Rumor of an HP Fabber

Prospects for Mainstream Digital Fabrication


Copyright © 2003, Ennex Corporation. All rights reserved.

Background:

In May 2003, an article appeared in the New York Times about Hewlett Packard’s haphazzard handling of new technology opportunities. The examples cited included 3-D printers (digital fabricators). In September, an inquiry on the Rapid Prototyping Electronic Mailing List (RP-ML) about this article led to a lively debate about whether fabbers will ever become mainstream. The issues discussed included machine cost, materials costs and properties, applications of interest to “Joe Sixpack,” recycling of materials, related technologies developed by the Army and J. C. Penney, and a comparison of home fabbing to home cooking.


Index of Messages

  1. Larry Millard to List
  2. Larry Millard to List
  3. Charles Overy to Millard and List
  4. Scott Taper to Overy, Millard and List
  5. Bathsheba Grossman to List
  6. Scott Taper to Grossman and List
  7. Charles Overy to List
  8. Scott Tilton to Overy and List
  9. Ed Grenda to Overy and List
  10. Larry Blasch to Overy and List
  11. Scott Tilton to Overy and List
  12. Scott Taper to Grenda, Overy and List
  13. Brock Hinzmann to Overy, copy to List
  14. Brock Hinzmann to Scott Tilton, copy to Overy and List
  15. George Sachs to List
  16. Brock Hinzmann to Sachs, copy to List
  17. Doug Mitchell to Brock and Sachs, copy to List and Todd Richman
  18. Todd Richman to Mitchell, Hinzmann, and Sachs, copy to List
  19. Larry Blasch to List
  20. Scott Taper to Blasch and List
  21. Charles Overy to Blasch and List
  22. Bo Atkinson to List
  23. Larry Blasch to Overy and List
  24. Scott Taper to Blasch, Overy, and List
  25. Michael Rees to Atkinson and List
  26. Ben Halford to List
  27. Charles Overy to Blasch and List
  28. Marshall Burns to List


Larry Millard to List


From: Larry W. Millard <lmillard@uga.edu>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Saturday, September 13, 2003 12:31

Group,

It seem that a few months ago I read here or on some other listserve that HP is in R/D for creating a 3-dimensional printer that will sell for around $1,000.00. Any updates or was this just smoke and mirrors?

Thank you in advance for your response,

Larry

Larry W. Millard, Professor
Sculpture Program Chair
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-4102


Larry Millard to List


From: Larry W. Millard <lmillard@uga.edu>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: This is the article that I think was linked from thai list serve
Date: Saturday, September 13, 2003 12:38

http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200305/msg00025.html

Thanks,

Larry

Larry Millard


Charles Overy to Millard and List


From: Charles Overy <cwho@lgmmodel.com>
To: Larry W. Millard; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 11:37

Larry ,

If I remember the article right it was largely about management of HP and whether they could or would enter in to new markets. I think there were some pretty harsh comments from industry analysts about HP's recent track record in innovation. This would be in stark contrast to the old HP (pre spin off and pre Compaq) which was always held as a case study for a company that made X% of revenues from product introduced in the last x years (I cannot remember the stats). In the article RP was just an example of a speculative market that HP had looked at. My reading was that the tone was pretty pessimistic or at least brought into question whether HP management could execute on entry into any new markets let alone the RP market.

Also the 3D printer "COULD" sell for as little as $1000. Presumably that is on significant volumes. Again, I guess that it would have to be numbers that exceed sales of their large format inkjet plotters. That or the HP machine is significantly simpler than the cheapest of the plotters, which I doubt.

The question remains is there a current market for that volume of RP machine? If so, in what industry or industries? With what software creating the valid and immediately printable STL files? At what price for consumables?

I think it would be great but I'm not holding my breath.

Best

Charles Overy
LGM


Scott Taper to Overy, Millard and List


From: PENQUAKR74@aol.com
To: cwho@lgmmodel.com; lmillard@uga.edu; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 14:38

At the time the article or announcement was first mentioned, I searched in vain for any mention of it. I'd like to see that article if anyone still have an on-line copy.

