re: 3D printers - what are they?

Date: Wed Oct 15 1997 - 16:46:08 EEST

Original Text
>From Brian VanHiel, on 10/14/97 5:15 PM:

I see RP as serving three markets:

Visualization - emphasizes speed over accuracy or part strength. The goal
is to produce a model that can quickly be produces, reviewed, passed around,
 and thrown away. This is the 'office modeler' segment that everyone (who
has invested in the technology) hopes goes the way of Xerox. I don't think
that will happen until these machines are under 10k. Examples: Actua, BPM,
 Genisys(sp?) etc.

Direct Prototype (or tooling, in this case the tool is what is being
prototyped) - emphasizes materials over accuracy and speed. Attempts to
directly prototype the part in all (or many) attributes - shape, stiffness,
strength, hardness etc. This segment dreams of replacing CNC machines. I
think that the performance needs to improve as well as the price come down,
both by orders of magnitude, before this is generally accepted (I've seen
what CNC's can do). Examples: DTM, FDM

Master Creation - emphasizes accuracy over materials and speed. Masters to
be used for fit-up, RTV tooling, Keltool (now 3D Keltool) etc. This
segment has best achieved it's goals of reasonable priced masters ... which
begs the question where too now? Only faster and cheaper. Examples:
Sanders, SLA (in the various flavors).

I've painted it a little more black and white than it really is. I think
these are three extreme points in a continuum like a color wheel. The
machines are all somewhere along that continuum of material, speed and
accuracy. I've characterized them with the point I think they are closest

The key to picking the technology most appropriate to you is understanding
where you want to be on the continuum. As time goes on the continuum will
get smaller as every segment improves it's speed, materials and accuracy.
Then we can all laugh at Star Trek.


Brian VanHiel
Mechanical Engineer
Nordson Corp.
Duluth, GA
>From Brad Fox <>, on 10/14/97 2:51 PM:
I appreciate you bringing up the following issue:

>I read recently they were distancing themselves from the RP market and
>proclaiming themselves a 3D printer for office use, not an RP system.
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 distanced
from RP, then what is the leading market indicators that caused the
development of 3D Printers? What set of metics should be used to evaluate
and benchmark this new animal? And how do these metrics differ from those
used to measure RP?

While some answers may be obvious, all opinions are welcome ;)

Brad Fox
Rapid Design

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