RE: [rp-ml] A public survey on terminology

From: Schaefer, Nick (
Date: Wed Aug 10 2005 - 18:01:14 EEST

Thanks Steve!!

I figured if I waited a bit, someone would reply with the same or
similar opinions that I am thinking, and I could agree and maybe add an
extra comment or two and save me a lot of typing.

As it turns out, you stated my thoughts so well that no extra comments
from me are required.

Best regards,

Nick Schaefer
   Hewlett Packard
   Boise Site Mechanical Engineering Services
   Phone: (208) 396-4884

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Steve Baker
Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 6:29 PM
To: Marshall Burns
Subject: Re: [rp-ml] A public survey on terminology

Marshall Burns wrote:

> 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.

I think that we technologists have little control of the names people
actually use for things.

I don't think anything with 'rapid' or 'prototyper' is correct.

Some things are EXCEEDINGLY slow to build on one of these machines.
Some cheap 'rapid' prototypers may be very slow indeed - others will be
much faster. We should reserve our use of terms like 'fast', 'rapid',
'slow' to distinguish between machines that operate at different speeds.
You don't want people talking about 'a fast rapid prototyper' and 'a
slow rapid prototyper' - that's just silly. Also, the first generation
of these machines to hit the public's attention will be exceedingly
sluggish compared to the tenth generation of them. When you have a
machine that can make you something in two minutes, it'll seem stupid to
call today's hour long runs "rapid".

So 'rapid' isn't right - it's got to go.

Also, 'prototyper' is wrong.

These machines are CURRENTLY too slow and expensive for most
manufacturing tasks - so they are mostly consigned to making prototypes
for things that more conventional manufacturing will eventually produce
in quantity. But when they are as cheap as an inkjet printer, and people
are using them to make all sorts of things, the word 'prototype' won't
make sense anymore.

'fabber' - is OK I guess. I don't personally like it - but as a
contraction of the word 'fabricator', it could catch on and be
relatively meaningful. But we have other meanings for the word
'fabricator'. It's like the original meaning of the word 'computer' -
which was 'a person who calculates things'. It's gradually changed to
mean 'a machine that calculates things' -
but there was a time when the term must have been confusing. There are
people who currently call themselves 'fabricators' - so I would want to
qualify the term: "automatic fabricator" or maybe "computerized

But just 'fabber' is OK...I guess.

'3D printer' is the term I like best. It reflects the close analogy
with 2D printers. I imagine my 3D printer being connected to my
computer via the same port as my 2D printer currently is. I imagine
using it for similar jobs - one or two copies of something I downloaded
from the web or made myself. I imagine running out of expensive plastic
- just like I currently run out of horribly expensive toner.

The actual process is kinda similar too - and inkjet printer is a lot
like a plastic-squirting gizmo - except that it only works in 2D instead
of 3.

I could also imagine the 3D printer replacing my 2D printer -
fabricating thin plastic sheets with the text and graphics deposited
into it.

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

> form:

Term for the field of technology: 3D printing

Verb for making something with it: Printing

Term for machine that does it: 3D printer.

Other comments and suggestions:

It has been suggested that it would be easy to add a 3D scanner into one
of these gizmos - then you'd have a 3D photocopier - maybe a 3D camera
would take holiday snaps which you'd then print into little diorama's.

---------------------------- Steve Baker -------------------------
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