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China is Embracing RP Big Time

February 14, 2004

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 15:21

China has moved ahead of Germany as the number three consumer of rapid prototyping machines for the first time in history, according to Wohlers Report 2003. Growth from 2001 to 2002 was a whopping 93%. In a short few years, China has progressed from having little RP capacity to where it’s at today. The country is not only buying RP systems, it’s building and selling them. In fact, 25% of the estimated 160 machines sold and installed in China in 2002 came from Chinese system manufacturers.

Huazhong University of Science & Technology in Wuhan, China employs an amazing number of people dedicated to the research and development of stereolithography, laser sintering, paper lamination, and other forms of rapid prototyping. Wuhan Binhu Mechanical & Electrical Co., Ltd. is the company that is commercializing the RP machines developed at the university. The RP group at the university consists of 120 professors, associate professors, lecturers, engineers, graduate students, and other staff working on the technology. It is very likely the largest R&D group dedicated to rapid prototyping in the world.

A Milestone for the Industry

February 5, 2004

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 05:47

Almost before the “ink” was dry on the January 31, 2004 commentary titled Chief Executive is Good for 3D Systems, I received news that 3D Systems and EOS had entered into an agreement that settles all worldwide disputes and litigation between the two companies. This news is big for the RP industry. Very big! In fact, the lingering battle between the two companies has been one of the obstacles to the growth of the industry, when you consider the magnitude of its impact. (See the August 2003 commentary titled Eight Lawsuits between 3D and EOS.) Not only were these companies spending resources on these disputes that neither could afford, the friction between the companies was a serious deterrent to the sale of products to major corporations.

Prior to the arrival of Abe Reichental, 3D’s relatively new president and chief executive, I held little hope for a settlement. Reichental is serious about making positive changes at the company and this proves it. One must also give credit to Hans Langer, chief executive at EOS. Without a willingness and determination to bring this to an end, EOS and 3D Systems would still be burning through enormous amounts of dollars and euros. Congratulations to both companies for this impressive accomplishment. It’s nothing less than a milestone for the development of this exciting industry.