Successful Technology Transfer in Micro 3D Printing

Nanoscribe, together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, especifically its Institute of Nanotechnology (INT) and Innovation Management department, were awarded the Technology Transfer Prize of the German Physics Association DPG for successfully transferring research findings into economically successful and useful products.

Presen­tation of the Techn­ol­ogy Trans­fer Prize of the DPG (from left to right): Dr. Udo Weigelt (DPG board member indus­try and sci­ence), Martin Her­matsch­weiler (Nano­scribe), Dr. Jens Fahren­berg (KIT Inno­vations­manage­ment), Prof. Dr. Martin Wege­ner (KIT Institut für Nano­techno­logie), Prof. Dr. Edward Georg Kru­basik (DPG vice presi­dent), Prof. Dr. Klaus Richter (DPG, board member scien­tific programs, prizes; source: Nanoscribe)

Nanoscribe, a spin-off of KIT, generated sales in the double-digit mil­lions in 2017 with its high-preci­sion, laser litho­graphy 3D printers for nano- and micro­manufac­turing. Estab­lished in 2007, the company quickly went from a niche segment in science to a global leader in a booming high-tech market. Interest in preci­sion printers is high in the research and industry communities: “More than 150 of our systems are in use today in over thirty coun­tries world­wide. We started with just four employees and cur­rently have a team of sixty,” says Martin Her­matsch­weiler, CEO and co-founder. The company plans to relocate in late 2019 to the thirty-million euro Zeiss Inno­vation Hub at KIT. “With this Hub, in close proximity to KIT, Karls­ruhe continues to offer com­panies like Nano­scribe an ideal setting for inno­vation and success­ful growth,” Her­matsch­weiler adds.

In 3D laser litho­graphy, a computer-controlled laser beam cures structures within a photoresist whose smallest features measure less than a thou­sandth of a milli­meter. The tech­nology is capable, for instance, of printing highly stable materials out of mini­ature lattices or frame­works, minute and precise optical lenses, diffrac­tive optics, as well as tiny matrices for growing cells in environ­ments that closely replicate the human body. The process was origi­nally developed to fabricate photonic crystals that can be given custo­mized optical properties. Martin Wegener, Professor at KIT’s Institute of Applied Physics and Head of its Institute of Nano­tech­nology, soon realized that it could essentially be used to manu­facture virtually any complex, three-dimen­sional microstructure. The creation of Nano­scribe allowed this 3D printing tool to be further developed to suit a wide variety of applications, while also taking into account economic conside­rations.

Emerging applications, rapidly becoming reality, include printed micro­machines for trans­porting immobile – but otherwise healthy – sperm, lenses no wider than a human hair attached to glass fibers for minimally invasive endoscopy, and even optical cloaking devices. (Source: Nanoscribe)

Reference: S. Rodríguez & A. Frölich (Nanoscribe): 3D Micro‐Printing Goes Macro, Laser Tech. J. 14(5) November 2017; DOI: 10.1002/latj.201700027

Links: Preisträger DPG-Technologietransferpreis, Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, Bad Honnef, GermanyNanoscribe GmbH, Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen / KIT Campus North, Germany

Further reading: 3D Micro-Printing Goes Macro, photonicsviews.com, 9th November 2017Ten Years of Nanoscribe, photonicsviews.com, 12th December 2017

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