Re: [rp-ml] International Terminology Standards

From: Terry Wohlers <>
Date: Thu Jan 08 2009 - 17:28:28 EET

Hi Brock,

You and others bring up a good point: Some AF processes may not be viewed as "printing." When considering all of the different methods of document printing (inkjet, laser, wax transfer, die sublimation, offset press, impact, and others), how would you define "printing?"

Wilipedia says: Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing. Similarly, wordiQ says: Printing is an industrial process for reproducing copies of texts and images, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is an essential part of publishing.

Both are broad and somewhat vague. "3D printing" could be defined as an industrial process of reproducing physical objects, one layer (sheet) upon another.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Brock Hinzmann
  To: Terry Wohlers
  Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 10:58 PM
  Subject: Re: [rp-ml] International Terminology Standards

  Hi, Terry.

  We just finished our symposium at NIST on the future of manufacturing,
  which included a presentation by my colleague, Marifaith Hackett, on
  Additive Manufacturing, Including 3-D Printing.

  Marifaith obviously had a problem making 3-D printing the overarching
  descriptive term, because many if not most of the AF technologies are
  not printing technologies.

  The feedback at the symposium questioned why we even bothered including
  AF in our top ten areas to consider for the NIST roadmapping exercise
  until we can show widespread pote for net-shape 3-D AF of metal parts.
  Obviously, you have a long way to go.

  On the other hand, we took a lot of grief for not including printed
  electronics, which some people considered to have a much bigger
  potential economic impact than AF of plastic/polymer parts does.

  On the third hand, one of the suggestions made was that we had not fully
  considered the implications of increasing the functionality of AF by
  combining it with other printing technologies, such as printing of
  circuits on the inside of AF parts or incorporating electronic or MEMS
  components into AF parts.

  I'll let you know if we do, but I expect we will not be taking AF
  further in this particular project. The dream is still there, but the
  perception that it is ready for prime time is not.


  Terry Wohlers wrote:
> Greetings,
> First, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope that it is
> filled with peace and happiness.
> Next week, ASTM is hosting an organizational meeting to discuss
> industry standards and I hope you can attend. Details are at
> The use of terminology will be
> a part of these discussions. Over the past several years, I've put a
> lot of thought into the terms that we use in our industry and have
> come to the conclusion that there's no right or wrong terms, although
> some are better than others at communicating our thoughts. In
> preparation for next week's meeting, I'd like to initiate some
> discussion on the subject. I will share ideas, and hopefully some
> consensus, from the members of this list.
> For many years, "rapid prototyping (RP)" has been a popular term, and
> rightly so because prototyping has been the most popular application
> of additive fabrication (AF) technology. However, it is one of many
> applications as AF expands into new areas and industries.
> Consequently, a growing number of people are using terms such as
> "additive fabrication" or "additive manufacturing" when referring to
> the group of processes (e.g., fused deposition modeling, 3DP from Z
> Corp., laser sintering, etc.) that build parts layer by layer.
> Stratasys and 3D Systems have adopted the term "additive fabrication"
> as a catch-all term, although I cannot say whether it has become an
> official corporate standard at either company. Maybe. The mainstream
> press—when our industry is lucky enough to get included in it—uses "3D
> printing" most frequently. Among industry insiders, 3D printing refers
> to a group of AF processes that are relatively low cost, easy to use,
> and office friendly. Some think of the process from Z Corp. when
> hearing this term. Others may think of PolyJet from Objet Geometries.
> AF processes are being used for a range of applications including
> concept design and modeling, fit and function testing, patterns for
> castings, and mold and die tooling. They are also used for fixture and
> assembly tools, custom and replacement part manufacturing, special
> edition products, short-run production, and series manufacturing.
> Prototyping is one of many applications and that's why "RP" is no
> longer suitable in most instances as a catch-all term. In fact, many
> companies resist the idea of using a prototyping method for part
> manufacturing, so using this term could stifle AF's transition to
> manufacturing applications.
> The term "additive manufacturing" is fine, although because
> manufacturing is an application and not a technology, I believe it is
> plagued with problems, similar to "rapid prototyping." Consider, for
> example, this sentence: "My company is using additive manufacturing
> for manufacturing." It's confusing. Now, consider this: "My company is
> using solid freeform fabrication for manufacturing." Much cleaner. I'm
> not suggesting that we use "solid freeform fabrication;" I'm using it
> here to illustrate a point. I believe it works much better when the
> catch-all term does not include the name of an application. That way
> it can be used cleanly for all applications of the technology.
> Since 2005 I've used the catch-all term "additive fabrication" in our
> company's publications, presentations, and communications. It's not
> perfect, but it works. In the future, I truly believe that "3D
> printing" will become the most popular term. When I'm describing AF
> technology to a relative or someone I'm seated next to on an airplane,
> I use 3D printing because there's a better chance that he/she will
> understand what I'm saying. It's simple and easy to say. I prefer it
> over alternatives, but 3D printing currently means something else to
> many people in our industry. This is likely to change. An estimated
> 74% of all systems sold in 2007 were classified as a 3D printer and
> each year this percentage increases.
> If we were to let nature take its course, which term do you think
> would become the most popular in 5-7 years? In other words, which
> catch-all term do you feel has the greatest chance for success as AF
> works its way more deeply into both technical and consumer markets.
> Answering this question will help guide our thinking next week.
> Thanks!
> Terry
> ************
> Terry Wohlers
> Wohlers Associates, Inc.
> OakRidge Business Park
> 1511 River Oak Drive
> Fort Collins, Colorado 80525 USA
> 970-225-0086
> Fax 970-225-2027
> <>
Received on Thu Jan 08 17:27:21 2009

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