The surge in additive manufacturing is part of the broader, rapid rise of digital technologies overall, confirming that the digital transformation of the economy is fully reflected in patent applications reaching the EPO,
MUNICH, Germany (PRWEB) July 13, 2020
With a share of 35% in patent application in the field of additive manufacturing (AM) at the European Patent Office (EPO), U.S. companies are the clear leaders in innovating AM, also known as 3D printing, a new study by the EPO published today shows.
The study reveals that the EPO has been experiencing a boom in patents in 3D printing. Patent applications for additive manufacturing increased at an average rate of 36% from 2015 to 2018. This is more than ten times greater than the average annual growth of all applications at the EPO combined in the same period (3.5%).
The list of top applicants at the EPO for patents in 3D printing or additive manufacturing is led by two U.S. companies: General Electric (GE), and United Technologies, followed by Siemens from Germany. Meanwhile, HP ranks fourth, 3M sixth, and Boeing nineth, which means that five out of the top ten applicants for AM patents are U.S. companies. In addition, Nike is the No. 1 in 3D printing patent applications in consumer goods, while four US companies, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Zimmer Biomet and Procter & Gamble, are leading in health applications of 3D printing technology. Overall, the U.S. and Europe dominate the ranking of top applicants, with eleven U.S. and eight European companies among the leading 25 applicants.
But not all AM-related patent applications are filed by large corporations. 23% of U.S. inventions in additive manufacturing are made by SMEs and 12% by universities and research organizations. The leading U.S. SMEs in patenting additive manufacturing technologies at the EPO are Envisiontec Inc., Carbon Inc., and Seurat Technologies Inc. The universities filing the most patent applications in AM are Harvard, MIT, University of California San Francisco, Columbia University and California Institute of Technology.
“The surge in additive manufacturing is part of the broader, rapid rise of digital technologies overall, confirming that the digital transformation of the economy is fully reflected in patent applications reaching the EPO,” said EPO President António Campinos.
BIGGEST SECTORS FOR AM PATENT APPLICATIONS ARE HEALTH, ENERGY AND TRANSPORTATION
The study further indicates that the impact of AM technologies spans a large variety of industries. Since 2010 the use of AM in the health sector has generated the greatest demand for patents (4,018 applications), followed by energy and transportation, both generating significant patent application volumes (2,001 and 961 applications respectively). Rapid growth was also observed in areas such as industrial tooling, electronics, construction, and consumer goods, as well as the food sector.
ABOUT THE EPO
With nearly 7,000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO’s centralized patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world’s leading authority in patent information and patent searching.