3D Systems files patent lawsuit against Formlabs and Kickstarter

A company called 3D Systems had recently filed a lawsuit in the US District Court of South Carolina, accusing Formlabs and crowd-funding site Kickstarter for infringing on its patents pertaining to 3D printing.

In its complaint, 3D Systems said that stereolithographic 3D printing techniques used by Formlabs for its low-cost 3D printer violate its patents. The involvement of Kickstarter, however, roots in the fact that Formlabs is a Kickstarter project - it has raised $3 million on the crowd-funding site - and 3D Systems considers Kickstarter as the medium which Formlabs intends using to sell its 3D printer.

About the patents which Formlabs has allegedly violated, 3D Systems said in its complaint that Formlabs' patent infringement chiefly involves stereolithographic 3D printing techniques; and that the violated patents include "U. S. Patent No. 5,597,520" which covers an enhanced mechanism for "stereolithographically forming a three-dimensional object by forming cross-sectional layers of an object from a material capable of physical transformation upon exposure to synergistic stimulation."

With stereolithography essentially using a UV laser to solidify layers of resin, a BBC report has revealed that the patent which 3D Systems has accused Formlabs of infringing was a crucial one because it solved a specific issue in stereolithographic printing --- the issue linked to layers of resin which failed to solidify even after the use of a UV laser.