Fueled by the rapid advance of the Maker Movement, powered by open design communities, the 3D printing market is rapidly expanding. The 3D printing (3DP) or additive manufacturing market is over 30 years old. As the market expands from industrial market applications like rapid prototyping to mainstream consumer market, the industry is projected to grow to $16.2 billion in 2018.

In order to rationalize this growth projection, Ocean Tomo, the Intellectual Capital Merchant Banc firm, undertook a study of the patent quality and historical trends within the 3D Printing space.

The Ocean Tomo Ratings™ System Study of 3D Printing Patents issued by the USPTO presents insight on the 3D Printing market useful to governments, corporations, research institutions, patent prosecution law firms, investment analysts and the media.

The report presents a unique look inside the patents issued by the USPTO that are supporting the development of the 3D Printing Market along with the assignees and inventors operating in the space. The report presents a focused look at the expired, abandoned and in-force patents within five leading technology areas in the 3D printing space including:

• Stereolithography (SL)
• Extrusion-based Fused Deposition Materials (FDM)
• Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
• Material Jetting
• Binder Jetting

These five technology areas represent 76% of the patents issued within the 3D printing space.

Further insight into Directed Energy Deposition, Electrophoretic Deposition, Laser Metal Forming, Laminated Object Manufacturing, Multiphoton Lithography and Photolithography is available as custom reports.

The report also provides a patent portfolio assessment, an objective assessment of the overall quality of patents within the 3D Printing Market, as well as a competitive landscape – identification of relevant patents, assignees and inventors.


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Report Excerpts:

A great deal has been written regarding the expiration of many of the early/priority patents within the 3D printing space. Between 2003 and July of 2014 a total of 225 patents expired including several early 3D printing patents as reflected in Chart ...
Looking further at these expired patents, the Ocean Tomo Ratings System reveals a number of patents with a high degree of relatedness. Chart ... presents a number of patents related to US 4575330 while chart ... presents inventors working within this space.
The overwhelming majority of patenting activity within each of these five technology areas is by companies, the technology area with greatest patenting activity among educational/research institutions is material jetting as demonstrated in Chart ...
Among these five technology areas, the top assignees are highlighted in Chart ... And the top inventors among those technology areas are revealed in Chart ...
For each of the five major printing technologies, Ocean Tomo conducted a study of the patent landscape and patent expiration trends. Utilizing the Ocean Tomo Relevance module, six of the earliest priority Stereolighography patents (all since expired) were utilized as “seed” patents in order to identify those patents that are most closely related or relevant to Stereolithography. This query reveals ...
The highest average quality patents within Stereolithography area are held by ...
... presents in a landscape map the patents most relevant to the six seed patents with those higher on the Y axis more relevant and further to the right of higher relative quality.
Over the next two years, 12.4% of the relevant patents within this technology area will expire with the majority of those patents assigned to ...


For further information about this report or to secure a copy of the complete report, please contact Roy D'Souza at +1 312.327.4402 or rdsouza@oceantomo.com.


3D Printing Overview

3D printing or additive manufacturing is “the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model.1 This is achieved using additive processes where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material as opposed to standard building processes in which objects are created by removing material by cutting or drilling.

Some applications of 3D printing include architecture, prototyping/CAD, education, and entertainment/retail. Additive manufacturing is also being tested for other applications such as reconstructing fossils and evidence in crime scene investigations. An expansion of printable mediums beyond plastics to include carbon fiber and even metallic materials, along with a fast reduction in price for consumer scale machines is expected to drive technological development in the 3D printing market in the near future.

3D printing is anticipated to change the nature of commerce due to end users’ ability to do much of their own manufacturing. With its increasing availability and revolutionary processes dedicated to reducing energy use and waste products, 3D printing will play an important role in influencing the manufacturing world.


1. http://mashable.com/category/3d-printing/
2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2014/08/09/roundup-of-3d-printing-market-forecasts-and-estimates-2014/
3. http://webobjects.cdw.com/webobjects/media/pdf/3dprinting/IDC-report.pdf

Management Resources

Roy D'Souza
Managing Director
+1 312.327.4402