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April 27, 2015

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event — Terry Wohlers @ 05:18

The Materialise World Conference was held last week in Brussels, with more than 1,000 people in attendance. A high caliber group of customers, partners, and others attended the two-day event. The conference coincided with the opening of a museum exhibition at the Bozar Center for Fine Arts. The exhibition is open until June 7 and consists of four rooms filled with an impressive array of 3D-printed parts and products—all from Materialise and Materialise partners. I spent about 90 minutes at the exhibition, and could have spent much more time there.

Materialise is celebrating its 25th year in business, and now employs 1,250 people in 16 offices worldwide. The company has 8,000 software installations to its credit and has produced 146,000 medical devices. It currently prints 2,000+ parts every day for customers worldwide.

Last week, Hoet Eyewear and Materialise announced the commercialization of new 3D-printed eyeglass frames. The products currently available for sale are standard designs, but custom-fit frames are coming soon. In fact, Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen was wearing custom frames at the conference. The Cabrio collection of frames from Hoet are beautifully designed by Bieke Hoet and manufactured and finished to perfection by Materialise. The retail price of the frames is EUR 190-250.


RS Print and Materialise announced the commercialization of custom insoles based on biomechanics. I went through the ordering process by walking across a special scanning plate to capture the details of my feet and how I walk. Special software is used to perform detailed analysis based on extensive R&D in collaboration with Materialise. The insoles are then 3D-printed and delivered to the customer.


Materialise has taken additive manufacturing to a new level. It very carefully targets a market and then goes after it with care and great attention to detail. It is manufacturing many types of products that you may not hear about or see unless you visit the company. With its AS9100 quality certification, Materialise is now targeting the aerospace industry.

I was surprised by the progress the company has made since my last visit in June 2013. Materialise is, without question, among the most advanced and impressive AM companies anywhere. My sincere congratulations for 25 years of meaningful innovation, a successful World Conference, and remarkable progress over the past two years.

20 Years Later

April 11, 2015

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 06:03

Wohlers Report 2015, our 20th anniversary edition, was published this week. The 314-page publication was developed with the help of many people. The new edition was created with the support of 78 carefully-selected co-authors in 31 countries and the kind cooperation of 40 system manufacturers and 87 service providers from around the world.

The first Wohlers Report was published in April 1996 in cooperation with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). It was 40 pages in length and represented the first published analysis of the additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing industry worldwide. Short reports were published in 1993, 1994, and 1995 by Wohlers Associates and made available for free.

The 1996 report showed that the AM industry represented a mere $295 million in 1995. In 2014, it was $4.1 billion. An estimated 526 AM systems were sold in 1995 by 15 system manufacturers located in the U.S., Germany, and Japan. In 2014, 49 system manufacturers in 13 countries produced and sold an estimated 12,850 industrial AM systems. Meanwhile, hundreds of mostly small companies worldwide produced and sold nearly 140,000 desktop 3D printers—those that sell for less than $5,000—in 2014.

Indeed, a lot has changed since 1996. We celebrated our company’s 10th anniversary that year—a time when very few people had heard of 3D printing technology. Today, it is widely publicized and showing up in places that few of us predicted. Some consider it to be one of the hottest and most interesting technologies of our time. I genuinely hope that the next 20 years are as interesting and gratifying as the last 20.