There’s no arguing that the advent of 3D printers has revolutionized the way we do things in a way that impacts virtually every one, either directly or not. From rapid prototype development, to affordable consumer models, to toys marketed to children that mimic the process, 3D printers have firmly ingrained themselves in the way business is conducted in today’s world. And like most other forms of technology, the 3D Printer continues to evolve in all sorts of ways, such as offering full color printing as well as printing edible meals.
Today, a trio of such revolutionary patent applications have been published, all from The Walt Disney Company. But while each of the patent applications are focused on the 3D printing process, they’re all equally different from each other.
We shall begin with the application whose drawings are shown above. THREE DIMENSIONAL (3D) PRINTING BY VOLUMETRIC ADDITION THROUGH SELECTIVE CURING OF A FLUID MATRIX (US Patent Application 20160067922). While most conventional 3D printing is done by using a form of plastic filament that goes through an extruder, laying out the 3D object in a series of horizontal layers, including a semi-skeletal structure to support the object. Rather than using this process, Disney’s 3D printer analyzes the 3D object’s file and uses a curable liquid to ‘print’ the object which is then cured/solidified with the use of ultraviolet radiation or laser, which it claims is not only a faster hardening process, but can be done in a way that it focuses on certain (and multiple) critical sections first. It also claims that ‘overhanging’ parts, such as the straightened out arms of a human figure, won’t require additional, wasteful support as traditional methods do.
THREE DIMENSIONAL (3D) PRINTER WITH A BUILD PLATE HAVING MULTI-DEGREE OF FREEDOM MOTION (US Patent Application 20160067740) continues to use the traditional method of 3D printing, only it employs a rotating platform to provide support for the overhanging parts so rather than create wasteful external supporting structures out of the printing materials for support, the platform fills in that need.
And finally, THREE DIMENSIONAL (3D) PRINTED OBJECTS WITH EMBEDDED IDENTIFICATION (ID) ELEMENTS (US Patent Application 20160067927) seeks to solve a problem we didn’t even realize existed: how do you prevent someone from making unauthorized copies of 3D printed objects? In short, as the patent application points out, you can’t. Not only can the original 3D file be freely shared, but someone can simply 3D scan an object on their own and generate a new file, likely producing an exact clone. Citing how this could prove to be bad for ‘collectors’ looking for 3D printed ‘collectibles’ from an ‘authorized source,’ Disney’s 3D printer embeds a printable, passive RFID tag into the 3D object which can then be scanned to prove its authenticity.