Get Ready for the Third Annual Solvay AM Cup

With partners L’Oréal and Ultimaker, competition aims to showcase how industrial filaments can solve diverse industrial challenges.

With partners L’Oréal and Ultimaker, competition aims to showcase how industrial filaments can solve diverse industrial challenges.

The 2019 winners of the specialty polymers challenge as part of Solvay’s International Additive Manufacturing Cup competition. Image Courtesy of Solvay

In an effort to push the limits of additive manufacturing (AM) with high-performance polymers, Solvay is gearing up for its third AM Cup competition, this year tasking participants to come up with a 3D printed solution that solves a packaging challenge for partner L’Oréal.

Solvay, which manufacturers high-performance polymers, started the AM Cup in 2018 as a way to foster open innovation projects around AM in concert with universities and startups. In previous competitions, the winning teams have successfully demonstrated the potential of high-performance 3D printing for fabricating complex polymer shapes while overcoming challenges typically associated with using fused filament fabrication (FFF). The result: Parts that virtually match the performance and quality of conventional injection molded parts.

This latest match-up challenges students and engineers around the world to design a 3D printed real-world industrial application to address production line agility for L’Oréal, a leading cosmetics company that is interested in deploying 3D printing on a packaging problem it can’t solve with traditional manufacturing capabilities, according to Brian Alexander, AM Global Product & Application Manager at Solvay. Ultimaker, which markets professional-grade 3D printers and is best known for its Cura advanced 3D printing slicing engine, is also a partner in the challenge.

“The collaboration with these strong partners further accentuates the importance of optimizing material, hardware, and process together when designing a successful 3D printing project,” Alexander says. “This year’s challenge is to design a 3D printed real-world industrial application that highlights the potential off AM to revolutionize production line agility.”

The competition will start on September 1 of this year and run through mid-November 2021. L’Oréal serves up the real-world business problem to solve while Ultimaker offers the full range of 3D printing hardware and software, and Solvay delivers materials especially chosen from its portfolio to meet the need. The filaments and powders on tap for the 3D printing competition include PEEK along with other PPSU AM filaments, officials said.

All designs will be printed directly by Ultimaker using their S3 or S5 desktop printer and the application will then be tested by L’Oréal. The winner will be announced in January 2022 and will receive a 5,000 Euro prize, which will be reinvested in academic, societal, or entrepreneurial activities, along with an Ultimaker 2+ Connect printer. Added bonus:  A tour of L’Oréal’s production facilities.

Check out this video to hear Solvay’s Brian Alexander’s presentation on AM-ready polymers.

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Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to

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