Re: reverse engineering or copying?
That's the popular misconception. You hadn't heard of "3-D printing", to use the current buzzword, but those of us who had a legitiment use had, ten, twenty, and even more years ago. 3-D printing springs from Stereolithography, first patented in in 1986:
I've been waiting my entire career as a model railroad manufacturer to see if this will prove useful, and as of yet, it hasn't. The same way with laser machining, yeah, it does have uses, the little AJAX on our brake housings was engraved in the mold cavities with this process, but it also has a LOT of limitations, and cost makes it the choice only when there is no better way.
All these technologies follow the same course:
First they are a gleam in someone's eye .
Then they become a buzzword.
Then they become "high tech."
Then finally they become a commodity process, IF they hadn't fallen by the wayside because they really didn't live up to their promise.
That's when they finally become affordable in this industry.
---In STMFC@..., <nvrr49@...> wrote :
"I'm sure 3-D scanning will have a place, but it is hardly a panacea; nowhere in the foreseeable future are you going to be able to point your "Instamatic Scanner" at a prototype and send the file out to Shapeways to get a model back, and certainly not anywhere near a price modelers will feel is reasonable."
We are a lot closer than you think. MakerBot already has a scanner available that will scan an item, and make a file that can be sent directly to their printer. It does not do the quality you and I would want, but I am 58, and I think I could see the day when it will do what we want. Ten years ago I would have said, "what is a 3d printer?". Now I own one!