I'm a little put off by some of Mr. Wilde's claims. I happen to have been employed in a Fortune 100 company's in-house RP service bureau for over five years, and we did (and they still do) a hell of a lot more than generate "bills and excuses". The products and services provided by in-house bureaus, whether their end use be for design iteration, functional prototyping, wind tunnel testing, OR to support the creation of a functional metal part, can be more cost-effective and supportive of core businesses than Don would have us believe. A Fortune 100 company CAN support process engineers and technicians, and provide valuable services to its end users. I know from first-hand experience. This conversation looks more like a ruse for further self-promotion than anything. ;-)
On the other hand, the RP/RT service industry has evolved and matured to the point where it can provide excellent solutions to its clients. As far as disenchantment with plastic prototypes go, I see no evidence to support such a claim. The market is more competitive, no doubt, but there is no shortage of demand for plastic prototypes from my perspective. If anything, the range of solutions for this demand has grown, and the number of companies willing to "test the waters" of newer solutions is still growing too.
From: Don Wilde [SMTP:Don@PartsNow.com]
Sent: Friday, May 23, 1997 12:44 PM
To: Yakov Horenstein
Subject: Re: 3D Systems Upgrades SLA-500 At No Cost
Hi, Yakov -
>>Kiss development goodbye!
>To me, that looks like the name of the game for RP system manufacturers
>this year.... :-(
>Some people have attributed the latest developments within the industry
>to saturated markets.I think the problem that I see is the enormously expensive handholding
that's necessary at this stage of the game in order to help real users
make real parts. As I said to Elaine a few minutes ago, RP is a messy,
immature technology, and companies like 3D and DTM have been forced to
spend an enormous amount on customer support (laser lifetime, etc...).
Now that the stock / venture market has moved on to greener pastures,
these overvalued companies are being forced to justify their existence.
I do think there is a market for desktop RP which will develop with about
5 more years of development work by Sanders and Z, but the major
commercial work will be done by service operations like ours who are
selling casting expertise in addition to RP, or injection tooling
expertise, etc. As it is now, RP is too expensive and finicky to justify
itself as a capital purchase, because you need process experts as well as
technicians to run it, and that does not make good business sense. A
company -- even a Fortune 100 -- must concentrate on its core business,
and research engineers are less cost-effective than manufacturing
engineers. This is why we are getting more and more of their business. We
produce workable parts they can bolt onto engines, whereas their
in-house RP departments only generate bills and excuses. Eventually,
Rapid Manufacturing *will* become an adjunct to the core business of an
automotive manufacturer or other heavy industrial, but plastic RP is not
the technology that will do it. Notice I said RM, not RP. Design tools
are NEVER core technology for anyone but design tool makers. Rapid
Manufacturing, on the other hand, will. RP provides incremental
improvements in Time-To-Market, but RM such as we at Soligen provide has
the capability to change the whole scene of casting manufacture. We're
not there yet, but refinement and volume is what we need, not any kind of
breakthroughs. In the mean time, we provide a cost effective service with
no excuses. Our customers happily come back for more.
-- oooOOO O O O o * * * * * * o ___ _________ _________ ________ _________ _________ ___==_ V_=_=_DW ===--- Don Wilde [don@PartsNow.com] [http://www.PartsNow.com ] /oo0000oo-oo--oo-ooo---ooo-ooo---ooo-ooo--ooo-ooo---ooo-ooo---ooo-oo--oo>Kiss development goodbye!
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