suggestive RM development

Date: Thu Jun 03 1999 - 15:36:39 EEST

This is a short summary of a development in a related field. Some people may
not think of this as "true 3D manufacturing," but I hope it's interesting

Associated Press recently reported (see Boston Globe 6/2) that bookstores
such as Borders Group Inc. are working with a company called Sprout in order
to provide consumers with the option of "instant paperbacks" (claiming about
15 min). This is apparently an effort to increase customer service and sales
(encouraged by web-based competition) without the tremendous costs of
stocking low-volume titles.

Of course we can't know whether this effort will be successful. Right now, I
can't think of another commercial venture which is closer to realizing true
"rapid manufacturing" for the masses. Though there are both differences and
parallels, I'd like to suggest one fundamental which may be interesting to
"listers" thinking about "RM." Specifically, this high speed 3D
manufacturing is limited to the production of objects from a special
"library." It avoids the data acquisition and processing complications of
"3D copying."

Beyond the world of publishing, I wonder what types of parts might first lend
themselves to rapid manufacture by machines which are specifically designed
for this type of production - where all operations and "toolpaths"
(subtractive/additive - whatever) are prepared only one time, to be executed
by many individual fabricators on a royalty basis? [The "instant product"
would not have to be indistinguishable from the factory-produced product. It
would merely have to fulfill the function of satisfying the user needs - as
for quick replacement of a failed part.]

Norman Kinzie
781 444 6910

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