3D Systems has been granted a patent for a three-dimensional printing system that allows for stable control of the physical configuration of a transparent sheet. The system includes a support plate, a transparent sheet, a gas pressure source, and a conduit. The patent claims that the system can fabricate three-dimensional articles with a stable configuration. GlobalData’s report on 3D Systems gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s company profile on 3D Systems, Spacecraft 3D Printing was a key innovation area identified from patents. 3D Systems's grant share as of September 2023 was 58%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Patent granted for a stable configuration of transparent sheet in 3d printing

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: 3D Systems Corp

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11772328B2) describes a three-dimensional printing system for fabricating three-dimensional articles. The system includes a support plate with a transparent central portion, a transparent sheet placed above the support plate, and a central chamber defined between the sheet and the support plate. The sheet has a peripheral seal portion that is sealed with respect to the support plate and a central unsupported portion that overlays the transparent central portion, a gas inlet, and a gas outlet.

To maintain a stable configuration of the transparent sheet, a gas pressure source provides gas to the gas inlet through a conduit. The gas passing through the conduit and into the central chamber creates a flow resistance (Li), which is greater than the flow resistance (Lo) defined for gas exiting the central chamber through the gas outlet. This allows the central unsupported portion of the transparent sheet to maintain its stable configuration based on the source gauge pressure (Ps) applied by the gas pressure source.

The patent also describes additional features of the three-dimensional printing system. When the gauge pressure (Ps) is zero, the transparent sheet rests upon the upper surface of the transparent central portion of the support plate. The peripheral seal portion of the transparent sheet is supported above the upper surface of the transparent central portion of the support plate, creating a gap between the central unsupported portion and the support plate in the range of 100 to 500 microns. The patent further specifies that Ps should be at least 5 pounds per square inch (PSI) or even higher, such as 15 PSI.

The system also includes a resin vessel with a substructure coupled to the transparent sheet, which houses a column of photocurable resin. A light engine projects radiation through the transparent central portion of the support plate and the transparent sheet to a build plane within the resin. A build tray and a positioning mechanism are used to fabricate the three-dimensional article in a layer-by-layer manner. The controller, which is operatively coupled to the light engine and the positioning mechanism, can modulate the pressure in the central chamber to maintain the desired configuration of the unsupported portion of the transparent sheet.

In summary, the granted patent describes a three-dimensional printing system that utilizes a transparent sheet and a support plate to fabricate three-dimensional articles. The system ensures a stable configuration of the transparent sheet through the use of gas pressure and flow resistance. Additional features, such as the resin vessel and the controller, enhance the printing process.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.