NTU - NTUitive >> Materials – HealthTech

NTUitive Pte Ltd (“NTUitive” in short) is the innovation and enterprise company – and a wholly-owned subsidiary – of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore). We manage the University’s intellectual property, promote innovation, support entrepreneurship, and facilitate the commercialisation of research. Discover, learn, connect, network, and be in the know of the latest and freshest startup news, technologies and innovations, and ecosystem events by joining the NTUitive telegram group at t.me/NTUitive_sayhi or visit our website at www.ntuitive.sg.

Our Technology Offers

Conformable, Soft Tactile Sensor for Wearables and Smart Electronic Skin Applications

This technology offer is a soft tactile sensor with low operation voltage and ultralow power consumption, intended for use in robotic devices, human- machine interactions and health monitoring devices. This flexible tactile sensor uses low-cost printing processes and is adaptable on any active surfaces. The technology is also amenable to fabrication of flexible, large area sensor arrays as well as high density, high spatial resolution active matrix tactile sensors.

Nanochips for Digital Grading of Cancer Cells

Converting tiny changes of cancer cells into quantifiable readout.

Accurate and unbiased grading of cancer cells with different metastasis potential is critical for both cancer diagnosis and effective treatment. However, current clinical practices heavily rely on individual pathologist’s visual inspection of the cancer cells, which is inevitably subjective, low throughput, and error prone.

This technology is a nanochip platform generating digital readout from the nanoscale abnormalities in cancer cell nucleus that is well-known to strongly correlate with cancer development. No subjective evaluation is needed, and high-throughput screening is compatible. This technology offers diverse applications including cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment monitoring, and anti-cancer drug development.

The technology provider is seeking collaborations from both the clinical side with patient-related resources to further demonstrate the potential applications of the technology, and business partners for prototype improvement and application development.

Intelligent Quality Control for Metal 3D Printing

This proprietary technology, intelligent quality control system (IQCS), provides a holistic approach for the inspection of metal 3D printing process with the following features:

  • Real-time detection & classification of defects using machine learning (ML)
  • Quality prediction for additive manufactured parts using ML (algorithm validated experimentally)
  • Prediction of new design printability and avoidance of printing issues in future prints
  • Cloud-based distributed manufacturing network
  • Stand-alone system and can be used for wide range of machines and technologies

The IQCS has attracted active feedbacks and supports from both standardization bodies and industrial companies including:

  • Standardization bodies: American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), DNV-GL, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • End users: Sembcorp
  • Design software company: Autodesk
  • National Additive Manufacturing – Innovation Cluster (NAMIC)

The technology owner is currently working with ASTM, an international standards organization, to develop industrial standards in association with data acquired by the IQCS. A working group comprising of DNV-GL, NIST, Sembcorp and Autodesk has been formed by ASTM to actively support the use of IQCS for standard development in 3D printing.

This technology aims to creating intelligent service-oriented production for the additive manufacturing industry as demonstrated in the representative image. It is an essential step towards fully automated, autonomous factories of the future.

Digital Concrete: 3D Printing Brings New Opportunities to Construction Industry

Digital Concrete, which applies 3D printing to build structures in a layer-atop-layer manner according to designed CAD models, promises to revolutionize the construction industry with the potential of freeform architecture, less material waste, reduced construction costs, and increased worker safety. With the greater automation, this technology will also shift construction workforce demographics from on-site labor to off-site designers and engineers. Furthermore, the technology also contributes towards a sustainable environment as the printing material is only deposited where it is necessary for the 3D printing process.

With Building information modeling (BIM) and program-controlled robotic arm, Digital Concrete can help the construction industry to produce customized room units and aesthetic displays with lower cost and higher productivity. It can be easily integrated into the workflow of precast industry and provide more flexibility for products in small batch and with complex geometry.

High Efficiency Metal 3D Printing for Mixed Powder

Metal 3D printing technology such as the Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) allows the manufacturing of dense near-net shape parts straight from a computer-aided design file. The limited choice of material, however, is the Achilles heel of this wonderful piece of technology. In view of the extensive time and cost required for the manufacturing of new pre-alloyed feed stock in the form of spherical powder, the community started to adopt the mix-and-blend approach to create new powder composition. The powder mix will then be alloyed during the laser 3D printing process, hence the term in-situ alloying.

The caveat of in-situ alloying in LPBF is with the difficulty to simultaneously address the issue of porosity and inhomogeneity. With our scanning approach to achieve unique melt pool formation, this conundrum can be resolved while at the same time improving the time and energy efficiency of the process. Our invention offers great flexibility for players across different industries and complements original equipment manufacturers in the conquest of producing parts requiring compositional flexibility, e.g. rapid compositional prototyping and functionally graded materials.

Magnetic Field Activated Glue for On-Demand Adhesion

Conventional adhesives/glue like epoxy which are used to bond plastic, ceramics and wood are typically designed to cure using moisture, heat or light. However, existing approaches limit applications to specific substrates, inefficient handling in manufacturing, and can only be indirectly activated. A sustainable alternative for existing methods is induction heating. It offers a remote, wireless and contactless method to cure the adhesives or bond the two substrates with adhesive/glue using magnetic field.

