For anyone following the snow scene in the Pacific Northwest, you know that the mountains have not had the best snow. Skiers and snowboarders have been chomping at the bit for some good days and finally the snow gods have delivered with feet of dry powder. So that made us think about man-made snow and the patent landscape.
We started looking by the patent classification system, which as a special class just for this -F25C3/04. The class is summarized as follows: "Methods or apparatus specially adapted for the production of ice or snow for winter sports or similar recreational purposes, e.g. for sporting installations; Production of artificial snow for sledging or ski trails; Production of artificial snow."
One of the earliest patents is for an "Artificial Snow Machine" (US 2,571,069) by Russell Shearman filed in 1948. FIg. 1 of the application is shown below.
More recently, there appear to be a number of Chinese patents focused on advances in snow making equipment, including CN 106642865 which relates to a fully automated snowmaking machine that provides a simple, rational design capable of providing a steady stream of water to ensure sufficient water, while also improving snowmaking density. The figure below shows the device:
While there is nothing like fresh Pacific Northwest powder, at least it is good to know that inventors are still hard at work making sure that there is still another option if Mother Nature refuses to cooperate.