3D Printing for Medical Products Out of High-Performance Plastics

Kumovis enables the fabrication of individualised implants and other customised medical products. Using 3D printing technology based on fused filament fabrication (FFF), the company offers economic processing that is specially optimised for high-performance plastics and medical products. Recently, the MedTech startup has successfully raised over 1 million euros of seed funding.

ESA BIC Bavaria Manager Cornelia Gebath (CG) interviews Miriam Haerst (MH), Managing Partner at Kumovis.

CG: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.
MH: In October 2017, the Kumovis GmbH was founded as a spin-off of the Technical University of Munich. Our objective was to enable the additive production of plastic implants and the development of 3D printers specifically for medical products. To reach this goal, we focus on the processing of high-performance polymers, which are already established in medical technology. With our system, these plastics can be patient-individualised with a high degree of design freedom. Our team got to know each other at the Institute of Medical and Polymer Engineering (TUM) and started to build the first prototypes in 2015. From this moment on, the five of us have continuously improved the product and business idea.

CG: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?
MH: With our printer, we address highly regulated markets, like medical technology. As a result, certification and regulation aspects are very important for our clients. As we provide an innovative production process, there is still uncertainty about the future regulation in this field. That is the main reason why we put a lot of effort into topics such as the clean room environment and process documentation in order to provide a comprehensive and optimal solution.
Besides these product-based challenges, we almost failed due to a much more trivial aspect: finding an office and workspace with proper internet. This seems so easy but drove us nuts during the last few weeks.

CG: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
MH: First of all, there was our idea of this 3D printing system, but, to establish a business, the most important thing was the team. Together, we are pushing each other and our company Kumovis. Besides a great team, we are also lucky to be supported by a very helpful network that continuously gives feedback and input.

CG: What do you expect from ESA BIC Bavaria and how do you think the initiative and its network will help you to kick-start your business case?
MH: For us founders, it is the first company that we have built. Professional feedback on our business case, marketing, legal, and financial aspects is at least as important as the financial support.

CG: What do you think to benefit from the DLR support?
MH: As we got to know each other at the Institute of Medical and Polymer Engineering at TU Munich, we all have a background in medical technology. Our 3D printing system focusing on high performance plastics and production aspects is designed for medical production, but also arouses interest for aerospace applications. We therefore greatly appreciate the DLR connection. Learning more about this market is very important for us before we actively enter this market.

CG: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in Kumovis’ future?
MH: It is our vision to place Kumovis systems all around the world, so that medical products can be printed on-demand that are suitable for each patient’s need. Decentralised production next to medical centres will be made possible by the Kumovis system. This improves the exchange between technicians and doctors and improves patients’ well-being.

Did you enjoy this interview with the outstanding innovator? Anyone interested can contact Kumovis via e-mail. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with ESA BIC Bavaria innovators on our AZO Blog.

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