Tag Archives: CAD

3D Printing Brings Classic Patents Back to Life

3D Printing Patents

Finding Inspiration at the U.S. PTO

If you are looking for novel designs that can be 3D printed, New York-based intellectual property lawyer Martin Galese has lots of ideas, and none of them are his own.

Mr. Galese instead has a very creative approach for sourcing his designs; he finds them in detailed drawings from expired patents from the U.S. PTO.

Here, for example, is a cutting edge watch stand concept from 1979, U.S. Pat. No. 4,293,953, which claims, ”an improved watch stand so that a wrist watch can serve as a night table clock when no being worn on a wrist.”

3D Printing Patents

And here is a self-measuring bottle from U.S. Pat. No. 836,466, dated 1906. It’s incredible that the original designer developed this concept without the support of CAD software, and now it can be brought to life through 3D printing.

3D Printing Patents

Mr. Galese maintains the designs on his blog “Patent-able” and as a collection on Thingiverse.

His work was recently featured in the New York Times blog, including a chopstick holder from the 1960s and a portable chess set from the 1940s. He told the New York Times, “If you look at the figures in older patents, the 19th century patents are really beautiful. They’re really works of art.”

3D Printing Patents




Inside 3D Printing Chicago Conference – A Full Retrospective

Inside 3D Printing Chicago

Inside 3D Printing Chicago – What We Saw

Looking ahead to the next Inside 3D Printing conference in San Jose (September 17-18, 2013), we’ve identified some of the key takeaways from the most recent Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo in Chicago.  The below summary lays out both what we learned during the conference about recent developments in the 3D printing (additive manufacturing) revolution and some of the core challenges still facing the industry.  Through their insightful remarks, Inside 3D Printing’s speakers made clear that this technology is capable of unleashing human creativity beyond the limits of what we consider possible today.

Inside 3D Printing Chicago

Professor Hod Lipson emphasized during his lecture that the future of 3D printing is one of portable, instant manufacturing where complexity is free, and we can create any object we are capable of imagining with zero constraints and zero lead time.  Prof. Lipson’s lecture, along with keynotes by industry heavyweights and a range of tutorial presentations, made clear that the industry continues to make significant strides forward.

Among these positive developments is the fact that, according to Lipson, better, cheaper and faster machines continue to be introduced in a wider range of materials.  Conference exhibitors presented machines capable of printing in alternative materials like copy paper, wood, and rubber-like plastic materials, among many others.  Speakers also emphasized that makers and scholars are working to increase the use of natural raw materials in 3D printing processes, which now include sawdust, salt and wood, among others.  It is also possible to print in more environmentally friendly materials such as bioplastics and in live materials such as human cells.

It is also worth noting that today’s 3D printers can print functional parts in multiple materials seamlessly and with no assembly required.  These parts have already met with a wide range of applications, including engine parts, prosthetics and outer casings for electronic components, among others.  Prof. Lipson anticipates that future printers will be able to create and combine new forms of materials, as well as print integrated systems containing electrical and later digital components.

3D Printed Fashion Dita Von Teese

Importantly, 3D printing has allowed designers to consider a new approach to design.  Inside 3D Printing made clear that the concept of “design for manufacture” is starting to fade with the onset of 3D printing.  Conference presenters Isaac Katz, Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti noted that artists and designers are now able to design and 3D print virtually any geometric structure their minds can conjure.  This ability, when paired with the high precision capability of virtual effects and CAD software, now allows designers and makers to think about creating as nature does.  The ultimate impact of this exciting development is that the objects we make can now reflect the organic, layered, fluid and undulating structures found in nature – structures that would be cost prohibitive or impossible to make otherwise.

Inside 3D Printing also provided an opportunity for Michael Raphael of Direct Dimensions to update participants on the impressive capability of 3D scanning technologies.  Raphael noted that, 3D scanning technology has also seen ”massive change” over the past three years thanks to the growth of the 3D printing industry and other technologies like smartphones and GPS.  Scanning equipment has become more powerful, portable, and affordable.  In the past three years, the price of high end scanning equipment has decreased dramatically, with gear that formerly carried a price tag of over $100,000 now available for purchase for under $1,000.  Mobile and video game applications like 123D Catch and Microsoft Kinect have also made 3D scanning technology more widely available and this trend is expected to continue with the release of the Kinect 2.  Applications for 3D scanning technologies are also wide ranging, from current uses in high definition surveying to potential future uses in mass customer apparel.

