19 US Patents Issued Related to Rapid Prototyping from 12/5/00 to 1/16/01
The frequency of publication of the RP Patent Alert Newsletter on The
Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping web site has been increased from
quarterly to approximately monthly. We hope this change will let you keep up
to date in a much more timely way and also be quicker and easier to absorb.
We have also updated our main patent database which now includes more than
700 rapid prototyping patents.
The latest edition of the RP Patent Alert Newsletter is now available on our
web site. Nineteen RP patents were issued during this period, maintaining the
doubled pace of recent months. Here are a few highlights of patents issued
from 12/5/00 to 1/16/01:
* A new approach to color inkjet RP technology has been described by Nanotek
Instruments. The method is based on printing a color pattern using standard
2D color technology on top of layers of absorbent, white object material. By
separating the coloration and fabrication functions, each can be optimized
resulting simultaneously in both a wide color gamut and desirable object
* A couple of interesting patents have been issued for electrostatic methods
of object fabrication. Murata of Japan has received a patent for a method of
manufacturing ceramic electronic devices such as capacitors, inductors, etc.,
that uses electrophotography (xerography). No masks are required and some
details are given about materials and the formation of conductive metallic
* Penn State University has received a patent for a similar method, but which
replaces the photoconductor with an array of controllable micro-electrodes.
There is considerable prior art which may interfere with this patent,
however. The work of Bjorke at SINTEF in 1991 on the DYNAMAT, and Bakkelund
and Karlsen somewhat later at the Norwegian University of Science and
Technology describe both the slice formation technique and at least one of
the material consolidation methods of the patent.
* Texas Instruments has received a couple of patents for an inkjet RP method
that is very close to Solidscape's (formerly Sanders) technology. One of the
patents has been in process since 1992 and may anticipate the Solidscape work.
* Several patents have been issued for tooling or molding methods, either
based specifically on rapid prototyping masters, or that can use them in the
process. Lear has received a patent for a method of ceramic loading short to
medium run cast tooling that is said to provide similar thermal properties
and tolerances to steel. Nu-Cast's patent uses complex RP masters to create
truss structures with improved load bearing capabilities. MicroVention has
received a patent for a method of repairing an aneurysm in a blood vessel
using a foam implant which is molded using rapid prototyping.
* The fabrication of Braille reading materials is an application that several
methods of rapid prototyping could be adapted to. An interesting patent for
a method of generating Braille that uses inkjet deposited photopolymer
hardened by a flood lamp has been issued. This method is very close to
Objet's Quadra technology and to disclosures from NASA. While the
specification describes mostly Braille applications, the inventor also points
out that other objects can be fabricated in this way.
* A recoating method for viscous photopolymers has been described by DSM.
This method is based on a ladling technique and avoids the use of pumps.
* An interesting patent from a week or two in the prior period was uncovered
and should be highlighted. MIT has developed so-called comb polymers.
Specific and differentiated cell types can be made to adhere and grow on
substrates which have been coated with one or more of these materials.
Multiple comb polymers can be used to attract multiple cell types to specific
sites. They can also be inkjeted into a scaffold matrix formed by rapid
prototyping techniques to aid in the cell seeding process. Therics, one of
the licensees of the MIT developed 3DP process, is now working with these
materials in their tissue engineering efforts.
There were numerous additional developments in photopolymer materials, inkjet
based RP, laser exposure systems, software, etc. If you're involved with the
development of RP technology in industry or academia, you should find this an
easy and fun way to keep up to date.
>From our home page,
The Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping located at:
click the PATENTS button or use the direct link on that page.
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Arlington, MA 02474 USA
781-646-6280 (voice or fax)
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