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Global Summit Focuses on Rapid Prototyping in 13 Regions of the World

Nations Meet in the USA to Find Common Interests in RP Technology

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN, May 19, 1998 – Leaders from 13 rapid prototyping (RP) groups and associations worldwide met yesterday to discuss current and future applications of RP.  The meeting, dubbed a Global Summit, investigated ways in which these groups might cooperate on projects that would help educate companies on the benefits of rapid prototyping and related technologies.  Involved were representatives from Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  This was the first ever meeting of RP groups and associations worldwide.

"The 13 groups completed their first project, even before the Summit took place," said Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates, Inc. and one of the organizers of the event.  The groups provided case studies and application stories on how RP is being used in their region of the world.  Dr. Ian Gibson, associate professor at the University of Hong Kong and co-organizer of the event, collected the articles and made edited versions of them available on CD-ROM.  The 13 groups plan to distribute the CD-ROM to its hundreds of members and affiliates worldwide.

Gibson and Wohlers agreed it was important that the groups complete a project before meeting in Dearborn.  "We felt that if we could not produce something of value before we met, there was little reason to meet," Wohlers explained.  "It demonstrated that we could collaborate on a worthwhile project and it gave us the confidence to consider other project ideas."

The Global Summit was the brainchild of Wohlers and Gibson.  "Thirteen groups were invited and 13 showed up," said Gibson.  "The summit was organized without sending a single piece of paper in the mail," he said.  Using the Internet, Wohlers and Gibson communicated regularly with the leaders of the groups without regard to time zones or phone and mail costs.

The global summit coincided with the Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing ’98 Conference and Exposition, sponsored by the Rapid Prototyping Association of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (RPA/SME).  The event, held May 18-21, 1998, also in Dearborn, consisted of company tours, educational tutorials, a multi-track conference program, and a large display of exhibits.

At the summit, the 13 groups and associations reviewed options for a Global Summit in 1999 and it was proposed that they meet in a different country each year.  The groups expect that these annual meetings, along with one or more projects per year, will guarantee on-going communication among the participating countries.  The meetings will build relationships between the individuals involved – relationships that Gibson and Wohlers expect will lead to productive activities on a global scale.

Wohlers Associates, Inc. is an 11-year old company that provides technical, marketing, and strategic consulting on the new developments and trends in product design, modeling, prototyping, and tooling.  In 1992, Terry Wohlers led a group of 14 individuals from industry and academia to form the world's first association dedicated to rapid prototyping (RP).  In 1993, the association joined the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) to become the Rapid Prototyping Association (RPA) of SME.  Today, RPA/SME is the largest RP member organization in the world.


RP Groups and Associations
Global Summit   May 18, 1998

Australia’s Queensland Manufacturing Institute
    Mr. Scott Loose, CEO*

Canada’s National Research Council
    Mr. Millan Yeung, Group Leader*

Chinese Rapid Forming Technology Committee
    Professor Yongnian Yan, Chairman
    Dr. Wei Feng*

Finnish Rapid Prototyping Association
    Mr. Jukka Tuomi, President*

French Rapid Prototyping Association
    Dr. Alain BERNARD, Vice President*

Germany’s NC Society
    Dr. Andreas Gebhardt, Chairman
    Mr. Hans-Dieter Plum*

Hong Kong Society for Rapid Prototyping and Tooling
    Dr. Ian Gibson, Vice-Chairman*

Italian Rapid Prototyping Association
    Ms. Gabriella Marinsek, Chair
    Dr. Mario Salmon*

Japanese Association of Rapid Prototyping Industry
    Mr. Katsuma Nakagawa, Secretary General
    Professor Takeo Nakagawa*

South Africa’s Time Compression Technologies Siliconworks Centre
    Mr. Deon de Beer*

Swedish Industrial Network on FFF
    Mr. Berndt Holmer, Coodinator*

UK’s Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Association
    Mr. Graham Tromans, Chairman
    Mr. David Wimpenny*
    Professor Phill Dickens*

USA’s Rapid Prototyping Association of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers
    Mr. Clint Atwood, 1998 Chairman
    Ms. Kristen Dudash, Association Manager
    Ms. Marge Hartfel*

Organized by:
    Wohlers Associates, Inc. (USA)
    Mr. Terry Wohlers, President*
    University of Hong Kong
    Dr. Ian Gibson, Associate Professor*

* indicates those in attendance at the Global Summit