As for a 1,000 printer, it's possible. Some time ago some of you may remember that I was then at SRI International as manager of Technology Commercialization. We had developed an RP process and materials that used a Texas Instruments Digital Micromirror Device that was capable of focusing light in cross section patterns using a noncoherent light source-a light bulb. SRI filed several patents related to the materials and the machine for utilization of those materials. Based on a study developed by SRI Consulting we determined that Machine could be built and sold for less than $30,000. However the manufacturing system developed was also applicable to other areas as well and the researchers were more focused on those areas (Battery Development and Metallic Printing of active and Passive Circuits). I performed a second market analysis which clearly forecast what is happening in the Industry right now and teamed with a company that was a custom engineering design firm in Fremont California to develop an advanced design and sought to raise capital to make that design. We had the design for a machine that could possibly be manufactured for under $10,000 and sold for about $15,000. We were able to achieve this by talking with Texas Instruments about what kind of volume we would have to buy in order to drive the costs of the DMD down to a level that would allow us to create the design. Our major problem was timing was everything: this took place just as the Internet Bubble burst and funds dried up for everything. However, the design is still there and with a company like HP, it could possibly develop a machine that might sell for under 5,000 for sure and eventually for under 1,000. Based on my conversation with the Product manager at TI, volume sales for the DMD that would exceed a mere 400,000 units a year would definitely drive down the price where a machine could be built for a substantial reduction in manufacturing parts, manufacturability, and labor.

What was special about the SRI machine was the materials technology that it was capable of using and the parts that it produced (yes, there was a working machine pre-prototype). It produced parts in ceramic (silicon nitride) and formulations were readily producible for Stainless Steel and Polymers. When I first heard about the rumor of HP's entry of a 1,000 dollar RP Machine, I was sure that HP had developed similar technology given its proximity to SRI.

In conclusion, you can bet that there will be a machine that will be far less than 20,000 dollars and very shortly a consumer-oriented machine for less than a few thousand. Replacement of missing items from household devices is more of a concern than people think. Consider the following scenario: You have a stove knob that has cracked and you have been using pliers to turn the gas on and off or exchanging on knob for another, risking breaking that knob also. The manufacturer has discontinued that range and no longer supplys a knob that matches your model. But, they do have an stl file of that part which you can download for a few dollars. You take the file to Kinko's (the future of service bureaus) where they have an RP printer machine that will produce your knob for you and perhaps bake it out if need be (you can do it at home in your oven). And you have the file for doing it again if any other knob breaks.

But this could have been a ceramic knic knac, jewelry model, a toy, an iron temperature dial, some other personal item or discontinued replacement part.

RP machines will follow the same market progression that personal computers and computer printers have followed with apparently greater speed of new product development. From 1955 to 1980, computing systems moved from mainframe to mini to micro, a period of 25 years to go from millions of dollars to thousands. It took a mere additional 10 years to get to under 1,000 dollars. If the analogy continues to hold up, we can expect a 1,000 dollar machine in 2005, about half the time it took to get to the same point for personal computers because the prior advancements in computing power translates to the RP market.

I welcome any comments on the foregoing.

Scott Taper
Technology Commercialization Consulting
TCC has joined with Andreé Driskell Associates (www.andreedriskellassociates.com) to add proposal and business plan preparation services for responses to commercial and Government RFPs and other funding opportunities. TCC accepts selected innovations for technical and market assessment and licensing.


Bathsheba Grossman to List


From: Bathsheba Grossman <sheba@bathsheba.com>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 21:36

On Tue, 16 Sep 2003 PENQUAKR74@aol.com wrote:
> But this could have been a ceramic knic knac, jewelry model, a toy, an
> iron temperature dial, some other personal item or discontinued
> replacement part.
>
> RP machines will follow the same market progression that personal
> computers and computer printers have followed with apparently greater
> speed of new product development. From 1955 to 1980, computing
> systems moved from mainframe to mini to micro, a period of 25 years to
> go from millions of dollars to thousands. It took a mere additional
> 10 years to get to under 1,000 dollars. If the analogy continues to
> hold up, we can expect a 1,000 dollar machine in 2005, about half the
> time it took to get to the same point for personal computers because
> the prior advancements in computing power translates to the RP market.
>
> I welcome any comments on the foregoing.

I guess I'm pessimistic about that analogy. Going from a $20k computer to a $1k computer was mostly a matter of incremental improvements to existing technology, and making the marketing decision to put it in a cute plastic box. But for RP the technology doesn't
exist: no machine is near, in ease of operation or usefulness of output, to the level that would open a consumer market. Cute plastic boxes abound, but most people aren't fooled.

I tend to think the biggest hurdle is the material science. Your stove knob is an excellent example: it's not useful unless it's as tough as my old injection-molded knob (preferably tougher, since the old one broke!), a good color match to my other knobs, including fine detail for the calibrations, and without visible layering. It also must not require any postprocessing.

No process I'm aware of comes near these requirements. Only Sanders has fine enough layers, almost. Only SLA has enough material strength, maybe. Only ZCorp has color, if you like pastels. Fill in your favorite here. All are wildly deficient in those areas where they don't excel, and all require cumbersome postprocessing.

So my bet is that big breakthroughs are needed before that consumer machine is foreseeable. Of course it's possible that they've already been made, under a bushel somewhere...I feel like it would be an awful lot of progress to be hiding.


