Re: 3-D Printing

Date: Thu Jul 17 1997 - 15:47:06 EEST

Kevin Robertson

In a message dated 97-07-16 22:29:56 EDT, you write:

<< If that is the case, I see this almost being a Star Trek type
 instrument that can create a holographic image or part directly from the Cad
 model almost instantaneously. Is this how far into the future some of you
 are speculating on the acceptance of a 3-D printer?

Please . .. give the people who are looking past this today's prices and
shortcomings a break.

I see an incremental evolution of several key components which are essential
to 3D
progress - these are 3D software, 3D scanners, and 3D printers. As ease of
use improves
and prices decline, along with computer hardware, the usage will increase and
the "kit of
tools" will gradually improve. The important factor is the degree to which
the various
tools can be used together and thereby encourage the more rapid development
of each
other. [Is there any doubt, for instance, that more people will buy and
utilize full 3D
modeling capability if they can click on a button and make a 3D "progress
print" which
they can hold onto, cut apart, and show to a group of people, and then,
perhaps, scan the
results of some hand shaped revisions?]

<< Maybe in our discussions we could put some reference to time frame or
level of expectations, so we are making equal comparisons. >>

OK, I'll bite. In my opinion, Elaine's "The desktop 3d printer should be the
hot Christmas present of choice by 2015" doesn't seem out of line, '
Trekkie', or inappropriate for discussion. This is talk about a capability
which fulfills a basic human need - to be able to create and use tangible
objects, for a wide range of functions. This is a capability which requires
no miracle innovation - just gradual parallel innovation in several related
fields. It's my hope and expectation, in fact, that progress will be faster
- a 3D printer in a substantial number of design offices and copy/print shops
within the next decade, with typical "wait times and costs" less than ten
times more than for "ordinary 2D copy jobs" of comparable overall output
volume. Such printers are likely to have the capability of printing with
white, black and shades of grey. Less common, more expensive, models will
add additional color or use more durable materials than paper and plastic.

We're not asking skeptics for anything - just wait in amusement and join the
fun when it comes around.

Norm Kinzie
(617) 444-6910

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