The success story of 3D printing began in 1984 when Charles W Hull applied for a patent for stereolithography. In 1989 S Scott Crump of Stratasys invented fused deposition modelling, which fuses material layer by layer until a 3D object is created. This style of additive manufacturing is what most people associate with 3D printing. In 2009 the patent for fused deposition modelling expired and companies started to take a different approach by trying to sell to consumers instead of business to business. Together with the rise of Kickstarter, a perfect storm formed and hype around 3D printing in the early 2010s was born.

This article looks at additive manufacturing and 3D printing from an IP perspective. Using advanced databases to analyse the patent landscape, the IPlytics platform has demonstrated that 3D printing patents are on the rise.

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