Re: [rp-ml] RP and Me

From: Andrew Werby <>
Date: Sat Jan 17 2009 - 00:38:40 EET

Elaine Hunt wrote:
> I left the RPMl about 5 years ago and decided this week to re-join to
> see just where the technology had moved. I was shocked to see the naming
> debate was still a topic however it is an interesting one and seems to
> be based on just how individuals interact with the technology.
> I came back to RPML to learn more and catch up so here are my questions:
> This June will be the 20th year since I first trained at 3D Systems. How
> many of the real
> Dinasaurs are still lurking about?
> What can you do with the technology today that you could not do...
> 20 years ago?

[20 years ago I was doing everything by hand;
additive manufacturing (or whatever we decide to
call it) if it existed at all outside of
university labs, was solely in the hands of giant
companies running custom software on very
expensive Unix-based computers.]

> 10 years ago?

[10 years ago it was a glimmer in my eye - I was
struggling to figure out CNC milling, as it was
finally becoming affordable outside the Fortune 500.]

> 5 years ago?

[I did my first tests about then; things didn't
come out too well, but it looked promising, being
able to produce geometries I couldn't reach with a
tool opened up new possibilities in sculpture.

Now I have a Z-corp machine that can apply
photographic imagery to the forms I make, which
gives me a whole other level of elaboration to
> What do you want to be able to do in
> 5 years?

[I'd like to see the print quality get better,
with higher resolution, faster build times, and
less expensive machines.]

> 10 years?

[If civilization survives, we should be looking at
practical multi-material builders, bioplotting
that makes us new body parts from our own genetic
material, and part distribution centers that rely
more on local fabrication than trucks, trains, and

> 20 years?

[I should live so long...]
> What if anything is keeping you from being able to achieve this need?

[I hate to say it, but things have slowed down a
lot - I'm sure my business isn't as badly affected
as some, but this sort of thing still seems to be
treated as a luxury to be discarded in tough
times, rather than as a true "need".]
> What has surprised you the most about the technology?

[That more people haven't grasped the
possibilities and jumped aboard.

As to the name debate; I think we need to think
"outside the box" a bit more. I don't see the need
to exclude subtractive processes, for instance.
Most people are focused on results, not process,
and there are some technologies that combine
additive and subtractive functions. The crucial
difference between these computer-driven processes
and traditional manufacturing methods isn't
addition versus subtraction, but the fact that
they are done one-up, without the need for molds,
forms, or dies. Try "Flexible Fabrication" (FF) or
Form-Free Fabbing" (FFF). We can take a hint from
science fiction, which thought of this before
engineers did, and call these machines
"Replicators" or "Materializers". Or we can stress
the role of computers and call it "Digital
Building" or "Computer Assisted Part Production"
(CAPP). I'm not sure any of these will really
catch on; I'm just tired of going back and forth
between the same old three or four terms...]

Andrew Werby
Received on Sat Jan 17 00:44:54 2009

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