OTOH, I wouldn't be surprised if a sub-$5000 concept modeler, based on a combination of existing technologies, did appear in the next several years. Probably looking more like SLA than anything else. There's nothing about what these machines do that is inherently expensive, they just haven't been exposed to economies of scale. HP, or a handful of other companies, could do it.

But I don't expect a household appliance that would appeal to Joe Sixpack, even though he has a digital camera these days. My crystal ball is showing a tool for well-heeled 3D shops, with a price point and market similar to the Microscribe arm.

It would still be a giant step forward -- if it can build the model at the top of this page, http://www.bathsheba.com/misc/preview.html, I'm standing in line to write that check. Knock wood....

-Sheba
--
Bathsheba Grossman phone (831)429-8224, fax (831)460-1242
Sculpting geometry bathsheba.com
Solidscape prototyping protoshape.com
Protein crystals crystalprotein.com


Scott Taper to Grossman and List


From: PENQUAKR74@aol.com
To: sheba@bathsheba.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 00:44

Bathsheba:

If you consider the advancements in the RP technology and the progression of how the products have been delivered to the public, then you will see that in 1987 the first machines were large and required, and still do, very expensive lasers. Because of the cost of these machines, just as mainframes were costly and required sharing (anyone recall GE's timesharing business?), service bureaus were the best means for small and medium sized businesses and for large businesses with the occasional need for models, to have access to these expensive machines. RP machines cost approached the $100,000 mark and less, and Z-corp's 50-60K machine forced many to respond to the market which is heavily driven by form and fit. But as Z-Corps processes became more useful through postprocessing developments, such as metallization and other infiltration techniques created by its users enabling molding and casting, it began to compete for more of the business normally reserved for the larger SLAs. Stratasys has beco me a force because it has developed lower and lower cost machines, selling into markets where service bureaus were the main option for designers and manufacturing engineers. The materials developed have become well-known and their shrinkage properties tabulated to enable dimensional and quality control beyond what was possible a mere 5 years ago. From the equivalent of a mainframe to a desktop RP machine capable being shared over a network has occurred in less 15 years (1987-2002). The drop in 3D market value is not a surprise given its entrenchment for so long in the large machine market. Companies like Z-Corp and Stratasys now dominate the desktop market, with maybe Objet and potentially Envision Technologies which also uses DMD technology in its machines, getting ready to make a big splash. So, while you may have a certain insight or perspective as a user, the trends are easily seen that paraphrasing Andy Grove's observation, Grove's Law, as it's popularly known: RP Technology will double it's capability to produce products less expensively every 18 months. Along with that is the fact that materials technology, the "ink" if you will, will also advance to match the machines technical progression. Step back, create a timeline and you will see this clearly. The only thing holding these advancements back has been the endless lawsuits and bickering in the courts over infringing patent rights. 3D's solution was to acquire its competitors which stretched it too thin and got it involved in too many battles, decreasing the investment it should have been making in smaller footprint, user friendly machines. As for a cleaner part and a smoother part or introduction of color, those are simple problems to solve based on variable layering, faster curing, and in-machine post processing. Remember the first xerographic processes were extremely dirty and it took almost 15 years for Xerox's predecessor, Haloid Corp, to clean it up in the 50's.

Finally, in rebuttal to the durability and aesthetic look of a replacement part for a consumer product, the parts that were made by SRI's process were silicon nitride ceramic that were tested by Allied Signal at high temperatures, approximately 1000 C. That is durable. And it could be done in plastic also. If one wanted to have all the knobs match on a stove range, make a new set. But, in my opinion, just having a replacement knob that slightly different, instead of pliers, is far better than having none at all. It won't be too long before you will find a machine for the consumer market. The first ones will be at Kinko's.

Scott Taper
Technology Commercialization Consulting
TCC has joined with Andreé Driskell Associates (www.andreedriskellassociates.com) to add proposal and business plan preparation services for responses to commercial and Government RFPs and other funding opportunities. TCC accepts selected innovations for technical and market assessment and licensing.


Charles Overy to List


From: Charles Overy <cwho@lgmmodel.com>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 10:27

Reflecting on this idea of having a RP machine at a retail parts service bureau:

Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with what I believe was being called something like the " mobile army parts center". The idea that some sort of sintering machine was going to be deployed in a trailer to produce military replacement parts close to the point of need. Also, I thought that some of the early RP money came from DARPA grants looking at putting the same sort of technology on aircraft carriers.

Was anything like this ever successfully implemented?

Charles


Scott Tilton to Overy and List


From: Scott Tilton <stilton@protoprod.com>
To: cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 13:50

Yep . .it exists.

Army Mobile Parts Hospital.

http://www.mobilepartshospital.com/welcome/docs/browser.php

That's not the page I've seen before.

The page I've seen before actually had the tractor trailer setup with a Sinterstation and a CNC machine it.

