Re: >> RE: 3D printing (Good Thread!) <<

From: Preston Smith (
Date: Tue Jul 15 1997 - 03:24:32 EEST


Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad that concept modeling has worked out
for you so beneficially. However, it is also interesting that it has not
proved to be so valuable for Karl. I think there is a lesson here. As I
understand it, Karl's products are turbines, for which the shapes are
basically determined by physics. This makes life relatively
straightforward for him. Concept models may be handy for discussing
manufacturability options with manufacturing or suppliers, but no one can
just arbitrarily change the shape.

Contrast this with many of your Motorola products (e.g., pagers and
cellular telephones). Here, all kinds of subjective shape, looks, and
ergonomics issues arise, and concept models could be a central
communication medium between engineering, industrial design, marketing,
customers, and manufacturing. Just having something that enables
engineers and marketers to use as a common medium of communication could
be worth a million dollars.

Consequently, back to my original point: one must understand the crucial
communication links in designing a product in one's company (that is, the
company's development process). One must also understand the economics of
the project at hand. These factors will vary greatly from company to
company and product to product in a given company. Concept modelers are
likely to be far more more useful in some settings than others, regardless
of how sophisticated the company is.

For those who missed the beginning of this long thread, the book referred
to is Developing Products in Half the Time: New Rules, New Tools by
Preston G. Smith and Donald G. Reinertsen, which will be published by Van
Nostrand Reinhold in September. If you have trouble locating it through
your book dealer, send me an e-mail and I will make up an electronic flyer
for it and e-mail it to you.

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

On Mon, 14 Jul 1997, Derek Smith-EDS014 wrote:

> Preston,
> You have hit the proverbial nail on the head with your post!! Change in the
> underlying processes and often culture IS the key to making concept modeling
> or ANY other new technology work. This statement assumes the new technology
> has not been especially designed to integrate seamlessly with current
> practices.
> I believe the RP Industry demonstrates this concept most clearly!! Were
> companies ready for RP in '88 and '89? The answer would be a very few
> companies were. A long process of transition from wireframe and surface
> modeling to solids was required, and continues today. I believe Terry could
> probably best illuminate the details.
> The same deep rooted changes are required for concept modeling. While the
> process should be easier due to the availability of more software tools
> today than in the late 80's, the change required is often cultural in a
> company, and thus difficult.
> I would argue with Karl about the value of concept modeling. As the second
> site to receive a beta machine, we will have been running an Actua for
> nearly two years come September. The machine runs every day and is now an
> integral part of our "concept" stage. It may not be for everyone, but it
> works very well for us. The hardest part has been the transition of how we
> do our concept design. I do not wish to elaborate on this point for
> proprietary reasons, however, I will say that we currently have a process
> that integrates with RP at ALL levels (with room to improve!!). This didn't
> start 2 years ago, but much further back. It is hard to describe the depth
> and scope of change required.
> I rarely voice my opinion in this forum, but this thread has been
> interesting and warrants another perspective. Please send me information
> regarding your book, as I would be willing to read it based on your
> observations and comments offered over the past weeks.
> Sincerely,
> E. Derek Smith
> Freeform Technology Gatekeeper
> Motorola
> (954) 723-4790
> ________________________________________________________
> To:
> Cc:;
> From: on Sat, Jul 12, 1997 11:01 AM
> Subject: RE: 3D printing
> Karl,
> 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
> observe.
> 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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