Re: RP/FFF Users Group

From: Clinton L Atwood (
Date: Tue Feb 06 1996 - 02:51:02 EET

RP Users:
In response to the excellent suggestions regarding the technical needs of the RP
user community, let me add my two cents. As a strong supporter of the RP
Industry and user of stereolithography and selective laser sintering,
participation (not just attendance) in the SLA and SLS User Groups has provided
invaluable knowledge and experience to myself and the technicians (at Sandia)
that build parts. Each of the issues you raise (safety, finishing techniques,
build parameters, accuracy, part orientation, file manipulation, etc.) are
discussed in detail in the conferenc room,
tutorials, hallways,luncheons, dinners, etc. Last year at the SLA Users
Confernce (400 users attended) we set aside as much time as possible for
networking and one-on-one technical discussions. I believe it was very
effective. The SLS Users Group (2 years old, 100 attendees) is providing the
same opportunities to SLS managers and technicians. Other user groups (alpha,
beta) have had the same success. My experience indicates that users of the
different technologies provide the best and most accurate knowledge and
information based on hands-on experience. What we need is more users and RP
technologists to participate (not just attend) share their experiences. It
seems that it is always the same users who provide the vast majority of hands-on
knowledge. There are many forums (maybe too many) give and get information on
rapid prototyping. Unfortunately, it takes time for the users of new
technologies to establish functional working groups.

With regards to the RPA, we are always looking for ways to add value to our
members. The conference has been an excellent forum for users of RP technology
to show their stuff (and talk about it). We welcome suggestions and encourage
participation. Dave Flynn has taken the task to look at the structure of the RP
newsletter. As a willing and very capable user I'm sure Dave will recommend
changes that will benefit the RPA members.

Clint Atwod, Rapid Prototyping Team Leader
Sandia National Laboratories

In a 2/2/96 message, Terry Wohler's wrote:

"An organized group of RP users, managers, and vendors is in place. It's the
Rapid Prototyping Association of SME. Membership is open to anyone anywhere.

If this group is not meeting the needs expressed here, this is a good place
provide suggestions."

I've been a member of the RPA for two years. In my opinion, the RPA of SME,
to date, has done a wonderful job for general orientation to the various
rapid prototyping technologies and for introduction of new applications of
the technologies through the discussion of case studies (i.e. rapid tooling
methods, etc.) My first Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Conference was a
fabulous introduction to the industry and those since have provided a nice
update on industry happenings. However, there has been very little time
dedicated at the Conferences for attendee interaction or hands-on
discussions. In post-conference critiques, I've recommended tutorials on
finishing techniques, laboratory safety, etc. The RPA states as one of its
Long Range Goals its desire to be a networking forum, however, aside from
boxed lunches and exhibit-area receptions there are not effective mechanisms
for networking. One simple way to offer this opportunity without changing
schedules or adding expense is to place topic signs on the lunch tables.
 This allows people to gravitate to others with similar interests.
 Similarly, the RPA Newsletter, to date, has been relatively infrequent and
based more on industry/vendor information than the practical, day-to-day
variety. I am only a technical wannabee, but even for me, it seems like the
RPA has not offered practical assistance to the initiated, daily user. It's
my take that the RPML discussions to date expressing interest in a "users
group" are more focused toward practical applications. If the RPA can and
will assume that type of role, then I'm willing to offer my assistance to
help facilitate it. If not, then I still stand ready to help form a new
rp/fff users group. Looking forward to responses, particularly from those
who have already expressed their interest to me.

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