The Winners of the Formnext Start-up Challenge Impress the Judges with Their Groundbreaking AM Innovations

The winners of the Formnext Start-up Challenge 2019 presented some outstanding innovations that offer clues about the future development of the additive manufacturing sector. The winning start-ups, AdditiveLab (Belgium), Exponential Technologies Ltd. (Latvia), Glassomer (Germany), LMI – Laser Melting Innovations (Germany), and Spectroplast (Switzerland) impressed the international judging panel with a diverse range of industrial 3D printing innovations, including software and simulation solutions for more efficient additive manufacturing, a low-cost metal printer, and additive manufacturing solutions using glass and silicone.

The importance of improving efficiency in the AM industry is also reflected in the award-winning software developments: AdditiveLab’s advanced simulation technology supports the production of metal components using the powder bed process, enabling the optimization of problematic regions prior to production; Exponential Technologies Ltd. has developed software that significantly shortens the time required to find the right production parameters; “LMI – Laser Melting Innovations” is taking a further step toward increasing the uptake of additive manufacturing with a low-cost metal printer using selective laser melting technology that is targeted primarily at SMEs; Spectroplast is focussed on driving forward the industrial 3D printing of silicone; and Glassomer is enabling the precision, industry-compliant additive processing of glass, for optics and photonics for example.

Press photo © Mesago/Mathias Kutt
Photo courtesy © Mesago/Mathias Kutt

The international winners will present their innovations in the Start-Up Area of Formnext 2019. Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President for Formnext at Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, the exhibition organizer: “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”.

The Formnext Start-up Challenge 2019 honors companies founded within the last five years. Organized in cooperation with UnternehmerTUM, the competition recognizes innovative and viable business ideas. The distinguished judging panel consists of prominent representatives from the realms of industry, science, media, and investment. The official award ceremony will be held on Tuesday 19 November 2019 at Formnext, and the five winners will receive trophies sponsored by Voxeljet. Together with other start-ups, they will also have the chance to present a short business pitch as part of the Pitchnext event, giving visitors a unique insight into the latest innovations in additive manufacturing as well as a preview of future developments in the industry.

The five prizewinners will be rewarded with a broad range of services designed to guide them toward further success, including a free, fully equipped exhibition booth. The start-ups will also be incorporated into all of the relevant marketing and communication activities Formnext conducts around the world. Besides business coaching, the companies also win a company profile on the industry portal of panel member The involvement of cooperation partner UnternehmerTUM, a center for innovation and business creation that identifies innovative technologies and supports start-ups and applications in the field of AM at every stage of development, brings further benefits.

The winners:
AdditiveLab BVBA, Belgium, has developed simulation software for the additive manufacturing of metal components. AdditiveLab’s powerful mechanical analysis utilizes a state-of-the-art, multi-scale simulation approach to predict residual stresses and distortions in a layer-by-layer fashion. This empowers the users to identify and address problematic regions which compromise the manufacturing process and the end-quality of the manufactured part.

The object of Latvian company Exponential Technologies Ltd. is the development of new, innovative materials as well as automatic adaptation to new materials, machines and production processes. The start-up utilizes advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to do this.

These determine the most suitable machine configurations for laser machining, additive manufacturing, and CNC machining, as well as optimized material mixes ultimately bringing significant time savings. 

German start-up Glassomer GmbH specializes in 3D glass printing technology using stereolithography.  The young company has developed a special silica nanocomposite (Glassomer) with which it has performed feasibility studies and manufactured in small series. Its aim is to develop new additive technologies for the mass production of glass. Glassomer allows the structuring of pure quartz glass that is fully compatible with the requirements of optics and photonics.

German start-up “LMI – Laser Melting Innovations” impressed the panel with its low-cost metal printer targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises. LMI has reduced the price compared to existing metal printers by eliminating costly components while at the same time offering a compact design, durability, and high cost-effectiveness of the diode laser.

Switzerland-based Spectroplast is an award-winning Spinoff from the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The team specializes in industry-standard silicone 3D printing at the highest level of precision and performance. The start-up provides its SAMT service for silicones in a Shore hardness from A0-A80 in all colors.

Background information on Formnext 
Formnext is the leading trade fair for Additive Manufacturing and the next generation of intelligent manufacturing solutions. It focuses on the efficient realization of parts and products, from their design to serial production. Formnext shows the future of innovative manufacturing. Formnext is organized by Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH. (

About Mesago Messe Frankfurt
Mesago, founded in 1982 and located in Stuttgart, specializes in exhibitions and conferences on various topics of technology. The company belongs to the Messe Frankfurt Group. Mesago operates internationally and is not tied to a specific venue. With 160 members of staff Mesago organizes events for the benefit of more than 3,300 exhibitors and over 110,000 trade visitors, conference delegates and speakers from all over the world. Numerous trade associations, publishing houses, scientific institutes and universities work with Mesago closely as advisers, co-organizers and partners. (

Background information on Messe Frankfurt
Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organizer with its own exhibition grounds. With more than 2,500* employees at 30 locations, the company generates annual sales of around €715* million. Thanks to its far-reaching ties with the relevant sectors and to its international sales network, the Group looks after the business interests of its customers effectively. A comprehensive range of services – both onsite and online – ensures that customers worldwide enjoy consistently high quality and flexibility when planning, organizing and running their events. The wide range of services includes renting exhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services. With its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 percent) and the State of Hesse (40 percent). For more information, please visit our website at:

*preliminary figures 2018

Background information on TCT (Content Partner)
Since 1992 the TCT Group’s mission has been to accelerate the adoption of 3D technologies for design, development and manufacture across all industry sectors. Through events, publications, websites and digital products TCT delivers business-critical insights on 3D printing, additive manufacturing, CAD/CAE, metrology and inspection, as well as traditional manufacturing processes such as molding, casting and CNC machining. The TCT Group is owned by Rapid News Publications Ltd (, part of Rapid News Communications Group. (

Background information on the Working Group Additive Manufacturing (Honorary Sponsor)
Within the Working Group Additive Manufacturing, more than 120 companies and research institutes collaborate under the direction of the German industry federation VDMA. Here, plant engineers; component and material suppliers; industrial companies that work with metals and plastics; service providers in software, manufacturing, and processing; and numerous researchers all work toward the same goal: the industrialization of additive manufacturing techniques. (

Source: Mesago

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