Re: Progress towards the real thing

From: Georges Fadel (
Date: Fri May 23 1997 - 17:47:47 EEST

I read several comments about the state of the art in RP, its promises,
its limitations, and I would like to voice my opinion. I will use some of
Mr. Bhatt's comments just because they are in front of me. (Please do
not take my responses negatively, I wnat to just offer alternatives).

For me, RP is much more than fast time to market, RP is much more than
computer aided manufacturing, RP is also much more than a manufacturing
process that works in layers.

RP is the promise and delivery of a new design and manufacturing paradigm
that goes from a graphical representation to a physical prototype or part,
removing many of the limitations of traditional material subtraction techniques.

Mr. Bhatt's comment about the lack of enthusiasm is not shared by me.
Just look at the eyes of young K-12 or university students when they see
the technology. They can draw something and make it in a matter of hours!
Look at the students that take a CAD course and use RP to create a model
and then show how their model works!.

RP replaces model shops where we used to teach people to create what they
dream (Isn't Michael Rees the sculptor the ultimate of this?). RP allows
us educators to better train designers and engineers. It allows industry
to prototype, to create molds and to make products faster.

True, there are limitations, but the barriers are continously pushed back.
Mr. Bhatt talks about the finish which a potter gives to his creation! I
would bet that Mr. Rees's and many of the users parts are as good if not better
than what a potter can do with some hand work. In fact, I challenge a potter
to do the ship in the bottle in one day and get as good a finish inside as
we get.

For me, the process in this field is still extremely fast. Let Dr. Paul
Jacobs show you the improvements in accuracy the SLA has achieved in the past
few years. We are talking about a technology that is not even 10 years old!.

I expect this technology to eventually take off and become as widely used
as NC. The evolution will probably parallel that of the computer, and the
StarTrek concept of the replicator is really not that far fetched!
Remember that the Industry of the nineties is driven by profits, and
unfortunately this translates into less research, less investment in
technology, less risk taking.

Elaine and some others talked about going beyond black, and thinking about
colors. Yes, we want colors, we want textures, we want multi materials,
we want size, we want detail, we want replicators.

This is where research is heading, but who supports this research?
Only the partnerships between Industry, Government and
Research labs will produce the results we all want, just be patient and voice
your wishes.


Georges M. Fadel 
Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering Department		Tel: (864) 656-5620
Clemson University				Fax: (864) 656-4435
Clemson SC 29634-0921 USA

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