Marshall Burns wrote:
> but I'd like to ask you and other RP-ers who went to the show, did you
> any hint of RP or fabricators there, either in the sense of actual
> exhibits or a feeling in the air that our industry would have been
Siggraph '97 was the most crowded exposition that I've attended in years.
At times, it was difficult to navigate the exhibit floor with so many
people. The floor was filled with subtle hints of RP, if you consider the
amount of 3D model data on display. Siggraph has not been a place to
showcase CAD, RP, tooling, and other manufacturing-related technologies.
Even so, CGI's Craig Crump said that the first day was by far the best of
any show that his company has attended. Historically, as you may be aware,
Siggraph has attracted people from the film and entertainment industries,
with a lot of focus on character modeling, VR, special effects, and
animation. It's a once-in-a-year event for artists, animators,
mathematicians, students, and others to show their best. Blue jeans,
shorts, and t-shirts are the norm, and it is rare to see someone in a
business suit. It's best that you leave the white shirts and ties at home.
As Steve Farentinos mentioned, Cyberware was there, as were other companies
that offer 3D object digitizing systems. We've had many RP models built
from Cyberware data, although data preparation can be a little tricky at
times. At the show, Minolta exhibited their relatively new device (for the
second year) that could become a serious threat to Cyberware, for some
inanimate applications. In the foreseeable future, however, Cyberware will
likely continue its strong-hold on human face and full-body scanning.
Every year, Siggraph offers such an interesting mix of technologies, many
that has or could potentially be used for rapid product development. From
a design and manufacturing perspective, I view the show as a giant R&D lab,
giving visitors an end-less number of ideas and technologies with which to
experiment and experience. An example is a haptic interface that enables
you to manipulate 3D model data in a virtual environment using a very real
sense of touch. Webster defines "haptic" as having to do with the sense of
touch; tactile. The device (hardware and software) considers the laws of
physics so that you can actually feel gravity, weight, elasticity, sticky
surfaces, and so on. Ophthalmologists, I was told, are using it to
rehearse radial keratonomy (RK), a surgical procedure that corrects the
vision of those who are near-sighted.
The bottom line: If I was in the business of making RP models and
prototype parts for a living, I would seriously consider a small booth at
Siggraph. I would bet that a small percentage of those who attend know
much about RP and even fewer understand its potential. Yet people that
produce films, video games, amusement parks, etc., produce physical models
all the time. And with the growing amount of 3D model data being produced
to support these activities RP could offer some help.
Wohlers Associates, Inc.
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