SME RP&M 2000
Rosemont, Illinois, USA
April 11-13, 2000
Disclaimer: The following is my personal opinion and do not necessarily
reflect those of my employer(s) and or colleagues or anyone else. And I
apologize if I leave anyone out.
A new player in the RP equipment manufacturer market exhibited it’s new
Quadra. Very exciting! The machine jets photopolymer and follows with a UV
lamp right on the print head (which is bi-directional BTW). Supporting is
accomplished by building a reverse of the part under the desired part and
separated by a thin layer of a release material. Photopolymer (which smelled
like acrylate to me) is added in sealed cartridges, like printer toner
cartridges. Parts come out fully cured, and thus the machine has the
potential of being office-friendly with no specially trained staff. The
software interface is a simple orient and print windows GUI and seemed
fairly intuitive. The parts I saw were of impressive detail and quality,
especially when you consider the $39k price point.
Plant Tour-Navistar International
Navistar (former Harvester International) really rolled out the red carpet
on this tour. The tour covered about 1.5 million square feet of their
Melrose Park Engine Plant & Tech Center where they produce the inline 6
DT466E diesel engine. The company does not have any RP in house, but was an
excellent example of how companies are strategically benefiting from RP
service providers. Looking forward to the Hasbro tour next year!!!
Color! Z Corp demonstrated it’s new color capabilities at the expo. They can
build in three primary colors using separate STLs, color VRMLs, or even
bitmaps to control the colors. The parts I saw were colored in basic colors
over large areas, I only saw a planar full color image produced from a
bitmap, though I don’t know wether or not full color is supported in 3d.
They also had a new plaster-like material that was quite stiffer and
smoother out of the machine.
Sanders Design International/Buss Muller Technology GmbH
BMT’s High Precision Modeler 700 marketed by Sanders Design International
Inc as the Rapid ToolMaker was demonstrated at the expo with some very
impressive parts. The upgrades include linear bearings, optical scales,
remote encoders, twin z lead screws, larger build area, and no hysterisis.
The machine resolution is 5microns XY and 3 microns in Z. Some people have
been reporting accuracy results of about +/- .0005 - .00075"
Many new internet companies were announced providing varying services from
healing CAD files to RFQs for RP work. Spatial demonstrated their bits2parts
and their IGES healing sites. The ones I caught were: www.3dshare.com
www.planetcad.com www.bits2parts.com www.ariba.com www.commerceone.com
www.freemarkets.com www.buzzsaw.com www.tenlinks.com www.alibre.com but I am
sure you will now find tons of them if you search for them.
State of the Industry Report (Terry Wohlers)
Terry’s report was much more promising than the previous one and that
overall signs look healthy. He noted we hit a precedent of $1 Billion in the
total combined primary and secondary markets. In 1999 there were
approximately 2.34 million parts produced. Terry mentioned that the related
solid modeling market is exploding, a good sign for RP as the parts start in
CAD. Another interesting observation was that 48% of all RP systems sold
last year were under $65k. Overall he felt that RP is crossing the chasm
between early adopter minority and the beginning of majority acceptance.
The panel consisted of Mike McEvoy, Vice President ADEC, Baxter Healthcare;
Dr. Phil Dickens, De Montfort University, England; Peter Marks, Managing
Director of Design Insight; Shinichi Abe, Executive Chief Engineer for INCS,
Inc, Japan, and moderated by Terry Wohlers, President, Wohlers Associates.
Some of the topics discussed and interesting comments made were
a.. Price of an RP system in 2005?
a.. continue to lessen
b.. part price should be the metric, not machine price. Part prices will
b.. Which systems will stand the test of time?
a.. All, but evolved into specific niches
c.. High speed milling’s place in the market.
a.. Shinichi Abe commented that it is already getting firmly established
d.. What are some new pushes
a.. Holographic curing type machines
b.. Rapid manufacturing
e.. Will the term “RP” fade out?
a.. Eventually, if the part comes out great, who cares how, it’s just
b.. It may no longer be the “rapid” that attracts people, it may be more
focused on the abilities in the future, especially for things such as
multimaterial parts, conformal cooling etc.
c.. Next generation of RP users will be growing up playing with cad,
designing their own toys and building them and will grow up with a deeper
fusion of the technology
My overall impressions:
I was generally very pleased with and found the conference to be quite
beneficial, but, I did sense a lack of freshness among some of the
presentations, even though this was my first trip to this conference. I
think there is plenty of new stuff out there, it just kept secret. I hope
that we all can find a way to share our knowledge, without having to fear
revealing company secrets, so that we may all benefit, and I hope to see
that in the form of more user presentations. I found the interaction with
everybody there to be key to staying current, and found the expo extremely
helpful in that regard.
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