The US Patent office yesterday granted Apple Computer a patent for a process called double back injection molding used to make electronic housings. The process allows the distinctive glowing border effect in Microsoft's Zune player . The process allows creation of two different color effects as well as improved structural characteristics of the border wall. it avoids expensive and complicated action in tools. Apple uses double shot injection molding for both iPods and iMac desktop computers, which have a clear shell over a black or white layer. “The two shot injection process allows for a thinner walled enclosure that uses less materials and allows for added structural features that would not be possible using traditional molding techniques,” according to the patent summary. It was not clear, but seemed apparent, that Microsoft may have to pay a licensing fee to continue use of the process. One blogger stated, without documentation, that Apple was stealing Microsoft’s idea. Apple was not available for comment.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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