future "service bureaus"

From: Nkin@aol.com
Date: Fri May 29 1998 - 14:48:45 EEST

In a message dated 98-05-28 23:05:17 EDT, marshall@ennex.com writes:

> The 3-D Kinko's of the future we are talking about will not operate SLAs.
> They will use clean, office-friendly, and easy-to-use fabricators. These
> machine will take no more effort or training to run than a photocopier.
> large, high-capacity fabbers will be clean and easy-to-use, just like the
> large format plotters run by Kinko's subsidiary, Absolute Graphics.

Marshall and others,

Hope you don't mind if I change the "subject" a bit [just getting tired of
that "to/too thing"] and add a few points to your excellent posting. Nothing
to diminish your main points about the expanding potential of the 3D world.

Seems to me that we're approaching a sort of "divergence" of 3D fabrication
futures. This is because there is SO much potential in the almost untapped 3D
computer output world - not because of the "RP slowdown" feared by a few.

The two main directions look like:

First, the continued development of fast "fabbers" for use in manufacturing.
These are the machines which promote special features to highly demanding
customers who want to use fast shapes in actual production processes - or some
other (nonvisualization) function. Such customers may find it advantageous to
use centralized service bureaus which produce the very finest mold masters or
the strongest ceramic bone replacements (etc., etc.). This is because these
machines will remain relatively specialized, expensive and perhaps
"challenging" to operate. [Likely to include SLAs.]

Second, the emergence of "3D Printing" - that new mass medium Michael Rees has
written about. These are the "visualization" machines which will show up in
future 3D Kinko's. Although quality will obviously be a key issue, these
machines will serve more "forgiving" customers. These are customers whose
primary interest is "appearance." If they can't see or feel a defect, they
are not likely to measure a part for conformance to specifications. BUT,
"shape" alone will not bring them these customers to Kinko's cash registers.
These are ordinary people who will only get excited when they can take their
disk down to the corner copy shop and get "shape and color." This is not to
say that these machines will not also perform their "visualization" function
in universities, engineering offices and hospitals. Don't underestimate the
value which "color" will add to "shape" - for much broader appeal.

And, by the way, there's even a "convergence" in this "future" - of richly
colored computer graphic printing with uncolored 3D shapes.

Of course there are lots of ways in which these two "futures" will overlap.
For example - the development of improved software. I hope some of our most
talented minds have already identified the potential for the "3D Postscript"
of the future - and are working toward the fortune it might earn them.

Norm Kinzie
(781) 444-6910

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