I promised to share my thoughts on the RP&M show with Karl, Roger, Glenn
and the other folks who could not make it.
I think this was a very exciting show for several reasons:
-- Objet was there with their new machine, a very slick looking baby
that was shown making some pretty intricate geometries, including mechanisms
with moving parts. It works by ink-jetting photopolymer, ironically a sort
of cross between an SLA and a ThermoJet. The items were a little gummy
straight out of the machine. Some people said they noticed an acrylate odor
around the booth, but I didn't.
-- Z was making color objects by putting different colors in their
binder jets, a sort of obvious improvement, nicely implemented. In all the
models they were showing off, each color was used individually, but they
also showed me a sample of an early attempt to print a still-life painting
using 4-color process mixing of colors. It was interesting how little
interest the use of color seemed to attract from show-goers, but I predict
this capability will grow on the market and a few years from now you will
not be able to sell a monochrome fabber at all.
-- Two companies were presenting Web-based RfQ (request for quote)
systems for fabbing services, www.Bits2Parts.com and www.ProtoMarket.com.
Bits2Parts is part of a suite of Web tools being developed under the
PlanetCAD umbrella by Spatial Technologies, developers of the popular ACIS
CAD kernel. ProtoMarket is from an entrepreneurial start-up. These Web-based
fabbing portals are a very exciting development for the industry, beginning
the creation of the important connection between fabbing and the Internet.
-- POM was exhibiting objects made by the direct metal process
developed by Jhodi Mazumder at the U of Michigan. Its an interesting process
that seems to achieve high metallic density without generating high
temperatures in the workpiece, a neat trick.
There was other cool stuff too, but these were some of what I found the
most exciting. The digital manufacturing revolution is heating up, even
though most of the world still has no idea that we are here!
President, Ennex Corporation
Los Angeles, USA, (310) 397-1314
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