Prof. Dickens and All Solid Imagers
The points that you raised in your message to Shawn are insightful. They
address issues that our company has made a focus of its research. The
issues all relate to "Where is RP going?" If you are in this field
(equipment supplier, material supplier, service provider, user or
researcher) you need to have a pretty good understanding of this.
There have been many who have put forth the goal of RP as we know it today
to transform into "the manufacturing method of the 21st Century"! The
barrier to this evolution is both economic and technical. I agree with
Prof. Dickens that the recent advances in throughput speed as evidenced by
the latest 3D System SLA product release yields sufficient economic benefit
to realistically forecast freeform fabrication as a viable manufacturing
method. Similarly, the advances in materials via DTM and others to get
closer to intended materials, especially metals suggests that direct
fabrication in final materials is not only possible, but probable. Contrary
to most consultants in the field, I cannot see a near-term evolutionary path
to "home based manufacturing" or even "Freeform Manufacturing" as being wide
spread or universal. I believe the path must first pass through the world
of "high value products" and advanced technology components that take
advantage of the unique build capabilities that several RP systems currently
Prof. Dickens is also correct concerning the impact on product design. We
are already seeing evidence of this in key markets. Apple Computer for
example has redefined with both its new desk top and lab top PC's what a PC
should look like. Due to their success in embracing complex geometry using
RP, Apple is putting pressure on the rest of the industry. Another case in
point. Recently, during a conversation with a major shareholder of a power
yacht manufacturer, he decided to over rule the decision by his plant
manager to reject RP. His view was that sooner or later one of the firms in
their market would redefine what a luxury motor yacht should look like using
RP and he was determined that it this was not going to catch his company
"flat footed". Like the good professor, I would also like to hear from
others on the list on this important subject.
Shared Replicators, Inc.
From: Prof. P. M. Dickens <email@example.com>
To: Sean M. Gladieux <gladism@CAT.com>
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Date: Thursday, August 05, 1999 8:15 PM
Subject: RE: RP Paper
>I saw your message to the rp mailing list earlier and the comments that you
>This is a subject that is dear to my heart.
>You have started a very important thread here. The original work we did was
>with a company called Flymo (part of the Electrolux group), they make
>care equipment. We wanted to see if it was economically feasible to
>manufacture end use parts by RP instead of injection moulding. We found
>RP cost about 100 times more and injection moulding was about 100 times
>faster. With the development of newer machines such as the SLA 5000 and
>the SLA 7000 these numbers will have changed. However, what we also showed
>was that it was economic to make even small simple parts in numbers up to
>6,000 before injection moulding became cheaper!
>We have just installed an SLA 7000 so it would be interesting to redo the
>I am 100% convinced that RP will move into direct manufacture of end use
>parts with numbers into the thousands. This raises lots of other issues.
>1. If we use RP then assuming the material properties are okay how would
>change the design to make it better. Remember an RP machine (of some sort)
>can make any geometry.
>2. How often would you change the design if you are not limited by tooling.
>3. Do other factors limit you e.g. physics of the process in the product or
>other parts e.g. filters in your case.
>4. How will manufacturing change. Is everything Just in Time. Why make to
>5. Can you eliminate parts e.g. if you sinter the part could you also make
>the filter as well at the same time.
>6. How will this freedom affect part variation. Is greater variety a good
>thing? We have spent a long time reducing part counts. What are the pros
>7. If you use RP instead of die-casting which process would you use? Would
>you try and make a sintered metal part to get near to what you have now?
>do you have a die cast part now? Would a plastic RP part be okay? Would you
>need to change the design to make it okay in plastic?
>These are the issues that spring to mind now. I am sure there are lots of
>other issues. You could do your project in any one of these. Choose the one
>that is of most interest to you. If you would like us to make you some
>for this project let me know. We have a Thermojet, SLA 7000, FDM 2000 and a
>new EOSint M extended (metal sintering) will be installed in September.
>I am in Atlanta at the moment visiting Georgia Tech and then onto Texas for
>the SFF Symposium and then onto University of Arizona and so I will not be
>able to email the paper until I get back to the UK on the 19th. Please
>me then to remind me.
>COMMENT TO EVERYONE ELSE
>There must be lots of other ideas on this. Lets start sharing. Have I
>some important points? Is this all rubbish? Don't just sit there. Get
>Prof. P. M. Dickens
>Dept. of Mech. & Manuf. Eng.
>De Montfort University
>England LE1 9BH
>Tel: +44 (0)116 257 7689
>Fax: +44 (0)116 257 7025
>Mobile: +44 (0)468 827039
>For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
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