octimine technologies

3D printing technology patents

Laura HorcajadaLaura Horcajada

Did you know that up to 80% of 3D printing information is contained in patent documents?

With > 100 million patents worldwide, the patent system is the most complete source of technology information available. Much of the information contained within patents cannot be found anywhere else, making patents a unique source of knowledge.

Below you will find a short report about the market environment, the dominant companies, and the current patenting activity in the 3D printing industry.

Interested in analysing the 3d printing technology yourself? Use the free octimine platform


The octimine graph reveals, that the patenting activity of 3d printing began in the 1980s when Chuck Hull invented a process called “stereolithography”. This technology converted liquid plastic into solid objects by using an ultraviolet laser. While originally 3D printing was primarily used for prototyping products, it is now increasingly being used to create finished projects. It is undeniable that the popularity of the 3D printing industry has been increasing ever since, experimenting two high patenting peaks in 2003 and 2013. The reason why 2015 experiments a considerable decrease is not due to a stagnation phase in the technology, but to the fact that it takes 18 months for a patent to be disclosed counting from the priority date.

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The octimine platform shows that the company 3D Systems (founded by Chuck Hull), plays a significant role in the 3D printing industry. 3D Systems was founded in 1986 in Valencia (California) and turned Chuck Hull into the patent holder of the first stereolithography (SLA) rapid prototyping system. Other important market players in field are Fujifilm, EOS Electro optical system, Eastman Kodak company and du Pont.

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A quick glance at the patent authorities will provide us with valuable insights about where these companies have their main markets. The graph shows that the patent offices that mostly deal with 3d printing patents are the US patent office (USPTO), the Japanese Patent Office, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO;WO) It is not surprising that these are the main markets where companies operating in the 3d printing area will want to sell their products in the future.

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The chart below predicts how possible it is that patents in the 3d printing industry will get involved in post-grant review, opposition, annulment proceedings or litigation. In short words, it gives you an overview of how valuable the 3d printing technology is. Even though the green bubbles show that most of the patents in this technology are not considered to be risky patents, there is still an important number of patents comprised within the red bubbles. This is a good indicator that 3d printing is a hot technology with a high probability that companies and patent trolls will try to shoot down various of these patents.

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Finally, here we provide you with a list of patents in the 3d printing industry that have made a difference in the last 50 years.

Interested in analysing the 3d printing technology yourself? Use the free octimine platform



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