Avi Reichental Keynote Inside 3D Printing Chicago

At Inside 3D Printing Chicago, attendees were able to watch industry leaders engage the market in new ways.  For example, 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental announced during his keynote speech a new strategic alliance with Deloitte to assist companies in adopting 3D printing design and manufacturing solutions.  Disney Entrepreneur in Residence Cydni Tetro also evaluated the role of 3D printing in retail and illustrated how the Disney Company has applied 3D printing technology to create premium retail experiences like the “Carbon-Freeze Me Experience,” which allows Star Wars fans to purchase a 3D printed image of themselves appearing to be frozen in carbonite.

In addition to highlighting these and many other exciting developments in the industry, Inside 3D Printing also raised a number of questions about the future of the technology and its impact on existing processes.  As the technology develops, 3D Printing has identified several key questions for industry participants to consider moving forward:

  1. How will materials experts within the industry, as well as the maker community, continue to harness the technology into practical applications and make it widely accessible?
  2. What will be the environmental impact of 3D printing, and how will the ability to print objects in more varied and earth-friendly materials develop?
  3. What will be the social impact of this technology?

Ultimately, despite the naysayers, Inside 3D Printing provided an opportunity for speakers, exhibitors and attendees to share their progress, identify key priorities, and show how 3D printing will transform our future.


Authored by On 3D Printing contributor Lisa M. Pérez, co-founder of Heart Design Inc.

For more coverage on the conference, read our top stories from Day 1 and Day 2.

Simulation-Based Design for 3D Printing: Special Effects and the Store of the Future

3D Printing Simulation Based Design

In a two-part lecture during the Inside 3D Printing conference in Chicago, artist and designer Isaac Katz of Electronic Art Boutique gave us an overview of the powerful 3D modeling software programs available on the market today.  He considers these programs to be essential creative tools, which he uses to create works of art, jewelry and sculpture in a process he calls “simulation-based design“.

Katz employs sculpting programs like Zbrush and Mudbox, and the more CAD-centered Rhino to create powerful and detailed images which he projects onto canvas, and exports to 3D printers to create sculptures and jewelry casts.  These tools are commonly to create visual effects for 2D media, but can have a broad range of other applications, including architecture, industrial design, jewelry, sculpture and others.  Katz emphasized that programs like Zbrush and Mudbox harness a great deal of mathematical power, and are capable of generating an “incredibly high level of detail” that extends even beyond what current 3D printers are capable of rendering in a physical model.

However, Katz noted, 3D printing capability continues to catch up and is poised to grow exponentially, and the intersection of 3D simulation technology and 3D printing has the power to change our visual experience of the world.

3D Printing Simulation Based Design

For designers, Katz explained that this process presents a completely new way of looking at design and product creation that allows them to both capture more detail and project a range of organic and fluid shapes that may otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain.  Increasingly, if you can imagine and create a character, you can animate and print that same character using motion capture technology, as well as other non-traditional, non-CAD software, and thanks to 3D printing technology, you can also create a physical model of your character.

For investors and business owners, the combination of simulation technology and 3D printing provides “a glimpse into the design process…and some vision for what’s possible,” both today and in the years to come.

In the second part of his lecture, Katz articulated his vision for the future of retail in a world that continues to trend toward greater personalization.  Katz drew a sharp contrast between the retail store of the present, in which producers and customers alike are forced to transact around pre-designed and pre-fabricated products, and the store of the future, in which customers will be able to purchase clothing and other goods that are uniquely made to their specifications at or after the time of purchase.

Such a world, in Katz’s view, would not only allow retailers to save costs by eliminating the need for complex distribution chains, but it would also invite users into the creative process as part of the retail experience.


