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Decline in Solid Modeling

December 17, 2009

Filed under: additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE — Terry Wohlers @ 17:52

The CAD industry has been experiencing a rough period. Installations of CAD solid modeling seats declined by 7.9% in 2008, according to our research. Sales were an estimated 190,000 commercial CAD solid modeling seats in 2007 compared to 175,000 last year. This comes after years of solid growth since 2003 when Wohlers Associates began to track CAD sales worldwide.

Recent figures show that the industry continues to suffer. Seat sales are not yet available for 2009, but revenues from major CAD companies are poor. Autodesk, which is the largest CAD company in the world, reported a 31% drop in its third quarter revenues. Meanwhile, competitors PTC and Dassault reported declines of 18% and 13%, respectively, for Q3. How do these numbers compare to the top providers of additive manufacturing (AM) systems? Stratasys and 3D Systems reported declines of 20.6% and 22.2%, respectively, for Q3.

Last year, the AM industry, as a whole, performed considerably better than the CAD industry, as measured by unit sales. AM machine (unit) sales were up 1% overall, compared to a 7.9% decline in CAD solid modeling seats. This year, however, may be different, with declines in the AM industry that may be on par with the CAD industry. Both will return to healthier levels as the economy improves worldwide and manufacturers see renewed activity from a pent-up demand for new products and services.

Solido at EuroMold

December 7, 2009

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 06:42

Solido (formerly Solid Dimension) has offered a relatively low-cost 3D printer for many years. I first learned about the Israeli company in December 2000 and visited a couple months later. I could tell the system had potential, but the small organization has struggled since then to make a commercial impact. Until recently, few people knew much about the company and even fewer purchased a system.

The company has “pressed the restart button” and is beginning to make an impression. Solido held a press conference last week at EuroMold 2009 in Frankfurt, Germany with attendance like I had never seen at this international trade fair. In the past, the company had little or no presence at this important event, but this year it was different. Solido’s exhibit was large and striking with crowds of people elbowing their way in to see what all the talk was about. The company created a buzz that few anticipated.

So, what has changed at the company? And who is funding the activity? Jason Barzilay purchased the majority of the company some time ago and is serving as its chairman of the board. Barzilay is a founder of Packard Bell, a PC brand that was once popular in the U.S., especially among home users. The company merged with Zenith Data Systems in 1995 to create a PC business worth $4.5 billion, according to Wikipedia. Unlike many company chairs, Barzilay is hands-on and he is also quite vocal. He’s quick to admit that he’s not an expert in additive manufacturing or 3D printing, but has ideas that he believes will propel the company to an unprecedented level.

It’s much too early to know whether Solido will reach the lofty goals and numbers that Barzily has shared with a few people privately, but the company is off to an interesting restart. SolidWorks cofounder Scott Harris and former SolidWorks COO Vic Leventhal are serving on the company’s board and providing guidance to Solido management. Both spoke at the EuroMold press conference. Solido is also hiring experienced and engaging people that are creating a foundation for what’s ahead. If the current level of enthusiasm is present in 12-18 months, I believe the company could turn a once questionable technology and company into something special.