Meteor Inkjet Ltd, leading supplier of electronics, software, tools and services for industrial inkjet, has been granted a US patent for “Methods and Systems for Shell Formation in 3D Printing” (United States Patent No. 11,625,902) by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Exploiting the powerful greyscale capability of inkjet, Meteor’s patented ShellPro™ technology offers step-function savings in the energy and materials required to create complex 3D structures through binder jetting. Meteor is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hybrid Software Group PLC (Euronext: HYSG), a leading developer of technology solutions at the heart of industrial printing.

Binder jet 3D printing often requires the use of multiple structural constituents with different material densities, one structure of which can be a shell forming the external surface of an object. For strength, this outer shell is typically made up of higher density material than that used in the interior of the object. Meteor’s patented ShellPro technology takes the pain out of creating this shell through a novel technique that capitalises on the multiple drop size capability of greyscale industrial inkjet printheads. Additionally, ShellPro can automatically reduce shell thickness for small features on a printed object resulting in improved dimensional accuracy. ShellPro is included as a standard feature in Meteor’s Met3D software. Met3D provides a straightforward method to convert 3D CAD files such as STL or OBJ to rasterised vector files that inkjet printers can understand.

Ken Hillier, Meteor’s Director of North America and the patent’s primary inventor, explains, “This innovation offers the potential for additive manufacturing print systems to use as much as 50% less binder fluid, reduce the energy needed for curing and create 3D objects faster, all without sacrificing quality.” Clive Ayling, Meteor’s Managing Director, adds, “Meteor continues to undertake basic research to find and develop ways to improve the functionality, cost, quality and reliability of the industrial inkjet printing process. We are delighted that this invention has been recognised with a US patent and are confident that our ongoing investment in technological innovation will directly benefit not only our OEM customers but also the industry.”

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