The battlefields of patent litigation have been fairly quiet recently, at least in the world of additive manufacturing (AM). That seems like a positive sign for the industry as a whole, allowing companies to focus on research and development, rather than courtroom theater. During this time of peace, new patents are finding their way to approval, and while not every patent is earth-shaking, some are worth examination.
Optomec has recently received a patent for its miniaturized aerosol jet print head, titled “Miniature Aerosol Jet and Aerosol Jet Array” (patent # 8,640,975). The patent ensures exclusivity for an aerosol jet print head design that is smaller, lighter, and less expensive to manufacture than previous iterations. The patent also leaves room for Optomec to grow, including provisions for multiplexing the miniaturized print head geometry within linear arrays or custom arrangements for high-volume production scale-up. Continue reading
Despite the fact that additive manufacturing (AM) isn’t really a new market, the business side of the technology is still maturing. Part of that maturing process is company growth, either through the construction of new facilities, expansion of current facilities, or through acquisitions. For most companies, this is a gradual process, though there are some exceptions.
ExOne launched a $75 million IPO last January to expand its productions, pay off a $9.6 million line of credit and retain a $3 million lease on production equipment. With the IPO a year in the past, it looks as though the company is using some of the investment revenue to pursue additional resources. ExOne has announced the acquisition of Gesellschaft für Industrielle Mikrowellentechnik mbH (MWT) for $4.8 million and Machin-A-Mation for around $5 million. Continue reading
3D printing is well on its way to revolutionizing manufacturing around the world. Rapid Ready provides near daily examples of breakthroughs in nearly every major manufacturing field, including automotive, aerospace and medical. While the technology has only gained some measure of popular appeal in the last few years, its roots go back 30 years and can be traced to 3D Systems’ founder and CTO, Chuck Hull.
This year Hull’s achievement will be officially recognized as he’s inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Hull’s name and likeness will join luminaries of invention such as Thomas Edison, Eli Whitney, and the Wright Brothers. The formal ceremony will take place May 21, at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA.
Everyone had a Rubik’s Cube when I was a kid, or least a Rubik’s knock-off. The news ran stories about people who could solve the Cube in under a minute, twisting and spinning the puzzle in their hands, while the rest of us could barely keep the colors in order. I solved the Cube only by taking the entire thing apart and putting it back together. Some kids peeled off the stickers.
I bet old Ernő Rubik (inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, if you hadn’t guessed) would have loved to have additive manufacturing to provide rapid prototyping services for him when he was designing the Cube. The current generation of 3D puzzles, the Marusenko Sphere, was lucky enough to have 3D printing around to assist with the design and prototype phases, greatly simplifying the production process. Continue reading
The only thing worse than having a chipped or missing tooth is the waiting period between initial exam and final fitting of a dental prosthesis. Additive manufacturing (AM) has reduced the wait time by producing crowns, bridges, and stone models at a rate unmatched by traditional forms of manufacturing. Less time in transit and in dental labs also means a reduction in production costs, which leads to increased profits.
Stratasys has lowered the barrier for entry into dental AM with the release of its Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage. As might be guessed from the name, the Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage is based on the Objet Eden series of printers which, I think it’s fair to say, have proved to be solid and capable machines. The new copier-sized AM system has been developed with larger dental and orthodontic labs in mind, and, according to the company, offers more than double the build speed over the next lowest-priced dental 3D printer. Continue reading