Scott Tilton


Ed Grenda to Overy and List


From: EdGrenda@aol.com
To: cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 13:53

In a message dated 03-09-17 14:19:42 EDT, you write:
... Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with what I believe was being called something like the " mobile army parts center". ...

>>
Hi There:

There is an article on our site at this location:

RP hits the road for the military http://home.att.net/~edgrenda/pow/pow9.htm

With all this talk about RP for the masses, and the future of RP, if you'd really like to be inspired by the potential, look at the front page of the Wall St. Journal for last Thusday, 9/11/03.

"Invisible Supplier has Penney's Shirts All Buttoned Up" by Gabriel Kahn

sub-title: "From Hong Kong, It Tracks Sales, Restocks Shelves, Ships Right to the Store"

Unfortunately, the article is unavailable electronically except by subscription, as far as I know, although many public and university libraries will provide access to the text.

The gist is that Penney's inventory of a particluar shirt is that shirt. When someone buys it, a replacement is fabricated and dispatched from the factory in a couple of days. The long-term implications of the success of this newly-developed infrastructure are profound. There is the potential to affect a wide range of industries and distribution chains.

RP is very likely one of the key methodologies for expanding this "manufacture for sale" shift in business thought. And, it probably won't be necessary for RP processes customized for these applications to be perfect, nor to have the very low prices appropriate to a consumer product.

It should be possible to greatly expand the market for additive fabrication by applying the existing technology base to specific business problems that can take advantage of the concept.

The first problem is educating a wider range of businesses about the existence of a solution.

Ed Grenda
Castle Island Co.
781-646-6280 (voice or fax)
EdGrenda@aol.com (email)

The Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping http://home.att.net/~castleisland/


Larry Blasch to Overy and List


From: Blasch, Larry <LBlasch@OPW-FC.com>
To: cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 13:49

http://www.mobilepartshospital.com/welcome/docs/browser.php


Scott Tilton to Overy and List


From: Scott Tilton <stilton@protoprod.com>
To: cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Moble Parts Hospital
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 13:57

Getting closer

http://home.att.net/~edgrenda/pow/pow9.htm

Ah . . found it:

http://www.mobilepartshospital.com/docs/mph_images.shtml

Scott Tilton


Scott Taper to Grenda, Overy and List


From: PENQUAKR74@aol.com
To: EdGrenda@aol.com; cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 14:45

The battlefield or peacetime field deployment of an RP factory for military temporary replacement parts was the focus of the SRI research, and it also pertained to shipboard and spaceborne applications where space is a premium in both instances and inventorying of spare parts is extremely costly in terms of shipboard storage and or mission requirements to get them into orbit.

Scott Taper
Technology Commercialization Consulting www.licensingconsulting.net TCC accepts selected innovations for technical and market assessment and licensing.
650-444-2572

TCC has joined with Andreé Driskell Associates (www.andreedriskellassociates.com) to add proposal and business plan preparation services for responses to commercial and Government RFPs and other funding opportunities.


Brock Hinzmann to Overy, copy to List


From: Brock <bhinzmann@sric-bi.com>
To: cwho@lgmmodel.com
CC: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: mobile parts hospital
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 15:16

Charles, This Web site still seems to work:

www.mobilepartshospital.com

Brock Hinzmann
Technology Navigator
SRI Consulting Business Intelligence


Brock Hinzmann to Scott Tilton, copy to Overy and List


From: Brock <bhinzmann@sric-bi.com>
To: Scott Tilton
CC: cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: HP getting ito the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 15:34

Scott,

I haven't looked at the details of the current Web site, but my understanding is that a mobile demonstration unit, on a trailor as you describe it, was the result of Phase I. It had lots of problems as a mobile unit, in terms of quality of parts and the need to recalibrate after each move. Phase II was supposedly based on a LENS machine, to make metal parts, and a 5-axis machining system, which fit into standard-size (ISO) shipping containers. Phase II lessons are being evaluated and will result in a new design next year, if the funding can be maintained.

Brock Hinzmann

Scott Tilton wrote:
> The page I've seen before actually had the tractor trailer setup with
> a Sinterstation and a CNC machine it.


George Sachs to List


From: Sachs <sachs@pipeline.com>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: Parts Hospital
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 17:06

I think a first version of the parts hospital was actually deployed to Iraq a few weeks ago. I believe it is mostly focused on quickly machining parts using high speed CNC, but RP may also be involved in some steps. Data for parts is sent by satellite to the unit. Size of parts able to be made is a limitation for now. Focus Hope (a jobs training program) here in Detroit is stongly involved in making it a reality and the first parts hospital will be a test bed. There was a recent article about it in the Detroit Free Press I believe.

