The latest edition of the RP Patent Alert Newsletter is now available on our
web site. Nineteen RP patents were issued during the last five weeks and
another sixteen RP applications were published during this period.
Here are a few highlights of patents and patent applications issued from
10/2/01 to 11/6/01:
* A number of patents have been issued in the tooling area, with Ford Global
Technologies' Sprayforming process prominently represented as it moves into
more real world applications. The company has received a patent for a
process which uses the first half of a mold to define and form the second
half . This ostensibly saves time and finishing effort. Patents have also
been granted for a method of improving surface finish by directional
spraying, the use of a polymer mandrel to form engine valve seats, and also
one for integrating wear plates for side action slides into the process.
* Gniatczyk et al have received a patent for a method of composite tooling
that uses metal wool soaked in resin to provide improved thermal conductivity
for molds. The Milwaukee School of Engineering has received a follow-on
patent for an improved stereolithography investment casting build style. The
method is said to offer better accuracy.
* Patents have been issued to Nipping Soda Co. (Japan) and Ciba Specialty for
stereolithography resins with improved clarity and speed, and for basic
photochemistry processes, respectively. The Spectra Group has received a
patent for a selectively colorable photopolymer. The composition is said to
offer multiple colors with good contrast ratio selectable by the exposure
radiation wavelength and power level.
* Align Technology Inc. has received two additional patents for its portfolio
related to the InvisAlign (TM) orthodontia method which use stereolithography
generated appliances. The University of Texas describes a biodegradable
hydrogel photopolymer that has the potential to extend stereolithography into
such applications as controlled release drug forms. It may also have utility
in tissue engineering applications. Delsys Pharmaceuticals has received an
additional patent for its method of electrostatically produced controlled
release drug dosage forms which may compete against Therics' method which
utilizes the three dimensional printing process from licensed from MIT.
FOLLOW-ON / IMPROVEMENTS
* Arizona State University has received a follow-on patent for its work in
metal jet rapid prototyping and the University of California describes a head
which provides greater uniformity in the Directed Light Fabrication process
which is similar to LENS. 3D Systems has received a patent for a method of
planarizing and making each layer more uniform in the process of muti-jet
* Missed during the last update was a patent to Thackston of Eagle
Engineering of America that essentially describes the methods used by web
exchange companies or electronic marketplaces that provide users specifically
with multiple bids for rapid prototyping services. Business systems patents,
so-called US class 700, are new and controversial. The best known of these
is probably Amazon.com's one click shopping patent.
PATENT APPLICATIONS PUBLISHED
* A patent application has been published from Elmer Jensen that describes
another fundamental network related rapid prototyping function. This has
been called a three dimensional facsimile system and the application is
specifically related to rapid prototyping means of realization of 3D objects.
* Micron Technology, Inc. is the likely, but unstated, assignee for two
applications in the area of integrated electronic systems manufacturing.
Stereolithography is described by one application as a means to mark
semiconductor chips for use in automated and other assembly processes. A
second application describes means of using stereolithography and/or inkjet
processes to build printed circuit boards, hybrid chip substrates and
interconnecting those chips with conductive paths. Automated vision systems
may be used to lessen alignment precision requirements and quantities up to
millions are mentioned. The applications are fairly non-specific with
respect to conductive materials.
* A couple of interesting applications for other applications that involve
RP's unique manufacturing capabilities have been published. Amalgamated
Research describes a chromatography cell and Good Humor-Breyers Div. of
Unilever describes a head that is used to make a product from a plurality of
extruded ice cream flows. Selective laser sintering is used to make the
complex extrusion head, and a plurality of ice cream flows is a very good
* Eastman Kodak describes an inkjet technology which may allow the use of a
bubblejet like method to be applied to wide channel, inkjet-based thermal
rapid prototyping. The technique is based on polymers which can be changed
from a hydrophilic to a hydrophobic state using a small temperature change.
This would solve the problem of high thermal dissipation usually encountered
which limits head size and increases power requirements.
* Texas Instruments has applied for a patent on an improved method of
investment casting using stereolithography patterns. The method is said to
provide more complete and easier burn-out. Wayde Schmidt describes a method
of infiltrating ceramic into 3DP parts. The application indicates
applicability to other RP methods such as stereolithography and selective
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
nearly 900 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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