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Best Products of 2015

December 31, 2015

Filed under: review — Terry Wohlers @ 11:18

The following are among the best products that I purchased this year.

ExpressVPN – If you’re looking for a good VPN, consider this one. A VPN encrypts all of your Internet traffic, which is especially important when using public wireless services at hotels, airports, and coffee shops. If someone tries to tap into your communications while you’re using a VPN, they will not be able to detect your IP address or location. You could be sitting in Shanghai, but it’d show that you’re in another city and country. (More than 100 cities in 78 countries are available to choose from.) Use of the product is $8.32 per month with an annual subscription.

HTC One M9 Smartphone – I liked my previous HTC One smartphone, so I upgraded to the M9 version. The phone has a good battery life, a fast processor, and is the perfect size for me. One of the nicest features is Wi-Fi calling. If you have a wireless connection, you can make a call to or from anywhere in the world at no cost.

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III – This $269 device is perfect for portable use, although we use it in one location. The product plays for up to 14 hours on one battery charge. It sounds great and works well.


Salomon Q-98 Snow Skis – I bought these skis in January 2015 and I’m glad I did. They are 98 mm under foot and work well in deep powder, as well as on groomed surfaces. They turn very well on hard-packed snow—even better than my K2 Rictor skis, which are narrower and considered excellent for hard-surface turning. The Salomon STH 10 bindings that I bought for them are also good.

Honeywell Humidifier – If you live in a dry climate, humidity is important. I purchased Honeywell’s Model HEV312 for our property in Frisco, Colorado. It is located at 2,766 meters (9,075 feet) in the Rocky Mountains where the air is especially dry in the winter. The product has a small footprint, is quiet, and offers many settings. Most importantly, it really kicks out the moisture.

2015 was a great year and I expect 2016 to be even better. Best wishes to you for a safe and prosperous New Year!

Investment in AM

December 20, 2015

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future — Terry Wohlers @ 11:29

Alcoa is investing $60 million in additive manufacturing and 3D printing methods and materials. Autodesk’s $100 million Spark Investment Fund is in full swing. Early next year, GE will a $32 million R&D facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, called the Center for Additive Manufacturing Advancement. Michelin and Fives are collaborating on a EUR 25 million investment involving the creation of a new company and metal AM. The state of New York is investing $125 million in a 3D printing facility in partnership with Norsk Titanium.


Are these types and sizes of investments the new norm for AM? I believe they are. In some ways, the 27-year old AM industry is just getting started, especially in the context of production applications. Consider the current AM supply chain and how underdeveloped it is. A tremendous amount of work is ahead of us, so I expect that we will continue to see a string of significant investments in AM across many areas. Among them: software and web-based tools for the creation and optimization of 3D content, IT, process controls, automation, materials, postprocessing, inspection, industry standards, education, training, and research.

AM will indeed grow to become a very big industry, up from $4.1 billion in 2014 (Source: Wohlers Report 2015). In fact, we believe it will grow into the tens of billions, and eventually to hundreds of billions. With the attention and investment that it’s finally getting, it is well on its way.


December 4, 2015

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,future,review — Terry Wohlers @ 12:31

Note: The following was authored by Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at Wohlers Associates.

The annual AIRTEC event was held in Munich, Germany during the first week of November. The international aerospace supply fair offers short business-to-business meetings that give suppliers the opportunity to meet face-to-face with purchasing agents from the largest aerospace manufacturers in the world. This year, 536 companies participated in an amazing 12,823 B2B meetings.

AIRTEC also featured 400 exhibitors from 27 countries and an international congress that consisted of three days of presentations in seven topical areas, ranging from UAVs and helicopters to avionics, aeronautics, and space. For the third consecutive year, Wohlers Associates organized and chaired a session titled “Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace.” This year’s full-day session included 11 presentations with speakers from Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Sweden, and the U.S., and concluded with a lively panel discussion on the developing AM supply chain in the aerospace industry.


Paolo Gennaro of Avio Aero shared information on the two-year qualification process of titanium aluminide for producing low pressure turbine blades for aircraft engines. Avio operates 20 Arcam EBM systems and has significant powder production capacity on-site. Peter Pinklbauer of Airbus cited many examples from the more than 120 AM projects the Airbus team has completed. He also reiterated his company’s plan to manufacture 30 tons of 3D-printed parts per month by December 2018, which will reduce raw material use by 270 tons per month.

An important takeaway from the day’s program: Avio Aero, Airbus, and Airbus’ Tier 1 supplier Premium Aerotec are currently using AM for serial production of aerospace parts. Production of aerospace parts using AM is no longer a prediction or a future eventuality. It is a reality today, and it is likely to increase significantly in the foreseeable future.