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

From: Holmer Berndt (
Date: Mon Aug 29 2005 - 14:22:14 EEST

Hello List,

Thank you, Klas, for a perfectly clarifying contribution to this interesting thread! However, being so exhaustive you didn't have time to identify yourself so, for those who didn't recognize you, the author was Dr Klas Boivie of KTH in Stockholm, Sweden, presently active at NTH-SINTEF in Trondheim, Norway.

I support Klas' suggestion fully, i.e.:

        Term for the field of technology: Additive Manufacturing
        Verb for making something with it: Build
        Term for machine that does it: Additive Manufacturing Machine - anyone bought an AMM lately?

This goes for professionals in the field and in particular that part of the professional side where the goal is Rapid Manufacturing (the term used for the concept, not the technology). However, when it comes to the future hobby machine made in millions as well as to the typical office machine of today, I believe that 3D Printer is likely to be widely used, be it a true printing technology that is utilized or not. The analogy with 2D Printing for those applications and those kinds of users is immensely strong making 3D Printing an irresistibly natural term. It is also a term that will translate easily into other languages or in some cases won't even need much translation. Ed Grenda wrote when this thread started 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". Well, I believe that 3D Printing is what will naturally be in the mind of prospects.

BTW, what is Star Trek?

Best regards
Berndt Holmer

IVF Industrial Research and Development Corporation
Brinellvagen 68
SE-100 44 Stockholm
Phone: +46 (0)8-21 31 74
Fax: +46 (0)8-20 22 27
Mobile: +46 (0)70-780 62 15