The technology on offer is a patented induction heating-cured adhesives that is made by combining commercially available epoxy adhesive with specially tailored magnetic nanoparticles. This new glue is termed as “magnetocuring” glue, which can be cured by passing through a magnetic field. The magnetic field can easily generated by a small electromagnetic device and requires less energy than a large conventional oven. This is very useful in certain environmental conditions and structural restrictions where current adhesives do not work well.

3D Printable High Entropy Alloy for Marine Applications

This technology offer contains a novel approach to drastically improve the 3D printability of CoCrFeNi high entropy alloy (HEA). It is achieved via material design by adding Al to the CoCrFeNi HEA, which can prevent the hot cracking of this material during 3D printing. This new method will attract the users who are keen to 3D print CoCrFeNi-based HEA for critical load-bearing marine & submarine parts used under harsh environments.

Silk Fibroin Membrane as Artificial Skin for Cosmetics Industry

The market of personal care products is highly fragmented and competitive. Product development and innovation are key measures to gain competitive edge in the market. Performing tests on these products are essential in product development for product evaluation and regulatory purposes. However, animal study is currently widely banned, panel test has the drawback of wide personal bias, and current commercial skin mimics are expensive, yet their performance is still far from real skin.

The technology comprises silk fibroin membrane for use as artificial skin. Fabricated from a natural protein, this silk artificial skin (silk artificial stratum corneum) has similar keratin structure and composition with that of the epidermis (real skin stratum corneum). Compared with other artificial-skin testing platform, silk artificial skin is more relevant to real skin in terms of skin-related products testing results and can also be customized for various skin types (dry/oily/combined).

The technology provider is seeking for collaborations on manufacturing and products testing. Chemicals and consumer goods company can be potential licensees of the technology.

Copper Nanoparticle Antimicrobial Coatings

Disease prevention through intervention by antimicrobial coatings in our surroundings can bring huge economic and social benefits, primarily due to reduced hospitalisation rates, decreased medical bills associated with medication, less psychological distress among the sick and their carers, etc. Although the current disinfectant technology is effective in preventing the spread of infectious pathogens via surface sanitisation, it still suffers from poor durability and requires regular daily applications to keep a high antibacterial activity.

This versatile formulation technology not only endows surfaces with anti-wetting features, but also imparts fast, potent, robust, and long-lasting antibacterial properties, which can be applied to both soft and hard surfaces through chemical bonding.

The technology’s competitive edge is mainly derived from the use of copper nanoparticles instead of the easy-to-wash-off organic disinfectants that require multiple and periodic applications. Relying on a contact-killing mechanism, a close to 100% bacterial killing efficiency within 45 seconds against hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae, one of the major pathogens causing pneumonia, has been shown. In addition, the formulation can be engineered to coat upholstery and textile materials and on a variety of surfaces, such as plastic, wood, etc., thus providing a more ubiquitous protection against bacterial – and possibly viral – infections.

Dexterous Robotic Manipulation of Micro-Objects

Micro-manipulation refers to manipulating of objects in the micro-world, including biological cells, micro/nano-particles. It has a wide range of applications in the research and development of clinical diagnosis, biological and pharmaceutical science, and micro/nano-technologies. However, the feasibility of current micro-manipulation systems is heavily dependent on the physical properties of the target micro-objects to be manipulated. Due to the limitations in sensing and actuations at micro-scale, it is also difficult to develop a micro-manipulator that is similar to a robot manipulator in the physical world. Therefore, unlike a human hand which can manipulate any object easily and skillfully, current micro-manipulators can only be used for very simple and limited manipulation tasks.

In this technology, a novel micro multi-fingered manipulation system will be developed to demonstrate the feasibility of dexterous manipulation in the micro-world. The research shall bridge the gap between dexterous robotic manipulation techniques in the macro and micro worlds. The proposed manipulation system consists of several micro-fingers which are developed using a 3-D micro-fabrication technique. These micro-fingers are then optically trapped and driven by using multiple laser beams to achieve collaborated operations. The laser-driven micro-fingers are therefore functioned as a multi-fingered hand to perform various dexterous manipulation tasks in the micro-world, including grasping, rotating, moving, and even rolling or pinching of micro-objects.

High-Performance Thermoset Resin for 3D Printing

Photocurable polybenzoxazine (PBZ) is a newly developed class of high-performance phenolic thermoset with a wide range of unique features, that offer significant advantages over commercially available resins for stereolithography (SLA) or other photo-triggered 3D printing.

  • Low viscosity for high precision and high-resolution 3D printing
  • Mechanical and thermal performance exceeding commercial resins such as epoxy resin
  • Scalable synthesis and production

Fabrication of engineering products using additive manufacturing (AM) is largely limited to powder-based laser sintering techniques which require expensive equipment and materials, while issues such as voiding and poor surface finishing due to limited resolution remains unresolved. Stereolithography-based AM techniques offers high resolution and void-free products, but current photo-resins does not offer sufficient material performance (e.g., Tg ≤150°C, viscosity ≤5Pa.s) to meet requirements of engineering products.

To address this conundrum, we developed a highly processable BZ (benzoxazine) resin for the mentioned application with spectacular physical properties, thereby offering new possibilities to construct more complicated and intricate structures for demanding engineering applications. Users of our BZ resin can utilise highly affordable SLA printers to meet their diverse engineering product requirements.

We seek partnership with SLA resin manufacturers to expand their products offerings, and also with interested chemical companies to assist in scale-up production and further co-development in this new class of material.