George Sachs


Brock Hinzmann to Sachs, copy to List


From: Brock <bhinzmann@sric-bi.com>
To: Sachs
CC: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: Parts Hospital
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 18:46

George,

My understanding is that the participants in the project are the U.S. Army’s TACOM (Tank-automotive and Armament Command) National Automotive Center (Warren, Michigan), the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute (Warren, Michigan), Focus: HOPE (Detroit, Michigan), and CAMP (Cleveland, Ohio). I don't know what CAMP is. In the recent article by Mike Wendland in the Detroit Free Press, he interviewed Todd Richman, who I believe heads the project for TACOM. Perhaps one of them has more recent info to share.

Brock


Doug Mitchell to Brock and Sachs, copy to List and Todd Richman


From: Mitchell, Doug (D.B.) <dmitchel@ford.com>
To: Brock; Sachs
CC: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi; richmant@tacom.army.mil
Subject: RE: Parts Hospital
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2003 04:05

A little clarification. (very little) Todd Richman gave a presentation at the recent Tech Forum held here in Dearborn (sponsored by SME/RPA). Todd gave an update as to the status as of that time (August 18). Since that time, there was an article in the Detroit Free Press that covered the deployment of the MPH.

Perhaps Todd would like to comment.

The article is available here: http://www.freep.com/money/tech/mwend5_20030905.htm

Doug

--
Doug Mitchell
Ford Motor Company
dmitchel@ford.com


Todd Richman to Mitchell, Hinzmann, and Sachs, copy to List


From: Richman, Todd WGM <RichmanT@tacom.army.mil>
To: Mitchell, Doug (D.B.) ; Brock ; Sachs
CC: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: Parts Hospital
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2003 04:44

Doug,
I am happy to give you an update. We have have the RMS Lathe module set up and should be producing parts shortly. In addition to the RMS Lathe module we have produced and sent 25 different parts from our Agile Manufacturing Cell located at Focus: Hope and 5 of those have been put on an engine here in Kuwait. To understand more about the MPH and it's components please visit the MPH web site at www.mobilepartshospital.com

If you have any further questions please contact me.
Thanks,
Todd


Larry Blasch to List


From: Blasch, Larry <LBlasch@OPW-FC.com>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2003 07:33

Dear RP-ML...

It does not matter what the material or process actually is, that is used to create items for the homeowner, until the process is reversible or the material recyclable, it will never become mainstream.

This is not an issue of "Green" politics or ecology, it's a matter of practicality.

The average "Joe Six-pack" won't want to stockpile a quantity if raw material at any price, and wouldn't be happy about throwing away personally created parts.

Think I'm wrong? OK, how many people keep a supply of inkjet cartridges around the house? Do you think it's too much to keep an extra $30-50 worth of supplies handy? How is this potential home RP printer going to change your mind? If the supplies are dirt cheap relative to the current SLA/FDM/SLS/inkjet materials, people would still complain that it costs too much to keep supplies on hand.

Besides, the actual raw material cost for many engineered items (You know... the stuff that people are supposed to be using the home RP machine to make.) is pretty high, especially in small quantities. Unless the homemade RP parts can be recycled, or reused, the machine will never be more than a hobbyist toy.

Now look what happens if you make the process recyclable... You throw the broken part into the machine and it gets re-processed into a new part. All that you need to add is energy and perhaps an additional supply of generic raw material/binder. Now the process will be accepted at home and the raw material issue is nearly eliminated.

The potential for RP to replace the inventory of "obsolete" repair/replacement parts for any durable goods store is pretty good. Imagine your refrigerator door handle breaks, you call the store and they build a replacement on their big, high speed replicator from the 3D engineering design data library that the manufacturer offers on line (for a subscription fee). You just pick it up or have it delivered. The raw material is now purchased in large quantities and the manufacturing cost is offset by the elimination of spare parts inventory. This applies to almost any material or process so it could apply to many different industries.

Most of the materials used in products today are produced in large quantity to supply an existing infrastructure that expects to make things by softening and re-shaping small units of the actual material without changing it's chemical structure. This works for a business model that uses high volume, production tooling, dedicated process equipment to produce large quantities of the same part or product. The term "Raw Material" is not really correct in this model, since you are just processing an un-formed material into it's final shape.

The manufacturing processes used to produce the plastic molding pellets are not even starting with "raw materials" since they often work with refined oils, not the crude out of the ground.

I'll propose another approach to RP materials... How about a machine that is hooked to your natural gas line and converts the methane into plastic as needed by the RP process? How many items can you make from different grades of polyethylene? Raw material flows in through an existing supply system and you just pay the bill every month based on the amount used. Oil or gasoline would work also, but they're not as convenient.

My humble opinion...

