Smart software at EMO Hannover

Frank­furt am Main, 03. sep­tem­ber 2019. – Reliev­ing engi­neers of tire­some rou­tines and unleash­ing their cre­ativ­i­ty: the goal of AMen­date GmbH from Pader­born is to take addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing to the next lev­el. The new com­pa­ny is plan­ning to have its lat­est piece of soft­ware ready for mar­ket in time for the EMO Han­nover trade fair where it will be pre­sent­ing its inno­va­tion on the joint start-up stand. The aim of the young entre­pre­neurs is to raise the company’s pro­file and then rapid­ly dom­i­nate the mar­ket for gen­er­a­tive design.

In just a few hours calculated lightweight design of a wheel carrier for a Formu-la.student racing car. Photo: AMendate GmbH
In just a few hours cal­cu­lat­ed light­weight design of a wheel car­ri­er for a Formu-la.student rac­ing car. Pho­to: AMen­date GmbH

It all start­ed with four friends who, dur­ing more than four years of research at the Research Cen­ter for Addi­tive Man­u­fac­tur­ing (DMRC) of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pader­born, came to an impor­tant real­i­sa­tion: indus­tri­al 3D print­ing offered many dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties for pro­duc­ing del­i­cate but high­ly robust light met­al com­po­nents at low cost, yet there was a lack of suit­able soft­ware. Man­u­al data trans­fer into CAD for­mats was time-con­sum­ing and labour-inten­sive and left a lot of room for inter­pre­ta­tion. This led in turn to a loss of qual­i­ty. “Our aim was to solve this prob­lem,” says Dr. Thomas Rei­her, who explored the gen­er­a­tion of com­plex bion­ic struc­tures as part of his dis­ser­ta­tion and is now a man­ag­ing direc­tor of the found­ing team of AMen­date GmbH. For over four years now he has been devel­op­ing a piece of tech­nol­o­gy that auto­mates and inter­prets the process of data trans­mis­sion and intel­li­gent­ly smoothes the result­ing geo­met­ric data. This led to the estab­lish­ment of a com­pa­ny ded­i­cat­ed to mak­ing the tech­nol­o­gy more user-friendly.

More time for val­ue-adding instead of man­u­al data transfer

The result is soft­ware that increas­es the qual­i­ty of addi­tive­ly man­u­fac­tured com­po­nents and con­sid­er­ably speeds up the process­es. After being giv­en a final pol­ish, its mar­ket launch is sched­uled for the sum­mer. Rei­her: “Our soft­ware ensures that geome­tries are no longer unin­ten­tion­al­ly removed dur­ing data smooth­ing. Fur­ther­more, the tech­nol­o­gy allows work steps to be com­plet­ed in days that would oth­er­wise take sev­er­al weeks.

Fears that automa­tion might make skilled staff super­flu­ous are res­olute­ly coun­tered by the young entre­pre­neurs. Dr. Gere­on Deppe, a co-founder of the start-up and respon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing and finance, believes that, on the con­trary, their role in val­ue cre­ation will gain in impor­tance: “Instead of get­ting bogged down in the minu­ti­ae of data pro­cess­ing, engi­neers can devote much more atten­tion to the cre­ative process. This gives them time to opti­mise the basic con­cept of the prod­uct and to inte­grate addi­tion­al features.”

Indus­try has already realised that this approach has the poten­tial to rev­o­lu­tionise addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing. Read­ers of the indus­try por­tal 3Dnatives vot­ed AMen­date the most inno­v­a­tive start-up of 2018 in an inter­na­tion­al poll. The com­pa­ny was also able to land Exist start-up schol­ar­ships for three of its employ­ees. In addi­tion it has entered into a close part­ner­ship with Pro­tiq GmbH from Blomberg, an estab­lished addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­er. Based on AMendate’s tech­nol­o­gy, Pro­tiq is now the first ser­vice provider world­wide to offer online topol­o­gy opti­mi­sa­tion that cre­ates added val­ue through its user-friendliness.

Wide range of appli­ca­tions for light­weight components

Accord­ing to its founders, the company’s approach will turn addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing from a promis­ing tech­nol­o­gy into a key tech­nol­o­gy. Rei­her: “There is great demand for del­i­cate light­weight design — espe­cial­ly for the pro­duc­tion of small num­bers of spe­cial machines — in many areas from the avi­a­tion and auto­mo­tive indus­tries through to mechan­i­cal and plant engi­neer­ing. We offer a cost­ef­fec­tive tool that gen­er­ates com­po­nents for imme­di­ate use and reduces mate­r­i­al quan­ti­ties.” The focus is not only on work­ing for estab­lished cus­tomers to redesign clas­sic prod­uct com­po­nents in a way which per­mits addi­tive man­u­fac­ture, but also on cre­at­ing entire­ly new com­po­nents using a 3D printer.

Boost­ing growth as mar­ket leader

The team is cur­rent­ly work­ing on an intu­itive user inter­face that allows com­po­nents to be opti­mised with­out the need for exten­sive pri­or knowl­edge and thus enables small­er com­pa­nies to use addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing in their pro­duc­tion. Deppe: “Our goal is to be instru­men­tal in shap­ing the gen­er­a­tive design mar­ket. Our vision is to be able to opti­mise all com­po­nents in the future. This will help reduce raw mate­r­i­al con­sump­tion lev­els and pro­mote sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion.” To make this vision a real­i­ty, AMen­date has set its sights on achiev­ing rapid nation­al and inter­na­tion­al growth based on its tech­nol­o­gy lead­er­ship. The mar­ket is cur­rent­ly rel­a­tive­ly small, but Deppe is con­vinced that it pro­vides a good basis: “It is still very dif­fi­cult for cus­tomers to find providers with the nec­es­sary expe­ri­ence, com­pe­tence or suit­able offer­ings. This is where we come in: we can shape the mar­ket our­selves and active­ly dri­ve process­es forward.”

EMO Han­nover – A plat­form for cus­tomer acquisition

EMO Han­nover will be use­ful here. The start-up is count­ing on the inter­na­tion­al pro­file of the world’s lead­ing met­al­work­ing trade fair and is hop­ing to make con­tact with new cus­tomers and inter­est­ed par­ties from the key indus­tries and sales mar­kets. “It’s a great feel­ing to talk to experts and dis­cov­er that your idea is being well received. Trade fairs help us to learn and to gain a clear­er view of what the mar­ket needs,” says Rei­her, who will be at EMO Han­nover with his team short­ly before the company’s first birth­day. The theme of the fair – Smart tech­nolo­gies dri­ving tomorrow’s pro­duc­tion! – is also ide­al for the young com­pa­ny, says Deppe enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly: “We are dig­i­tal­is­ing a man­u­al process that can then be sup­port­ed by arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and take place autonomous­ly in the future. This makes us an enabler of addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing in the mass mar­ket, a real dri­ving force behind the pro­duc­tion of the future.”

Author: Ste­fan Schwa­neck, VDW
Size: 6,000 char­ac­ters includ­ing blanks

Categories: 2019, September