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Apple now has have an approved patent for a color 3D Printer, making Apple’s entrance to the market likely. What’s more, they are showing interest in color printing systems.
The name of the patent is “Method and apparatus for three-dimensional printing of colored objects”. The illustration of the printer itself shows what one would expect of an FFF printer but with a color nozzle as well. The patent also includes a number of ways that the color printer could operate.
One of these ways was illustrated a flowchart that shows that the machine would add colors after the printing the object. It uses a “non-transitory program storage device” that reads the object file, automatically applies colors and sends it to the printer. Another version has an active color nozzle working alongside the print process. A third proposal outlines a “computer-implemented method of printing a custom manufactured object”. There are very few details on how this method works.
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You will see names you recognize, such as Autodesk, GE Ventures, 3D Systems, & Stratasys. But you will also see some new names, or names you didn’t think of, such as: Lowe’s BMW, and Seimens. See the diagram of 3D Printing Ventures
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Here are at the most active firms in 3D Printing joint ventures and funding deals from 2013- 2017. The 3D Printing Trade association has been tracking these deals for years as well
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The experts weigh in and point to these 5 trends:
New and Improved Metal 3D Printing
Polymers and Other 3D Printing Materials
Increased Speed and Productivity
From a 3D printing perspective, the are positive.
In particular, a slew of new metal 3D printing technologies were unveiled, including the Metal X 3D printer from Markforged, two new processes from Desktop Metal, a cheaper metal 3D printer from Xact Metal and a faster metal 3D printer from SPEE3D.
Formlabs introduced a desktop selective laser sintering (SLS) system, while Carbon introduced a new 3D printer and part-washing package. 3D Systems’ new CEO began implementing his vision for the company, while HP saw its Multi Jet Fusion make its way into the marketplace.
We also can’t forget the impact that GE Additive has had on the industry.
However, my own personal bias that none of the roundtable experts mentioned is the increased use of 3D scanning. More and more handled scanners will hit the market, but they will occur in terms of software. Software that will be used with your smart phone.
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