Nanoscribe in the Finals of the German Founders’ Award

The founders Dr Michael Thiel (left) and Martin Hermatschweiler (right) next to a Nanoscribe system. (Source: Nanoscribe)

The founders Dr Michael Thiel (left) and Martin Hermatschweiler (right) next to a Nanoscribe system. (Source: Nanoscribe)

Nanoscribe GmbH, based in the Karlsruhe region, has succeeded in reaching the final of the German Founders’ Award 2015 in the ‘rising star’ category, with its prizewinning 3D printer for the micrometer scale. Hence in the view of the Founders’ Award experts the company represents one of the most successful start-ups in recent years in Germany. The experienced experts of the selecting jury, which votes on behalf of the Founders’ Prize partners, stern magazine, the Sparkasse savings bank network, ZDF television channel and Porsche, were equally impressed by the ground-breaking capacities of the product and the entrepreneurial expertise of the founders. According to one of the jurors, Nanoscribe is “a picture book high tech start-up.”

“We provide the most precise equipment for microfabrication worldwide with our 3D printers,” explained Nanoscribe co-founder and CEO Martin Hermatschweiler. Smallest 3D objects, from a few hundred nanometres to structures in the millimetre range, can be produced with previously unachieved resolution and maximum design freedom. As a result, it is streets ahead of conventional 3D printing procedures and can be found in numerous fields of research, such as photonics, micro-optics, sensor- or medical technology. These USPs make the Nanoscribe systems the new standard for microfabrication.

The precision equipment of the market and technological leader are already available in about 100 renowned research facilities around the world. The customer list includes such illustrious names as the Fraunhofer and Max Planck Institutes, US Ivy League institutions such as Harvard or Caltech and European elite academies like the Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie (KIT) or the ETH Zurich.

The expert jury of the German Founders’ Award was impressed by how successfully the company, which was the first to be spun off from KIT as a start-up at the end of 2007, had been able to establish itself thanks to clear USPs, and by the way the founders had developed a marketable product from the results of their basic research and positioned themselves on the world market. The company idea arose on the initiative of Professor Martin Wegener, the work group head at the local Institute for Nanotechnology and the Institute for Applied Physics. It was here that the later founders Martin Hermatschweiler and Dr. Michael Thiel were engaged in research together with the new recruits’ group head at the time, Dr. Georg von Freymann (today professor at TU Kaiserslautern), on photonic crystals, a special field in physics. These scientific findings, coupled with the entrepreneurial spirit of these four physicists, constituted the company’s foundations – Nanoscribe was born.

“At that time we decided to get started via the science market,” related Hermatschweiler (37). “Thanks to meticulous preparation, continuous further development and international networking, everything went even better than had been allowed for in the business plan. Scientists are very open to innovations, we encountered open doors almost everywhere. The start-up as such did involve intrinsic risks, but the profound belief in the efficiency of the team and the technology underlying the products were a source of encouragement. The funds needed as well as the intensive support through science-related involvement in addition provided support and security“.

The nomination for the German Founders’ Award in the ‘rising star’ category is a particularly important acknowledgement for Nanoscribe and as a result the founders also hope to become better known in German industry and prompt many new ideas among companies. The head of research and development, Dr. Michael Thiel (32) hopes that “our example will also encourage other scientists from basic research to develop marketable products. The experts of the German Founders’ Award were enthusiastic about the overall performance of the high tech company and noted in its praise, “The founders managed the difficult jump from basic research to market success with flying colours thanks to outstanding pioneer work and entrepreneurial work.”

Technology and applications

The Nanoscribe printer is based on the technology of two-photon polymerization. In this innovative technology an ultra-short laser pulse writes the prescribed structures in a UV-sensitive photoresist and polymerizes them. After a developing bath – similar to photo development – the three-dimensional objects remain as self-supporting nano- and microstructures. Consequently the technology permits extremely precise manufacturing of microscopically small optical and mechanical parts, such as sensors or micro gear wheels. There is no manufacturing alternative in particular for the production of 3D objects smaller than a millimeter, which would be comparable to this technology with regard to the precision of structural details and surface smoothness. This is of interest to many companies, from the optical and automotive industries to medical technology, since the production of more efficient optical elements, e.g. for smartphones, the printing of optical connections for ultrafast data transmission and miniaturisation as mega trend have continued to grow in importance in recent years. Apart from the production of prototypes and small series, the new generation of Nanoscribe devices also permits printing the moulds that are required for the low cost production of large batches via replication in industry in particular.  (Source: Nanoscribe)

Links: Nanoscribe

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