[rp-ml] A public survey on terminology

From: Marshall Burns (MB-ListMail2@Ennex.com)
Date: Tue Aug 09 2005 - 19:25:06 EEST

Ed, you really got me going with this e-mail, in two different ways. I'm
going to break my response into two messages, this one and another one on
the open source stuff you mentioned.

In reading your message, I came "this close" to chucking "fabber" and
switching my sites over to saying "3D printer" instead. It really grabbed me
by the throat when you said that my terminology "stands in the way of
popularization of the field." Ouch. If that's true, what a cruel irony, and
something I would want to correct immediately if I become convinced that
it's true.

So let me ask other people on here to chime in on this issue. What
terminology do you think is best in the long run for the technology that
makes physical objects automatically from a digital description and raw
materials. I suggest that we look at answers in the form of a list of three
terms, one for the field of technology, one for the verb meaning to make
something with the technology, and one for the machine that does it. So I
suppose some of the choices are:

        Rapid prototyping, rapid prototype, rapid prototyper
        RP, RP, RP device or RPer
        Desktop manufacturing, desktop manufacture,
                        desktop manufacturer or DTMer
        Solid freeform fabrication, SFF, SFFer
        3-D printing, 3-D print, 3-D printer
        Digital fabrication or fabbing, fab, fabber

These are just some of the most popular terms that have cropped up over
time. I would invite people to suggest new terminology that hasn't appeared
before. God knows, we could use some fresh ideas!

If you want to participate in the survey, please fill in the following form:

        Term for the field of technology: ____________________________

        Verb for making something with it: _____________________________

        Term for machine that does it: _____________________________

        Other comments and suggestions:

If people will send this in either on-list or privately (please keep the
subject line unaltered to help me compile the responses), I will collect the
results and report back to the list.

I'm not promising to change my use of terminology based on the results, but
I do hope to learn something, and I am open to changing my ways if they are
indeed not helpful.

Best regards,
Marshall Burns


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi [mailto:owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi] On Behalf
Of EdGrenda@aol.com
Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 10:18
To: MB-ListMail2@Ennex.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: [rp-ml] Back from oblivion

Hi Marshall:

Nice to see you back in the bully pulpit. I just have a few comments.

Rapid prototyping hasn't really stalled. In fact, according to Terry's most

recent update it's going gangbusters in terms of units sold and revenue. But

it has changed, and certainly the amount of discussion and interest has
decreased markedly. It's dichotomous that while there has been this great
increase in sales, and an enormous widening of potential application areas
as witnessed by IP developments, there have been less than 100 postings to
the RPML during the last couple of months.

It can't be that all the questions are answered now, but it may be that
certain technologies have become dominant enough to provide easily accepted
but limited solutions.

It does matter what a field is called. If the public can't hang a simple
name on it, it won't be understood. And it won't ever be popularized.
Nanotech? That term encompasses a huge range of disparate items, many or
most completely unrelated - but it's a buzzword that gets the juices flowing
in a large segment of the population. It sounds excitingly futuristic, even
though it's inexact and very general.

Clinging to "fabbers" and "fabbing" is not helpful, and stands in the way of

popularization of the field. All the other terms largely stink, too -
including RP which is what I've mostly used. Today "3D printing" is
probably the easiest and only way to make a connection between what's
already in the heads of the public with the greater awareness of this field.
Any good marketer knows that if you don't try to work with what's already in
the mind of the prospect, you will fail to communicate the message. It may
be one major reason why interest in RP has diminished in the face of
increased sales. The newbies don't know that RP is 3D printing.

Being technically correct may give you a warm glow, but it won't heat your

As we discussed on the phone a while back, one of the things that you excel
at is proselytizing. Well, that's a job that needs to be done here - and it

may harbor rewards. I remember as a youth reading about Billy Graham
retiring to his mountain top retreat in Virginia to contemplate his next
crusade, or whatever. He rechargeth his batteries, in any case, in splendid
surroundings. What made this particularly memorable for me as a kid was that
he had just come to our very neighborhood to drive the sinners out of our
very own honky-tonks. Incidentally, the bars were very proud of this, and
there were pictures in the windows from the newspapers of him doing it. It
got them more business by proving that sin could actually be had on the

Now, I was awestruck because somehow I thought when he went home, it would
be to a neighborhood like ours, knee-deep in cigar butts, but it wasn't.
The point I'm trying to make is that you've already started on this path
with some success, and it might not be a bad idea to keep at it. Others
have apparently handsomely succeeded at similar endeavors.

... [snip: remaining portion appears in my next response]

Ed Grenda
Castle Island Co.
781-646-6280 (voice or fax)
EdGrenda@aol.com (email)

The Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping

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