Re: Fw: [rp-ml] International Terminology Standards

From: <>
Date: Thu Jan 15 2009 - 21:45:33 EET

Hello everyone,

To those of you with little time and/or patience:
For reasons stated below I support “Additive Manufacturing” as a general
technical term for the processes and “Additive Manufacturing Technologies”
as a general technical term (family name) for the process technologies.

Those of you with more time and patience, please continue reading…

This last round in the terminology discussion has brought up a number of
interesting and relevant points. However, I believe that we might need to
make a distinction between a precise technical terminology, used for
example in academics and for international standards, and a more popular
terminology for everyday conversation. Terminology for academics and
international standards must be precise, unambiguous and all-inclusive for
its topic, while the popular terminology can be more or less anything that
is generally understood by people with basic knowledge in the area. This
separation is not uncommon and functions nicely in a number of technology
areas. (For example: in everyday use most people prefer to use the term
“Teflon” instead of the more technically correct “Polytetrafluorethylene”
or the abbreviation PTFE.) The popular terminology will, as Adrian and
others on several occasions has pointed out, be (or perhaps is already)
defined by those who communicate the technology to the wider parts of
society outside our community, and may very well be based on trade names
and/or abbreviations, meanwhile the precise technical terminology must be
defined by us in the professional community as a means for communicate
more profound and detailed understanding of the technology, as is needed
for an international standard or writing scientific papers. (However in
the present situation, we do not presently seem to have any problems
understanding each other within our community even with today’s several
different “not really defined but active” terminologies.) Still it is
desirable, even if not necessary, that in the future the different
terminologies are kept as close and compatible with each other as

Since it is the important and urgent issue of international
standardization that brought this discussion to life this time, it is the
precise technical terminology that is most in need of definition and also
most within our control to define, I believe that it is there we should
focus our attention this time.

In order for the terminology to be precise and inclusive it has to focus
on what makes this technology unique compared to other technologies; what
is characteristic of this technology. To me the most significant
characteristic of our technology area is that it shapes tangible artifacts
by successive addition of raw materials. It is also quite clear that the
process used for this materials addition will determine which materials
that can be used, and in addition to this, that the properties of the
final part will be determined not only by what material is added but also
by the process parameters that are used to control the process step and
phase transformation that fuses the raw material to the part. Thus I
support to include “Additive” (or something else that high-light this
critical and determining step of the technology) to be a part of the
precise technical term as a “family name” for this technology, (-or group
of technologies, if you prefer).

“Additive” is inclusive for all processes in this technology area, but
further precision is needed if the terminology is to be definitive. In the
invitation for participation in the standardization the term “Additive
Manufacturing” is predominately used, whereas Terry and other heavy weight
names, (such as for example Ed Grenda), have supported “Additive
Fabrication”. After consulting a number of dictionaries (English is not my
first language, perhaps obvious for the patient reader that has come this
far), I still have to support “Additive Manufacturing” as the more precise
and inclusive term;

Manufacture comes from Latin manu factum “made by hand” (The Concise
Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins), -or manu “by hand” + factus “made”
(The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) which also
defines Manufacturing as “To make or process a product or raw material
into a finished product especially in large quantities or by industrial
machines.” Oxford Concise Dictionary defines manufacture as “bring
material into form fit for use, produce (articles) by labour or by
machinery especially in large scale.” Webster’s New 20th Century
Dictionary defines manufacture as 1) the making of goods and articles by
hand or especially by machinery often in a large scale and with division
of labour. 2) Anything made or manufactured product. 3) The making of
something in anyway especially when regarded as merely mechanical.
Manufacturing is defined as 1) “employed in the making of goods; a
manufacturing company” 2) “relating to manufacture; manufacturing

Fabrication is defined by the Oxford Concise Dictionary as “1) construct,
manufacture, especially production in final shape from semi-finished metal
stock. 2) invent (story) forge (document).” Webster’s defines fabrication
as “a making, framing, from (Latin) fabricato to make.” 1) A fabricating
or being fabricated construction, manufacture. 2) What is fabricated or
manufactured especially a falsehood or forgery.”

The term “manu-“ hand, clearly implies that “manufacturing” produces
tangible objects, whereas “fabrication” not necessarily do so. (It would
be a long shot, but from these definitions it would seem that even writing
a novel could be described as “additive fabrication”, but only the actual
printing of the book could be called “manufacturing”.) It is also seem so
me that “manufacturing” does not necessarily have to be end use goods in
large quantities (even if it is a common usage of the term), prototype and
small scale manufacturing is also possible according to these definitions,
especially if it uses industrial and/or automatic machines, -which is
typical of our technology area.

Terry argues that “manufacturing” is an application and not a technology,
but so is “fabrication” since it apparently in the relevant meaning can be
used synonymous with “manufacturing”. Really, both the terms “Additive
Manufacturing” and “Additive Fabrication” are descriptive for a family of
processes and it would require the addition of “-technology” to define the
technologies for these processes. –And to me the term “Additive
Manufacturing Technology” is the most precise and all-inclusive term to
define this topic.

