Re: Technologically Challenged

From: Ian Gibson (
Date: Thu Apr 02 1998 - 04:50:50 EEST


For someone who normally takes such a positive view of things, this seems
strangely out of character.

You seem to be making comments rather than asking questions. Are we really
running out of steam or just witnessing the evolution into a more mature

When I was a student, I worked with industrial robots at a time when they
were considered to be a major threat to employment. The technology was
developing so fast that new designs were emerging every month, primarily
developed by small companies with big aspirations. Nowadays, robots are
commonplace but hardly a threat, these small companies had forgotten that
reliability, ROI, integration, inspection, etc. were critical requirements
for other companies to commit capital investment for manufacturing
technology. Those guys were technologically challenged in a sense that they
were too close. Too much in love with the technology to understand that
other factors dictate the chance of success.

I have not seen any significant technological development in industrial
robotics in the last 10 years. I have seen an evolution that has resulted
in higher reliability, lower costs, greater accuracy, systems integration,
etc. This happened when the big boys took over after the fighting stopped
and a small number of robot configurations and applications emerged as the
most promising contenders.

Is all this sounding familiar? I think so. You can't make too many direct
comparisons but I see sufficient similarities to note that nothing really
unexpected is happening to the RP industry. We can't keep going on an
upward spiral for ever, eventually things will level out.

Small companies take risks, that is what they are good at. Some will
succeed and become big. Others will die out. In my view, when I compare RP
with industrial robotics, the large companies have already taken more risks
(releasing patent rights, floating companies, entering into agreements,
sharing personnel, etc.) than is normal. To me, this bodes well for the


At 09:41 AM 4/1/98 -0500, you wrote:
>Since the only change one can achieve is within one's self then
>technology's usefulness becomes a personal risk decision.
>Maybe the reason RP&M seems to be losing steam is due to the fact that one
>can achieve personal productivity through traditional methods with fewer
>Also with industrial cutbacks in both research and employees, why should
>the individual employee risk productivity in order to change something they
>have little influence upon. Taking a chance on an unproven technology does
>not seem to be apart of the industrial culture anymore. If it were then we
>would see the TI Protojet, the Dupont Solid Imager, and the 3M KelTool
>along with the IBM Genisys.
>It seems to be easier to pass the buck than take the risk.
>Opinions, suggestions, and other controversial matter VOID where prohibited.
>Elaine T. Hunt, Director
>Clemson University Laboratory to Advance Industrial Prototyping
>206 Fluor Daniel Bldg. Clemson, SC 29643-0925
>864-656-0321 (voice) 864-656-4435 (fax)
>For more information about the rp-ml, see
Dr. Ian Gibson
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
The University of Hong Kong
tel: (852) 28597901
fax: (852) 28585415

When your toes go to sleep - do they dream?

For more information about the rp-ml, see

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