Record number of 3D printing patent applications

Austria showed the largest increase in 3D printing patent applications worldwide.

This was the conclusion of the latest report by the European Patent Office (EPO). From 2014 to 2017, the number of such patent applications from Austria increased by 1,300 percent. compared to the average of 370 percent by other countries in the world. "Patent filings are still an excellent indicator of the innovative strength of a region', explains Prof. Jürgen Stampfl, a university professor of materials and additive manufacturing technologies at the Vienna University of Technology. "Patents not only underline the technological potential and the competitiveness in a global economy but are also a measure of how seriously the innovators are interested in an economic realisation of their ideas."

Additive manufacturing (AM) processes permit the creation of complex structures which can be used to create new product properties. Based on a digital 3D model, AM can create parts from various materials such as plastics, metals, and ceramics which cannot be produced using conventional processes. AM is a digital production technology serving as one of the main drivers of the fourth industrial revolution. Thanks to their basic research in additive manufacturing processes, Austrian universities are making a major contribution to the success of domestic innovations.

Generally speaking, the EPO also recorded a rapidly growing number of AM patent applications. Between 2015 and 2018, AM patent applications at the EPO grew at an average annual rate of 36 percent, more than ten times faster than the average of all other patent applications in the same period (3.5 percent). Europe was responsible for 47 percent of the AM patent applications, thus securing a considerable lead over the second-placed USA.

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