Larry Blasch

Lawrence R. Blasch
Design Engineer
CAE Systems Administrator

OPW Fueling Components
P.O. Box 405003
Cincinnati, OH 45240-5003 USA
Voice: (513) 870-3356
Fax: (513) 870-3275


Scott Taper to Blasch and List


From: PENQUAKR74@aol.com
To: LBlasch@OPW-FC.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: FW: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2003 13:45

You are assuming that consumers are uneducated about the potential uses for home RP system. There is practically one computer for every home in the US now, and in many regions of the US and World they have several per home. Every US college student has the equivalent of an engineering workstation's computing power or a VAX minicomputer. And graphic designers can create wonders using today's software and desktop systems. When such RP inexpensive systems do become available, all of the pieces will be there for consumers to be totally creative and use the materials judiciously.

Scott Taper
Technology Commercialization Consulting
TCC accepts selected innovations for technical and market assessment and licensing.
650-444-2572

TCC has joined with Andreé Driskell Associates (www.andreedriskellassociates.com) to add proposal and business plan preparation services for responses to commercial and Government RFPs and other funding opportunities.


Charles Overy to Blasch and List


From: Charles Overy <cwho@lgmmodel.com>
To: Blasch, Larry; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2003 15:57

Larry,

I think you have hit upon a very critical issue, the cost of materials. However, the problem with recylable materials is that injet cartidge/RP supplies are a major component of the business model for these companies. The revenue stream generated by the reoccuring sales of suppies is, at least for HP, greater than the gross revenue from product sales and the margins are much better (lower shipping costs, lower R&D, lower cost of selling, lower tech support, little or no software development). That is NOT to say that everyone is getting screwed on their supplies, basically you pay for the machine technology, and lower cost of future generations as you go. I doubt very much that HP would be selling $100 color printers at Walmart if they could not get a substantial number of those customers to plop in a $35 cartidge every few months. It is certainly why HP (and others) have continued to improve the printers so that they will do photos. Photos use TONS of ink sold at the retail level, that is why they throw in the software to help you print many copies of your photos.

Back to RP, at any given point in time we probably have $4000 in RP supplies and materials on hand. For an SLA it could be a whole lot more and I am guessing more as well for a sinterstation. To make a model of any reasonable size and interest costs us say at least $100 in consumables. I belive then that you need the same order of magnitude reduction in material costs as you do in machine cost. Even then it will be pretty expensive for the home user.

If you look at http://www.pcappliancerepair.com/cgi-bin/popsearch.cgi you can actually get some numbers on this idea of parts bureau down the street.

Stove knobs range from $7 to $30, with the modal cost of $25. That is going to be tought to beat.

Charles


Bo Atkinson to List


From: Bo Atkinson <bo@midcoast.com>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: jump starting backyard rp
Date: Friday, September 19, 2003 05:09

Goodmorning,

I wonder if any of you are interested in back yard rp?

Count me in on a good desk top unit per the HP thread, I'd pay $5K today only if I could out put at $3/ lb including energy costs. Durable plastic, great resolution and low maintenance of machine would be expected. Ten years at least, by the sound of it.

In the mean time I'm wondering if a small 3D router bed could be harnessed with a modified MIG welder to generate real steel, but crude 3D prints. One way to jump start a system may be as follows.

I've found that there are a number of ways to fuse metal free form in space, with a $1K MIG welder. Some extra jury-rigged gear is also needed along with innovative common sense. With some practice, a solid 3D model would be user converted into 3D spline paths. (Not 2D spline for substantially 3D models). My software can do this nicely, (formZ 4.0).

My bet is that if the 3D router could follow the user generated 3D spline path, that a crude , 3D, steel model would successfully print in high strength steel. Anyone have a perfect router bed or equivalent? I might like to buy it.

--
Bo Atkinson
http://www.midcoast.com/~bo


Larry Blasch to Overy and List


From: Blasch, Larry <LBlasch@OPW-FC.com>
To: cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Friday, September 19, 2003 11:51

Charles and list,

None of the current RP machines are designed to produce components using processes with any less complexity and mess than the average meal made in the average kitchen in the average house.

When you make dinner, you start with lots of ingredients (expensive or not) and pots and pans and bowls and spoons and you mix and cook and combine things to produce the ultimate short term consumable. Then you wash and clean and put things away only to do it again at the next meal. Granted, the materials are somewhat less nasty, If you ignore salmonella and botulism...

People spend outrageous amounts of money buying convenience foods that are either fully prepared or partially prepared to save time and make their life easier. Often, the price that they pay for the convenience is several orders of magnitude higher than the cost of the un-prepared "raw" material but the convenience is worth the extra cost. (It must be or else they are just stupid with their money.)

How does someone determine what constitutes a convenience, and produce a product that represents that to the consumer? You must evaluate what the customer considers to be a waste of time and design a product or process that can be marketed with that benefit in mind.

