RE: 99 SME Conference

From: B. J. Arnold-Feret (
Date: Fri Apr 23 1999 - 17:43:51 EEST

What I got from listening to Terry's speech on the "State of the Industry"
was not that RP is in a demise mode, but that rather RP is questioning the
direction and methods that once drove the industry along such high growth
rate paths.

The bulk of what I took away from the speech includes:

- growth rates have fallen, and some major players are out of business
because they overestimated the cost of rapid expansion and had poor timing.
There is a over capacity of available SB time, and this has lead to failing
prices and an extremely competitive industry in some sectors.

- all developing evolving technologies have a "chasm" that shows up after
early adaptors of the technology slow down, and before the industry starts
to hit a maturation levels where the technology is widely accepted and used
in everyday operations. According to Terry, less than 16% of the total
potential market is realized by purchases from these "early adaptors" but
the initial purchases are followed by a gap in growth. (I saw this in at
least two other industries during the past twenty years.)

- there are new developments in both equipment and processes, but almost all
of the exciting technology seems to be coming out of countries other than
the US.

- 3D is bucking a trend of less expensive equipment rather than a more
affordable process.

- Rapid Tooling is still considered by Terry to be a high growth industry,
with over $375 million in sales. (I personally disagree strongly with his
sales figures and the rate of growth predictions.) Terry also notes
however, that this industry has been plagued with false hopes.

One other notables quote from that morning was from the John Deere speaker.
I saw everyone in the room write down this one:

"Technology is the enabler, not the catalyst."

So, in summary, I don't think that Terry means that RP is going dead, but
that RP is changing, moving a different direction and method than was
assumed in the early years. I still disagree with the figures that Terry
cites and the growth prediction numbers that he favors.

IMHO. And, this is not a flame.

B. J. Arnold-Feret

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