MakerBot Files Patents, Internet Goes Crazy

patent

In the past month, a few patent applications from MakerBot were published, and like everything tangentially related to the prodigal son of the 3D printer world, the Internet arose in a clamor that would be comparable only to news that grumpy cat has died. That’s just an analogy, by the way. Grumpy cat is fine.

The first patent, titled, Three-dimensional printer with force detection was filed on October 29th, 2013. It describes a 3D printer with a sensor coupled to the hot end able to sense a contact force between the nozzle and build plate. It’s a rather clever idea that will allow any 3D printer to perform software calibration of the build plate, ensuring everything is printed on a nice, level surface. Interestingly, [Steve Graber] posted an extremely similar design of a bed leveling probe on October 6th, 2013. In [Steve]‘s video, you can see his bed level probe doing just about everything the MakerBot patent claims, all while being uploaded to YouTube before the patent application.

When it rains it pours, and the Quick-release extruder patent application, filed on October 28, 2013, bears this out. It claims an extruder that includes, “a bistable lever including a mechanical linkage to the bearing, the bearing engaged with the drive gear when the bistable lever is in a first position and the bearing disengaged from the drive gear when the bistable lever is in a second position.” Simple enough, a lever with two positions, where one presses a bearing against a drive gear, and the other position disengages the bearing from a drive gear. Here’s something that was published on Thingiverse in 2011 that does the same thing. Hugely famous RepRap contributor [whosawhatsis] has weighed in on this as well.

It is important to note that these are patent applications. Nothing has been patented yet. The US Patent and Trademark Office does seem to have a lot of rubber stamps these days, so what is the average Internet denizen to do? Here are easy to follow, step-by-step instructions on how to notify the USPTO of prior art. Remember, just because prior art does not completely invalidate a patent application’s claims doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send it in. It is a patent examiner’s job to review the prior art.

So there you go. MakerBot applies for patents, people complain, but not to the USPTO. Highly relevant video and transcription below.

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3D Printering: Key Patents

printering

printer

Here’s a little tip about tech blogs, and journalism in general: absolutely everything you read is one hundred percent true, except in the cases where you – the reader – know anything about the story being discussed. Those stores on Wired and CNet where a device using an ARM Cortex-M3 is described as having, “the same CPU as a modern-day smart phone?” Totally legit, unless you know that running Android on such a chip is a virtual impossibility.

Such is the case with ‘key 3D printing patents set to expire in 2014′ – a phrase bandied about tech blogs with the fervency of news the seventh seal has been broken. If you believe everything you read on the Internet, we’re looking at a world of 3D printed lollipops, unicorns, and rainbows in just a few short months. Following the logic of journalistic veracity above, this obviously isn’t the case. What does the expiration of these patents actually mean, then?

[Read more...]

Nokia Haptikos patent application reveals its technology


We’ve been waiting for more information on the Nokia Haptikos, the haptic feedback touchscreen announced last October and largely forgotten until now. We knew that it would be a device that could raise sections
of its touchscreen to simulate the feel of buttons or keys, we just weren’t sure how Nokia would pull that off.
Now we have a better idea, as Nokia’s recent patent filing for the Haptikos gives away some juicy details.

The secret behind the device’s feedback is a “plurality of closely spaced voltage controllable protuberances,” or in other words, several small fluid filled compartments just under the screen’s surface. Under them are several piezoelectric members that can be controlled independently; when they extend upward, they apply pressure to the fluid compartments, raising the surface of the screen in that area.

Nokia has yet to work out all the kinks, but you can see the parts that do work by downloading the Haptikos patent application (PDF file).

[via Engadget]

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