Editor’s note: This is one of five startup profiles featuring the latest recipients of $50,000 NC IDEA grants. The winners were announced Thursday.

DURHAM – Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is evolving rapidly and adoption is increasingly strong across many industries.  Manufacturing processes continue to be disrupted with the advent of 3D printing, says Runze Huang, founder of ExLattice, but there are hurdles that slow the pace of that adoption.

Those hurdles include print failure, long design cycles, and additional difficulties in the design process, all of which impact a company’s ability to keep costs reduced, Huang explains.

Runze Huang

“We believe many of those can be addressed with better design and engineering software tools specially designed for this,” he adds. “This is also the root of ExLattice.”

The company aims to offer the next generation of engineering software for metal additive manufacturing, resulting in a more cost-effective and easier deployment for small- to mid-sized manufacturing companies.

“Our next milestone will be finishing our pilot stage with our prototype tested and validated,” Huang notes.  “This is the exact fuel we need at the right moment to take our company to the next stage.”

Huang, who received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Northwestern University and worked as a postdoctoral researcher in additive manufacturing at Carnegie Mellon University, chose to start the company in the Triangle after visiting the region for a family reunion.

“The passion and dedication of the people I know in this community motivate me every day,” says Huang, who moved in 2017.

The company’s engineering software provides quick and real-time design feedback based on simulations, said Huang, in direct contrast with existing engineering software that relies on computational capacity and time.

The traditional model also requires a high level of expertise, Huang adds, “for the users to make the right design improvement decisions by themselves based on the results.”

Huang aims to change that.  “Our software can take the heavy lifting and find robust design solutions automatically based on those simulation insights,” Huang explains.  “These advantages simplify the design technology and save a great amount of effort, money, and time.”

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