The technology was licensed to a company out of College Station.
Technology developed by a group of Texas Tech University inventors was used by the student startup company TriFusion in College Station to win the annual Rice Alliance Business Plan Competition.
The technology, developed by Mohammed Saed, associate professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering in the Whitacre College of Engineering, along with former faculty member Micah Green and graduate student Charles Sweeney in the Department of Chemical Engineering, improves the strength and mechanical properties of parts created using 3-D printers.
“We are really pleased that the disruptive technology that won this year's Rice Alliance competition came from a team of researchers working at Texas Tech,” said David McClure, managing director for licensing in the Texas Tech Office of Research Commercialization. “It demonstrates the high quality of translational research taking place in the College of Engineering and the effectiveness of the Office of Research Commercialization in the assessment and protection of the technology and identification of a license partner with the resources and the initiative to bring this technology to market.”
The strength of the final product is enhanced through a post-printing treatment process using carbon nanotubes and microwave irradiation. This process eliminates the fragility of the 3-D-printed part and allows for a rapid diffuse bonding of polymer chains between beads and improves the mechanical properties of these thermoplastic parts.
“TriFusion winning first place in the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition is a significant achievement and a testimony to the potential of the technology that was developed at Texas Tech,” Saed said. “This success is a result of the interdisciplinary research that began a few years ago between Dr. Green's group in chemical engineering and my group in electrical and computer engineering. Winning the competition gives our technology a great deal of exposure to the business and research communities. It will help us pursue additional funding to improve the technology and broaden this high impact research for applications in defense, aerospace and automotive industries where the mechanical strength of 3-D printed thermoplastic parts is of paramount importance.”
The Office of Research Commercialization licensed this technology to Essentium Materials in College Station, which makes the filament used in these 3-D printing techniques. TriFusion Devices, an operating company owned by Essentium Materials, won the competition with almost $400,000 in cash and prizes, beating 41 other companies from some of the top universities in the world in what is billed as the world's richest and largest student startup competition.
TriFusion offers 3-D-printed products developed for the health care and sports equipment industries.
The Rice Alliance Business Plan Competition (RBPC) is hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship in the Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business.
To see the full list of winners, go to the RBPC website.