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
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
Additive manufacturing (AM) has become an integral part of a number of businesses and industries, including aerospace and medical, and the technology’s impact is only likely to increase as time passes. Defense is taking a hard look at AM, automotive is finding ways to leverage 3D printing, and numerous small businesses still find plenty of rapid prototyping value in their AM systems.
Continued growth relies on innovation as much as consumer appeal and, in a capitalist world economy, the monetary forces that drive innovation generally come from outside investments. Alan Meckler has launched the first 3D printing mutual fund, named the “3D Printing and Technology Fund,” to bring more funds to the global business of 3D printing. Continue reading
At SolidWorks World Stratasys Ltd. has launched the next generation of its Objet500 Connex line of 3D printers, the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D printer, which combines colors with multi-material 3D printing. Previous 3D printers, notably from 3D Systems‘ ZPrinter line and Mcor’s line of paper-based 3D printers, have been capable of 3D printing in multiple colors. Stratasys’ own line of Objet printers have been capable of producing 3D prints in multiple materials. However, the Connex3 is the first 3D printer to combine both in what the company calls “virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible, and transparent color materials as well as color digital materials” in a single print run.
Although many people might think of Apple v. Samsung as an example of modern big business gone wrong, the lawsuit has long been a staple of business strategy in the United States. Thomas Edison was notorious for his patent lawsuits, often using them to drive competitors out of business. This same strategy has been embraced by companies of every shape and size, but becomes more noticeable when giants rumble or when a larger company seems to be unfairly targeting smaller competitors.
By most analyst’s reckoning, the first big boom in desktop 3D printers came as a result of the expiration of key patents pertaining to Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. The expirations galvanized the open source community, resulting in the RepRap, which in turn gave birth to companies like MakerBot. For a while it seemed as though Stratasys gave its blessing to these developments by not attempting to halt open source development with claims of patent infringement. That time now appears to have passed. Continue reading