Most of the gadgets sold today are just that. Just think; people actually pay extra for the convenience of holding a redundant switching system for their TV in the palm of their hand. I remember when they came out. (yup I'm that old) A TV set with a remote control cost $50-100 more than a standard set. Now they are standard and many of the control features are much more difficult to use on the console itself.

All this leads to the real issue, What is the convenience that can be provided by a home RP unit?

It's not a necessity... after all, the items produced can probably be made some other way for less money (in quantity) right?

Sincerely,

Larry Blasch

Lawrence R. Blasch
Design Engineer
CAE Systems Administrator

OPW Fueling Components
P.O. Box 405003
Cincinnati, OH 45240-5003 USA
Voice: (513) 870-3356
Fax: (513) 870-3275


Scott Taper to Blasch, Overy, and List


From: PENQUAKR74@aol.com
To: LBlasch@OPW-FC.com; cwho@lgmmodel.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: Re: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Friday, September 19, 2003 12:45

To clean a part automatically you might use a slight vacuum to remove at the excess materials from internal volumes, and then forced air to remove the excess materials from the exposed surfaces, leaving a manageable, much less messy job for a user.

The excess material would be placed internal to the machine in a container that can be disposed of from time to time. Another consumable.

The "ownership cost" of the machine is dependent upon the software available to run it and the software applications to use it. As you think of each problem that you could be presented with, there is a way to overcome it inexpensively and efficiently.

Scott Taper
Technology Commercialization Consulting http://licensingconsultants.net/ TCC accepts selected innovations for technical and market assessment and licensing.
650-444-2572

TCC has joined with Andreé Driskell Associates (www.andreedriskellassociates.com) to add proposal and business plan preparation services for responses to commercial and Government RFPs and other funding opportunities.


Michael Rees to Atkinson and List


From: admin@michaelrees.com
To: bo@midcoast.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: jump starting backyard rp
Date: Friday, September 19, 2003 13:37

shop bot: 5-10k http://www.shopbottools.com/

go man go!!

mr


Ben Halford to List


From: Ben Halford <ben.halford@virgin.net>
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Friday, September 19, 2003 15:03

I haven't done the exact sums but someone recently told me that if you work it out inkjet cartridges are something close to £500/UK pint ($808, €717). Not a particularly precise figure given the variety of makes / models / colours involved (my HP 42 ml black cartridge is ~£300/pint) but the ball park seems about right.

Which ever way you look at it, this is expensive - but clearly it is a price point that consumers will tolerate. Anyone care to compare this in terms of SLA resin or any other RP material? As a thought though, if you're building a replacement part and it's a thermoplastic, you could just recycle the broken original. It's already pigment matched and you'd have the right amount of material (no sprue bushes etc) - zero material cost. Ben

PS good to see lively debate on the rp-ml again


Charles Overy to Blasch and List


From: Charles Overy <cwho@lgmmodel.com>
To: Blasch, Larry; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Friday, September 19, 2003 17:49

ooohhhh, I am sooo misunderstood.

It is not that I do not believe that it CAN happen. I have very little doubt that the technology is at HP and other places to make a $1000 printer. In addition, I am sure that there are materials out there that can make a retail end user cost effective part that is aesthetically pleasing and even possibly useful for limited practical applications.

However I do not think that the consumer RP WILL happen until some fundamental issues and technologies are addressed. Most of these are only tangentially associated with RP technology but fundamentally associated with RP adoption.

IMHO, there are some fundamentals that need to be in place before we see an order of magnitude decrease in both machine price and cost per build/part.

Your analogy, Larry points out one of the biggest areas. Last time I checked EATING was sort of essential to living. Therefore a great many people do it every day this results in a very large total market volume. A lot of these people will try a great many variations on the eating thing both to cut costs, or increase satisfaction, add variability etc.

Again, last time I checked, outside of this list and a few other odd places, drawing in 3d is not essential to living. Neither is the creation of instant replacement stove knobs Or the creation of personal 3D sculptures Or bookends of your families heads Or edible babies from prenatal sonograms ... Or the creation of sample engineering parts Or the creation of custom jewelry Or the creation of medical models Or the creation of architectural models

In fact ALL of the items above, even when combined, represent a miniscule fraction of the total market volume of the foodservices industry. Also I would wager, that combined they represent a very small fraction of the total market volume for photographic prints, digital or otherwise.

In order for there to be widespread adoption of RP there has to be much wider use of 3D computing. It would be interesting to look at things like what percentage of 3D data currently gets output on any sort of RP machine, ever. Also: What percentage of 3D data is it reasonably feasible to output on an RP machine? What percentage of total design is done in 3d Of all the volume of computers sold in say 2003, how many have any sort of 3d applications actually used on them (Including VRML, VET, etc.)

