3D PRINTING- RECENT PATENT RELATED TRENDS AND ANALYSIS

3D printing has been on a rapid rise for a few years. It is practiced in various commercial areas such as economy, healthcare, aerospace and parts replacement. 3D printing can be defined as the procedure of constructing a three-dimensional practical solid object of any shape from a digital model. 3D print patenting prevents an object or an innovation from getting used without authorization.

3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing in which sequential layers of material are laid down in varying shapes. Initially, in the 3D printing process a digital file is used in which the object that has to be printed is formatted digitally using a 3D print software. This file is then transferred to a 3D printer using a suitable software. Following this, the digital model is then converted into a physical object through a process in which molten material is built up layer by layer until the final product is obtained. Traditionally, machining methods of printing were used which relied on the subtractive process of cutting and drilling. 3D printing has swiftly replaced these traditional methods by introducing technologies that molds objects through sequential layering.

China is the leader in using 3D printing followed by various other emerging economies such as India, UAE, Brazil and South Africa. In accordance with this progress, the 3D printing-related patentfilings are fueling at a great pace. Recent trends in 3D printing registered a CAGR of 37.4% during the forecast period of 2014-20. Leading companies like Boeing and General Electric and Stratasys heavily use 3D printing combined with advanced additive manufacturing methods.

3D print technology is used for prototyping as well as distributed manufacturing processes. 3D printing is widely used across various industries such as architecture, military, engineering, dental and medical industries etc. According to the IFI statistics for 2017, over 3,20,000 patents were issued which marked a 5.2% increase in 3D patent filing. 3D print technology affects various areas of intellectual property which includes spheres of copywriting, patent law and design law. 3D patent printing protects the technical functioning of an object. The most prominent attributes of 3D patent printing include optimum utilisation of resources which leads to minimal material wastage, reduced labour cost, quick processing and availability of printers at a reasonable cost. The major benefit of 3D print patent filing is that if the printed object is protected by a patent it prohibits the use of that object/invention without authorization.