High performance in 3D printing

With its high-tech 3D printers for high performance polymers, the KIT spin-off Indmatec GmbH is offering undreamt-off possibilities in prototyping and small series manufacturing.

Prof. Dr. Brando Okolo has been dealing with materials research for several years in the course of his academic career. He lectured at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in the field of micro-reforming of metals and plastics, with a focus on 3D printing technologies and Rapid Prototyping. He then took up a professorship at the German University of Cairo (GUC). “In my research, I also dealt with additive manufacturing – that is, on the basis of digital 3D construction data – using polymers as a material to work with. In this period, I already discovered the potential that 3D printing holds for high performance polymers, and I had my first thoughts about going into business,” Okolo recalls. The decision to end his lecturing activities after five years and realise his dream of an enterprise of his own brought Okolo back to Germany and his Karlsruhe environment.

Die Gründer von Indmatec (v.l.n.r.): Tony Tran-May und Prof. Dr. Brando Okolo zeigen ihren 3D-Drucker Indmatec HPP 155. Schon jetzt kann man gespannt sein auf die nächste Druckergeneration – der PEEK Printer 155 kommt 2017 auf den Markt. (Quelle: Indmatec GmbH).

The Indmatec founders (left to right): Tony Tran-Mai and Prof. Dr. Brando Okolo presenting their Indmatec HPP 155 3D printer. One already wonders what the next generation of printers is going to be like – the PEEK Printer 155 will be on the market in 2017.
(Source: Indmatec GmbH).

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Three KIT startup projects receive EXIST Transfer of Research

Twice a year, technology-oriented startup projects from universities and research institutions may apply for funding through EXIST Transfer of Research. With this funding program, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) supports outstanding teams of founders whose technology-based startup ideas require elaborate development work. The goal is to improve the startup climate at universities and research institutions as well as to increase the number of technological and scientific business startups.

In May 2015, the jury met and decided on the submissions from the January 2015 application phase. Altogether, 87 sketched ideas from around Germany were examined. Twenty-six startup teams from the areas of life sciences, energy technology, sensor technology, software, and industry 4.0 won the jury over and received approval for funding. Among them are three teams from the KIT: GIn, OTEGO, and Emmtrix. Congratulations!

The team of GIn – Gesture Interaction for Wearable Technologies has specialized in the area of augmented reality (AR). Using newly developed technology for gesture interaction, the aim is to considerably expand and improve the input options and the range of functions of AR glasses and ‘wearable devices’. The OTEGO team is working on a spin-off in the energy sector. With thermoelectric generators (TEGs), they hope to transform ambient heat directly into power when a temperature change occurs. The technology can be applied in a wide array of markets. The third startup project, Emmtrix, develops a software solution for programming multicore processors for simplifying the parallelization of embedded systems in the industry field.

These entirely different ideas were rated by the BMWi as technologically demanding and economically promising startup projects. With the help of EXIST Transfer of Research, the teams can now focus on continuing to develop, proving the technical feasibility, and preparing the startup. We wish the three teams a lot of success and will follow their development!

Basic knowledge for founders in the sciences

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Martin Bäuml

The research results of the scientific institutions and institutes at KIT represent a large potential for scientific and technical spin-offs. In order to support employees interested in technology transfer, the KIT Founders Forge offers the further training “professional patent operation” for scientific workers and high-tech founders at KIT. Martin Bäuml, an academic employee at KIT who is interested in startups, participated in the course. In an interview, we asked him about his experiences in the course.

Mr. Bäuml, where and in what subject area do you work at KIT?

I am doing my PhD at the Institute for Anthropomantics at the Faculty of Computer Science. My doctorate deals with face and person recognition, in particular in TV series and movies.

What motivated you to participate in the seminar?

The topic of patents is always involved when working with new technologies. On the one hand, you constantly read about patent litigations in the media. On the other hand, there are also attempts in our group to patent certain technologies. Personally, I didn’t have any real experience of what, for instance, the legal framework conditions consist of. Therefore, I saw the seminar as a good opportunity to make a first step into the subject area.

What significance does the operation of technologies take in your everyday life as an academic?

We work with a relatively practical orientation, so the application of our technologies is a continuing theme. Nonetheless, our primary goal is publication rather than commercial operation. But, of course, we do develop a feeling for which technologies have potential for further operation when talking to users, for example during BMBF projects.

Had you already dealt with the topic of founding before?

Yes. And at that time, I found the offered seminar through the informational web pages for KIT regarding startups.

Would a KIT spin-off be an option for you?

Definitely. I am thrilled by the support that KIT offers in all kinds of forms for potential founders. The founder scene here is very active and so far it is fun to get a taste of it.

What were you able to draw from the course?

Since I hadn’t really dealt with the subject area before, I was especially interested in the information regarding the foundations of patent rights. Additionally, it became very clear to me how important patents are for KIT and how much support there truly is from KIT in all matters regarding commercial operation.

Would you recommend the course to colleagues?

Of course. I think that anyone dealing with new technology, which is basically all of us here, can profit from having a basic understanding of the framework conditions for commercial operation.