The Next Step

Date: Tue Mar 19 1996 - 20:19:41 EET

I want to start some conversation that will be helpful to us here, and
hopefully, to many others as well.

The question that I keep asking myself is, "What is the next 'breakthrough'
technology?" Rapid prototyping -- with its tremendous affects on tooling
methods and product development workflow -- is clearly one of the top
breakthrough technologies of the late '80s/early '90s and beyond. But as
a group that has been using SLA for nearly seven years, and is seeing the
many related benefits, I still wonder, "What's next..?"

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything out there that can have even a
fraction of the impact that RP has had/is having in industry today. I
hope that there is... I believe that there is... But I don't know WHAT
it is...!

Is it Virtual Reality? Direct-product generation with an RP-type machine?
Computer visualization -- so incredible that physical prototypes become
unnecessary? (less necessary?) Is it the "marriage" of CT/MRI to CAD and
RP? Is it breakthroughs in reverse engineering? Ceramics, or metals,
in an SLA-type resin?

I'm not saying RP-type stuff is boring, it's just maturing. I am planning
on going to the Design show in Chicago tomarrow, and I know that I will
see a bunch of the same stuff that I have seen for the last five years --
more of it, and better versions of it, which is great... but I don't
expect to see anything really new. (Is it me?)

I hope that this does not sound negative, I'm just anxious/curious.

Historically, the CPU speeds of computers has doubled every eighteen
months. Things that seemed impossible or far-off just a few years ago
are now possible. (Of course, there is still not a computer that can
beat Kasparov. Maybe eighteen months from now..?)

Anyway, I am very interested in your thoughts and I look forward to
hearing from many of you that have "your finger on the pulse of high-
technology." What's "the next step?"


Daniel Anderson
DePuy Orthopaedics
700 Orthopaedic Drive
Warsaw, IN 46581-0988

"The difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the
taxidermist leaves the skin." -- Mark Twain

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