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RP Industry Reverses Downward Trend

May 30, 2004

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 14:03

Last year, the rapid prototyping (RP) industry reversed its downward trend, according to Wohlers Report 2004, a new worldwide study on the rapid prototyping, tooling, and manufacturing state of the industry. Revenues returned to levels of the past, with product revenues gaining impressively. “Low-end machine sales soared to unprecedented heights, with 3D printers becoming the crown jewel of the RP industry,” stated Terry Wohlers, principal author of the report and president of Wohlers Associates.

“With the increase in the number of machines sold and installed, the total number of models being produced annually also grew,” Wohlers explained. Users of RP systems produced an estimated 4.8 million models and prototype parts in 2003, up from 4.1 million produced in 2002, according to the report. Consequently, material sales were strong.

Stratasys is inching its way toward dominance as it unseats 3D Systems as the king of rapid prototyping. And Z Corporation has moved up to the number two position in annual unit sales. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to maintain its grip on both the production and consumption of RP systems.

The 270-page report revealed that the RP industry, which includes product sales and services worldwide, grew 9.2% to $528.9 million in 2003, up from $484.5 million in 2002. The industry is expected to grow to $586 million in 2004 and $655 million in 2005, according to the report.

Wohlers Associates announced the availability of Wohlers Report 2004 on May 11 at the Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing 2004 conference and exposition in Dearborn, Michigan.

Bright Minds Mentor Program

May 1, 2004

Filed under: additive manufacturing,education,event — Terry Wohlers @ 10:34

Organizers of the Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing 2004 Conference and Exposition are involving students in a way like never before. On May 12, 20 high school students from the Detroit area will attend the Dearborn event as special guests. Each student will be paired with a professional that will serve as their mentor for the day. The purpose of this special program, called Bright Minds, is to introduce youth to new technologies and applications of product development and manufacturing. The mentors will explain the range of options used for rapid product development and will answer technology and career-related questions. The students will be given time to attend conference sessions and witness machines in action on the exhibition floor.

The genesis of the program is the brainchild of computer graphics pioneer David Kasik of Boeing. Mr. Kasik led a similar program at the SIGGRAPH 2003 Exposition in San Diego, California. The Computer Graphics Pioneers sponsored the program for area students. (The Computer Graphics Pioneers is a loosely organized group formed in 1982 to provide historic continuity and a medium for exchanging recollections of the development and application of computer graphics.)

SME staff warmed up to the idea almost immediately after the idea was proposed. It was refreshing to see SME get behind it with the same kind of enthusiasm and determination of those who proposed it. Mike Siemer of Mydea Technologies (formerly of Walt Disney World) agreed to chair the effort and has done an excellent job. So now, all that’s left is for the mentors to begin to shape a new generation of engineers and manufacturing professionals.

Programs such as this one is long overdue. Many who are passionate about rapid prototyping and education have repeatedly expressed the need to involve youth in activities that will familiarize them with exciting career opportunities in engineering and manufacturing. Only then will rapid prototyping and related technologies live up to their growth potential. Thank you, SME and others, for supporting this important activity.