Re: definitions, and the "why?"

Date: Fri Jul 04 1997 - 16:20:17 EEST

David Retallick

In a message dated 97-07-03 22:42:37 EDT, you write:

 "Is a rapid prototyping machine a machine tool or does it enjoy a
 category of its own?" >>

This is most likely an impossible exercise in semantics, perhaps with dubious
value, but it raises interesting issues.

First, the use of the term "rapid prototyping machine" assumes and implies a
very limited view of the revolutionary devices you probably mean to describe
- by naming them for their very first popular function. In time, it will
become more obvious how much more this new class of computer output devices
can do for people - - as general three-dimensional printers for fabrication
of functional components, visualization, communication, art and amusement
(eventually maybe even leading to the "Kodak Moment" of Elaine's jest).

Second, it seems to me that the term "machine tool" is most commonly
interpreted to refer to a fairly limited subset of the devices to which it
could be applied. By this I mean that most people would not naturally call a
two-dimensional laser printer (or even a "vinyl sign cutter") a "machine
tool," although one could certainly argue that the term is appropriate for
almost anything which accomplishes a human purpose with mechanized means.
 Another definition which might be hard to agree on.

So, the answer to your question seems to depend on your point of view, and
how you want to structure your language.

That's enough for now, at least until the promised "why" of your question.

Norm Kinzie

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