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Apple Just Patented a Full Color 3D Printer Concept

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Apple has built its legacy by taking new technologies and innovating on them for ease of use, as seen with the iPod, iTunes, iOS, and so forth. Now their latest patent describes a full-color 3D printer that could possibly do the same for additive manufacturing.

The patent, filed today and titled “Method And Apparatus For Three Dimensional Printing Of Colored Objects” describes a two-head printer, one that deposits filament, and another that applies coloring to the model as it prints. It includes a simple illustration of the machine, but with detailed notes of various configurations being researched, including cartesian, articulated arm, and rotating platform styles.

A patent doesn’t guarantee that Apple will produce a printer, however — as with most large design companies — the tech giant files and receives thousands of patents, for everything from haptic feedback systems to staircases to public transportation systems. And it’s highly unlikely that anything they might make would be open hardware, despite the historically open nature of the 3D printing community.

But Apple’s foray into this market would mean that 3D printing would get its brightest spotlight yet, putting these tools into the hands of people that would otherwise not be looking into this field. That’s a fascinating proposition.

[Via 3Ders]

9 thoughts on “Apple Just Patented a Full Color 3D Printer Concept

  1. That is not a patent. That is a Pre-grant publication. Apple applied for a patent on May 30, 2014, and now that it is around 18 months later, it has been automatically published. But no, Apple has no rights yet. You should change the title of your article. With the application number, you can go to Public PAIR and see what has been done with this application (although I would bet nothing).

  2. My guess would be that they’re planning on using this for either prototyping or manufacturing. Not likely they’ll enter the consumer market, they never even managed a decent paper printer. Mind you since Steve is no longer there, who knows.

  3. So… if you’ve got enough money, you can “have an idea” (which in this case is bleedin obvious), and then pay some money, so no one else is allowed to have the same idea.

    How is that benefiting society? (you know… us. They people who’s taxes are used to enforce / police “IP”).

    Abolish all patents. They’re a farce.

  4. DOWN with APPLE they are incredibly closed source. Purposely make their products non-compatible and constantly stealing ideas to try and make their own. I will NEVER support apple in ANY WAY and I recommend you do the same. oh and by the way there are 3 or 4 different open source upgrades you can put on your printer to make it print in full color.here is one: http://reprap.org/wiki/Multicolor-extruder they likely took the idea from open source and then just filed a patent. Also a good chance that this printer will only print apple files, once again enforcing their monopoly hungry crook owners ideas of total domination. yes, apple is that evil.

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Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

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