One way to stir up business is make outrageous claims that get you plenty of notice. Perhaps that's why Roger Spielman, vice president of direct manufacturing at Tangible Express, says European manufacturers are quickly closing in on their American counterparts in terms of additive technology and might soon leave the U.S. playing catch-up. In a recent speech, he blames American companies that manufacture additive fabrication equipment and says, "Not everybody can afford a $750,000 machine and then the ludicrous material costs to go along with it." He must be unaware that Z-Corp. in the U.S., for example, makes a 3D printer for under $40,000 that lets users build colored parts. And a business unit of Stratasys, Red Eye RPM, lets users order additive parts online with STL files.
Also, Spielman's comment about material costs is especially ironic because even European machine builders such as EOS develop and supply the materials used in their machines. Here, direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS) systems build metal parts. The company developed alloys especially for DMLS, and also has qualified standard industrial materials.
Interestingly, in the past, Spielman used SLS to create hundreds of parts for the International Space Station Program and the Space Shuttle Main Engine Program, so his remarks are especially peculiar. But he is pushing Tangible Express as "the first company in the world to offer fractional ownership in its fleet of rapid manufacturing systems," so his motive for stirring up a hornet's nest is clear.
His entire speech is said to be posted at www.l-vma.org, but I don't see it.