Date: Tue May 07 2002 - 18:33:32 EEST
The latest edition of the RP Patent Alert Newsletter is now available on our
web site. Twenty-nine RP patents were issued during the last six weeks and
another fifteen RP applications were published during this period. Here are a
few highlights of patents and patent applications issued from 3/12/02 to
* Nanotek Instruments, Inc. has received a patent on a method of additive
fabrication based on electrophotography (xerography). Powder layers are
bonded togther by means of an electrostatically deposited binder material.
The binder can be a powder with a lower melting temperature than the build
material, a photopolymer or other material. The specification states that
this architecture allows any material, including metals, to be used in the
* Details of color three dimensional printing by means of dithering and
halftoning are discussed in a patent issued to Z Corp. The patent also
discusses filtration systems to remove and manage airborne powder particles.
* 3D Systems has been granted a patent on the use of low-resolution
photopolymers to produce higher resolution parts. The method is based on data
manipulation of adjacent layers to permit exposures at less than the minimum
cure depth, and is also said to result in better surface finishes.
* A laser system producing very short pulses has been patented by
Dentek-Lasersystems Produktions GmbH (Austria). Stereolithography is said to
be among the applications which could benefit.
* Enhanced resolution for inkjet heads is the subject of a patent granted to
* Sandia Laboratories has received a patent for porous electrodes for the
deposition of metals and other materials. The invention may have application
to EFAB technology developed by the University of California and being
commercialized by MEMGen.
* Sandia has also been granted a patent for batch fabrication of miniature
permanent magnets. They disclose materials and methods which can extend the
use of such processes as mold shape deposition (MSD), fused deposition
modeling and other processes using materials in paste-like forms, to create
intense rare earth magnet parts.
* Stanford University has been granted patent for mold shape deposition (MSD)
using gelcasting slurries and other materials.
* Agere Systems Guardian Corp.'s patent describes a method of three
dimensional printing using multiple materials and/or incorporating inserts in
* The US Navy has received a patent for the production of sturdy parts by
means of stereolithography. The method is based on impregnating an outer
shell of the part formed using QuickCast (TM) or similar build styles with an
epoxy or other strengthening agent.
* Ford Global Technologies has received patents for a high deposition rate
spray gun useful in their sprayforming tooling process, and for a low
temperature, high strength metal matrix composite material said to be useful
for rapid tooling.
* Victor Joyner has been granted a patent for a means of making cast parts or
investment models from a conventional mold by using a chain reaction in a
photopolymer. The method obviates the need for rapid prototyping in some
* There were numerous developments in the area of photopolymers: Ciba
received two patents for photoinitiator systems, and DSM was granted patents
for high speed photopolymers exhibiting mechanical strength and dimensional
accuracy. Ethicon's patent adds to its portfolio concerning
photopolymerizable hydrogels which may be useful in tissue engineering and
other medical applications.
* A patent granted to Klaus Peschges (Germany) reveals a method of making
high-strength, thermally conductive, or high specific surface photopolymers
by adding appropriate particles to the material system. The patent also
discusses the direct fabrication of metal parts using photopolymers.
* The University of Dayton has been granted a patent for photopolymers with a
glass transition temperature substantially greater than 200 deg C.
* Asahi Denki (Japan) describes photopolymers which don't suffer from
exposure to oxygen in their patent. It's said that this provides better cure
depth and greater accuracy.
* Rockwell has been granted a patent on a method of strengthening green parts
made by selective laser sintering and similar technologies which permits
larger parts to be fabricated without fracture or distortion.
* Align Technology has been granted a patent for CAD-based methods of
manipulating and modifying tooth models.
* Prosthetic Design Inc. has received a patent on a modular distal plate for
attachment of a limb socket that has been fabricated by fused deposition
PATENT APPLICATIONS PUBLISHED
* A couple of interesting applications which recite rapid prototyping as one
method of fabrication might have future significance for the field: Diann
Brei et al, associated with the University of Michigan, describe couplers for
docking small satellites to space vehicles and the like. Scott Santoro at al,
associated with Ledalite (Canada), have applied for a patent on light control
devices based on kinoform diffusers. These high efficiency devices can be
used in home, office and other lighting fixture applications to direct
radiation using diffractive methods. The company is expected to begin
marketing these so-called MesoOptics (TM) products in 2002. In both
applications, because of the geometry of the items, RP may offer long-term
advantages compared to either conventional production fabrication or tooling
* Yanagisawa at al (Japan) have applied for a patent on a method of embedding
IC chips or other objects into a stereolithography build, especially for
accommodating items with non-planar, up-facing surfaces. Recoating is
accomplished by means of a spraying technique. The authors are associated
with the possible assignee Shinko Electric Industries, a maker of smart
* Micron Technology is the likely assignee for an application to fabricate
mechanical stabilizers for flip-chips using stereolithography. Micron has
made numerous similar applications in the last few months.
* Eagle Engineering has applied for another business method patent. This
application covers collaborative design and online quotation of fabricated
parts and prototypes.
* Greil et al, associated with the University of Erlangen (Germany), have
applied for a patent on the formation of ceramic parts with greater than 85%
density which incorporate lubricating compounds and materials, enabling the
direct formation of moveable assemblies.
* Wilbur Bewley et al have applied for two patents on a method of generating
the requisite spatial data and the subsequent fabrication using RP of a
full-color replica of an object or person.
* Tetsuya Yamamura and others (Japan), associated with JSR, have applied for
a patent on a photopolymer with improved photospeed, also having high
strength, improved impact resistance and folding endurance. Elastomer
particles can optionally be included to improve properties further.
* Watanabe et al (Japan), associated with DSM and JSR, have made an
application for a patent on a photopolymer material with high heat
resistance. It's said to improve the fabrication of molds for making
thermoplastic parts by increasing the durability of the mold.
* Align Technology has applied for patents on the planning of dental
treatments and the data manipulation of a dentition model. Jeneric has
applied for a follow-on patent for the use of three dimensional printing to
mass produce dental restorations.
These are only the highlights! If you're involved with the development of RP
technology in industry or academia, you should find this an easy and
enjoyable way to keep up to date. Our entire patent database now includes
more than 1,000 rapid prototyping patents and applications.
>From our home page,
The Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping located at:
click the PATENTS button or use the direct link on that page.
Castle Island Co.
781-646-6280 (voice or fax)
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://rapid.lpt.fi/rp-ml/
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