I do not know the answers to these questions but I suspect that they are all fairly small percentages. Larger, and growing for web 3D like VET but still pretty small. Therefore, even if there was a $1000 printer that could make a $10 part, I think there would be very few people that COULD take advantage of it even if they wanted to. If you look at the displays, discussions, etc at SIGGRAPH, even where the parts are going for FREE, there is far more pure virtual work and 2d art than there is 3d. (Although there has been a significant increase in RP works displayed including some by list participants like Bathsheba and people like Carlo Sequin.)

Frankly, I do not see RP as the "killer ap" that will drive 3D adoption.

There are other technologies that I see as critical parts of that equation:

3D data acquisition and processing (Robust NURBS creation using point clouds is starting to come out of the stratosphere but is still very labor intensive)> There was a very interesting paper this year at SIGGRAPH that elaborated on the "consumer" 3D camera attachment that had been announced at previous conferences. Basically they were able to use a LED scanning laser module from Symbol Technologies, in place of a flash. They created a module that fitted to a standard digital camera flash shoe. When the Camera was fired, the "flash" first put up a red mesh on the subject and a picture was taken of that, then the camera took another regular picture. The teams software then created a 3D image from the distortion of the grid and overlayed the second photo as a texture map. Post processing was fully automatic and took only seconds. While the approach had some problems it demonstrates the type of 3D data acquisition that I think is necessary for consumers to want 3D output.

Interactive or intuitive 3D content creation. Many many people have tried to crack this nut but I still think it is beyond the ability of the mainstream consumer to create a useful part or a interesting part. Emphasis here is on MAINSTREAM, i.e. enough people need to be able to do this to create very significant market volumes. It is disappointing, but telling, that there has been very little adoption of any input devices or viewing devices that are not mainstream WIMP GUI. Blame it on Mircosoft, blame it on whomever you want but what happened to Spaceball, Sony Glasstron, etc. Weren't we all supposed to be working in fully virtual environments by now? Haptics are seeing almost no consumer adoption outside of gameplay despite conclusive evidence that even the most basic tactile feedback greatly improves the efficiency of computing. Does microsoft even make its tactile feedback mouse anymore?

64 Bit computing breaking the 4Gig RAM barrier. Voxel computing enabled by the above allowing a new class of 3d "solid" content creation.

Anybody have any others?

There is significant progress on all of these fronts but no unifying market force.

Also, there is my long term stump that the RP community needs to get together and burry, STL once and for all. Kill it dead, drive a stake through it if you have to. How about minor steps forward like a file format that does not allow the geometry to fail because of rounding errors. How about every vertex only ONCE.

Rant..rant...rant...

A happy weekend to all

Charles Overy
LGM


Marshall Burns to List


From: Marshall Burns <MB-ListMail@Ennex.com>
To: Rapid Prototyping e-Mail List
Subject: RE: HP getting into the rapid prototype printer business
Date: Thursday, October 9, 2003 07:32

Dear RP-ML,

We had a very interesting thread a few weeks ago about the use of digital fabricators (or 3D printers or "rapid prototypers") by the mainstream public. I was deep into a heavy project at the time and did not have the time to get involved in the discussion then, but those who know me around here know how near this subject is to my heart. Several years ago, I wrote a couple of brief articles about it for the Rapid Prototyping Report. Those articles had not been uploaded to the Ennex Web site before, but I have done that now for those interested in this discussion. The two articles are:

     -- "Professional Fabbing at Home" about how fabbers will first begin to appear in homes for professional use by freelance engineers and designers, leading later to other household uses, including making toys for the kids. At www.fabbers.com/publish/199911-MB-Home.asp.

     -- "UPS Foretells the Fabber Revolution" about a 1999 TV commercial for United Parcel Service that provided a brilliant visual image of the fabber future with people ordering products online for delivery via fabber directly into their homes and offices. At www.fabbers.com/publish/199912-MB-UPS.asp.

Occasionally, I have found a couple of RP-ML threads valuable enough to be worth extracting and preserving as a unit. I haven't done it in a couple of years, but this is definitely another one. So I have collected it and you'll find it at www.Ennex.com/fabbers/RP-ML/HPfabber.asp. The issues discussed there included machine cost, materials costs and properties, applications of interest to “Joe Sixpack,” recycling of materials, related technologies developed by the Army and J. C. Penney, and a comparison of home fabbing to home cooking. Thank you to Larry Millard, Charles Overy, Scott Taper, Bathsheba Grossman, and the many others who participated in the lively debate. It seems more and more that the RP-ML is to this field what the Homebrew Computer Club was to computers in the 1970s. The vision of mainstream 3D printers is being formulated here, and it will come about.

A few months ago, many of us were not sure this list would survive the spam war. But has it ever!

Best regards,
Marshall Burns

www.Ennex.com and
www.MBurns.com