AnkerMake and Slice Engineering Settle Patent Infringement Lawsuit

By on June 4th, 2024 in Corporate, news

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Hot end patent diagrams from Slice Engineering [Source: Google Patents]

A lawsuit between Anker and Slice Engineering has been settled.

Anker, the well-known maker of many things electronic, is involved in the 3D printing space with their AnkerMake division. They currently produce two 3D printers, the M5 and M5C. We reviewed the M5C 3D printer late last year and found it to be quite a good — and particularly fast — desktop FFF 3D printer.

Meanwhile, Slice Engineering is a much smaller firm based in Florida. They produce a wide-ranging array of hot ends, nozzle, extruders and associated accessories for FFF 3D printers. Some of their products are quite powerful, and often used in very high end 3D printers.

The lawsuit centers around the claim that AnkerMake had infringed on one of Slice Engineering’s patented hot end designs in the M5C 3D printer. AnkerMake disagreed, believing they had not infringed the patent.

Now we learn that the two parties have reached a private settlement, and the lawsuit is apparently concluded.

Slice Engineering CEO Dan Barousse said:

“We are pleased that Anker changed course and decided to do the right thing after we accused them of infringing one of Slice’s utility patents. We believe the strength of our patent portfolio helped promptly facilitate a settlement, allowing us to focus on our core business and customers.”

The patent in question is US11660810, “Adaptable high-performance extrusion head for fused filament fabrication systems”. The abstract for the patent explains what is is about:

“An extrusion head for a three-dimensional printer is disclosed including a feed tube, a heater, a cooler, and a bridge. The feed tube can be made of metal and has an inlet for receiving a forwardly driven filament of solid deposition material, an outlet, a downstream portion adjacent to the outlet, an upstream portion upstream from the downstream portion, and an internal passage extending from the inlet to the outlet. The heater is thermally coupled with the downstream portion of the feed tube for heating a filament to provide softened fluid deposition material. The cooler is thermally coupled with the upstream portion and spaced generally axially from the heater to define a generally axially extending gap traversed by the feed tube. The bridge traverses the gap and provides a rigid mechanical connection between the heater and the cooler.”

There are many possible designs for hot ends, and Slice Engineering has developed quite a capable version with this patent. However, it seems that somehow AnkerMake’s design was a little bit too similar.

We’ll never know if AnkerMake copied the design or somehow accidentally replicated it, but regardless of that, the two parties have settled. This undoubtedly involves a private financial transaction of some sort, which was not publicly disclosed.

It could be that AnkerMake agreed to pay Slice Engineering a lump sum for their troubles, or more likely the resolution could be a royalty on devices sold in the past and going forward.

At this point both companies are satisfied: Slice Engineering has obtained some financial benefit, and AnkerMake is free to proceed selling their products without the burden of a lawsuit.

Via Slice Engineering, AnkerMake and Google Patents

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!