SOTI Report at SME

From: Lightman, Allan J (
Date: Wed Apr 28 1999 - 00:48:50 EEST

I have found it somewhat painful to read the rather acrimonious evaluation
of Terry Wohlers' State of the Industry report at the recent RP meeting in
Chicago. Particularly distressing is that the participants are all
champions of the RP arena and, I think, fervently work for the success of
this technology. Terry has been a champion in every sense: through
publications in a variety of journals, initiating the foundation of
societies (RPA/SME) and organizations (GARPA), and interfacing with
government sponsors to aid with RP technology development. Collecting
statistical data on the state of the industry is perilous, at best. Most
sources view this information as 'Competition Sensitive.' And while
everyone wants to know how the industry is faring, few want everyone to know
how they are doing in particular. For the past years, while expansion was
in progress, nobody questioned the veracity of Terry's figures or his
sources. Now, when he reports a concern about stagnation, he is pilloried.
(Somewhat of a double standard.)

I have assisted Terry collecting data on government sponsorship of RP
related activities. Every year this information becomes more difficult to
assess as the focus of research shifts from technology development to
applications and the RP effort gets integrated into a larger scope. In a
similar way, as RP systems become integrated into mainline manufacturing,
proportioning the 'RP business' becomes ever more difficult. Evaluating the
health of the industry and its future potential is more tenuous, but vital
for potential new entrants. (To misquote Yogi Bera: It is very difficult to
make predictions, especially about the future.)

The issue is serious. But when you don't like the message, it does not
improve the situation to attack the messenger. I encourage all those who
want more accurate statistical data to work together to develop a better
method of measurement. Terry has shown exemplary integrity and he carefully
considers the impact of every statement he makes in his report.

> ------------------------------
> Allan J. Lightman, Ph.D.
> Senior Research Scientist
> University of Dayton Research Institute
> 300 College Park
> Dayton, OH 45469-0150, USA
> Voice: +1-937-229-3966
> FAX: +1-937-229-3433
> E-mail:
> WWW:

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