If you were looking for confirmation that 3D printing -- sometimes used synonymously with rapid prototyping -- is here to stay, here's further evidence:
NYU now offers a course on the topic that results in students receiving a certificate.
According to the university's course description:
Rapid Prototyping is a certificate geared to familiarize students with digital tools and techniques relevant to the task of visualizing and prototyping 3D designs. Focusing on products and sculpture as the primary area of application, students will be taken through a series of hands-on class exercises supported with specialized video tutorials in order to become comfortable with the process of realizing their designs digitally.
Upon completion of the course, students will know how to take a concept and execute it into a successful 3D model using tools like Maxon's Cinema 4D, Autodesk's Mudbox, and Pixelogic's ZBrush software. At the end of the class, students will create professional 3D product visualizations and physical prototype models of their designs created with a 3D printer.
Some further investigation shows NYU as a pioneer in this field. A quick search showed that a few other reputable colleges offer similar courses. Clearly, 3D printing, and the expertise that's required to make it successful, are making inroads into the design engineering community.
Chuck, one of the biggest surprises to many people has been how much 3D printing of metal objects is going on and has been going on, for several years, especially in aerospace applications. And these are not just prototypes.
Interestingly, Chuck, we were able to play a computer game even with punch cards. They had one game at the University of New Mexico. It was a Star Trek game. You had to avoid or kill Klingons. After you submitted your cards, you had to wait until the next day to find out whether you destroyed the Klingon ship, avoided it, or got killed by the Klingons. That was around the time of Pong.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.