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Saphium Biotechnology: 3D Printing Bioplastics of the Future

  • 22 November 2017
  • Expert Insights

This post is part of our new Future of 3D Printing series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.

The following is an interview we recently had with Christof Winkler-Hermaden, CEO and Founder of Saphium Biotechnologies.

1. What’s the history of Saphium Biotechnology? Where and how did you begin?

CW: In 2015, I founded Saphium Biotechnology with colleagues from theUniversity of Graz, Austria and participate in the RebelBio accelerator programme in Cork, Ireland. There we got our first investment and more experience about business, science and marketing. Now we looking forward to start a first pilot production in the next year.

2. What specific problem does Saphium Biotechnology solve? How do you solve it?

Laboratory work – Saphium Biotechnology

CW: We started with the vision to produce compostable bioplastics from carbon dioxide and hydrogen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and plastic waste in the same step. Therefore we utilize microorganisms which feed on the greenhouse gas and hydrogen for the production of PHA and develop a unique purification process that allows the production at a competitive price to petrochemical-based plastics.

We chose 3D printing as entry market because it takes often several tries and produces many misprints until you have your final print. Usually, they are thrown into the garbage bin, with your PHAbulous philaments you can bury your misprints and fertilize your soil.

3. What’s the future of 3D printing?

CW: Due to valid patents was 3D printing a long time expensive and unavailable for the majority of the population. The loss of the patent protection and open source thinking allows a faster development of 3D printer technologies.

Prediction #1: The resolution of the prints will become higher and will result in smoother prints and smaller scales.

Prediction #2: More materials will be available. Plastics are easy to use and available in a broad range. In the last three years became a lot more alternative materials based on wood, metal, bamboo, etc available. But there will be more and the will have amazing properties. They could be electric conductors and can be used to make conductor board.

Prediction #3: 3D printing will become significantly faster by printing the whole structure a once instead of layer by layer.

Laminar flow – Saphium Biotechnology

4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in 3d printing?

CW: The top 3D printing trends in my opinion are:

Trend #1: The use of 3D Bioprinting of tissue and organ printing fascinated the biologist in me. The combination of 3D printed scaffold with own stem cells will result in organ and tissue replacements, that are 100% compatible with your immune system.

Trend #2: The creation of spray cast shapes by 3D printing.

Trend #3: The increasing resolution of classic 3D printing (Fused deposition modeling) combined with the broad range of new materials.

Saphium Biotechnology

About Christof Winkler-Hermaden

Christof grew up on his family winery. He is an expert in enology and studied molecular biology, plant science and microbiology In Graz, Austria. In his free time, he loves to work on scientific projects about biology and bioinformatics.

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