Stratasys ‘Infinite Build 3D Printer’ sparks interest from Boeing and Ford

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The innovation we are seeing here at PatSnap within the 3D printing space is beyond exciting. Stratasys, a world leader in the 3D Printing world, is working on some seriously disruptive technology at the moment which has got the undivided attention of blue chip organizations like Boeing and Ford. Industry professionals call the actual process of 3D printing additive manufacturing.

Stratasys intends to demonstrate their ‘Infinite Build 3D Printer' at the International Manufacturing Technology Show 2016 in September. They are introducing a new system that prints on a vertical plane for practically unlimited part sizes. We’re talking large part production with applications in the aerospace, automotive, and healthcare industries.

Stratasys is working with Boeing and has been for over a decade. Darryl Davis, President, Boeing Phantom Works has endorsed this new technology by branding it as a ‘breakthrough tool’. The possibilities here include shorter manufacturing timeframes, lighter aeroplanes, and lots of custom design opportunities. The ‘method and system for rotational 3D printing’ patent that was filed in July 2015 and granted in January 2016 is the basis for the Stratasys infinite build printer. You can see below the image filed under the patent, which was taken from PatSnap Analytics. 

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Industry professionals call the actual process of 3D printing 'additive manufacturing' and it is a space where innovation is now constantly happening. Only in June did Airbus showcase their fully 3D printed functional plane. Yes, it is pilotless, 13 feet and 46 pounds but the plane ‘flies beautifully, and is very stable’ according to the plane's chief engineer, Gunnar Haase. Boeing and Airbus are direct competitors, so it will be interesting to see the outcome with them both innovating in the same space, with similar technologies.

The customization aspect of 3D Printing is where the automotive industry fits in. There is a lot of chatter about car companies using this specific printing technology to offer their customers the chance to customize their car’s dashboards in the manufacturing process. Using PatSnap Insights we created a dashboard for the automotive industry and we were then able to create a secondary dashboard specifically on automotive Interior. We then looked at the key technologies involved, as per the screenshot below. The technological areas below indicate where most of the patents are held under the category of automotive interior. What you can extrapolate from looking at this is that the 3D printing opportunities are applicable to multiple areas within this space and it is obvious why Ford is so interested in Stratasys’ innovation.

The graph below shows how there was no direct patenting activity in the additive manufacturing industry by Stratasys (which was founded in 1989) - until 2009. After this point, there was a sharp increase in the number of patents filed, which is a clear indicator of just how sudden 3D printing came about - and is also an indicator for how disruptive Stratasys is.

It is not just the aerospace and automotive industries where 3D printing can be applied. Here at PatSnap we have no doubt that the technology will spread but like any new technology most companies will only try it once it has been proved successful. That is why the companies that are most successful are those who are constantly patenting and innovating.