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September 24, 2005

Filed under: additive manufacturing,life — Terry Wohlers @ 06:11

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in my third conference call with the RP4Baghdad team. RP4Baghdad is a humanitarian effort initiated by Materialise of Belgium with support from many organizations. Wilfried Vancraen, head of Materialise, is leading the effort. The team is made up of individuals from the U.S., Belgium, and Iraq. 

RP4Baghdad was launched in May as a project of the additive fabrication industry to support severely injured civilians in Iraq. Its initial focus has been on serious cases involving head injuries. Many medical models have been produced and shipped to Baghdad to support doctors with complex reconstructive surgeries of the head and face. To date, the initiative has supported nine cases in Iraq. Current funding and donations will support the production of 365 models in the project’s first 12 months.

I became involved in June when I was asked to help investigate the feasibility of extending the project to include the production of artificial limbs. Hundreds in Iraq are now sadly missing arms and legs. The focus of this new work is on below-the-knee amputees. We have held detailed conversations with members of the team, including Dr. Omar Al Ani of Baghdad, and are finalizing a budget for this phase of the work.

So far, 3D Systems, EOS, Materialise, Medical Modeling LLC, Stratasys, Z Corporation, and others in the business of rapid prototyping and manufacturing have generously supported the project. A complete list of sponsors, as well as other details, is at Do not be surprised if you hear from me or someone else from the team because we will need, and would appreciate, your support to continue this work.

There’s Never Enough of It

September 11, 2005

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 17:58

Time. It’s something that many of us lack. As one ages, it seems as though the weeks and months pass by faster and faster. Meanwhile, we are constantly faced with opportunities for more work and other activities to fill our days and evenings. 

Years ago, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In his book, Covey talks about not having sufficient time to accomplish the most important tasks each day. He explained it like this: Suppose you want to fill a jar with rocks and pebbles. If you first pour in the pebbles, there’s not enough space for the rocks. If you first put in the rocks, there’s plenty of room for the pebbles to fit around the rocks.

That’s how Covey recommends we organize our time. First, concentrate on the rocks—the large and important projects and issues—and let the smaller tasks follow. Often, we get the two reversed. Instead of giving proper attention to what matters the most, we spend much of our time reading and processing email, answering the phone, attending meetings, and so on. The jar becomes full with no room for the rocks. 

I’ve tried my best to follow Covey’s advice. And when I do, it works and works well. However, it’s easy—much too easy—to fall into the trap of filling the jar with pebbles, leaving little time for anything else. Email has become the biggest culprit. Before you know it, the day is gone and you feel like you’ve not accomplished much. So do your best to focus on the rocks and I’ll do the same.