The founding members of the Rapid Prototyping and
Manufacturing Institute (RPMI) have come together with a common goal: to further the
deployment of rapid prototyping and manufacturing through education. All activities of
the RPMI will focus on education.
Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (RPM) is an emerging collection of materials and
process technologies, design and processing methodologies, and business practices and
relationships, which together shorten product development cycles, improve product designs,
and reduce product development costs. RPM is often associated with additive fabrication
processes, such as stereo lithography or selective laser sintering, and includes many
other prototyping technologies, as well as such conventional processes as CNC machining,
and a host pc computer-based design, engineering, and analysis tools.
Companies that are potential adopters of RPM and students who may need to work with RPM
share a need for information and education that advances RPM deployment. RPM is one of the
fastest growing areas of manufacturing technology today. RPM holds the promise of saving
both time and money in bringing new products to market. Other technologies, involving data
handling, global networking, CAD, CAM, CAE, CNC machining, investment casting, RTV molding
and virtual prototyping, all come together around RPM. But, only a few companies are
reaping the benefits of the RPM and its associated technologies. Even companies already
using RPM are struggling to keep up with the rate of change, and few students are familiar
with RPM and its benefits.
The founding members of the RPMI share a need for an organization that serves as a
clearing house for information, that can host case studies and research to address both
specific and generic concerns, and that promotes education for both degree students and
practicing professionals. The RPMI is intended to meet those needs.
The RPMI will dramatically impact education in several ways:
- Assembling an Information Resource: The RPMI will become an information
clearing house for a community that includes manufacturers, professionals, students, and
faculty. Information will flow freely among all members, students, and the broader
community. Institute members are expected to help Georgia Tech to identify specific
educational needs and to work with Georgia Tech to create appropriate educational
opportunities (e.g., workshops, short courses and seminars). Members will share ideas with
each other and will work together to solve common problems.
- Increasing Knowledge of RPM: Most RPMI activities will revolve around an
RPM laboratory at Georgia Tech. Institute members will play a key role in helping Georgia
Tech to select the equipment for the lab that is most relevant for our educational
objectives. This lab will be open to Institute members and to GT students pursuing
educational opportunities in RPM, and will be equipped with industrial grade equipment
representing the current state-of-the-art. The lab will provide all participants with an
opportunity to experiment and learn in a controlled setting.
- Creating an Environment that Encourages Case Studies: The RPMI will focus
on learning about existing and emerging technologies and how they can be used to
meet specific current needs in industry. Institute members are expected to help Georgia
Tech identify these specific needs, and to work with Georgia Tech students, RPM lab staff,
and Georgia Tech faculty to create educational experiences in which RPM methods will be
developed and refined.
Developing Highly Skilled People: The RPM lab will be sustained by an
identifiable nucleus of experts. The lab will be a source of well-trained and talented
engineers, managers, and scientists. Students who use the lab will be uniquely prepared to
enter industry through their experiences with RPMI members. Members, too, will learn and
grow through their hands-on experiences.
Goals of the RPMI
The specific goals of the RPMI include:
- To engage industry in the education of their future engineers, designers, scientists,
- To align our students' education more closely with the true needs of their future
- To enhance the educational experience of Georgia Tech's students by exposing them to
state-of-the-art technologies in an interdisciplinary instructional laboratory
- To promote current rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies by developing,
refining, demonstrating, and communicating creative case studies of these
- To develop new methods in areas related to RPM, such as rapid tooling, rapid fixturing,
rapid casting, and flexible tooling
- To develop necessary integration between RPM technologies and design, manufacturing, and
- To continually change and grow to meet the needs of industry as communicated through the
To increase the competitiveness of manufacturers in Georgia, and throughout the Southeast,
by helping them to fully exploit RPM technologies
Measuring our progress will ensure that we will remain focused on our goals and that
our industry partners, students, and faculty see the benefits that they expect. We will
track our progress relative to those benefits.
- Assembling an Information Resource: Count the number of and track
attendance at seminars, workshops, short courses, and symposia sponsored and delivered by
the RPMI. Track member participation specifically. Record specific interactions fostered
by the RPMI within the broader community that create competitive advantages for members.
Report on the growth and use of the RPMI's information resources (e.g., a library
including current publications, electronic bulletin boards, vendor information, equipment
benchmarks). Document publications and presentations that result from RPMI activities.
- Increasing Knowledge of RPM: Record both the breadth and depth of the
technologies available in the RPM lab. Report on specific successes in deploying RPM
technologies. Track the growth of the use of RPM technologies among members and the
broader community. Tally the number of hands-on hours members, students, and faculty spend
learning and using each technology in the lab. Log visits by members of the broader
community of manufacturers, and record the nature of their interactions.
