Apple Receives Patent for 3D Printing Technique

Printing in triangular patterns, engineers wrote, could enable faster production and more stability in the final object.

Travelers pass the Apple Store at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
Travelers pass the Apple Store at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file

A newly patented 3D printing method developed by Apple could lead to more structurally sound printed objects.

The technique, pioneered by Michael Sweet, an Apple engineer in Ontario, was recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, TechCrunch reports.

The company’s patent filing detailed a process that would essentially break down designs into small triangles that approximate a smooth surface. The ability to build an internal structure out of triangle shapes, in particular, would provide more stability than most designs’ printed “infill.”

Smaller triangles, Apple officials added, could form the edges of a printed structure to bolster its external strength, while larger shapes could be used to more efficiently utilize space and distribute weight where more support is needed.

In addition, because the printer head would only need to move in one direction to make the triangular shapes, printing could be completed more quickly.

“To extend the use of 3D printers to more industries and encourage more household use, it may be desirable to improve the 3D printing technology to enable 3D printers to print objects faster while also using fewer materials,” the company wrote in the filing.

More in Manufacturing