RE: RP Paper

From: Lightman, Allan J (
Date: Fri Aug 06 1999 - 21:57:59 EEST

Ron, Phill, Sean and all RPers,

You have started an interesting thread - prognosticating on the role of RP
for the future. I have abreviated my message by cutting off the previous
discussions - most have probably already seen them once or twice.

A long, long time ago (as measured in Internet time or about 10 years in
calendar time), when the future of RP was but a gleam in the eyes of the few
people working in this field, a sagacious engineer commented to me, "We
stand on the threshold of the second industrial revolution."

The first industrial revolution involved the use machinery for production
rather than using hand tools. This in turn lead to standardization,
assembly line production, and the development of tools for mass fabrication
of standard parts. With the concurrent cost reductions and improvements in
quality, all designs were accommodated to the standard components that were
now readily available. The engineer, viewing RP at its onset, saw an
opportunity to be able to make custom parts, each individually tailored to
the requirements of the task for which it was to be used, while deriving the
cost and quality benefits of 'mass' production. To date this has not been
realized. Instead, RP has been used in a manner in which it directly
competes with the other fabrication techniques used for mass produced parts
and assemblies. In part this is a result of the mindset of designers and
engineers who have been educated under the framework of the benefits derived
from the first industrial revolution.

With the recent development of higher speed RP equipment, the availability
of new materials with improved 'strength,' are we now in position to
consider design/fabrication that is customized for the application (one or
very few of a kind) and use a design that is suited to the materials
available? There are many instances in which either the need is individual
or where standard components just do not fit well enough. Can the added
cost of RP be justified by the customization provided? These will probably
be higher cost, high value added products. Medical applications are an area
in which we have seen some gain by RP. Hopefully the health insurance
companies won't snuff it out. Part of the obstacle that needs to be
overcome is that this represents out-of-the-box conceptualization, which
requires a mindset adjustment. Is anyone looking along these lines?

Allan Lightman
> ------------------------------
> Allan J. Lightman, Ph.D.
> Senior Research Scientist, Research Institute
> Associate Professor, Electro-Optics
> University of Dayton
> 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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