Samsung Electronics has repeatedly said they are not entering the 3D printing market, but some might find they protest a little too much–especially in light of the recent patent awarded to them by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent, regarding multicolor ink for 3D printing, was applied for by Samsung in September of last year, created by South Korea-based Samsung employees Yeon Kyoung Jung, O Hyun Beak, Keon Kuk, Eun Bong Han, Yong Hyun Lim, and Jong Youb Ryu.
While many have spent time exploring the question of what countries like China might do in regards to 3D printing and how it would affect traditional manufacturing, we are getting some answers there now as we are beginning to see them take the lead with innovation in 3D printing and even opening their own national 3D printing lab.
And although we’ve followed Samsung’s patent design as well as other technological forays like developing resources to explore the Internet of Things, their plans for 3D printing have remained fairly quiet, and maybe even a bit mysterious. Samsung’s penchant for taking the lead in technology and manufacturing could be quite a boon not only for themselves, however, but also for South Korea here.
The topic of color in 3D printing is an ongoing conversation of interest within the fledgling industry, considering that it is still somewhat of a challenge in basic 3D printing and a more expensive proposition otherwise. Streamlining this with a continuous process integrated during 3D printing could garner serious attention, as well as opening significant market share. While numerous makers and manufacturers are still simply riding the high of being able to make use of such an incredible technology, many do of course seek to move far beyond the current monochromatic limitations.
The uses for Samsung’s patent are wide ranging as 3D printing becomes more mainstream in areas like design and apparel, with better availability regarding color definitely being something that would surely be welcomed.
Samsung’s patented process involves not just the color itself but also a specific 3D printer operating with several tanks holding the color and an ‘antibleeding’ agent. The design calls for several print heads to handle the materials as well as cure them. Obviously based on their own technology, significant effort went into developing an innovative concept that could get a lot of designers very excited if it were accessible and affordable.
Why they would not develop and run with the patent further seems to be the obvious question as Samsung continues to issue the party line of “We are not planning to enter the 3D printing business.” Overall, despite the noncommittal comments, the patent should definitely give competitors reason to at least sit up and take momentary notice, as well as noting their interests in robotics, virtual reality, and more.
What are your thoughts on Samsung’s possible foray into 3D printing? Let us know in the Samsung 3D Printing forum.[Source: BusinessKorea]
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