Re: [rp-ml] terminology and all that...

Date: Thu Aug 11 2005 - 17:54:02 EEST

In a message dated 05-08-09 13:01:43 EDT, you write:

 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
Dear Marshall:

Surveying ouselves is surveying the wrong people. It's preaching to the
converted or taking in each other's laundry.

Go outside and ask the first 20 people you see on the street to define any of
those terms - right out of the blue. The only one they have a prayer of
getting right is 3D printing and its variants. This is not a semantic problem,
nor one of taxonomy or technology. It's marketing 101. See, for example Ries
and Trout, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind - written more than 20 years
ago and still a good summary.

Like Sheba, I loathe the very sound of the word "fab." It might have been
gear in the 60's, but it's uncoolly retro and cacophonous to my ear. I find it
and its variants repellent, and more importantly - it's thoroughly meaningless
to John Q. Public. If this field is ever to progress and become meaningful to
a broader audience, that's who you must reach. R.I.P. - F.A.B.

In a message dated 05-08-09 13:01:25 EDT, you write:

 But, oops, this is interesting. Looks like I misread your message, Ed.
 Somehow I thought on first reading that you were suggesting taking Offset
 Fabbing open source. I see now that you were just talking about making a kit
 for it. Well, that's interesting too, but let me follow through on what I
 thought you were talking about in the first place.

What precisely I was trying to express is that you have the pieces to attack
an interesting and existing market. If it's true that Stratasys and Z Corp
are selling a quarter to a third of their products into the educational
marketplace, that's big enough to attract a bottom feeder that can quickly come in and
provide something well below today's entrants. It might even be the impetus
to drive those guys lower in price and substantially widen the market.

I'll leave it to others to speculate about where all this is leading 10 or 20
years hence. It's not that I don't speculate about tomorrow, it's just that
for me tomorrow is - well - Friday. I'm much more interested in what will
happen Friday than what will happen 10 years from Friday. Friday is almost here,
after all, and there's a fairly good probability I'll participate. If I were
you Marshall, I'd take Friday off to speculate on what I could be selling by

Open source? How does Red Hat make money? Do they? I don't follow the open
source movement closely. There are a lot of other ways of attacking the problem
of getting something like the above to market, though. But I leave that as
an exercise for the students.


Ed Grenda
Castle Island Co. (email)

The Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping

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