Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,105,905) for “using triangular tessellation in 3D printing.”
In the patent filing, the company notes that, while 3D printing technology has been around for many years, 3D printers have only recently become widely available commercially. As a result of their wide availability, applications for 3D printing have been extended to architecture, construction, automotive engineering, construction engineering, dental and medical industries.
To extend the use of 3D printers to more industries and encourage more household use, Apple says it would be desirable to improve the 3D printing technology to enable 3D printers to print objects faster while also using fewer materials.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Systems, methods, and computer readable media to improve the operation of three dimensional (3D) printer systems are described. In general, techniques are disclosed for providing improved (smaller) print times and reduced consumption of material for a given end assembly. More particularly, a print-head motion exhibiting a triangular support pattern (aka triangular tessellation) is shown to be more efficient than circular print head motions used in current 3D printers in terms of speed and/or material usage.”
Instead of making its own printers, I think Apple will work with 3D printer manufacturers to make sure that their products work seamlessly with macOS and iOS devices. For example, Apple could team up with a 3D printer maker on an Apple pro application with complementing hardware-for designing, re-creating and printing using 3D printers. Apple could even offer an iTunes style online store where it sells packaged 3D file parts.
The latter probably won’t happen, but, if it did, imagine this scenario: you want to print out a chess set. You could go on line to the Apple 3D Parts Store and pick the chess set design you like. Download the 3D part file and then print the parts out with the Apple pro app-compatible 3D printer.