unclear expressions

From: Terry T. Wohlers (twohlers@compuserve.com)
Date: Thu Oct 30 1997 - 21:22:09 EET


> 1. "Rapid Prototyping" - seems most focused on purpose and speed,
> "additive," "subtractive" or "hybrid". Therefore, I wonder if a handy
little 3-axis
> milling machine with

You're absolutely right. The difficulty is that RP begins to lose its
meaning, making it difficult to communicate, when you include conventional

> Also, "formative" methods which others have speculated on may eventually
be included,
> even if they are not "layer-by-layer."


> 2. "Free-Form Fabrication" - similar to RP but without being narrowed
> "prototyping."

Agree again, although I know many companies that use RP devices for
non-prototyping applications.
> 3. "3D Printing" - This term suggests a special relationship to ordinary
> "printing" (instead of something new and exotic, such as "holoforming").
> From the 2D meaning, it seems natural to assume an orientation toward
> general "communication" of 3D information (and/or "visualization," &

As usual, I agree with all of your comments. I hope that "3D printing"
develops in the direction that you describe. For now, we know products
such as Actua, Genisys, and Z402, and some choose to describe them as 3D
printers. If you look at what these products do and how they operate, they
are faster, lower-cost, easier-to-use, and office-friendly variations of
RP. What tends to confuse this labeling and categorizing of products is
when you throw in a product such as Model Maker II from Sanders because it
meets much of this criteria, but it was not designed to be a quick concept
modeler, and that is (in large part) what the other 3D printers were
designed to do.

My comments are not intended to start another terminology debate. The
bottom line is that it doesn't matter what you call these devices, as long
as you accurately communicate your thoughts.

Terry Wohlers
Wohlers Associates, Inc.

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