Several of the 46 Fraunhofer institutes in Germany are developing educational courses in various aspects of rapid prototyping for small- and medium-sized companies. Judging from the number of RP conferences and commercial RP courses in Europe, there is a strong interest in such programs. Warwick, Nottingham, and Buckingham universities in England have developed or are developing consortiums with industry that are designed to educate industrial personnel as well as to pursue specific developmental goals.

While Japanese companies traditionally have not worked closely with universities or research institutes, this is changing. Japanese industry has apparently begun approaching universities for help in educating the engineering workforce in order to help companies keep up with rapidly changing technologies. To cite a specific example, Terry T. Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, in reviewing a draft of this report, indicated that in June 1996, Prof. Nakagawa of Tokyo University described to him "a one-year, $1.5 million Japanese government project with Toyota Electronic and Telecom Institute in Nagoya. The focus of this work is to produce production tooling by laser-cutting and laminating steel sheets. Toyota has produced and used as many as 100 dies using Nakagawa's sheet lamination approach for prototype tooling... [Also,] Nakagawa is working with Professor Takeuchi of Tokyo Electronic and Telecom Institute on high-speed 5-axis machining." The JTEC/WTEC panel interviewed several Japanese who are doing outstanding academic work in support of RP (Sites 1996, 117-124) and learned of several new industry-government programs that focus on new manufacturing technologies. However, the panel learned of no specific RP programs in Japan that jointly involve industry, university, and government.

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Published: March 1997; WTEC Hyper-Librarian