FW: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business

From: Blasch, Larry (LBlasch@OPW-FC.com)
Date: Thu Sep 18 2003 - 17:32:41 EEST

Sorry about this being a forward... I'm having trouble submitting to the
list due to my own SPAM filtering software.

-----Original Message-----
From: Blasch, Larry
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 9:16 AM
To: 'rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi'
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business

Dear RP-ML...

It does not matter what the material or process actually is, that is used to
create items for the homeowner, until the process is reversible or the
material recyclable, it will never become mainstream.

This is not an issue of "Green" politics or ecology, it's a matter of

The average "Joe Six-pack" won't want to stockpile a quantity if raw
material at any price, and wouldn't be happy about throwing away personally
created parts.

Think I'm wrong? OK, how many people keep a supply of inkjet cartridges
around the house? Do you think it's too much to keep an extra $30-50 worth
of supplies handy? How is this potential home RP printer going to change
your mind? If the supplies are dirt cheap relative to the current
SLA/FDM/SLS/inkjet materials, people would still complain that it costs too
much to keep supplies on hand.

Besides, the actual raw material cost for many engineered items (You know...
the stuff that people are supposed to be using the home RP machine to make.)
is pretty high, especially in small quantities. Unless the homemade RP parts
can be recycled, or reused, the machine will never be more than a hobbyist

Now look what happens if you make the process recyclable... You throw the
broken part into the machine and it gets re-processed into a new part. All
that you need to add is energy and perhaps an additional supply of generic
raw material/binder. Now the process will be accepted at home and the raw
material issue is nearly eliminated.

The potential for RP to replace the inventory of "obsolete"
repair/replacement parts for any durable goods store is pretty good. Imagine
your refrigerator door handle breaks, you call the store and they build a
replacement on their big, high speed replicator from the 3D engineering
design data library that the manufacturer offers on line (for a subscription
fee). You just pick it up or have it delivered. The raw material is now
purchased in large quantities and the manufacturing cost is offset by the
elimination of spare parts inventory. This applies to almost any material or
process so it could apply to many different industries.

Most of the materials used in products today are produced in large quantity
to supply an existing infrastructure that expects to make things by
softening and re-shaping small units of the actual material without changing
it's chemical structure. This works for a business model that uses high
volume, production tooling, dedicated process equipment to produce large
quantities of the same part or product. The term "Raw Material" is not
really correct in this model, since you are just processing an un-formed
material into it's final shape.

The manufacturing processes used to produce the plastic molding pellets are
not even starting with "raw materials" since they often work with refined
oils, not the crude out of the ground.

I'll propose another approach to RP materials... How about a machine that is
hooked to your natural gas line and converts the methane into plastic as
needed by the RP process? How many items can you make from different grades
of polyethylene? Raw material flows in through an existing supply system and
you just pay the bill every month based on the amount used. Oil or gasoline
would work also, but they're not as convenient.

My humble opinion...

Larry Blasch

Lawrence R. Blasch
Design Engineer
CAE Systems Administrator
OPW Fueling Components
P.O. Box 405003
Cincinnati, OH 45240-5003 USA
Voice: (513) 870-3356
Fax: (513) 870-3275

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