Wohlers Report 2003

By Joe Greco

The following is an independent review by Joe Greco, a CAD consultant and freelance writer based in Arizona. You can reach him at joegreco@yahoo.com.

Every year, Terry T. Wohlers, an expert on rapid prototyping (RP), publishes the Wohlers Report. This is an annual worldwide progress report on the state of the rapid prototyping, tooling and manufacturing industry. This year’s work is formatted similar to past reports, however, at 272 pages, it is almost 10% thicker than the 2002 volume and has more photos than ever.

After opening the book with background information on RP, Wohlers’ second chapter gets into the financial status of the industry. The tough economy hurt the market in 2002, as the demand for RP products and services decreased slightly for the second straight year. This is a trend Wohlers is expecting to continue in 2003, before rebounding in 2004. Last year did see more RP system units sold than any other year, with a total of 1482. Wohlers expects this value to increase by more than 15% for each of the next two years.

The next chapter discusses rapid tooling, which starts off by detailing all of the processes available today, and concludes with an information-packed 4-page chart. The forth chapter provides a useful overview of every RP manufacturer, essentially discussing the major events that took place at each company the previous  year, including mergers, new technologies and so on. Chapter 5 discusses the Asian and European markets; however, one of the most interesting sections comes up next, where Wohlers writes about the worldwide research and development.

Chapter 7 is useful for those interested in rapid manufacturing, which is the process of quickly producing the actual end-use parts. Chapter 8 discusses other issues that affect the RP industry, while the final section provides Wohlers’ insightful views into the short, mid and long term future of the industry. The book concludes with seven appendices that cover everything from a basic glossary to charts detailing the specifications of every RP manufacturer’s product, as well as every RP material available.

In short, the Wohlers Report is the ideal source to help one get a complete picture of the RP market. Whether you are a user, potential user, or investor, if rapid prototyping, tooling and manufacturing are important topics for you, then you need this book. Visit http://wohlersassociates.com for more information.