ROLE OF JAPANESE MARKET DEMAND

The Japanese market is dominated by a concern for accuracy. This has led the companies competing there to focus on liquid-based systems and to optimize them for precise parts. One Japanese host mentioned to JTEC/WTEC panelists that of the 140 RP machines in Japan at the time of the panel's visit, fully 50% of them were not usable because they were too inaccurate. The accuracy requirements of several companies visited by the panel include these:

* ±0.1% typical, with less than ±0.1 mm variation across a 50 cm span * ±0.1 mm in a bolt hole

* Representatives of the companies that the panel visited observed that the technology they had access to did not deliver these accuracies -- basically they were a factor of two away from achieving these.

The ±0.1 mm variation across a 50 cm span is nearly within reach using epoxy and the larger of the 3D Systems machines in the North American market. One other discussion regarding the resin market was on the subject of why the resin companies in Japan do not enter the U.S. market. JSR representatives indicated JSR would consider selling anywhere, while representatives of CMET, the holder of the exclusive license to sell Asahi Denka's resin, indicated the company was only willing to sell resin in areas where its machines are sold. This specifically excludes the U.S. market.

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Published: March 1997; WTEC Hyper-Librarian