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Wohlers Report 2013

May 25, 2013

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 09:59

This new market study was published earlier this week, marking the 18th consecutive year of its publication. The report focuses on new 3D printing and additive manufacturing (terms we use interchangeably) applications, developments, and trends worldwide. The report was produced with help from 70 co-authors in 21 countries, as well as 74 service providers and 31 system manufacturers from around the world. Principal co-author and associate consultant Tim Caffrey and I are grateful for the kind support from so many experts and organizations that supported this large effort.

Wohlers Report 2013 provides an in-depth look at market forces, competitive products and services, and industry growth. According to our research for the report, the market for products and services in 2012 grew 28.6% (CAGR) to $2.204 billion. This is up from $1.714 billion in 2011, when it grew 29.4%. The average annual growth (CAGR) of the industry over the past 25 years is an impressive 25.4%. The CAGR is 27.4% over the past three years (2010–2012).

Growth of the low-cost (under $5,000) “personal” 3D printer market segment averaged 346% each year from 2008 through 2011. In 2012, the increase cooled significantly to an estimated 46.3%, according to our research for Wohlers Report 2013. Most of these machines are being sold to hobbyists, do-it-yourselfers, engineering students, and secondary and postsecondary educational institutions.

The industry is expected to continue strong double-digit growth over the next several years. By 2017, we believe that the sale of 3D-printing products and services will approach $6 billion worldwide. By 2021, we forecast growth to reach $10.8 billion. It took the 3D printing industry 20 years to grow to $1 billion in size. In five additional years, the industry generated its second $1 billion. It is expected to double again, to $4 billion, in 2015.

Losing Another Industry

May 12, 2013

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 14:49

Our preparation for the publication of Wohlers Report 2013 revealed some interesting data: 16 companies in Europe, 7 in China, 5 in the U.S., and 2 in Japan now manufacture and sell professional-grade, industrial additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing systems. (We use the two terms interchangeably.) This is a dramatic change from a decade ago when the mix was 10 in the U.S., 7 in Europe, 7 in Japan, and 3 in China.

Is the U.S. losing its edge in AM? This data on AM systems manufacturing and sales suggests that it is. What’s more, all of the metal powder bed fusion systems are manufactured outside the U.S. Seven manufacturers of these systems are in Europe and two are in China. Together, China, Singapore, many countries in Europe, and even South Africa, have committed hundreds of millions of dollars in AM development and commercialization over the next few years.

The U.S. continues to lead the world with the largest installed base of AM users. When Wohlers Report 2013 becomes available soon, it will report that 38% of all industrial AM installations are in the U.S. Japan is second with 9.7%, followed by Germany with 9.4% and China with 8.7%. With such a large number of systems, one could argue that the U.S. has the most experience, expertise, and know-how in AM.

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) was launched last year by the White House with the support of several agencies, including the Department of Defense. This initiative seeks to accelerate the position of the U.S. in the development and use of AM technology. It will not be easy, given what organizations in China and other regions of the world have planned.

My recommendation to key leaders in the U.S. is to focus on the big picture with big goals, such as the development of metal-based powder bed fusion systems and other advanced AM system technology. Market forces and competitive pressures will take care of the smaller challenges and incremental technology improvements.