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In February 2014, key patents that currently prevent competition in the market for the most advanced and functional 3D printers will expire, says Duann Scott, design evangelist at 3D printing company Shapeways.

These patents cover a technology known as “laser sintering,” the lowest-cost 3D printing technology. Because of its high resolution in all three dimensions, laser sintering can produce goods that can be sold as finished products.


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If anyone could shed light on which patents those are exactly, it would be great.

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http://rtei.org/blog/2011/12/29/the-effect-of-university-monopoly-licensing-in-3d-printing/ has a nice summary of the patents in the field and the impact on development and application.

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Not sure if that answers your question but Form1 Labs was in the front news of 3D printing recently for infringing on 3D System's 5,597,520 which expires in early 2014. They were sued and I think either settled or the lawsuit is still ongoing (not sure). I believe their printer was SLS-based so that might be one of the patents that is being referred to.

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http://caretdashcaret.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/3d-printing-patents/ has a summary of SLA and SLS patents expiring next year.

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