On December 26, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of 28 new patent applications from Apple. This particular report covers Apple's second invention relating to a 3D printer in the last month along with a spattering of links to patents covering everything from 3D navigational maps to the technology behind Apple's EarPods and more.
Apple Seeks Patent for an Inkjet Printer for Printing on 3D Objects
Inkjet printers are well-known devices that are typically employed to dispense droplets of ink to form images on paper. However, inkjet printers may also be employed for other purposes. For example, inkjet printers may be employed to print conductive ink Conductive ink is a type of ink that includes conductive particles (e.g., powdered or flaked silver particles) therein. The conductive ink may be used to form circuits or perform related functions.
However, inkjet printers are typically configured to print on a single two-dimensional planar surface. Accordingly, existing embodiments of inkjet printers may have limited capabilities. Thus, while existing embodiments of inkjet printers may function well for their intended purposes, inkjet printers having enhanced functionality may be desirable.
Apple's patent generally relates to assemblies, methods, and inkjet printers configured for printing on three-dimensional objects.
Apple's abstract further describes their invention in this way: "An inkjet printer configured to print on a three-dimensional object is provided. The inkjet printer may include a print head that ejects a conductive ink. The inkjet printer may also include an assembly configured for adjusting a position of an object relative to the print head. The adjustment assembly may include a fixture configured to hold an object, such as a circuit board, that is to be printed on. The fixture may be configured to hold the object such that multiple surfaces thereof, which may be nonplanar, are exposed. A tilt adjustment mechanism may be coupled to the fixture and configured to adjust a tilt angle of the object. Further, a rotational adjustment mechanism may be coupled to the fixture and configured to adjust an angular position of the circuit board. Accordingly, the surfaces of the object may each be upwardly oriented such that the print head may print thereon."
Apple's patent is very heavy on the technical side of this 3D printer and never really discusses anything that would remotely relate to a consumer product. So for the time being, it may very well be a new tool for Jony Ive's Industrial Design Team to make prototypes with.
Apple credits Nicolas Merz as the sole inventor of this patent application which was originally filed under in Q3 2012. The inventor of this patent is a returning engineer after leaving Apple in 2000 to develop a micro-sized laptop resembling a miniaturized Titanium PowerBook that the late Steve Jobs refused to adopt. Merz's company was called OQO.
Patently Apple covered another 3D Printer patent filing of Apple's just last month that related to using liquid-metal. You could read all about it here.
Other Patent Applications of Interest Published Today
A few other patents of interest surfaced today that some may wish to further explore. There were two patent applications relating to Apple's EarPods. One is titled "Earphone having an Acoustic Tuning Mechanism" and the other titled "Earphone having a controlled Leak Port."
Another patent of interest could be found under number 20130342714 titled "Automated Tripod Detection and handling in Video Stabilization." We covered a lot of Apple's thinking on this feature back in our June report titled "Apple Advances Focus & Virtual Tripod Camera Technologies."
In Early December we posted a report titled "Apple Bombards Patent Office with 28 New Mapping Inventions." Today, Apple builds on their Mapping Application foundation with several more patent filings as follows:
- Navigation Application
- 3D Navigation
- Navigation Application with Adaptive Display of Graphical Directional Indicators
- Providing Navigation Instructions while Operating Navigation Application in Background.
And lastly, in one of our July reports we covered a series of new granted patents covering iPhone related camera technologies. One of them was for a "dual image sensor image processing system and method which Apple revisits today under patent application number 20130342739 titled "Dual Processing of Raw Image Data."
A Note for Tech Sites covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments.