In the RP department of our school, we are using DTM and soliscape
technologies for educationnal and technology transfer purposes. Our
philosophy is to never compete with SB : we use it to demonstrate the
capabilities of the differents processes, never to produce industrial
quality parts (changing scale, producing just one part of an assembly...).
Our service is almost free (in fact helped with state subsidies).
But we have a big problem : Even if we are continuously advertising their
technologies with our activities for now five years, we are considered by RP
manufacturers (especially DTM europe) like normal customers, with no special
discounts for maintenance, upgrades and materials.
So we are confrounted with a dilemna : acting like a service bureau and
keeping our equipment up to date with the extraodinary (in educationnal
sense!)expensive maintenance and upgrade costs, or letting our equipment as
is, with no maintenance except custom made repairs, and using it in
conditions farther and farther from the true industrial process.
An alternative way may be to use the machines for research purpose : but it
is not really compatible with educationnal training in mechanical design and
engineering, as we need a machine configured to use standard materials in a
classic end user way.
Any software vendor has special educationnal programs, with very cheap
licences and generally free upgrades, and this is in his interest to have
students trained on his products. Why RP manufacturers not ? Do they prefer
immediate profits rather than long term investment ? Or is the educationnal
market so big that it is crucial to make money on it ?
61 rue david d'Angers
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