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What’s in a Name?

April 27, 2003

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 14:11

Some individuals in the RP industry believe that the term “rapid prototyping” does not sufficiently describe RP technology and feel that a new name would be better. Alternative names that have been used for more than a decade are solid freeform fabrication, automated fabrication, and layer manufacturing. The term “3D printing” is used frequently to describe office-friendly methods of RP that turn out inexpensive concept models. I like this term because it describes the process (versus the application) that most people can understand. 

In the future, a large printer company will likely enter the industry with a product and product name (such as PlasticJet) that becomes popular. If it becomes highly successful, people will begin to use this product name in the same way people use “Kleenex” to refer to a facial tissue. So, it’s my belief that someday, 3D printing or a new product name, such as PlasticJet, will overshadow the use of the term rapid prototyping. For now, the RP term is working fine, so why try to force a change when most people in the RP industry understand what it means? If you would like to see a new term replace rapid prototyping, relax. It will occur in time on its own.

Website Topics of Interest

April 11, 2003

Filed under: Internet — Terry Wohlers @ 17:53

At, visitors can search for articles, press releases, technical papers, and other documents using our search engine. In the month of March 2003, 550 searches were conducted using 256 terms and 229 phrases. Among the top terms were prototyping, 3D, casting, investment, tooling, historical, RP, and sale. Top phrases were rapid prototyping, historical development of rapid prototyping, rapid prototyping and tooling state of the industry, Z Corp, investment casting, cosmetic packaging, reverse engineering, Aaroflex, buy now next year or never, case studies, Objet, and 3D printing. This information tells us that people are indeed searching for specific information in this industry and it gives us some indication as to what people are hoping to find. We continually add content to the site, hoping that visitors find it of interest. If you are looking for something in particular and cannot find it, let us know.

U.S. Manufacturing is a Disappearing Act

April 5, 2003

Filed under: future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 13:48

A full-page ad in the March 2003 issue of MoldMaking Technology magazine caught my attention. Words in large print read: “Help Keep Manufacturing in the United States. Speak Up and Be Heard in Washington. Join the Fight to Stop the Deindustrialization of the U.S.” It goes on to say that manufacturing in the U.S. is disappearing before our eyes, and if something isn’t done soon, American manufacturing will be a thing of the past. Who is saying these tough words? The Chicago Chapter of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA). 

It is unusual for a chapter of any association to sponsor the cost of a full-page magazine ad. Its goal is to stir the emotions of readers to the point of action. The ad outlines the threat to American manufacturing, specifically moldmakers, and asks readers to respond. This effort, called the “Save American Manufacturing” (SAM) initiative, has stimulated hundreds of letters to the White House. An article on SAM was published in the same issue of the magazine and includes interesting but sobering excerpts from some of these letters. If you are interested in learning more, visit or contact Cynthia Petrucci at, phone 630-978-4747. She will send you sample letters, making it easier to write to our policy makers in Washington.