RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business

From: Ben Halford (
Date: Sat Sep 20 2003 - 00:22:06 EEST

I haven't done the sums but someone recently told me that if you work it out
inkjet cartridge ink is priced at something close to 500/UK pint ($808,
717). Not a particularly

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Of Charles Overy
Sent: 18 September 2003 23:57
To: Blasch, Larry;
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business


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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