Re: RP Paper

From: Ronald Jones (
Date: Sat Aug 07 1999 - 01:32:22 EEST

Phill, Sean, Allan, Marshal and anyone else who wants to wade in,

Some time ago I became acquainted with the concept of paradigms and paradigm
shifts. I believe part of the explanation as to why the manufacturing world
views RP as a way to improve upon the mechanized industry model and fields
such as medicine, forensics, architecture and fine art see RP as an improved
method for customized fabrication relates to the fact that most paradigm
shifts originate from the "fringes" of a field, not from the center. In
fact, I see most of the breakthroughs to occur in the next few years will be
outside of established industry. Then through a reverse process,
manufacturers will adapt to an increased market demand for "custom" products
that can only be cost-effectively produced using equipment that had its
origins in what we call RP today.

But this whole conversation reminds me of a technique that Heinlin, a
science fiction writer developed called "future history". Using this
technique, writers create a future world, but recognize there must be a
logical progression for the evolution of the culture as well as technology.
Given that notion, you can use your imagination to envision a future world
where products are mostly custom; complex systems like spacecraft and
aircraft carriers are self-replicating and even self-improving. And picking
up on Marshal's thoughts, I agree that e-commerce will become the
distribution backbone of the world economy and production will adapt to
anything which provides competitive advantage using that medium. Perhaps
within the next few years, we'll see literally thousands of new service
bureaus dedicated to new custom applications that are directly marketed to
customers through the internet. By default, manufacturing as we know it
begins to diminish and we return instead to the cottage industry that
preceded the industrial revolution but updated to the 21st Century.
-----Original Message-----
From: Lightman, Allan J <>
To: 'Ronald Jones' <>;
<>; Sean M. Gladieux <>
Cc: <>
Date: Friday, August 06, 1999 2:47 PM
Subject: RE: RP Paper

>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
>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
>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
>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
>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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