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The many different kinds of machines that allow 3D printing or additive manufacturing—including new, more affordable consumer products—have captured the attention of business, the media, Wall Street, and the IP legal community. Though not generating quite the same buzz, 3D printing has also inspired multiple advancements in materials development. From nanoparticles to human tissue and other complex chemical components, inventors are reimagining what’s possible through inventions involving the materials that go into the 3D printers. For the most part, the patent system should protect those inventions that meet the Patent Act’s requirements for patentability. But some patenting rules may end up surprising—and challenging—those seeking patents for materials used in 3D printing.
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