As a company protecting brands’ products and know how as well as a company with its own patent pending, we have a healthy appreciation for patents. Even more so when we see huge corporations outside of the Additive Manufacturing ecosystem filing patents that apply to this business. There are a vast amount of patents regarding the technology and the materials used but the most innovative patents regard the ecosystem as a whole, challenging not only how we make things but our conceptions of manufacturing.
Disney – Keeping it Original
Disney recently applied for a patent aimed at making it harder to scan and 3D print Disney’s figurines. The figurines would be made of a reflective substance which would confuse 3D scanners, making it difficult to reproduce them. According to the application: “It can be difficult for a company distributing collectibles and other 3D objects, such as plastic figurines of movie and animated film characters, to prevent unlicensed copying, this can be an even larger problem for companies that want to protect products that are made through a 3D printing process.” The patent application refers to a larger issue, to the transition big companies are making to Additive Manufacturing, differentiating between the abilities of a desktop 3D printer and an industrial AM process.
Last Year Disney filed a patent for a system of high-quality 3D scans without scanning
Recently Disney acquired MakieLab company which produces customizable 3D printed dolls also signaling towards implementing AM in Disney’s production
Amazon – On the Move
Amazon filed a patent for mobile 3D printing, allowing production in transit on Amazon trucks. Again the actual technicalities of producing on the go, aren’t as important as the direction this patent marks. It marks an era where globally produced actually means locally produced, ordering and receiving goods worldwide doesn’t mean the items need to be shipped worldwide. 3D printing goes hand in hand with distributed manufacturing, with smart infrastructure from producing to delivery.
Apple – Ubiquitous 3D
Another company recognizing the potential of 3D printing is Apple, taking a different direction to normalizing the use of 3D printing. Instead of focusing on the printer or material, such as the previous patent they filed on the use of amorphous metals for electronics, they are focusing on the most common device used – the iPhone. The new feature entailed for the new iPhone 8 is 3D laser capabilities. The 3D sensor will allow different applications such as IoT capabilities and scanning for 3D printing purposes. “Creating small, inexpensive, 3D scanning modules has interesting application far beyond smartphones. Eventually, we believe these sensors are likely to appear on auto-driving platforms as well as in many other use cases,” says Rod Hall at J.P. Morgan.
Amorphous Metal Alloy
We’d love to hear your thoughts, impressions, and favorite ecosystem patents – share your comments and suggestions below. For more inspiration and information follow us on Pinterest or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.