(no subject)

From: Brock Hinzmann (SRI International)
Date: Tuesday, January 3, 1995

From: Brock Hinzmann (SRI  International)
To: RP-ML, Yakov Horenstein (Electon)
Date: Tuesday, January 3, 1995
Dear Yakov,

I am not yet ready to point the finger at any one person or organization, but
I have narrowed down the time period to somewhere in late 1989 or early 1990.
Terry Wohlers, writing in Computer Graphics World, March 1990, mentions rapid
prototyping systems last in a list of terms to describe the technology.
Perhaps he can remember who mentioned it to him. 

The term rapid prototyping was certainly in widespread use in the integrated
circuit industry and in the computer-aided software engineering field during
the 1980s. The infiltration of the term into mechanical engineering and
manufacturing is exemplified by a series of articles that appeared in
Mechanical Engineering magazine:

@ A July 1988 article was entitled Instant Prototypes and referred to the
group of technologies as desktop manufacturing. 

@ A Februrary 1990 article, entitled Stereolithography Automates Prototyping,
discussed stereolithography prototyping. 

@ By April 1991, when the article Rapid Prototyping Systems appeared, the
transition in names was complete. 

The National Conference on Rapid Prototyping, sponsored by the University of
Dayton, took place in June 1990; it is the first time I can find that anyone
chose to use RP as the general term, and even then, only three or four
presenters use the term at all in their papers. Prior to that conference, I
can find many references (such as Plastics Technology, February 1989) to rapid
prototyping as an application of such technologies as stereolithography,
selective laser sintering, laminated object manufacturing, ballistic particle
manufacturing, and photochemical machining, but the group of technologies
themselves were always refered to as desktop manufacturing (DTM), benchtop
manufacturing, three-dimensional printing, free-form fabrication, optical
fabrication, and the like (except for Terry's article). High Technology
Business, June 1989, cited the rapid prototyping application and lumped
desktop manufacturing in with a more diverse area of fast-prototyping tools.
Another term was no-tool prototyping. Service bureaus were sometimes refered
to in other publications as prototyping services or prototype houses. 

It would not suprise me to find that the term was first applied to the
machines themselves somewhere around the time of the 1989 AUTOFACT. The
culprit was probably an enthusiastic salesperson for one of the vendors,
making a natural connection between the application and the machine, quickly
followed by several others.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this long
discourse, Terry Wohlers reported its use by the following March. I hope this
helps your search for someone to shoot, but I doubt you will ever find that
person(s) (and I hope you don't really shoot them or encourage anyone else to
shoot them).

Brock Hinzmann
SRI International

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