RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business

From: Blasch, Larry (
Date: Fri Sep 19 2003 - 21:51:02 EEST

Charles and list,

None of the current RP machines are designed to produce components using
processes with any less complexity and mess than the average meal made in
the average kitchen in the average house.

When you make dinner, you start with lots of ingredients (expensive or not)
and pots and pans and bowls and spoons and you mix and cook and combine
things to produce the ultimate short term consumable. Then you wash and
clean and put things away only to do it again at the next meal.
Granted, the materials are somewhat less nasty, If you ignore salmonella and

People spend outrageous amounts of money buying convenience foods that are
either fully prepared or partially prepared to save time and make their life
easier. Often, the price that they pay for the convenience is several orders
of magnitude higher than the cost of the un-prepared "raw" material but the
convenience is worth the extra cost. (It must be or else they are just
stupid with their money.)

How does someone determine what constitutes a convenience, and produce a
product that represents that to the consumer? You must evaluate what the
customer considers to be a waste of time and design a product or process
that can be marketed with that benefit in mind.

Most of the gadgets sold today are just that. Just think; people actually
pay extra for the convenience of holding a redundant switching system for
their TV in the palm of their hand. I remember when they came out. (yup I'm
that old) A TV set with a remote control cost $50-100 more than a standard
set. Now they are standard and many of the control features are much more
difficult to use on the console itself.

All this leads to the real issue, What is the convenience that can be
provided by a home RP unit?

It's not a necessity... after all, the items produced can probably be made
some other way for less money (in quantity) right?


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

-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Overy []
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 7:00 PM
To:; Blasch, Larry;
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business

Sorry the end of that message was

If you look at
you can actually get some numbers on this idea of parts bureau down the

Stove knobs range from $7 to $30, with the modal cost of $25.
That is going to be tought to beat.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Charles Overy []
> Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 4:57 PM
> To: Blasch, Larry;
> Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
> Larry,
> I think you have hit upon a very critical issue, the cost of
> materials. However, the problem with recylable materials is
> that injet cartidge/RP supplies are a major component of the
> business model for these companies. The revenue stream generated
> by the reoccuring sales of suppies is, at least for HP, greater
> than the gross revenue from product sales and the margins are
> much better (lower shipping costs, lower R&D, lower cost of
> selling, lower tech support, little or no software development).
> That is NOT to say that everyone is getting screwed on their
> supplies, basically you pay for the machine technology, and lower
> cost of future generations as you go. I doubt very much that HP
> would be selling $100 color printers at Walmart if they could not
> get a substantial number of those customers to plop in a $35
> cartidge every few months. It is certainly why HP (and others)
> have continued to improve the printers so that they will do
> photos. Photos use TONS of ink sold at the retail level, that is
> why they throw in the software to help you print many copies of
> your photos.
> Back to RP, at any given point in time we probably have $4000 in
> RP supplies and materials on hand. For an SLA it could be a
> whole lot more and I am guessing more as well for a
> sinterstation. To make a model of any reasonable size and
> interest costs us say at least $100 in consumables. I belive
> then that you need the same order of magnitude reduction in
> material costs as you do in machine cost. Even then it will be
> pretty expensive for the home user.
> If you look at
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: []On
> > Behalf Of Blasch, Larry
> > Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 8:33 AM
> > To:
> > Subject: FW: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
> >
> >
> > 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: ''
> > 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
> > practicality.
> >
> > 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
> > toy.
> >
> > 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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