CEO and Founder of Helio Additive, David Hartmann, discusses the application of thermal physics for achieving accurate 3D printing on the first attempt in an interview.


Ahead of Formnext 2023, 3D Printing Industry had the opportunity to interview the winners of this year’s Formnext Start-Up challenge. Among them was David Hartmann, the CEO and Founder of Helio Additive Inc., who shared his professional journey and the origins of his venture to make digital manufacturing scalable.

Hartmann, a German-born New Zealander, has had an extensive career working in different countries and industries. He has worked in Germany, Shanghai, Hong Kong, India, and even at Bayer’s global headquarters. During his time at Bayer, he held various roles, including strategy and mergers and acquisitions. These roles exposed him to businesses undergoing transformative changes in terms of material requirements and manufacturing setups.

It was during a meeting with Dr. Xiaofan Luo, CEO of Polymaker, a top-tier 3D printing materials manufacturer, that Hartmann realized the challenges facing digital manufacturing. They both realized that building better printers alone wouldn’t solve the reliability and scaling issues. Instead, they needed to deeply understand the physics behind the process and find solutions in software.

Inspired by this conversation, Hartmann left Bayer and founded Helio Additive in 2020. Despite the challenges posed by COVID, he strategically established the company close to Polymaker’s R&D facility in China. This proximity provided Helio Additive with a unique advantage.

Hartmann emphasized that Helio Additive’s journey deviated from the conventional MVP-led startup path. It wasn’t just about material science, computer science, mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering. They were dealing with a multitude of complex problems.

One of the major challenges that Helio Additive tackled was understanding the behavior of polymers in different thermal environments. Hartmann believes that this understanding is crucial to minimizing defects in finished parts. To address this, Helio Additive developed a proprietary process simulation tool that offers fast and efficient thermal analysis for any geometry, printer, or polymer.

Generating vast amounts of thermal data was just one part of the equation. The challenge was translating that raw data into actionable insights. Helio Additive’s polymer physics team built models to decipher layer bonding, stress relaxation, crystallization, and other critical factors, combining them with the thermal data. This unique combination allows Helio Additive to optimize digital manufacturing processes, reduce waste, and increase print speeds.

Hartmann sees Helio Additive not just as a solution provider but also as an enabler. They want to make their API open to partners and allow them to build on top of their technology.

In the digital manufacturing landscape, there is a wealth of data available, but the challenge lies in distilling its essence. Hartmann refers to these “hidden parameters” as the intricate decisions made during the manufacturing process. While engineers can control certain high-level parameters, the visible manifestations of these parameters are the challenges in the output.

Overall, Helio Additive is revolutionizing digital manufacturing by deeply understanding the physics behind the process and providing innovative solutions to optimize it.

Demystifying Hidden Parameters: Helio Additive’s Approach to Digital Manufacturing

When it comes to additive manufacturing, the behavior of polymers plays a crucial role. Understanding how polymers flow at different temperatures is key to achieving optimal results in digital manufacturing. According to Helio Additive CEO, Thomas Hartmann, two primary culprits for most issues in additive manufacturing are layer bonding and stress relaxation. To address these challenges, Hartmann emphasizes the need to regulate hidden process parameters and utilize advanced simulation tools.

Helio Additive has developed Dragon, a cloud-based software engine that provides access to a thermal simulation toolset for any geometry, printer, and material. This software has been particularly successful in large-scale granular-based additive manufacturing, allowing users to digitally experiment with parameter sets. The result has been a significant reduction in waste and increased efficiency, with impressive case studies showing savings of material and labor.

One of Helio Additive’s key products is a process dashboard specifically designed for large-scale granular-based additive manufacturing. Dragon for LSGAM simulates the thermal history of a print and identifies areas of concern, ensuring first-time-right 3D printing, increased asset utilization, and lower scrap rates.

Hartmann also highlights the emerging trend of microfactories and the need for improved transparency and optimization of processes. With Dragon, companies can act as an auditing quality step, knowing how each part was manufactured on a voxel-by-voxel basis.

Looking ahead, Hartmann acknowledges the potential of the digital manufacturing space, with projections estimating a valuation of $130 billion by 2030. However, he also raises concerns about the limited material types available in additive manufacturing compared to conventional methods, emphasizing the need for further variety and specificity.

Ultimately, Hartmann emphasizes that the end goal of any manufacturing process is to produce a part, whether it’s through 3D printing, injection molding, or thermoforming. Helio Additive aims to bring significant efficiency improvements to additive manufacturing by reducing the time and resources required to bring new materials to market.

In addition to improving the manufacturing process, Helio Additive is also focused on enhancing the qualification and certification processes in the additive manufacturing industry. By standardizing the understanding of the printing process and ensuring consistent layer bonding, Helio Additive aims to enable real-world certification, mitigating challenges like unpredictable gas permeability.

In conclusion, Helio Additive is dedicated to streamlining the additive manufacturing certification landscape and powering solutions behind the scenes. With their advanced simulation tools and focus on process optimization, they aim to revolutionize digital manufacturing and drive the industry forward.

Helio Additive is gearing up for their highly anticipated appearance at Formnext. This event holds great significance for the company as it will be the first time they showcase their innovation to the industry. David Hartmann, the CEO, emphasized the importance of the event, stating that Formnext is the industry’s event of the year. He hopes that their exhibition will help build awareness for their technological offerings and attract potential partners and customers.

Hartmann believes that Formnext will be a critical stepping stone for the company’s growth. By engaging with industry professionals and showcasing their technology, he hopes to generate leads and embark on projects that will further explore the capabilities of their additive manufacturing technology.

To experience Helio Additive’s innovations firsthand, attendees can visit their booth in Hall 12.0, B81L. The featured image showcases David Hartmann and Dr. Priyesh Patel, the CTO of Helio Additive, who are leading the company’s advancements in the additive manufacturing sector.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of 3D printing and the challenges that the additive manufacturing sector will face in the coming decade, be sure to read our executive interview series with 3D printing leaders. Stay up to date with the latest 3D printing news by subscribing to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter or following us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also check out our YouTube channel, which features discussions, debriefs, video shorts, and webinar replays.

If you’re seeking job opportunities in the additive manufacturing industry, visit 3D Printing Jobs for a selection of roles in the industry.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

Like it? Share with your friends!


Meet the mastermind behind GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format