Jean RipPer's Y2k Prognostications for RP&M

From: Elaine Hunt (
Date: Thu Jan 07 1999 - 16:34:22 EET

Just passing it along.........

1999 will see some interesting developments in the Rapid prototyping and
manufacturing world. Around the world people should read and heed as the
RP world is about to change. How so you ask and how do I know if its
true…read on and see.

Users of service bureaus found themselves all a twitter when the biggest
and what some considered the best suddenly collapsed and disappeared like
the Titanic. Some unknown iceberg surely struck Plynetics Express and made
everyone wonder if it COULD happen to us. Pity those unfortunate people
who had major contracts depending on work from this company.

Owners of SBs found themselves awash with work as industry scrambled to get
projects completed before the vibrations of other sinking SB took their
projects to the depths. However as Plynetics Express' work spreads among
existing SBs, the shot in the arm may help some struggling owners IF they
heed warning signs and navigate local waters very carefully. One lurking
shark may be in California wearing the disguise of a vendor. With Dave
Flynn at its helm it will be full steam ahead. Look out for major SB
competition to blossom in the spring.

What will 1999 bring in terms of new technology to a badly slumping
industry? While I see many new systems being introduced the question in
user's minds remain. Question Number One: Will it be reliable? Question
Number Two: What will it cost me? The issue of reliability will continue
to plague vendors especially as the speed of systems increase. Faster
build times increase the chances to crash. Check with the automotive
industry for verification or your local morgue, whichever is closer.

Since RP users tend to push their systems HARD unreliability may be
tolerated if the system cost is low enough. The 1999 RP technologies to be
introduced will play havoc with old users and unless the cost is
significantly low enough to entice plenty of new buyers we may see a
standoff in 1999. The show down at the RP corral may prove one thing to be
true. Proving vendors have no clue that lower costs equals more sales RP.
Poor users can expect the new systems to continue to deplete bank accounts.
 The push for lower priced systems will have to wait another year at least
in the US.

With high system cost and with more unreliability, you may be tempted to
ask just WHAT makes 1999 so exciting for RP&M users. Have faith my friends
cause lurking in the wings unknown to many are lots of new technologies as
well as places to spend your money. Well over 374 universities worldwide
are using RP for education and research. Graduating students will fully
recognize the capabilities of RP&M so their impatience and demands must be

Expect to see new materials and process improvements coming from Europe for
SLS technologies. Certainly a link between DTM and EOS would be fruitful
as well and a boom for users. India should produce major advances for FDM
as well as a large market. I see many new developments in the Nano scale
regions along with the huge zappum laser systems that fry things.
Multi-material and gradient materials could show their faces not just in
research systems. This will be a boom to tooling both short term and
production and the UK leads the way. The most excitement will come as new
competition from China emerges. Their 5-year technology plan provides
critical directives and new methods for RP&M is one of them. No longer
will the US, Germany, and Japan be the ONLY vendor nations.

All prognostications are given freely without charge and without proof.
Use of the above information is totally up to the reader and without
guarantee. Debates, arguments, and other types of data gathering are
strongly encouraged.

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)

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