Brock and RP-ML:
If we could have a $20k RP machine right now which would produce a robust
3D model in a few hours we would probably buy at least 5 right off the bat,
1 for each major engineering area such as advanced design, aerodynamics,
systems/avionics, structures, interiors, modification center, advanced
manufacturing, tool design/engineering, etc.
The skill level of the operators would probably be low, it would need to
operate just like a plotter, just select the desired material and press
go/plot. When the model is done, just pull it out of the machine with
minimal or no clean up (pull it out of the machine as you're running to the
This machine would be used for design concepts and presentations, form, fit
and function testing, tooling patterns (if accurate enough), etc. There's
really nothing like a 3D communication tool to ensure that everyone fully
understands all the design implications and nuances. A shaded solid model
on the scope is great but the full impact and realization just isn't there.
There's only so much simulation you can do, eventually you have to "make
chips" and create a physical part!!
We currently have a SLA-5000 but a $20k RP machine would put us into the
market for a more general, company-wide use and application of Rapid
Several good points have been made during this discussion (Thanks for being
the ignition source Elaine). Terry made one by saying all we're seeing is
the tip of the RP iceberg, I think it's a really huge one (hope we're not
riding on the Titanic!) and as more companies and universities get involved
the rate of development will dramatically increase. There are a lot of RP
people out there with their noses to the research and development
grindstone, they simply just don't have the time to publish papers, make
presentations, jump up and down and say "Hey, look what I'm doing!," etc.
We're too busy doing things RAPIDLY!
Michael Rees also made a good observation in saying that art science and
engineering will get closer and closer. Why can't we have more products
that are both aesthetically pleasing (even personalized) and well
engineered and functional? This will be the way of the future. Michael
made another good point by saying that RP companies will receive the
greatest benefit from the problems that non-experts (i.e. technologically
challenged) will bring to the table. RP manufacturers need to carefully
listen to everybody, not just the so-called experts, there are many
excellent ideas out there just ripe for the picking if somebody would take
the ball and run with it. Well that's my two bits worth.
Brock, what do you mean by saying "This is not a hypothetical question"?
Anything new coming up that you can let us in on?
(Note: the above opinions and numbers are my own estimates, not necessarily
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
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