeit with some very specific rules for attendance. The international Formnext Start-Up Challenge is also back for its 7th year, awarding young AM enterprises for their innovative developments and business ideas. This year’s entrants cover a range of interesting 3D printing applications, and some have already received patents and funding, so it’s safe to say that the winners this year seem to be ready for the market.

Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President of Formnext at Mesago Messe Frankfurt, said, “The ever increasing quality and focused development of young enterprises show the great potential within the AM industry and highlight the fact that the sector produces critical developments that in future will influence our industry, medicine and other areas of of life.”

Companies recognized in the Formnext Start-up Challenge 2021 had to be no more than five years old, and while assessing the candidates, the judges were most impressed with innovations including medical, glass, and nano 3D printing. The first winner is Danish startup Atlant 3D Nanosystems ApS, which is developing a platform to prototype and 3D print multimaterial micro- and nanocomponents with high precision using its on-demand atomic layer advanced manufacturing technology, based on hybrid Microreactor Selective Area Direct Atomic Processing (μSADALP).


“Our team developed novel technology that has the potential to disrupt several industries,” said Dr. Maksym Plakhotnyuk, CEO and Founder of Atlant 3D. “We bring hybrid advanced manufacturing technology based on thin-film principles and additive manufacturing. Presentation at the Formnext is excellent opportunity for our company present our know-how, find potential partners and customers.”

The startup says its advanced two Nanofabricator platforms can process up to six materials, up to 300 mm in size and with different morphologies, on substrates at the same time for academic and industrial R&D purposes, and the Nanofabricator Lite was developed to meet rigid specifications for its customer, NASA. In fact, Atlant 3D will test the Nanofabricator Lite with NASA soon for microfabrication in zero or micro-gravity.

US startup Azul 3D was the second winner of the challenge, with its High Area Rapid Printing (HARP) technology meant to majorly speed up production, while also offering fine detail, large print volume, and excellent surfaces.

“We are excited to launch our new LAKE 3D printer for the European market at Formnext 2021,” said Azul 3D’s CRO Tuan TranPham. “For the first time, we are combining throughput, large build-sizes and high-quality materials at a price point that enables 3D printing to revolutionize many types of manufacturing. We have raised the bar in the industry, and this is just the beginning.”

HARP technology, which has been used for both sporting goods and electronic materials, uses flowing oil between the UV source and the light-driven resin to facilitate rapid, non-adhesive 3D printing, which is said to be much faster than other printing speeds on the market.

Fited, which is winner #3 in the Formnext Start-Up Challenge, is helping people with spinal deformities with the development of a new smart solution that uses 3D printing and custom design; the startup calls it Invisalign for the spine, as these are the same principles used for custom dental braces.

Fited says that current scoliosis braces are costly and time-intensive to make, in addition to inaccurate and uncomfortable, and most wearers still need surgery, even after wearing the brace. The startup says that its solution, which is based on automatic design, can create custom, breathable, and elegant 3D printed braces in far less time and will prevent the need for surgical intervention in 72% of cases.

The fourth winner is Nobula AB, a startup from Sweden that created a versatile desktop glass 3D printer that’s said to be less expensive than current solutions. The startup has two patents pending, the first for its glass 3D printer, and a second for its 3D printing material technology, allowing it to provide custom glass 3D printing for production, development, and science.

“It is a great honor for Nobula to be one of the winners of the Formnext Start-up Challenge. As the biggest event in additive manufacturing, Formnext is a perfect platform to present our unique glass 3D printing technology,” said Chunxin Liu, Nobula’s CEO and Co-Founder. “At Formnext we will increase our visibility, meet new customers, learn the latest trends in AM, and hope to identify new applications for our glass 3D printing system.”

Another US-based startup, Print Parts Inc., is the final challenge winner for its interesting nanotechnology solution—a digital signature based on nanoparticles to help detect and register 3D printed parts. These embedded signatures make the printed components cloud-connected and serialized, and scannable, which should make authentication, management, and tracing the parts throughout their lifetime much easier.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the winners of Formnext Start-up Challenge,” said Ashley Kerth, PrintParts Chief Product Officer. “Presenting to industry leaders at Formnext gives us the opportunity to introduce SmartParts, our end-to-end traceability solution for the Additive Manufacturing industry, at the biggest and most exciting trade show of the year.”

Once the parts have been scanned, their histories are then stored on the startup’s SmartParts platform and managed by Build Manager, or an existing MES/ERP system.

The AM Ventures Impact Award was again presented as part of the Formnext Start-up Challenge, and nearly two-thirds of the challenge participants also entered to win this award, focused on sustainable approaches that positively impact social aspects or environmental protection. India-based startup Vispala Technologies, which makes wearable assistive technology more accessible, was named the winner, impressing AM Ventures with its focus on people in rural areas and developing countries who normally don’t have access to the kind of customized, 3D printed orthotics and prosthetics that the startup develops.

“We at Vispala are taking on the challenge to modernize the prosthetics sector through technology and innovation with a goal to restore 50% or more livelihood capability to users with comfortable and aesthetically pleasing solutions,” explained Dipak Basu, Founder and CEO of Vispala Technologies. “Simultaneously we will build a sustainable social enterprise to scale our work.”

The award ceremony will be held on Tuesday, November 16th on the Formnext AM4U stage, and the winners will also exhibit their products in the Start-Up Area, Hall 12.0, B81.

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