Forward AM Innovation Award: Providing Startups with the Tools to Accelerate Innovation with Additive Manufacturing

In January of 2021 to support and drive innovation through Additive Manufacturing, we launched the “Forward AM Innovation Award” as the first global contest for startups developing new applications for 3D printing. Our primary objective is to accelerate the adoption of Additive Manufacturing by supporting the work of trailblazing innovators and entrepreneurs in their development of sustainable and scalable ideas that leverage the unique design possibilities and technological capabilities of 3D printing.

The incredible impact this award can offer these innovative startups could not be accomplished without the support of an outstanding team of industry leaders including HP, Photocentric, Sculpteo and Stratasys. In collaboration with Forward AM, they will select the finalists, provide expert coaching sessions, and grant winners access to their catalog of products and services.

From more than 100 applications from 27 countries submitted from sectors ranging from consumer goods to industrial engineering to the medical field, the following Four Finalists were selected:

  • Act’ble – A Germany company focused on sustainably creating ballet show soles using 3D printing
  • Archytas Automation – A U.S. based company using 3D printing to produce affordable automation robots for local micro-factories
  • Limber Prosthetics – An organization in the U.S. who are using 3D printing to create highly customizable prosthetics for amputees
  • Odapt – A company in Spain creating a reusable and customized wafer for two-piece ostomy bags that can adapt to any shape of stoma

Each had unique reasons for turning to the principles of Additive Manufacturing and choosing 3D printing to accomplish their goals.


Act’ble is committed to designing and manufacturing modular pointe shoes to improve the impact on every athlete’s long-term health objective. Using 3D printing and scanning techniques to measure a dancer’s specific foot anatomy, new act’pointes allow for a broad range mobility and increased support stability therefore helping athletes to avoid injuries. Through their mission to create a fully customized dance shoe by utilizing 3D printing technologies, they strive to offer innovative solutions and healthier options to the dance community as well as a sustainable future.

Why Additive Manufacturing? Pointe shoes were created hundreds of years ago and have not changed their design and ergonomics leaving ballet dancers to face injuries and intractable health problems that can lead to a shorter career. By choosing the innovative design available through Additive Manufacturing, the spine-shaped 3D printed sole utilized by Act’ble helps to effectively absorb the huge force going through the foot with segments of 3D printed act’sole working to ensure optimal support and stability for the dancer while at the same time allowing for flexibility.

Act’sole is produced with a Laser-Sintering-Machine (SLS), which ensures a highly precise fit which adapts to the dancer’s foot perfectly and to work without wasting materials. The 3D printed act’sole lasts 5 times longer compared to traditional point shoes and can be recycled therefore increasing sustainability.

Archytas Automation

Archytas delivers automation solutions to customers to help increase both capacity and productivity while utilizing strategies to stay within a budget. They work to synergize technology and robotic arms, along with other components, to deliver a comprehensive and integrated automation solution.

Why Additive Manufacturing? There are over 4 million businesses in the U.S. with under 50 people who want to use automation, but it’s too cost prohibitive as robotics companies sell expensive robots, and integration companies sell expensive engineering hours.

Unlike other robots, the Archytas Automation robot uses an onboard computer to adjust the location utilizing electronic feedback. Because there is no need for expensive, precise mechanical parts to achieve repeatability, they use Additive Manufacturing for all structural parts. As Archytas Automation develops solutions for small- to medium-sized companies, they offer the ability to tweak designs ensuring they meet the customers’ needs. At about one half the weight of competitive products, these robots require less support during operation using only 100W vs 300W. Additional sustainability is achieved as waste is reduced by printing the parts at the point of manufacture, minimizing logistics cost.

Limber Prosthetics

With over 40 million amputees worldwide and only 5% having access to prosthetics or other assistive devices, a staggering 38 million people live restricted and quite often painful lives. Millions of amputees are left behind because of limited or no access to even basic health care and medical facilities, with the option of prosthetic care being too expensive. Limber Prosthetics has developed an integrative approach for the design and layered manufacturing of highly customizable prosthetics that promises to transform the lives of amputees around the world.

Why Additive Manufacturing? LIMBER uses a 3D scan-design-print technique to create affordable prosthetic limbs. Their mission is to break down the accessibility barriers for quality prosthetic care through their patent-pending UniLeg technology that enables them to print an entire below-knee prosthesis in a single piece. Advances in both Additive Manufacturing processes and materials has enabled LIMBER to:

  • Create a design which aligns and blends the socket, pylon, and foot-ankle complex into a fully 3D printable single piece that retains alignment from scan data through the design phase and manufacturing process
  • 3D print the prosthetic using the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technique, which utilizes low-cost feedstock material
  • Provide multi-axial dynamic gait performance through a compliant mechanism and without the use of joints or sliding surfaces that reduce durability
  • Utilizes thermoformable materials to enable post-fabrication alignment and fit adjustment

The next phase of scaling will include the deployment of LIMBER labs to promote jobs and economic stability in areas of high need. Sustainability is achieved through strengthening a central design objective that plastics for 3D printing must be easily procurable locally and fully recyclable. This allows for old, worn, or damaged prosthetics to become the raw material for the next prosthetic leading to a sustainable product life cycle


Odapt is committed to changing lives by utilizing 3D printing when it comes to design, engineering and healthcare. They are driven by sustainability, innovation and technology and work closely with patients and healthcare professionals to involve them as much as possible in the design journey. Their goal is to put an end to ostomy bag leaks with a 3D printed, reusable and customized wafer for two-piece ostomy bags that adapts to any shape of stoma.

Why Additive Manufacturing? There are around 3 million ostomates worldwide and 99% of them have experienced a leak of their bag at least once and 50% experience them frequently, negatively affecting their quality of life both physically and mentally. Leaks are mainly caused by the lack of adaptability of current wafers to all types of stomas (retracted, prolapsed…) and the lack of correct adhesion of the wafer to the skin. Through Additive Manufacturing, Odapt is using technology to personalize the shape of the wafer to any stoma after a scanning process allowing for a complete customization, from stoma shape to color of the product resulting in a leak-free piece. 3D printing allows ostomates to obtain a ready-to-use, personalized wafer that eliminates leaks and leads to greater quality of life.

To achieve higher levels of sustainability, Odapt has produced a reusable wafer that can last around one year and can easily be cleaned with soap and water and re-used, thus eliminating the large amount of medical waste created by traditional ostomy bag wafers.

Ensuring a Bright Future with Additive Manufacturing

A singular victory is rare – we need to partner and join forces to achieve long-lasting success. Our strategy for the future is based on the combined power of materials, processes, AND applications. The strength of this industry is much bigger than the sum of its parts. Through the principles of Additive Manufacturing we are creating enormous customer value with innovative technology, cutting-edge materials and empowering pioneering thinkers with the tools to create a world of endless possibilities in what we can design and create.


Archytas Automation! Look for a Blog Post in the coming weeks to learn more about the advanced work in 3D printing being accomplished by Archytas after winning the Forward AM Innovation Award.

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