Hear, hear! to Will regarding qualifying the need of the customer, not just
looking at the process.
However, I am still amazed how some users only hear what they want to hear.
When I used to talk to clients about alternative methods of tooling and
rapid tooling, they would forget about everything but what was formost on
their mind... until they received the tool. Then all the objections would
flood in after the fact. Example, if they needed the prototype parts in 3
weeks, they would go out and get an alternative tool, then complain about
cosmetics, tool life, cost, etc. after they got out from under the immediate
A fundamental problem in rapid tooling is the differences between prototype
tooling and rapid tooling of production tools. Many customers want the cost
savings, the speed and the ease of prototype tooling, then require the tool
to go on to become a bridge tool, preproduction tool, or a full fledged
production tool. Customers also become disenchanted when promises of speed
on alternative tooling methods meet up with the realities of cosmetics,
cycle time, and volume limitations, which may not have been fully explained
to them during the sales call.
RT processors and equipment manufacturers need to understand plastics, and
end users of plastic parts need to understand RP. Guess that we are back in
the educating customers and ourselves area once again, just as we thought
that industry was maturing into a different cycle.
B. J. Arnold-Feret
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
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