Re: Fabber manufacturing

From: Michael Vincek (
Date: Sat Aug 07 1999 - 00:59:47 EEST


You guys have way toooo much time on your hands.

-----Original Message-----
From: Marshall Burns <>
To: <>; Sean M. Gladieux
<>; List: Rapid prototyping <>
Cc: Linda Thurman <>; Maurice Cathalifaud
<>; Randy Rua <>
Date: Friday, August 06, 1999 2:38 PM
Subject: Fabber manufacturing

>Dear RP-world,
> It looks like we've got some debate going in here on the merits and
>feasibility of using fabbers ("rapid prototyping") for manufacturing. I had
>dinner last night with some friends in the Internet business who had an
>interesting insight on this subject. I'll be interested on the comments of
>people on this list to these ideas.
> One of the reasons the advent of the Internet has been so impactful is
>what it does to the VALUE CHAIN for the distribution of products. One might
>draw the modern, pre-Internet value chain as follows:
> Manufacturer --> Wholesaler --> Distributor --> Retailer -->
>What the Internet does is that it opens the opportunity for direct
>interaction between the manufacturer and customer, so that the value chain
>can be reconfigured:
> Manufacturer --> Customer --> Manufacturer
>The last link above reflects the fact that with the Internet the customer
>has a greater opportunity to interact with and influence the manufacturer.
>If I were writing this posting in a graphical medium, the above would be a
>cycle from manufacturer to customer and back. The reduction of
>intermediaries in the relationship between manufacturer and customer
>eliminates costs and time from the distribution process, and improves
>communication. The result is greater satisfaction of the customers' needs,
>faster, and at lower cost.
> The optimal structure is not always this fully collapsed value chain,
>but there can be opportunities for an Internet intermediary that adds value
>to the product or to the customer/manufacturer interaction:
> Manufacturer --> Web portal --> Customer
> But instead of going into details on this, let's change back to OUR
>subject of the use of fabbers in manufacturing, and let's look at it from
>this point of view of its effect on the value chain in the design and
>manufacturing of products.
> The idea is that what the Internet does to the value chain for the
>DISTRIBUTION of products, the fabber does to the value chain for the
> So the value chain for manufacturing in the industrial era might be
>viewed as:
> Concept --> Prototype --> Tooling --> Production -->
>Distribution --> Product
>What the fabber does is eliminate the need for tooling and mass production
>AND ALSO distribution because the customer (who may be a business or an
>individual) may very well be operating the fabber on-site or at a local 3-D
>Kinko's. Also the concept of a prototype becomes fluid because the customer
>can iterate the product, try out each iteration, and either keep iterating
>or stop iterating, depending on when satisfactory performance is achieved.
>Which iterations are prototypes and which are products? Such semantic
>distinctions are not important. The value chain becomes:
> Concept --> Iteration --> Concept
>where the last link, as in the above Internet example, would be shown as a
>cycle if I were writing in a graphical environment.
> Now I'm sure a lot of people on the list are getting ready to respond
>this by arguing that for most products a complete and ready-to-use product
>cannot be made on a fabber because of limitations in materials, the need
>assembly of mechanisms, and the high cost of operating fabbers. To all
>people, I ask you to think back to the days of the Model T Ford and ask
>yourself if you could have foreseen interstate freeways (autobahns) and
>suburban shopping malls. Think back to IBM's first computer, the 650, and
>ask if you could have foreseen the Internet. Think back to Goddard's first
>suborbital rocket launch and ask if you could have foreseen people walking
>on the moon. Of course today's fabbers cannot make even a small fraction of
>the catalog of modern products enjoyed by people around the world. But
>tomorrow's fabbers will.
> The next step in this discussion could be to look at what happens to
>total product value chain when you combine the effects of both fabbers and
>the Internet. I'll leave that for another posting.
>Best regards,
>Marshall Burns
>Ennex Corporation, Los Angeles, USA, (310) 824-8700
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