Posted at 12:25 PM
On September 30, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle K. Lee delivered remarks at Microsoft Tech Lab in Washington, DC, on 3D printing or additive manufacturing, the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file using additive processes, and how this industry is driving innovation.
Under Secretary Lee spoke about how additive manufacturing is transforming manufacturing, from aircraft components to musical instruments to life-changing products such as revolutionary prosthetics.
“Additive manufacturing, fueled by the promise of intellectual property protection, is taking off, and as we’ve seen it’s having a positive impact on people’s lives and the economy,” said Lee.
The USPTO currently receives about 1,700 applications per year in the field of additive material technologies, in hundreds of different patent classification areas due to the varying types of end products that can be manufactured with this technology. When it comes to 3D printing, as well as other new technologies, it is critical for the USPTO to be on the leading edge, in order to bring new products and technologies to the marketplace, which in turn supports jobs for American workers, and benefits consumers and manufacturers.
That is why the agency has a robust Patent Examiner Technical Training Program, (PETTP) to help ensure patent examiners truly understand the state of the art in the technologies and disciplines in which they consider granting patents. Read about PETTP’s recent training in the Commerce blog. In addition, the USPTO started an Additive Manufacturing Partnership in 2013, where members of industry and academia share their technical expertise and training on 3D printing with USPTO patent examiners.
Under Secretary Lee also stressed the importance of inspiring the innovators of the future, sharing the example of the winners of the undergraduate category of the 2014 Collegiate Inventors Competition, a program which the USPTO works on with the nonprofit Invent Now. That group of college students created a desktop 3D printer that, for the first time, blends the layers of additive material to make seamless color flows. She closed by stating the importance of manufacturing and making to the next generation, stating:
“That’s the spirit of Manufacturing Day, a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers, by educating them about the long-term potential of 21st-century manufacturing and the opportunities it offers.”