Apple Tiptoes into the World of Color 3D Printers
Apple's Geoff Stahl is Director of Games & Graphics Software Engineering and drives innovation and delivery of key Apple products. Stahl has been responsible for both iOS and OS X software technologies, including SpriteKit, Game Controllers, Game Center, Core Animation, Core Graphics, AirPrint, Core Image, RAW Camera, Core PDF, Color Sync, and OS X Window Server. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application form Apple where Stahl is the lead engineer that covers a system relating to "3D Printing of Colored Objects."
According to Apple, using their patent pending process, a 3D object which includes multiple colors can be created efficiency. This increases versatility of objects that can be printed by a 3D printer and extends the use to more everyday objects.
For example, Apple notes that toys could be printed using such a printer at home. In one application, 3D models that include color can be sold by companies, enabling everyday consumers to create their own objects at home. For example, 3D models of toy characters can be made available for purchase by consumers. Whether Apple will license their technology or venture into the coming world of 3D printers is unknown at this time.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative improved 3D printer for printing and coloring 3D objects.
While HP is still considered the leader in 3D printing technology with their Multi Jet Fusion technology, it appears that Apple wants to at least begin chalking up some intellectual property on this front should they decide to enter this arena in the future. The image below was created on a new HP 3D printer. Beyond home models, color 3D printers could be used by architects to create intricate models of buildings, cars and beyond.
Apple patent application 20150343704 was originally filed in Q2 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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