RAPID
PROTOTYPING AND
MANUFACTURING INSTITUTE

The Founding Charter    September 1, 1995 

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. 



The Need

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 Impact 

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, and managers 
  • To align our students' education more closely with the true needs of their future employers 
  • 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 technologies 
  • 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 business functions 
  • To continually change and grow to meet the needs of industry as communicated through the members 

  • To increase the competitiveness of manufacturers in Georgia, and throughout the Southeast, by helping them to fully exploit RPM technologies 


Measuring Success 

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 employees.

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. 



General Principles 

  • 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 operating hours.
  • 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 students. 
  • 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.


Membership Guidelines 

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.


Summary 

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 RPMI. 


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