The latest edition of the RP Patent Alert Newsletter is now available on our
web site. Twenty one RP patents were issued during the last five weeks.
IN ADDITION, recent changes in US patent law to bring it into alignment with
the most of the rest of the world, now require publication of patent
applications after 18 months. One surprising aspect of the new law is that
publication can occur well before that time if an applicant requests, or if
foreign publication occurs before the period elapses. Indeed, applications
for rapid prototyping related patents have now begun to appear, and some of
them are less than 6 months old. Eleven RP applications were published
during this period.
Here are a few highlights of patents and patent applications issued from
6/12/01 to 7/17/01:
* Objet Geometries has received a patent for a rapid prototyping method using
photopolymers and wide area inkjet technology. The patent discusses the use
of a reference wall constructed in parallel with the object, and sensing
methods applied to the wall to get around such problems as a blocked jet or
variable output from the jets. Also covered is some limited information
* Huels Aktiengesellschaft of Germany has disclosed novel aspects of
selective laser sintering using nylon-12 material. The stated advantages
include more precise definition of the object with less powder caking, better
powder recycling characteristics and nearly full density. Patents are not
typically granted for materials specific advancements, but specifiying a high
difference between melting and solidification temperatures and the other
potential materials of use cited may have been key.
* Patents for medical, dental and tissue engineering technology were well
represented. Therics has received a patent for the generation of a porous
scaffold structure, and Ethicon has received a follow-on patent for
photopolymerizable hydrogels. Both patents address tissue engineering
applications. Ormco has received a patent for orthodontia methods which are
potentially competitive with InvisAlign (TM) technology from Align
Technology, Inc. A patent was granted to Dr. Ninian Peckitt of the UK for
maxillofacial prosthetic implants.
* Details of the New Jersey Institute of Technology's rapid freeze
prototyping method have been disclosed. Interesting pictures of the
deposition head and build chamber are included.
* Optomec has been granted a wide-ranging patent for the direct writing of
high precision electronic components using a technique that is similar to the
company's licensed LENS process. While some methods have concentrated on
metallic patterns and materials, or solder balls for flip-chip applications,
this technology addresses a wide range of materials combining aspects of, and
competitive with, both metal-based and inkjet approaches. A wide range of
passive components can potentially be constructed.
* Xerox and Fuji-Xerox have also received patents for RP methods that address
some of the same areas as the Optomec patent above. The Xerox patent covers
conductors for electronic circuitry, solder balls and small subsystems such
as printheads and the like. The Fuji-Xerox patent is for a method of
manufacturing small items with high aspect ratios from ceramics or metals,
and may be more flexible and economic than certain common MEMS processes such
as LIGA, and offer improved resolution compared to three dimensional printing.
* Numerous improvements to existing RP technology are disclosed, such as
better fluid draining from QuickCast (TM) patterns, improved thermal and
vibration resistance for stereolithography systems (several patents to 3D
Systems), adjustable road width fused deposition modeling, and
fiber-reinforced stereolithography-generated parts.
There were numerous additional developments in the generation, repair and
modification of sprayformed tooling, photopolymers etc.
PATENT APPLICATIONS PUBLISHED
* Of the eleven applications published this period, four are from Align
Technology for the InvisAlign (TM) orthodontia method. One of these
applications is for a procedure for clinician review of the treatment plan.
* Other applications in the medical area include artificial bone implants
from the University of Texas and an expandable implant for vascular
embolization (blocking a blood vessel) developed from an RP master pattern.
Additional publications describe improvements to LENS and related
technologies and improvements to photopolymers.
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 main patent database includes nearly 750 rapid prototyping patents.
>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.
19 Pondview Road
Arlington, MA 02474 USA
781-646-6280 (voice or fax)
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://rapid.lpt.fi/rp-ml/
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Jan 04 2002 - 09:57:34 EET