RE: 3D printing

From: Preston Smith (
Date: Sat Jul 12 1997 - 17:45:53 EEST


Thanks for introducing a crucial point here. In order for any of these
technology tools (rapid prototyping, solid modeling, finite element
analysis, etc.) to be of business value, the underlying product
development process has to change too. Conceptual models ALLOW designers,
marketers, customers, suppliers, and manufacturing people to discuss
design options mutually before chips are cut, thus saving time and money
on design changes later.

However, if the underlying process, communication styles, etc., do not
change to take advantage of these new artifacts, then the same old stuff
will get done in the same old way. In short, we will be throwing "3D
prints" over the wall the same way we threw 2D prints over the wall, and
the only change will be the added expense of the 3D prints, as you

Unfortunately, the easy part is buying the technology. But if the
accompanying process, systems, and styles do not change to take advantage
of the new technical capability, the business benefit will not
materialize. Many managers fail to see this point (nor do many of us
really want to admit that we need to change our behavior too). In our
consulting, we increasingly observe that the companies that do the best at
product development buy the new technology AND implement the new
management tools that will exploit the technology. Doing either one alone
is no longer enough.

Preston Smith
New Product Dynamics
Portland, Oregon, USA
+1 (503) 248-0900

> Terry,
> I can't see this being true at all. The concept modeler that we have
> has not been: A) quick, B) productive, C) even come close to meeting any
> of the statments that I've seen on the RPML about this subject. I can
> build patterns till the cows come home and even when designers tells me
> it is the final absolute one and that they want it in metal I can bet
> the farm and know that I will be waxing in errors on geomerty that was
> not added. For a machine to do noting but produce parts that are
> "conceptual" in nature does not give the company I work for any
> advantage at all. We NEED to produce parts that mean something! This
> is the reality, as the concept modeler (that it seems everybody else
> would love to have and take anvantage of) sits producing nothing - not
> even concept models. I'd like to have the money to place (at random) a
> concept modeler in several companies and see how much they get used
> after the initial excitement is gone.
> It's one thing for everybody to say that there is a place for these
> machines, but when you have RP in house (or out) there is a relentless
> pressure to produce parts, the concept becomes part of the manufacturing
> process and you learn as you go. It would be a wonderful world if we
> worked at companies that allowed us to build these concept models while
> sipping our coffee and the pressure was not there. How many of you work
> in that environment? I have worked at three major companies that have
> RP equipment and never, not at any moment did the boss come in and say
> take your time make several parts until the desingers and engineers
> agree thats what you all like. Every part that we produced at ALL three
> companies was behind schedual and over budget. The bosses tone was and
> is more like I NEED IT NOW AND IT HAS TO WORK!!!. Not much room for
> conceptual manufacturing.

. . .

> Karl Denton
> ----------
> Preston Smith wrote:
> > If overall cycle time is important to the business and its profitability,
> > and if we really analyze where the time goes today, we are likely to find
> > that concept modelers have more time-to-market potential than some of the
> > higher precision but slower RP and CNC techniques.
> I could not agree with you more. I look forward to reading your new
> edition, which is sure to be another hit.
> Terry Wohlers
> Wohlers Associates, Inc.

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