- Creating an Environment that Encourages Case Studies: Document each case
study -- the processes, outcomes, and investment in time and dollars. Quantify the
business results from each case study, i.e., what did members learn and how did each use
the knowledge. Request from industry members, GT faculty, and students, an annual review
of the Institute's accomplishments and opportunities for improvement.
- Developing Highly Skilled People: Track the nature of the interaction for
each activity in the lab. Count the numbers of students and faculty using the lab. Ask the
members to report on new professional relationships initiated and nurtured through RPMI
participation. Track instances of members hiring students as co-ops, interns, or full-time
The key to good measurements is in keeping good records. We will establish reliable
procedures to collect, store and report on all measures listed above. Results will be
reported in the RPMI annual report.
- Education is our mission. Education will be the primary focus of all
activities at the RPMI.
- RPMI members will be active partners Each member is expected to be
involved in identifying, supporting, and evaluating student projects in the lab. Each of
these projects will involve GT students and/or faculty. Institute members will be
encouraged to be directly involved in lab activities through appropriate staffing and
- The RPM lab will not operate as a service bureau. That is, the lab will
avoid taking on projects if they can be executed by a commercial source. The RPM lab will
focus on projects that provide an educational experience for both members and
- Equipment content in the RPMI lab will be reviewed annually. Members will
critically review each major piece of equipment to assess its use in the lab. Members may
recommend to replace outdated equipment with more current or appropriate technologies.
Institute members will act as an Industrial Advisory Board. The industry
members of the institute will be expected to act as an industrial advisory board (IAB) to
the RPM lab. The IAB will routinely review the operations of the lab, and make
recommendations for improvement in facilities, operations, or activities.
The Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute is critical to the success of Georgia
Tech's educational programs in rapid prototyping and manufacturing. The industrial members
of the Institute, individually and collectively, are key partners with Georgia Tech in
these educational activities.
- RPMI member companies will be selected carefully. The first few founding
members will be invited by GT alone. Then, founding members will work together with GT to
identify and recruit additional members. This careful selection of members will help the
RPMI focus its energy on issues of common interest.
- Membership is limited. The regular, meaningful participation of each
member is crucial. A limit will allow us to ensure that the quality of interactions
between members and students remains high. The initial limit will be fifteen (15)
industrial members, but the limit may be raised or lowered in the future if appropriate.
- The RPMI will have a single rank of membership. Each member will have an
equal voice, and each member will provide Georgia Tech with an annual gift of $25,000
earmarked for the RPM lab. Companies may renew their membership each year on the
anniversary of their original membership date. Each year, the amount of the request may be
raised or lowered as the Institute's need for funds changes.
- The RPMI may invite new members under special terms. The standard cash
gift may not be appropriate for some members. The RPMI may elect to make a special
invitation to certain members if extenuating circumstances exist. For example, a small
company may have crucial interests and skills to bring to the institute, but $25,000 may
be too much of a burden for the small firm. Similarly, a RPM vendor may have unique
expertise, equipment, material, or services to contribute as a member instead of a cash
donation. Members joining under special terms will have the same membership status as
members contributing the standard cash amount.
Founding members will have unique opportunities. Founding members, i.e.,
members joining the Institute by October 23, 1995, will be recognized as founding members.
Founders will be particularly well positioned to influence the initial development of the
Institute, the RPM lab, and the Institute's agenda.
Organization and Procedures
- This charter will guide the activities of the RPMI. The purpose of the
charter is to describe how Georgia Tech intends to conduct this educational activity.
Georgia Tech may amend this charter at any time, to reflect the changing needs of industry
or of the RPMI. The charter is not a contract.
- Major decisions will be guided by a vote of the RPMI members Major
decisions regarding the equipment or operations of the RPM lab will be informed by a vote
of the Institute members, but will remain the responsibility of Georgia Tech.
- Members will influence the RPM lab's activities. Members of the Institute
will work with each other and with GT participants to define projects and to see them
through to some meaningful conclusion. It is expected that at any time, the Institute
would have a portfolio of potential projects, and that a project selection process would
involve a vote among the Institute members. Choosing activities in this way will help us
all ensure that the lab will host projects of specific importance to industry, and
therefore of greatest value to GT students.
- Members will meet quarterly. Frequent meetings between Georgia tech and
the Institute members will ensure that the activities of the RPMI are achieving the
educational goals set forth in this charter.
RPMI officers will be elected annually. It is expected that the IAB will
organize itself in order to be effective and efficient in its interactions with Georgia
Tech. Founding members will help structure the offices and duties of each office.
The Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute exists to meet the
needs for education and demonstration of rapid prototyping and manufacturing. Its success
is defined by the willingness of its private sector members to continue their
participation, and the willingness of Georgia Tech faculty and students to continue their
involvement. This charter expresses the intent of both Georgia Tech and the other
Institute members with regard to participation, operation, and governance of the