Date: Thu Mar 21 2002 - 17:37:53 EET
The latest edition of the RP Patent Alert Newsletter is now available on our
web site. Eighteen RP patents were issued during the last seven weeks and
another thirty-four RP applications were published during this period. Here
are a few highlights of patents and patent applications issued from 1/22/02
* Several 3D Systems' patents describe numerous improvements to Multi-Jet
Modeling (MJM) technology. A method of printing a wide phantom object for use
in lubricating a planarizer roller and blade when building a small part is
disclosed, as are methods of controlling piezoelectric inkjets to generate
uniform droplet sizes.
* 3D Systems has also received a patent for an efficient diode-pumped,
solid-state laser configuration for stereolithography applications.
* Sandia Laboratories has been granted a patent for a tightly-focused,
aerodynamic particle beam generator. The beam can be used to deposit
materials from very low rates up to supersonic speeds and is said to be able
to use large particles.
* Stanford's Shape Deposition Manufacturing (SDM) technology has been
extended to provide sintered parts with improved accuracy and also to
fabricate moveable structures such as a gear or wheel on a shaft. Advanced
Ceramics Research also received a patent that describes the use of SDM to
make ceramic and similar parts from wax molds. The use of layers of cured
photopolymers interspersed with the wax prevents slumping and allows for
* MIT has received a follow-on patent for the use of nanoparticle-based
layered fabrication to create active electrical or mechanical parts.
* Compcast Technologies LLC's patent describes the use of RP-generated molds
to produce high-quality structural plastic parts. The method is based on
reaction molding and is claimed to be very gentle to the mold.
* The use of RP patterns in making high performance components by HIP is the
subject of a patent due to Huang.
* Baker-Hughes has added to its portfolio of patents that describe the use of
RP in making petroleum drilling components with one that discloses a method
of infiltration for porous components. Smith International received a patent
on the use of RP to make a custom earth boring bit based on information about
a particular earth formation. This is certainly one of the largest
direct-use, custom manufacturing applications yet described.
* Vantico has patented the use of polymer-based boards to create soft
tooling. CNC is used to form the mold cavity and the use of PP, ABS and PC
thermoplastics is described.
* MIT has received a patent on the use of three-dimensional printing to
enhance the thermal properties of tooling such as cooling channels, high
thermal conductivity or low thermal inertia regions.
* Thermally decomposable photopolymers are described in a patent assigned to
Cornell University. The material can be used to facilitate repair or removal
of components and incorporated assemblies.
* Vantico has been granted a patent for a method of delaying or preventing
unwanted viscosity increase in photopolymers.
* Porous tissue products fabricated in RP-generated molds are the subject of
a Therics patent.
PATENT APPLICATIONS PUBLISHED
* Micron Technology generated another three patent applications for the use
of stereolithography in IC manufacture. Chip marking, bond wire protection
and customized chip interconnects and other applications are described.
* Net-shape manufacturing using carbon nanotubes is described in an
application from F.J. Herman. The author claims the method could be used to
build electronics into large structures such as airplane wings and the like.
* A fine-featured spray deposition process, similar to early work done by
Prinz et al at Carnegie Mellon University, is the subject of an application
by the State University of New York. The method is aimed at the production of
small electronic components and doesn't require a mask to make lines as small
as 20 micron in width.
* RP-generated mold surfaces can be treated for easy releasing
characteristics according to an application by Yamamura et al (Japan).
* Dawn White, currently CEO of Solidica, describes details of the process of
ultrasonically consolidating layers of metal tape to create tools or
metal-matrix composite structures. A routing tool is used to cut profiles in
the tape, and it's also possible to mill layer edges to eliminate
stair-stepping which is a problem in many laminated object
* Leica (Germany) couples a confocal microscope to RP to produce
reproductions of arbitrarily small objects.
* Minolta (Japan) describes a method of adding materials properties to the
.stl description and methods of producing the texture and resilience of a
real object in an RP-generated copy. Stereolithography and inkjet methods are
described that use embedded small holes or very fine surface features to
reproduce these physical properties.
* Aspects of freeform powder molding, developed at Renssalaer Polytechnic
University, and selective laser sintering are combined in a new RP method
from the University of Texas. Materials such as metals and ceramics are
consolidated a layer at a time through uniform bulk heating of the top layer
of the build stack. Areas which consolidate are determined by selectively
jetting a cooling liquid from an inkjet head, or by applying different
materials in non-bonding areas. The method is said to result in fast building
times and better accuracy.
* 3D Systems has described numerous improvements to Multi-Jet Modeling in a
recent application. The improvements are said to result in better accuracy,
less heat distortion and better support structures.
* 3D Systems has applied for a patent for a photopolymer-based foam that
provides lower costs and can be used with lost-wax and similar casting
processes. The inventors were formerly with Optoform (France) which 3D
* Z-Corp.'s plaster material systems are described in an application from
Bredt. DaimlerChrysler is the likely assignee to another application by Shen
for high strength binder systems for three dimensional printing.
* Stratasys has applied for a patent on breakaway support systems for use
with PC, ABS and polyphenylsulfone materials.
* Photoploymers are moving smartly ahead with several applications:
Improvements to basic chemistry and photosensitizers have been claimed as
have improvements to materials for dental and optical applications. The use
of spiroorthocarbonates produces a material with very low shrinkage. DSM
describes a polypropylene-like material.
* Objet Geometries is the likely assignee for a photopolymer-based removable
support system. Two methods of use are described: a thin release layer of
non-bonding photopolymer can be deposited between customary photopolymer
sections, or a special low-modulus breakaway photopolymer used.
* MacLaughlin et al have disclosed implantable tissue matrices to deliver
therapeutic biological materials. Therics has described drug dosage forms
that can release in complex time patterns and others that isolate a toxic
core within a non-toxic region. This can be used to lower exposure of
manufacturing personnel to the material or to provide more effectual drug
release to the patient.
* A breast prosthesis manufacturing method is the subject of a patent
application by Marchitto et al. While RP is not greatly emphasized, the
technology's ability to generate complex forms is likely to be important in
* Several applications have been made for orthodontia and other dental
treatments based on rapid prototyping by Ormco and OraMetrix. The University
of Louisville has applied for a patent on the reconstruction of a three
dimensional oral cavity model from two dimensional images.
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 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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