99 SME Conference

From: Karl Denton (karldenton@ameritech.net)
Date: Thu Apr 22 1999 - 19:27:37 EEST

Ok kids it's time that I comment on what I saw at this years exhibition, I
did not attend the conference although I purchased the proceedings...

I know that these comments will stir the pot so-to-speak so I am prepared
for the worst!

First things first... As I did not attend the conference this year I missed
Terry Wohlers talk on the "State of the Industry" and the following is based
on reading his executive summary the complete report was not at the show so
I'll be as brief as the summary was:

In the summary section Terry states "The rapid prototyping industry is
questioning the future of its technology" could all of you out there please
send me a note on weather or not your opinion was ever solicited on this
topic! Could you service bureaus please send me a note on weather or not
you have been expanding your business both with and with out new or used RP

I am curious where this information comes from and some might say that this
public forum is not the place to question these things but for years Terry
has predicted a very substantial amount of growth year after year and now he
is predicting essentially the end of an industry! The growth that was
spoken to in previous years never happened and I now question what was used
to base those statements on.

I am getting a bit frustrated with this apparent lack of a reality check
that we have in this industry and think its time to be vocal about it. I
inquired about purchasing a copy of Terry's report and he stated that it is
at the printer and gave me a mail-in order form for it. He is asking $345
from those that live in the US and $395 from those that live else where for
this kind of money I want to know more on how this information was collected
and who he collected it from! Every single person that I speak to in the RP
industry (both in-house user and service bureaus) tell me the exact opposite
of what Terry and his reports say!

Now if you're calm enough here are my comments on the rest of the show...

All the major RP equipment manufacturers were there minus Aaeroflex. There
was major activity at all of the manufacturers booths. And the crowd seemed
to be a bit heavier then last year (although SME will have actual numbers).
3D Systems had their 7000 running but it had trouble due to heavy trucks
driving on the roadway under the show area. Nice machine! I'm not sure
it's $750,000 nice but it was nice. The new Actua was also there and
having seen some of the parts that came off the machine I'm not that
impressed. Sanders was showing off a new larger machine that had about a 12
inch build volume and when I asked if they were able to increase the speed
they said only via software. I've got to tell you that they were vocal
about the fact the machine was as accurate as CNC and that was it's selling
point. They had a SL user accuracy part that they had built on the machine
and it looked very impressive although I wonder how long it took to build?
The other manufacturers were there as well and I did not see any thing all
that new and impressive to write about.

There were several, no that's wrong, there were a lot of service bureaus
there! More then I've seen at any other of the RP shows.

There were several companies there that I had not seen at prior shows.
There was a company there showing off small (table top) injection mold
machines (I have yet to go through the stack of literature so the name will
come latter). Several PU mixing machines. And the usual PU vendors and
silicone rubber vendors. One thing that did catch my eye was a pour-able
REN board from Ciba. They had a tool there that was very impressive.

Notables in the industry that were NOT at the show: Aaeroflex, Solid
Concepts, Compression and of course Plynetics/Express

Having not attended the conference this year I can not speak to that side of
things and that said the show was somewhat disappointing for an old timer in
this industry. It was great to see old friends and that made the trip worth
while. I'm not sure where this industry is going and think that for those
that were new at the RP show this was an exciting event for them and that
may help to energize other in this industry.

All that said let the flaming begin....

Karl R. Denton
Advanced Technology Consultants LLC
4778 Greenview Ct.
Commerce Twp., MI 48382
Email: karldenton@ameritech.net
Phone: 248-363-1478
Cell: 248-789-6410
Pager: 248-523-3318
Fax: 248-363-7488

Helping you excel through the use of Advanced Technologies

For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/

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