RP'ers (not to get hung up on the limitations of that term):
Just to add something to the discussion of Elaine's and Michael's thoughts.
It seems that the greatest potential for future development lies in areas
where our new technologies are creating new functional capabilities - more
than in areas where they compete directly with conventional methods which are
already quite adequate and successful.
This reasoning suggests areas of greatest freeform fabrication potential,
1.) Where it's fastest, cheapest, and/or most convenient for quick 3D
hardcopy (one color or shades of gray);
2.) Where it can make complex shapes (or assemblies) which are either
impossible or impractical by other methods;
3.) Where it can shape materials whcih are difficult to work with by other
methods (ceramics, composites, etc.)
4.) Where it can communicate information which is impossible or impractical
by other methods (complex colored 3D hardcopy)
Please pardon a quick look back at the work of Haloid in the '50's. It's
interesting to note that the "photocopy revolution" limped along on the backs
of offset printers - who were willing to put up with the inconvenience and
cost of early photocopiers (the 2D RP'ers of their day?). When Xerox
eventually managed to make their process easy enough for most anyone -
overwhelmingly negative predictions were disproven (and fortunes were made).
When Xerox invented the laser printer in the '70's, they seem to have lost
faith in the basic human need for communication and documentation by hardcopy
(so fortunes were made by others). Lesson for 3D of the 90's?? Don't
underestimate the potential of easy, inexpensive and available hardcopy?
Laminar Systems, Inc.
45 Brentwood Circle
Needham, MA 02192
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