Kickstarter embroiled in 3D printer lawsuit

Kickstarter embroiled in 3D printer lawsuit
Formlab's 3D printer is causing all kinds of headaches

Kickstarter is being sued for crowd-funding a 3D printer that may infringe on another company's patents.

Yes, it's another patent lawsuit - but this marks the first time that Kickstarter has come under legal fire because of one of its hosted projects.

Formlabs' campaign to fund "an affordable, professional" 3D printer raised over $2.9 million (£1.8 million/AU$2.8 million) from 2,068 backers on the site in September/October 2012.

However, 3D Systems, a company that already makes 3D printers, reckons that Formlabs' design infringes on a patent that 3D Systems has owned since 1997.


It's all to do with stereolithography; that's a method of solidifying a liquid using an ultraviolet laser.

3D Systems developed a method of adapting the procedure to allow multiple layers to be in progress at once, which meant that delicate bits of the 'print-out' receive better structural support.

Formlabs' cheapo printer makes use of stereolithography, which the team claimed to have refined, claiming that they had "figured out how to do it at a much, much lower cost".

3D Systems is suing Formlabs too, of course, but it's after Kickstarter because of the 5 per cent cut the site has taken from the pledged $2.9 million (that's around $145,000/£91,000/AU$140,000) as well as its promotion of the printer in the first place.