The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by light weight, sustainability, smart packaging, convenience, and ease of handling and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and nano technology. In the last three years alone, there have been over 427,000 patents filed and granted in the packaging industry, according to GlobalData’s report on 3D printing in packaging: cellulose fiber 3D Printing. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 77,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the packaging industry, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Cellulose fiber 3D printing is a key innovation area in 3D printing

Cellulose fiber 3D printing involves the use of cellulose, a renewable and biodegradable material, as a key component in 3D printing processes. The cellulose often comes in the form of nanocellulose – a lightweight and strong material derived from plant fibers – and is blended with other materials to create bioinks or filaments. These materials can then be used in 3D printers to create a variety of objects.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established packaging companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of cellulose fiber 3D printing.

Key players in cellulose fiber 3D printing – a disruptive innovation in the packaging industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.    

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.   

Patent volumes related to cellulose fiber 3D printing

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT 18 Unlock Company Profile
Kao 15 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 11 Unlock Company Profile
Konica Minolta 11 Unlock Company Profile
CelLink 10 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 10 Unlock Company Profile
Wilh. Werhahn 9 Unlock Company Profile
Daicel 7 Unlock Company Profile
Spiderwort 7 Unlock Company Profile
Stora Enso 7 Unlock Company Profile
Eaton 6 Unlock Company Profile
FiberLean Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
Unitika 5 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 5 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 4 Unlock Company Profile
Starlite 3 Unlock Company Profile
Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich 3 Unlock Company Profile
BICO Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Okia Optical 2 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 2 Unlock Company Profile
L'Oreal 2 Unlock Company Profile
Franklin Electric 1 Unlock Company Profile
Shizuoka Prefecture 1 Unlock Company Profile
NDSU Research Foundation 1 Unlock Company Profile
ETH Zurich 1 Unlock Company Profile
Pensees 1 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 1 Unlock Company Profile
Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT 18 Unlock Company Profile
Kao 15 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 11 Unlock Company Profile
Konica Minolta 11 Unlock Company Profile
CelLink 10 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 10 Unlock Company Profile
Wilh. Werhahn 9 Unlock Company Profile
Daicel 7 Unlock Company Profile
Spiderwort 7 Unlock Company Profile
Stora Enso 7 Unlock Company Profile
Eaton 6 Unlock Company Profile
FiberLean Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
Unitika 5 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 5 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 4 Unlock Company Profile
Starlite 3 Unlock Company Profile
Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich 3 Unlock Company Profile
BICO Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Okia Optical 2 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 2 Unlock Company Profile
L'Oreal 2 Unlock Company Profile
Franklin Electric 1 Unlock Company Profile
Shizuoka Prefecture 1 Unlock Company Profile
NDSU Research Foundation 1 Unlock Company Profile
ETH Zurich 1 Unlock Company Profile
Pensees 1 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT is one of the leading patent filers in cellulose fiber 3D printing. Some other key patent filers in the space include Kao, Konica Minolta, and Seiko Epson. Seiko Epson created an industrial 3D printer capable of manufacturing robust and precise industrial components in various sizes and functions. The printer can employ readily accessible third-party materials, including cost-effective options such as resin or metal pellets, environment-friendly biomass pellets, and high-heat-resistant PEEK materials, offering a wide range of material choices for production.

In terms of application diversity, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich leads the pack, while Spiderwort and Franklin Electric stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Kao  held the top position, followed by CelLink and Wilh. Werhahn.

Cellulose fiber 3D printing has the potential to gain popularity in the coming years for several compelling factors such as sustainability, biodegradability, low environmental impact, and health and safety.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the packaging industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Packaging.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.