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

From: Adrian Bowyer <>
Date: Mon Jan 02 2006 - 16:27:15 EET

Quoting Marshall Burns <>:

> Good to hear from you on this subject! Interesting that you talk about the
> vendors being attached to their $25,000 machines because I've been thinking
> that 3D and Stratasys are trying to cripple sales of their low-cost machines
> to protect the market for their $500k and $800k machines.

I think so too. And for the very best reason: it's what I would do if I were in
their situation and wanted to stay solvent. They do have a high-risk
alternative strategy available, of course, and that's to start selling the $800
machines now, and then to get bought out for a fortune by HP in a few years...

Of course - just as for printers - the money's to be made in selling the
cartridges of material in Wal-mart, not the machines themselves.

> In any case, your efforts to turn the whole thing to open source is
> certainly interesting. I still don't really understand how open source works
> in hardware, but I'm looking forward to learning from market observation
> when you get things moving.

Perhaps a way to think about it is to consider ease of copying: open source
software only works because it is now trivially easy to copy a large quantity
of information (RH Linux now more-or-less fills one DVD...). When it's just as
easy to copy a piece of hardware, the same principles start to apply.

> In the meantime, I wonder, what are you guys doing at Bath on the curriculum
> side? Any comments on my call (rant) for a Fabricator Science program?

At the moment we teach our engineers about (I'm guessing 'cos I only do some of
it) 6 hours of lectures on the technologies, and informally give them all
access to the hardware for their project work. I was a bit dubious about this
when we started, because I thought we'd have an unstoppable flood of fabrication
requests from the students. But that hasn't transpired - a few of them (and not
always the most imaginative ones) really get involved and use it extensively.
The majority don't - and I don't know why. They are all completely familiar
with the CAD system that they need to generate the STL files, having used it
since the first weeks in their first year. A bit of a mystery.

But I agree with you that there is certainly enough to run a module on
Fabricator Science for all engineers, and maybe even enough for an entire
degree course.

Just as chemistry has re-invented itself as nanotechnology, Manufacturing
Engineering can do the same with its current renaissance.


Received on Mon Jan 02 14:22:49 2006

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