Several have supported using the term “Layer-” or “Layered-“ but as others
have pointed out that this term is rather restrictive and would exclude
not only historical processes such as BPM as well as possible future
developments, but also prominent present technologies such as LENS (from
Optomec) DMD (from POM) and Laser Consolidation (from Accufusion) and
other similar processes that not necessarily adds the materials layer by
Likewise, 3D printing may be an excellent analogy to describe what these
technologies are doing to the layman, (I often use it myself,) but neither
Stereolithography, (selective) laser sintering, extrusion of melted
filaments (FDM), or micro welding of metal powders have any likeness to
traditional printing technologies. As a general term in a technical
terminology 3D printing is too restrictive and misleading.

The time I have spent on bringing information of Additive Manufacturing
Technology to industry and other people who are not into this on a daily
basis, have made me positively hate the “Rapid-“ terminology. “Rapid-“ is
misleading since it implies that the principal merit and most important
reason to use Additive Manufacturing is to get the (same) parts faster and
cheaper than with conventional methods. We all know that this is by far
not true for numerous present and possible applications, especially when
we are looking at the production of end use products and metal parts. But
as long as this terminology still lingers it will be more difficult to
have outsiders comprehend the unique merits of the additive approach to
manufacturing than it would be if they were introduced with an unbiased
mindset. I addition to this “Rapid Manufacturing” has previously and
sometimes still is, used for, for example, high speed milling, and “Rapid
Prototyping” is also a term used in the electronic industry for making
prototypes of electronic circuits and has nothing to do with building
physical parts by successive addition of materials.

Other names such as “Direct Digital Manufacturing”, “Parts Forming” or
“Growing Parts” have also been suggested, but to me none of them seem
precise enough to be satisfactory for a technical terminology, tough any
of them could serve very well in popular day-to-day terminology.

Even if the corresponding terms for, traditional manufacturing
technologies such as milling, turning and EDM (Subtractive Manufacturing),
or casting, forging, and injection moulding, (“Formative Manufacturing”?
-not really sure if “Formative-“ would be an appropriate term,
distributing material stock into a desired shape by application of
pressure, anyhow) I don’t think this should stop us from using a well
considered technical terminology. Until now, with the introduction of
Additive Manufacturing there has hardly been any reason to define and
structure the unique characteristics of the traditional manufacturing
technologies. But I believe it could be a good idea if our colleagues from
other parts of manufacturing (in particular the professors and other
teaching academics) would chose to introduce this kind of structure when
they describe manufacturing technologies. Not only would this type of
systematic terminology provide a simple and logic oversight, it would also
suggest principal differences and how these may affect the properties in
the final part. (-But perhaps I am dreaming…)

Well, I think I have made my argument clear to the patient readers (my
sincere appreciation to you all!) so I’ll finish here with a quote that
could encourage the efforts to find consensus over this issue:

“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our
Cochise, Chokonen Apache Chief

Let’s spread enlightenment!
Best Regards

Klas Boivie, Ph.D.
IDAM, Geminicenter for Integrated Design and Additive Manufacturing SINTEF

> In keeping with the rules of the rp-ml, I am reporting the results of
> input on terminology. Twenty-five individuals provided their thoughts,
either by sending them to this list or to me privately. I asked for
clarification on a few of them. The 25 responses represent nine
> around the world. Sixteen are from North America, six from Europe, and
> each from the Middle East and Asia. The following 13 unique terms were
offered. The number at the left represents the frequency of each term.
> 10 - 3D printing
> 2 - additive fabrication
> 2 - layered manufacturing
> 2 - additive manufacturing
> 2 - rapid manufacturing
> 1 - layered freeforming
> 1 - part growing
> 1 - freeform fabrication
> 1 - layer-based manufacturing
> 1 - RP
> 1 - rapid additive manufacturing
> 1 - grown parts
> As you can see, our industry is not in total agreement when it comes to
terminology. It's all over the place. One conclusion, however, is that
"rapid prototyping" is not going to be the catch-all term in the future.
It barely made the list. Forty percent favored "3D printing," with all
others carrying little weight.
> If you have not yet provided an opinion, it's not too late. Send your
preference to the list or to me, and if I receive several, I will do a
second round of reporting.
> I hope this exercise has reopened the discussion and caused some of us
> think more deeply about the terminology we use to communicate to the
world. I believe it shows that we may face some terminology challenges
this week at the ASTM meeting. I look forward to continuing this
discussion in Philadelphia.
> Thank you for your contributions!
> Cheers,
> Terry
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Terry Wohlers
> To: RP-ML
> Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 9:15 AM
> Subject: [rp-ml] International Terminology Standards
> 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
> meeting, I'd like to initiate some discussion on the subject. I will
> 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"
> "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
> it has become an official corporate standard at either company. Maybe.
> 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
> AF processes are being used for a range of applications including
> design and modeling, fit and function testing, patterns for castings,
> 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
> 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
> 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 15 21:47:03 2009

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