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.
Robots have always fascinated him. “I am glad that I decided to study robotics at university after high school,” said Sven Schmidt-Rohr, one of the three founders of ArtiMinds. ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH, founded in August 2013, develops software with which end users can program even complex movements and tasks of a robot.
When companies are forced to recall their products due to faulty brakes or hazardous substances in food, it becomes clear that quality deficiencies may be associated with high risks for the consumer and high financial losses for the manufacturer. Professional quality management (PQM) is indispensable for manufacturers. However, the process of controlling the goods is of increasing complexity, the more suppliers are involved.
“Quality deficiencies frequently creep into the supply chain. An end product without quality deficiencies requires seamless integration of all suppliers into the quality management scheme,” Kyle Kippenbrock and Stefan Stockey, the two founders of the KIT spinoff simQoo, say. The mechanical engineers are research assistants at the KIT Institute of Production Science (wbk). Their work on projects with German companies in China gave rise to the idea of establishing simQoo.
Quality management and the corresponding IT solutions cause many companies quite a headache: QM information is sent by e-mail, every supplier uses his own data format, statistical evaluation requires quite an effort. The software solutions applied at large enterprises are often associated with high investment costs and quickly outdated. Operation has to be learnt through time-consuming training. Often, it is carried out by a small group of QM experts only.
The solution developed by simQoo facilitates communication even beyond borders of companies. Via an easy-to-understand user interface, all parties involved in the production process can make their QM data accessible to partner enterprises. The data are made available in a standardized format. Error messages or complaints are transmitted in real time. Manufacturers and suppliers can respond quickly to potential quality deficiencies. Stefan Stockey uses a tax declaration software to explain the concept: “You do not need to be a tax expert and to know all currently valid regulations in order to operate the software. In the same way, the software solution of simQoo guides the user step by step through the QM process.” The software can be operated with a PC or smartphone from everywhere in the world. The only thing that is needed is access to the internet.
Their mentor, Professor Dr.-Ing. Gisela Lanza from the Institute of Production Science (wbk), and spinoff coach Dr. Rolf Blattner from KIT’s Innovation Management Service Unit supported the young entrepreneurs actively from the very beginning. Since January 2013, simQoo has been granted an “Exist” founders grant.
Kyle Kippenbrock and Stefan Stockey are now looking for clients to carry out pilot projects. Within the framework of these projects, the software is to be further developed and tested in practice. The clients will profit from a more efficient quality management and from an increase in competitiveness.
Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Stockey
Kaiserstr. 12, D-76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 721 608-44185+49 (0) 721 608-44185
Mobile : +49 (0) 160 962-54940+49 (0) 160 962-54940