Re: market saturation

From: C.McArdle (
Date: Sat May 24 1997 - 09:17:09 EEST

[very big snip]

Don said:

>And yes, 2500 is enough to supply enough prototyping service bureaus
>around to fill the real >needs of industrial customers, until the price
>comes down and the ease-of-use goes way up.

This is exactly what defines saturation. The capacity available out there
is excess relative to demand. The question isn't whether or not there are
more people out there [who are like the people that already have machines]
who could buy more machines, but rather - who has a need for what the
machines can do?

I'll reiterate my point about this from my earlier post:

[... a function of limits on what is possible in terms of materials
combined with what it would cost in time and money to achieve what is
possible -- versus the affordability of already available and very
acceptable means of achieving those results.]

And Elaine's observation:

[Very few companies have targeted this technology as a critical tool for
the 21st century.]

To answer Yakov's question:

[Are people tired of plastic prototypes? Do they now only want the real
thing rapidly?]

In a word, yes.

In more words, beyond the realm where rp has gestated, that's pretty much
all anyone has ever been interested in. Or the real thing more time
flexibly, cost effectively, customer specifically.

Rapid prototyping, for the most part at this point in time, only addresses
some of the existing elements of the process (modeling, limited functional
testing), which did and are going to happen one way or another anyway.

To realize the potential everyone sees in the technology (be a
revolutionary technology), I think it has to do one or more of three

1. Completely redefine the process by which a product is created, such as
eliminating several steps in the production process (Soligen appears to
have a legitimate claim to this in the casting field - although it may not
extend to every area of casting manufacture for various reasons).
2. Offer new products that don't exist without that technology. (Laser
printing technology).
3. Radically reduce the cost and improve the reliability of existing
products, allowing for commodity pricing and large scale use by unskilled
people.(35mm cameras).

One caveat to this rather gloomy narrative - the service bureau is one neck
of the woods where a sufficient critical mass of manufacturing and
engineering related know-how could be organized to drive the next step
toward the "push-button" product design and manufacturing we've been
talking about - provided it is entrepreneurially focused and has the
support from materials and process companies and universities. Jim
Williams talked about this same idea awhile back in the thread regarding
using DTM for rapid production tooling (he wasn't talking about service

[What is needed is customers who purchase tools to embrace it as a new tool
making process and commit to being part of a learning curve.}

Best regards,

C. McArdle

203.853.4971 (facsimile)

124 Rowayton Woods Drive
Norwalk, CT 06854-3938

"Technology will allow us to be whatever we are already, only more so."

-- Arno Penzias

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jun 05 2001 - 22:39:38 EEST