Legal and Regulatory

Stratasys patent expires, 3D printing industry insiders comment on impact

Last week we reported on the expected expiry of patent US6722872B1, which has given 3D printer OEM Stratasys exclusive rights to use its proprietary heated build chamber design for over 20 years.

Having now confirmed the expiry of the patent with Stratasys, we reached out to a number of extrusion-based 3D printing companies – including Stratasys – to get their thoughts on the matter.

A Stratasys spokesperson told 3D Printing Industry, “Some oven patents have expired, but we continue to create and develop new technology that is already resulting in new patents on heated oven technology. We also are continuing to innovate on other dimensions of FDM performance, as you would expect from a technology leader in the segment.”

US6722872B1 details the design of a heated build chamber isolated from the printer's motors and electronic components. Image via US6722872B1.
US6722872B1 details the design of a heated build chamber isolated from the printer’s motors and electronic components. Image via US6722872B1.

Charles Han, CEO and Founder of INTAMSYS

Q: What are your thoughts about the expiry of the Stratasys patent?

Charles Han, CEO and Founder of INTAMSYS: “Now that the heated chamber patent has expired, I believe industrial users will benefit as more players will focus on bringing better FDM/FFF solutions to market. This will lead to more innovation, lower costs, more applications, and a better ROI for customers. Utilizing industrial grade FFF systems will become more popular, more competitive and will replace even more traditional manufacturing methods.”

Q: Do you plan to bring new systems to the market that take advantage of the expired IP, either via new hardware, or unlocking software to allow increased temperatures in the build chamber?

Han: “INTAMSYS has been engaged in industrial FFF technology research over 5 years. Moving forward our vision remains the same, and we are already prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.  We are happy to announce the commercial availability of our latest innovative product, the FUNMAT PRO 610 HT. This unit is our largest (610mm x 508mm x 508mm) and most capable high temperature (500°C nozzle, 300°C build chamber) solution, compatible with PEEK, ULTEM 9085, ULTEM 1010 and even EXTEM.”

The upcoming FUNMAT PRO 610 HT 3D printer. Photo via INTAMSYS.
The FUNMAT PRO 610 HT 3D printer. Photo via INTAMSYS.

John Olhoft, President of LulzBot

Q: What are your thoughts about the expiry of the Stratasys patent?

John Olhoft, President of LulzBot: “Any time patents expire it presents an opportunity to the Open Source community for building upon groundwork that has been laid in years prior.”

Q: Do you plan to bring new systems to the market that take advantage of the expired IP, either via new hardware, or unlocking software to allow increased temperatures in the build chamber?

Olhoft: “At LulzBot we continue to offer Open Source solutions and provide a wide ranging variety of resources to our users patent-free. If we were to integrate this type of design into our next generation of machines, it would cater to the prosumer market with an emphasis on materials that print at above 300°C.”

Davide Ardizzoia, 3ntr.net

Q: What are your thoughts about the expiry of the Stratasys patent?

Davide Ardizzoia, 3ntr.net: “The expiration of Stratasys’ patent is not going to change that much in our offering. We are currently offering machinery with active heated chambers up to 250°C that are perfectly legal and compliant with SSYS patents.”

Q: Do you plan to bring new systems to the market that take advantage of the expired IP, either via new hardware, or unlocking software to allow increased temperatures in the build chamber?

Ardizzoia: “We have been the ones that had Scott Crump at our Formnext booth drooling over our TPU prints long before his machines were able to do so. We plan to release a new machine that will move the bar higher, marginally affected by the 1% of SYSS patents that have expired. Even today, we can print TPU, ASA, and support structures into a heated chamber. I know of no one able to match this.”

Edward Feng, Global CEO of Raise3D

Q: What are your thoughts about the expiry of the Stratasys patent?

Edward Feng, Global CEO of Raise3D: “Just the fact that a patent expiration is in the news shows the importance of Stratasys’ and Scott Crump’s work. That said, we should also note that, despite the existing patents, the last decade showed that whenever there is a strong value proposition, like the one Additive Manufacturing has, the market will find innovative ways of addressing it.”

Q: Do you plan to bring new systems to the market that take advantage of the expired IP, either via new hardware, or unlocking software to allow increased temperatures in the build chamber?

Feng: “We plan to make Flexible Manufacturing Solutions available to the market with 3D printing, and that includes: the delivery of entry-level, scalable, easy-to-operate, additive manufacturing systems, that are used for low-volume or agile production. For competitive reasons, we don’t include patent expiration as a factor on our innovation roadmap.”

Mateusz Sidorowicz, Marketing Director of 3DGence

Q: What are your thoughts about the expiry of the Stratasys patent?

Mateusz Sidorowicz, Marketing Director of 3DGence: “It is an important step for companies like ours that are bringing robust industrial grade, high-quality, and cost-effective technology to market. There is a lot of validation that simply takes time like endurance testing to bring all of the technical requirements together to produce a viable solution, and the enclosed heated chamber is a key part of this technology. I hope that this will only speed up the progress and it won’t have a negative impact on the market through low quality solutions that may appear.”

Q: Do you plan to bring new systems to the market that take advantage of the expired IP, either via new hardware, or unlocking software to allow increased temperatures in the build chamber?

Sidorowicz: “Due to the patents, our focus since 2016 has been on all the variables required to print the highest performance materials successfully. There is much more to the technology in addition to the heated chamber. Now also being able to compete with our next generation of rigorously tested industrial grade hardware and software – across the portfolio of FFF high-temperature printers – makes our total solution even stronger. We will be expanding our portfolio, starting with the INDUSTRY F350, over the next 12 months.”

The new INDUSTRY F350 from 3DGence. Photo via 3DGence.
The INDUSTRY F350 from 3DGence. Photo via 3DGence.

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Featured image shows a schematic from patent US6722872B1. Image via US6722872B1.

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