> -----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
> Från: []
> Skickat: den 26 augusti 2005 20:48
> Till:
> Kopia:
> Ämne: Re: [rp-ml] A public survey on terminology
> Hi listers!
> Well it was a long time since rp-ml has been as active as
> during the last
> few weeks. Maybe we really need someone like Marshall to come
> in and throw
> a torch from time to time. Welcome back!
> The terminology of our branch of technology is indeed an
> entangled mass of
> concepts, abberiviations, brand names and applications, and
> some sort of
> agreement on the structure of this terminology is very much
> needed. I'm
> afraid my own humble opinions on this matter may produce a rather long
> answer but I'll try to keep the main points in the beginning and then
> those interested can decide for their own wether it is worth
> their while
> to follow up on rest of the argument.
> First of all the terminology must separate technology from
> application of
> technology or strategy. Even though some technologies may be very
> advantageous for certain applications or strategies, they are
> hardly used
> exclusively for that particular purpose, and may most likely share the
> application with other technologies. This will cause confusement and
> seemingly contradictions, even more so when the technology in question
> have more than one application area.
> Secondly, the terms for a technology should be clear and unambiguos,
> descriptive, if possible, and put focus on the smallest
> common denominator
> and critical point of that technology. However, if an
> application of this
> technology reaches a wide acceptance with the general public, we could
> expect that the popular term for that application, and
> possibly the whole
> branch of technology will be based on the name of the product
> that made
> the technology public commongoods. (For reference consider
> terms such as
> "PC", "Walkman" and others.)
> It is also nice if a technological term is easy to translate
> into other
> languages than english.
> So my choice of term for the technology is "Additive Manufacturing".
> -Descriptive, focusing on the unique, critical point and common
> denominator of a number of otherwise quite different processes.
> The process of producing an object by this technology: "Building".
> -Implies an additive process and a term alredy in use in many additive
> manufacturing machines.
> And finally for the general term for machines that produces objects by
> additive manufacturing it is natural to use "Additive manufacturibng
> Machine". However, when the abstraction level comes down to the actual
> machines, the difference between the various processes makes using the
> terminology for the particular process or individual machine more
> reasonable than the general term.
> Example:
> "The SLA and SLS are both additive manufacturing machines,
> but while the
> SLA bilds parts by addition from liquid polymer, SLS builds
> by addition
> from powder materials."
> Or
> "-This is a real complex part, it should to be made by Additive
> Manufacturing."
> "-I suggest we use the LENS to build it."
> (Here it might be appropropriate to make a point that abberiviations
> shoould bwe avoided unless ther is absolutely no risk for
> missunderstandings. Example:
> "-This is a real complex part it should be made by A.M."
> "-That soon? It's impossible!")
> Some times during this discussion it has seemed as people have been
> discussing different things. While some have been arguing for a common
> terminology for Additive Manufacturing technology, other have been
> suggesting names for the anitcipated easy to use household
> manufacturing
> machine, that could, but not necesarily will, be based on Additive
> Manufacturing technology. I have no real problem with terms such as
> "Replicator", "Materializer", "3DPrinter" (as long as it is based on a
> rpinter like technology), "Fab", or "Fabber" for a household
> manufacturing
> device or process, but really, that is not for us to decide.
> That honor
> will most likely go to who ever popularizes the application with the
> genaral public. But as a general term for the technology they
> don't make
> much sense.
> Terms from Star Trek and other parts of popular culture better be very
> descriptive to catch on internationally, otherwise they will be quite
> pointless in the parts of the world where these series never
> heve been a
> hit. English is indeed the common international language of technical
> communication, but all icons of anglo-saxon popular culture are not
> international points of reference, especially not if they are a few
> decades old. (There are offensive jokes about people who has failed to
> understand this.)
> The terms "Digital Fabricator", "Fabber" or "Fab" are all
> fine for a fully
> automatic and/or digital machine that fabricates objects, but there is
> nothing apart from the digital/fully automatic part that connect these
> terms to the additive manufacturing processes.
> I recently visited the opening of MIT-FabLab at Lyngen, arctic Norway.
> This is a part of a visionary project to bring technological
> litteracy and
> empowerment to people and areas that are somewhat outside the present
> technology clusters. The MIT-FabLabs are openend on a wide scale
> internationally and are supplied with user friendly equipment to build
> more or less anything. ("Fab"- stands for "fabrication" or "fabulous"
> whichever you chose, quote) But this equipment does not
> include any kind
> of Additive Manufacturing machines. (-Unless you chose to count the
> stacking of cut-outs from a laser- or plasma-cutter.)
> In respect to small scale manufacturing and innovation I
> believe that the
> terms "fab", "fabber" etc. have a fair chance of making it into the
> general vocabulary, and the MIT project may help, but not for
> the use as a
> exclusive term for Additive Manufacturing.
> This brings up the term "Layered Manufacturing", which I find
> one of the
> least bad terms for the technology. But it is not exclusively
> descriptive,
> stacking of cut outs, and even the lamination of fiber
> materials would be
> more appropriate to term "Layered Manufacturing" than for example SLA.
> Neither is the separation into layers the critical point in a
> number of
> additive manufacturing technologies. -One could easily
> imagine a future
> development of some LENS-like process where the parts are built
> simultaneously in three dimensions. that would by-pass the
> layer structure
> while the additive approach and principal attributes of the
> process would
> remain.
> The term 3DPrinting makes perfectly sense for a printing-like
> process such
> as Z-corp, ProMetal or ThermoJet, but gets a bit missleading
> when you talk
> about SLA- or SLS-like processes and it gets really strange
> when you talk
> about any LENS-like process as "3DPrinting".
> Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF), "Free Form Fabrication"
> (FFF) and others
> are all fine, but perhaps a bit of tongue twisters when read
> out in full,
> and not really focussing on the crucial point of the
> technology. -And then
> there is this thing about abberiviations needing to be
> absolutely clear or
> at least not ambiguous or missleading.
> Finally we have the terms Rapid Prototyping, Rapid Tooling,
> and all the
> rest of that bunch. The usage of terms that in reality places
> the focus on
> the application areas instead of the technology is something
> I've had real
> problems with. This usage may have been more appropriate in
> the early days
> when there really was only one applcation area for the Additive
> Manufacturing technologies but even then there were still other
> technologies that in many cases were a lot more rapid or
> accurate. Today
> this discrepancy is even more obvious. In addition to this
> there are other
> industrial sectors that use the same term for very different
> technologies
> but with the same purpose.
> At one time some people turned to my old university and asked if there
> were any one who could come and speak about rapid prototyping
> at a seminar
> they were having. So the university sent me, all set up with slides,
> models and case studies. -But the seminar was on electronics
> design and
> the people attending weren't the slightest interested in physical
> models.(Even though some thought the model of a skull was cool...)
> Among our own community we are pretty clear about what we
> mean by RP, RT,
> RM, etc. but in contact with other people without our inside- and
> background knowledge, or only partial insight in the technology and
> terminology this can cause a confusement that may be
> contra-productive for
> us. If making people accepting new and radical ideas is
> difficult, it is a
> lot harder to make them give up their old preconceptions and
> prejudice.
> The identification of Additive Manufacturing technologies as
> being mostly
> about "Rapid Prototyping" is one such prejudice. As long as this
> technology i principally associated with prototyping,
> projects regarding
> other applications of this technology will have a much harder
> time finding
> the necesary funding. Of course i realize that "RP" and the others are
> well established terms, but eventually the usage of this outdated
> terminology will have to be phased out, and we might as well
> start now.
> /Klas,
> in deep respect for those with the endurance to read this
> far. -Luckily I
> don't post that often....

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