IMHO, the problems facing RP technology are the same that face every new
technology. You are feeling the post-hype malaise. Several years ago, some
enthusiastic promoters of the technology gave overly optimistic market
forecasts and some irresponsible market forecast publishing firms gave some
highly inflated market numbers that led people to believe this industry
should long ago have reached a billion dollars in machine sales, let alone
materials and services. Those forecasts are designed to get venture funding
and sell reports. If they had turned out to be true, it would have been a
unique story in the history of technology.
Chin up. This technology has barely gotten started. Too few alternative
approaches have been tried. Too many material choices remain to be tried.
Too many bugs remain to be worked out with the limited R&D funds available,
but that will be worked out with time (and the first ones to solve those
bugs will gain the advantage). Too many competitors exist (someone
mentioned CNC as an example) that already have market momentum and are not going
to just roll over and die for you, even if RP does many things better.
You've got to be ten times better to overtake a moving target in
price/performance + cost to change over. These things will take some time and have
always taken time. You are only human.
Think of all the other technologies that someone said was dead that have
come back. I won't tell you not to worry about it, because you need to be
paranoid to survive (Andy Grove?), but the market phenomenon you are
seeing is a natural one that has occurred in every new technology for the past
100 years or longer. RP is still growing at a higher than average rate and
has too much opportunity for it to die just yet.
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
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