Authored by On 3D Printing contributor Lisa M. Pérez, co-founder of Heart Design Inc.


Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York – A Retrospective

Inside 3D Printing Conference Entry

Inside 3D Printing Conference

In a context that felt a bit like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, this week 3D printing went to New York for the first ever Inside 3D Printing Conference.  Over two full days at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, a broad array of industry leaders, innovators, academics and analysts gave keynotes, led seminars, and showed off their latest products to over 3,000 conference attendees.  For many in the crowd, this was a crash course on a technology that has been exploding in the public consciousness over the past two years, and for others it was a chance to network, hear from big names in the industry, and get a sense for where 3D printing will go next.

In a role that seemed fitting given his company’s leadership in the industry and status as the conference’s primary sponsor, 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental opened the conference with the declaration, “Complexity is free” in a 3D printed world.  Never before, he underlined, has a manufacturing process been indifferent to geometric complexity, and to him this is the single biggest reason 3D printing will continue to grow and expand into sectors ranging from education to medical devices to automotive and aerospace.

Cornell Prof 3D Prints Human Ear

Much of the conference’s focus was on these different segmentations of 3D printing, and breakout seminars throughout the two days took a deeper dive in a variety of subjects.  Some of the more memorable seminars explored integrating 3D printers into K-12 education, topology optimization – a complex but very impressive design tool that appears to be a perfect match for 3D printing, consumer desktop and cloud 3D printing, and bioprinting human tissue for medical applications.  Longtime industry analyst Terry Wohlers and Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen also gave keynote addresses highlighting their vision for the industry’s future.

Sculpteo 3D Printing

3D Printed iPhone Case from Sculpteo

Outside the seminar room the conference also had a distinctly hands-on element.  A bustling exhibit hall hosted dozens of booths showing off a variety of consumer and enterprise 3D printers along with more curious technologies like 3D scanners and novel CAD input devices.  3D printing service companies were also eager to engage with potential customers, showing high quality parts available for remote ordering online.

While many sides of the industry were highlighted at the inaugural Inside 3D Printing Conference this week, the underlying theme was very clear: while 3D printing technology may have existed in research labs and niche applications since the 1980s and ‘90s, it is only now beginning to truly change our lives in meaningful ways.  And from the number of times speakers said “Nascent,” “Just the first inning,” or “Only scratching the surface” to describe the state of the industry, it is clear that insiders see the eventual impact that 3D printing will make on the world to be profound, far-reaching, and on a larger scale than most casual observers can imagine today.


Authored by Brian H. Jaffe, founder of Mission St. Manufacturing and contributor to On 3D Printing.

Read our full coverage on the conference: Day 1 and Day 2.

Inside 3D Printing Conference: Day 1 Top Stories

Inside 3D Printing Conference Entry

Inside 3D Printing Conference: Day 1

Day 1 of the Inside 3D Printing Conference was a big success, with great networking and inspiring speakers. Here are the top stories from Day 1.

3D Printing’s Apple 1 Moment: 3D Printing Conference (Part 1)

“3D printing is in its Apple 1 moment,” said Brian Evans as he showed a photo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (above). The first Apple 1 was just a circuit board. Customers had to build a plywood case around it. “Who knew that in 30 years we’d all be carrying iPhones?” Evans mused.

Keynote Declares “Complexity is Free”: 3D Printing Conference (Part 2)

Avi Reichental, CEO of 3D Systems, opened this week’s inaugural Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York City with the declaration “Complexity is free.”

3D Systems: Geomagic Design to Advance CAD and 3D Printing

3D Systems announced availability of Geomagic Design, a new suite of affordable CAD design solutions.

Invest in Bioprinting to Get a 3D Printed Ear or New Hip: 3D Printing Conference (Part 3)

Two well-respected speakers in the medical 3D printing field presented today at the Inside 3D Printing conference on bioprinting.

Demo Exhibits Open-Source Complexity: 3D Printing Conference (Part 4)

In a demo at the Inside 3D Printing conference, Brian Evans exposed the complexity of low-cost, open-source consumer 3D design and 3D printing.