Re: [rp-ml] International Terminology Standards

From: Yasser Hosni <>
Date: Wed Jan 07 2009 - 22:30:05 EET

Happy new year to all.
I think we have to differentiate between the "process" , the
"application" and the "technology". The problem with the terms that we
are trying to coin the three entities in one term. Difficult! but may
be the right approach.
One problem with "additive" manufacturing/ fabrication is that the term
"subtractive" manufacturing is not popular despite that it fully
describes the material removal processes.
Another problem with 3D printing is that printing is associated with
printers rather than machines/ manufacturing! I understand the Z-corp
adoption of the term since their machines came through printing and the
initial use of printers.
We may want to explore "Layered" manufacturing to describe the
process. Possible other term is "Layered free form fabrication/
manufacturing" which touches on the applications as well..
Yasser Hosni

>>> "Terry Wohlers" <> 1/7/2009 11:15 AM >>>
First, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope that it is
filled with peace and happiness.
Next week, ASTM is hosting an organizational meeting to discuss
industry standards and I hope you can attend. Details are at The use of terminology will
be a part of these discussions. Over the past several years, I've put a
lot of thought into the terms that we use in our industry and have come
to the conclusion that there's no right or wrong terms, although some
are better than others at communicating our thoughts. In preparation for
next week's meeting, I'd like to initiate some discussion on the
subject. I will share ideas, and hopefully some consensus, from the
members of this list.
For many years, "rapid prototyping (RP)" has been a popular term, and
rightly so because prototyping has been the most popular application of
additive fabrication (AF) technology. However, it is one of many
applications as AF expands into new areas and industries. Consequently,
a growing number of people are using terms such as "additive
fabrication" or "additive manufacturing" when referring to the group of
processes (e.g., fused deposition modeling, 3DP from Z Corp., laser
sintering, etc.) that build parts layer by layer. Stratasys and 3D
Systems have adopted the term "additive fabrication" as a catch-all
term, although I cannot say whether it has become an official corporate
standard at either company. Maybe. The mainstream press—when our
industry is lucky enough to get included in it—uses "3D printing" most
frequently. Among industry insiders, 3D printing refers to a group of AF
processes that are relatively low cost, easy to use, and office
friendly. Some think of the process from Z Corp. when hearing this term.
Others may think of PolyJet from Objet Geometries.
AF processes are being used for a range of applications including
concept design and modeling, fit and function testing, patterns for
castings, and mold and die tooling. They are also used for fixture and
assembly tools, custom and replacement part manufacturing, special
edition products, short-run production, and series manufacturing.
Prototyping is one of many applications and that's why "RP" is no longer
suitable in most instances as a catch-all term. In fact, many companies
resist the idea of using a prototyping method for part manufacturing, so
using this term could stifle AF's transition to manufacturing
The term "additive manufacturing" is fine, although because
manufacturing is an application and not a technology, I believe it is
plagued with problems, similar to "rapid prototyping." Consider, for
example, this sentence: "My company is using additive manufacturing for
manufacturing." It's confusing. Now, consider this: "My company is using
solid freeform fabrication for manufacturing." Much cleaner. I'm not
suggesting that we use "solid freeform fabrication;" I'm using it here
to illustrate a point. I believe it wor
ks much better when the catch-all
term does not include the name of an application. That way it can be
used cleanly for all applications of the technology.
Since 2005 I've used the catch-all term "additive fabrication" in our
company's publications, presentations, and communications. It's not
perfect, but it works. In the future, I truly believe that "3D printing"
will become the most popular term. When I'm describing AF technology to
a relative or someone I'm seated next to on an airplane, I use 3D
printing because there's a better chance that he/she will understand
what I'm saying. It's simple and easy to say. I prefer it over
alternatives, but 3D printing currently means something else to many
people in our industry. This is likely to change. An estimated 74% of
all systems sold in 2007 were classified as a 3D printer and each year
this percentage increases.
If we were to let nature take its course, which term do you think would
become the most popular in 5-7 years? In other words, which catch-all
term do you feel has the greatest chance for success as AF works its way
more deeply into both technical and consumer markets. Answering this
question will help guide our thinking next week.

Terry Wohlers
Wohlers Associates, Inc.
OakRidge Business Park
1511 River Oak Drive
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525 USA
Fax 970-225-2027
Received on Wed Jan 07 22:36:03 2009

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