Re:Color RP

Date: Thu Jan 30 1997 - 01:30:37 EET

Ed Grenda wrote

>"However, the development of such
systems will await applications that will convince investors by means of real
data that the arithmetic rule of investment will hold, that is:

(Money Out) = 10 x (Money In); t = 5 years or less.

Obvious additional applications are medical, industrial design and
architectural models, but after this it gets very fuzzy to me. It's hard to
add those up into a market that satisfies the equation. The barriers are not
technical, they are economic. And it's chicken or egg economics: no money
for development until there are concrete applications - but no applications
until systems exist.

If we'd like to see this product developed, it would be useful for us to
suggest what additional applications there might be that could justify the
expense of development. One problem that we face in doing this is that this
group, while large and varied, may not be large and varied enough for crystal
ball purposes.

Anyone know any big markets for Color RP not mentioned above, or better yet
how to find them or who we should proselytize? "


Ed and others interested in industry expansion:

It would seem that the only answer is gradual evolution - from one color
shape - to black & white capability (for dates, file numbers, centerlines,
contours, notes etc.) - to black, white & accent color - then, gradually to
full photographic color. This, of course, requires a technology which is
economically viable at all stages along the way. Fortunately, at least
three of the currently available technologies seem natural candidates (and a
couple already offer the capability in rudimentary form, as shown by Helisys
LOM in the Rapid Prototyping Report's September 1996 photo of a Venus terrain
model, Materialise's Stereolithography shown in EARP No 7, December 1995,

One of the characteristics of this "chicken and egg" dilemma which frustrates
me the most is that so much attention seems to be paid to "virtual reality"
and other ways to avoid or minimize the need for 3-D hardcopy. Maybe it's
just "press" but the biggest name corporations (especially those involved
with computer hardware and software) don't seem to realize the unavoidable
human need for "real reality" (to complement, not exclude "virtual reality")
- and the enormous potential within reach. I suspect that most of the
decision makers are not familiar with the challenges of actually working with
complex three-dimensional information (especially more than one person is
trying to communicate such information or to solve a problem involving such

Afterall, how could one really know the advantages of 3D hardcopy if one
hasn't had to tackle complex three-dimensional issues (in medicine, design,
etc.)? If your experience doesn't include 3-D design or something similar,
and you aren't willing to dive into a 3-D problem, maybe you can only
extrapolate from 2-D. It's not enough to look at the stock promotionals
designed to make 3-D hardcopy seem superfluous.

So, skeptics consider: Where would the various computer industries be if 2D
hardcopy had not been made so easy and affordable? We certainly wouldn't
have as many profitable computer and software companies etc., etc., if we
were still limited to "virtual letters" which we could only see on our
screens (without sending out to a service bureau for a real document).

When corporations such as Xerox spent about $20 million (1960 dollars) to get
their 1960'ish machine to market and now are reported to spend hundreds of
millions to get each new model to market, why can't one of the more forward
thinking corporations fund the kind of research it takes to properly develop
digital hardcopy in three-dimensions? Your equation will work out just fine
for them.

Contrary to some thoughts, 3D hardcopy would not diminish the need for
computer graphics, virtual reality, or any competing products - it would add
a complementary function which would make the use of three-dimensional
computing worth the effort in more situations. People who now get by with 2D
representations would find surprising ways to utilize 3D (as in 2D, new uses
in every field you can imagine - from religion to pornography - you cannot
possibly imagine what people will want to "mass customize" or whatever you
want to call it). People would buy more computers, more software and more
desktop modelers. More money would be spent on scanning technology,
software, etc.. It may take years, but
printers, copiers, faxes...

But maybe it would be more profitable not to help the big guys see the
potential? Regardless, it's on the way. . .

Norman Kinzie

Laminar Systems, Inc.
45 Brentwood Circle
Needham, MA 02192

{gosh - this America On Line is terrible these days!}

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