IMHO, it has more to do with marketing than anything else. RP has the
market perception of high initial investment in equipment. In using the
term 3D printers, they are trying to expand the market and make it
accessable to a wider audience. Beyond that, Brock is right on the money
with the continuum thing. There are many processes that may fit the term
rapid prototype in certain instances.
Brock Hinzmann wrote:
> On the obvious side, you have at least three metrics: What is a
> prototype? What is rapid? What is an office?
> The new 3-D printers are similar in function to the orginal so-called
> RP machines, in that they give you a three-dimensional physical model
> of a CAD (virtual) model. They are delicate, but useful to look at.
> Gradually, RP became more useful. The new 3-D printers are faster and
> cheaper than the old ones. The demand for that segment has always been
> there, but the small RP vendors were able to afford to research only a
> couple of improvements areas at a time and most of them chose to
> concentrate on tougher materials, higher accuracy, and larger build
> But back to the metrics. Rapid? OK, faster than other RP machines, but
> still slower than making crude concept models from foam. Prototype?
> OK, they make concept models, but not functional prototypes as some
> people think of prototypes. Office? OK, you don't need a hooded,
> vented shop to operate them or to remove the printed part support
> materials (or do you?). All of the major vendors can make arguments
> for why their machines are better than the others, according to which
> metric you use.
> In summary, I consider 3-D printers a subsegment that the RP vendors
> did not forget (now obvious). Each of the three metrics (and
> additional metrics can be added, such as accuracy, degrees of freedom
> in the design envelope, material choices) is a continuum. Foam, CNC,
> and virtual prototyping can also be measured in the same way. Everyone
> needs to make a decision about where they want to play, in terms of
> cost and comfort in decisionmaking.
> Brock Hinzmann
> SRI International
> Brad Fox wrote:
> >I appreciate you bringing up the following issue:
> >>I read recently they were distancing themselves from the RP market
> >>proclaiming themselves a 3D printer for office use, not an RP
> >This brings up an issue I'd like feedback from the industry: "are
> these 3D
> >printers to be considered RP?"
> >If not, what are they? Is/Should "3D printing" be set aside as a new
> >industry or is it a subset of RP? Also if a 3D printer is to be
> >from RP, then what is the leading market indicators that caused the
> >development of 3D Printers? What set of metics should be used to
> >and benchmark this new animal? And how do these metrics differ from
> >used to measure RP?
> >While some answers may be obvious, all opinions are welcome ;)
> >Brad Fox
> >Rapid Design
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