Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Rapid Prototyping Journal, Volume 20, Issue 6
This issue of the Rapid Prototyping Journal (RPJ)completes Volume 20, that is, we have had 20 years of uninterrupted publication since 1995. This in itself is a cause for celebration for all the authors, reviewers, editors and publishers who have contributed to this success over the past two decades. The RPJ is still going strong with more submissions and more papers being published than ever before. Our impact factor has continued on its upward trend to 1.156, and we have a Journal Citation Reports (JCR) ranking of 44 of 126 Mechanical Engineering journals (data for the year 2013). I am hoping that by the time this editorial is in print, I will have met some of our readers in person at the 20 year celebration events being held at the 2014 International Conference on Additive Technologies (iCAT) conference in Vienna. We are planning a meeting of Editorial Advisory Board members, an authors’ workshop and a pre-conference reception. My thanks go to Dan Jopling at Emerald and iCAT’s Igor Drstvensek for making this possible.
However, a much greater cause for celebration is the advances we have see in rapid prototyping aka 3D printing aka additive manufacturing over the past 20 years. What was originally a prototyping process is now quite commonly used for end-use part manufacture; the range of materials available and their properties have steadily improved; the cost of ownership for entry-level systems has reduced dramatically; and, arguably, the greatest cause for celebration is that our once quite obscure technology has now become commonly recognized in many parts of the world. I say “arguably” because the increase in publicity about AM has not always been accompanied by an increase in clarity or accuracy of information. It has sometimes been the case that misleading information has led to unrealistic expectations and then disappointment in what is actually available. I have already heard the phrase “over-hyped” being used by some very influential people. This makes the role of rigorous peer-reviewed publications like the RPJ all the more important as a source of factual and unbiased information. Overall, I still think the increase in publicity has been a good thing, as more people and companies are encountering the technology and trying to put it to good use. Not everyone will have a success story to tell but many have already, and I believe there are many more to follow. I saw yet another illustration of this on my family’s recent visit to the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. We were amazed by the architecture and traditional craftsmanship on display in this unfinished masterpiece. Then, we went down into the basement to see the workshop where models for future additions are being produced. First, we saw some computer aided design (CAD) renderings of what the completed cathedral will look like and then I was very pleased to see two 3D printers being used in combination with conventional model-making skills. I wonder what Gaudi would say? I hope he would approve of the integration of ancient and modern, as this combination is also seen in his designs.