Spin-off Ghent University develops new generation of 3D printing materials

Ghent University presents a spin-off for bioprinting and classic 3D printing: Xpect-INX. The spin-off focuses on the development and offering of new polymer-based material formulas for 3D printing, and therefore offers a unique material portfolio in the sector. In addition, the company wants to take it one step further by investing in custom-made formulations at the customer’s request.

Xpect-INX has a range of new in-house polymer-based materials for both biomedical and industrial applications. The portfolio includes materials such as water-soluble resins, biodegradable resins and biocompatible resins for DLP, SLA and multi-photon lithography applications. Xpect-INX also offers materials for extrusion printers, including some specific soft polymers.

“In the 3D printing industry, enormous technological progress has been made in recent years in the field of printing technology. However, it seems that material development often lags behind on technological hardware developments, so that the full potential of Additive Manufacturing cannot always be realized,” notes Jasper Van Hoorick, UGent researcher. It is precisely this gap that Xpect-INX wants to address. “We want to meet the demand for more and better materials suitable for 3D printing”.

New materials on demand

Moreover, in addition to the range of bio-inks and polymers recently launched on the market, Xpect-INX wants to continue with unique formulations at the request of customers. Thanks to the unique know-how in the field of polymer-based formulations that the Ghent research group has partly built up in collaboration with VUB (B-Phot) over the past years, Xpect-INX is able to offer customized material formulations and 3D printing ‘inks’ for specific applications. “We do this by making use of our patented materials portfolio, in combination with the expertise built up over the last 10 years within our Ghent research group,” Van Hoorick explains.

In this way, the spin-off can meet the demands of companies that focus on an end application that requires specific material properties. The development of new formulations together with printer manufacturers is also on the program. A first example of this is a collaboration with the Spanish printer manufacturer Regemat 3D, for which Xpect-INX has already developed a first series of materials for biomedical applications. “This collaboration not only enables us to offer customers the right printer for their application, but also to supply the right materials at the same time, drastically shortening their research path,” says Zukhra Battalova of Regemat 3D. Furthermore, they also serve the high resolution lithography market through a cooperation agreement with UpNano, an Austrian multiphoton lithography manufacturer.

Spreading knowledge outside the university

“It’s a pity that a lot of academic research often doesn’t get beyond the university walls, however promising it may be. In addition to a groundbreaking technology, a strong patent position is of course necessary to have a competitive advantage,” explains An Van Den Bulcke, Business Developer at Ghent University. In recent years, thanks to ongoing research in this field, the university has been able to obtain a number of unique patents. The switch to a spin-off was therefore a logical evolution. “It can be said that in my role as a business developer within the university I have rarely supervised such a passionate team. Although the team is still young, they have the necessary maturity and the right entrepreneurial spirit”.

Jasper Van Hoorick, who as co-founder will take on the role of project manager in the new spin-off, adds: “The business world has always attracted me. Fortunately, we were able to attract funds from VLAIO and IOF (Industrial Research Fund) for this dossier. That really turned out to be the ideal way to develop our idea into a spin-off company, while we still enjoy support from the research group (Polymer Chemistry & Biomaterials Research Group) and from UGent’s Chemtech and Tech Transfer business unit”.

Interested? Here you can find more info and contact the spin-off.