This article discusses that by most measures, the last few months have been good for the rapid prototyping (RP) industry. Worldwide system sales continue to grow as the technology finds greater application in many countries, including Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. During the same period, the rate at which RP-related Us patents were issued accelerated to more than one per week, according to a study by Chatham Research of Amherst, NH. In recent years, researchers have also been working on solid-form fabrication (SFF) techniques to construct prototype and production tooling, even for precision metal parts, an advance that would truly revolutionize the manufacturing industry. Of particular interest to manufacturing engineers is the continued evolution of rapid tooling (RT) technologies—methods to swiftly fabricate prototype and production—grade tooling for manufacturing processes such as plastic injection molding.

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