Re:[rp-ml] Where are the Universities?

From: Chris Arnold (
Date: Sat Dec 31 2005 - 07:37:49 EET

Would a better question be for what goals did early adopters start
their programs? Has that changed?

We've moved through several Z-Corp systems and now use an FDM for our
in-house RP work. Granted, our studios aren't teaching "rapid-
prototyping", our interest isn't in RP itself, rather we see it as a
means to an end. In some cases it allows students are able to make
things more easily then they might have by traditional means. For
others it may be the only way to physically realize their designs.
Several of our graduate students have explored specific RP
applications, but RP was a tool, part of a larger design process
rather than a study of the technology itself. If we didn't offer the
service (at cost) they would still find unique applications and
methods using outside bureaus.

In any case, individual designers and creators should be driving what
prototyping (additive or subtractive) is to be. Large corporate
manufacturers may see it as another tool of the industrial
revolution. They use it to make more stuff; better, faster, cheaper
(you choose the emphasis or their level of success). The real power
of change lies in thousands of designers making exactly what's needed
as they address unique problems with specific solutions.

I don't know that universities have lost interest. Maybe it's just
that RP is not being studied independently as it might have been.
Ultimately the machine is only as good as what you use if for.

Chris Arnold, IDSA
Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial Design
Auburn University, AL USA
On Dec 29, 2005, at 2:51 PM, Al Hastbacka wrote:
> We get the feeling that the university interest in RP has really  
> dwindled over the past several years.  Is this observation unique  
> to us, or has there been a major downsizing in RP efforts at the  
> colleges and universities that others have also observed?  ( e.g,  
> Clemson used to be a major contributor to the list, but now it is  
> difficult to discern any interest in RP at that school).

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