unclear expressions

From: Nkin@aol.com
Date: Thu Oct 30 1997 - 14:59:02 EET


Terry,

In a message dated 97-10-29 10:10:45 EST, you provided the following help
regarding
Christian Werdinius's inquiry:

> The following are the definitions that I use:
  
> Rapid prototyping (RP). A layer-by-layer additive process that joins
> together liquid, powder, or sheet materials to form plastic, wood,
ceramic,
> or metal objects.
>
> Free-Form Fabrication. Another (perhaps more descriptive) name for RP.
>
> 3D printing. Low-cost variation of RP thatís faster, easier to use, less
> expensive, and office friendly.

As you've previously noted, such words and phrases are difficult to define
and are subject
to unpredictable evolution. Although some may think it silly to try to
improve on your
definitions, I'll toss in a few thoughts and questions:

1. "Rapid Prototyping" - seems most focused on purpose and speed, whether
"additive,"
"subtractive" or "hybrid". Therefore, I wonder if a handy little 3-axis
milling machine with
appropriately fast-to-use software doesn't legitimately qualify. Also,
"formative" methods
which others have speculated on may eventually be included, even if they are
not "layer-by-
layer."

2. "Free-Form Fabrication" - similar to RP but without being narrowed
"prototyping."

3. "3D Printing" - This term suggests a special relationship to ordinary
"printing" (instead of something new and exotic, such as "holoforming").
 From the 2D meaning, it seems natural to assume an orientation toward the
general "communication" of 3D information (and/or "visualization," & "concept
modeling"), instead of a more narrowly defined use such as prototyping. "3D
Printing" also suggests, from 2D precedents, the larger set of "printers"
which will eventually include color options and which will be marketed to the
widest population of users. [Of course, it may be a few years before any
machine will be cheap, clean and convenient enough to satisfy such broad and
basic ambitions - and turn the "dream" into a real tool.]

Interesting word usage to follow through the years.

Norm Kinzie



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