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1. (WO2018223175) 3D PRINTING METHOD AND APPARATUS
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CLAIMS

The claims defining the invention are as follows:

1. A printing apparatus for printing a three-dimensional object, comprising:

an operative surface;

a printing head comprising a frame attached pivotally to at least one control aim, wherein the frame is rotatable about an axis disposed at a point of attachment between the frame and control arm; a plurality of powder dispensers connected at a plurality of positions along the frame, the powder dispensers being configured to deposit multiple layers of powder onto the operative surface simultaneously when the printing head travels relative to the operative surface; and an energy source for emitting at least one energy beam onto at least one layer of powder.

2. A printing apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the energy source emits energy beams onto two or more layers of powder simultaneously.

3. A printing apparatus according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the energy source emits an energy beam onto individual layers of powder in a sequence.

4. A printing apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the energy beam is applied to each powder layer for a sufficient period of time such that the powder is heated or energised causing it to melt or sinter before the energy beam is applied to the next layer in the plurality.

5. A printing apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the energy beam is applied to each powder layer for a sufficient period of time such that the powder is only partially heated or energised before the energy source is applied to the next layer, so that temperature or energy of each surface is increased incrementally until it reaches a point at which the powder melts or sinters.

6. A printing apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the printing apparatus comprises an energy beam splitting means for splitting and directing an energy beam into two or more separate energy beams.

7. A printing apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the printing apparatus comprises a control mechanism configured to direct each separate energy beam onto a different layer of powder being deposited.

8. A printing apparatus according to claim 6 or 7, wherein the energy beam

splitting means is a beam splitter.

9. A printing apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the frame is configured to be tilted at an angle when the printing head is travelling in one direction, and wherein the frame is configured to be tilted at a substantially opposed angle when the printing head is travelling in an opposite direction.

10. A printing apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the angle at which the frame is tilted is such that the distance from each power dispenser to each corresponding powder bed is substantially equal.

11. A printing apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the plurality of powder dispensers are equally spaced relative to one another.

12. A printing apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the multiple layers of powder are deposited in a staggered manner such that the formation of each layer in the plurality is commenced after the formation of the layer of powder immediately beneath it.

13. A printing apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, wherein each energy beam is selected from a group consisting of a laser beam, a collimated light beam, a micro-plasma welding arc, an electron beam and a particle accelerator.

14. A printing apparatus for printing a three-dimensional object, comprising:

an operative surface;

a printing head comprising a frame, wherein the operative surface and the frame are rotatable relative to one another;

a plurality of powder dispensers connected at a plurality of positions along the frame, the powder dispensers being configured to deposit multiple layers of powder onto the operative surface simultaneously when the printing head travels relative to the operative surface; and an energy source for emitting at least one energy beam onto at least one layer of powder.