The motivation for and the role of RP machine design seems to be viewed somewhat differently in different regions. In the United States and in Europe, RP is looked at as having high impact on the product development process, shortening development cycle times, and getting better products to market. That is very high leverage, and that is why there is a good deal of interest in RP. While these advantages are acknowledged in Japan, RP must compete there with CNC machining, which the Japanese know very well and have done very successfully. The Japanese observe that in the long run the important question is who supplies the best equipment. Their strategy of focusing on this goal has served the Japanese well in the machine tool and other markets. As a result, the Japanese have a clear strategy to develop machines that are the best in the world, at the lowest cost, and with the highest accuracy.

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Published: March 1997; WTEC Hyper-Librarian