Service providers, also referred to as service bureaus, offer prototypes to design and manufacturing organizations as an outsourced service. These companies also offer design, CAD, data translation, tooling, urethane casting, reverse engineering, and other engineering and manufacturing services.
Through the end of last year, 3D Systems dominated the installed base of RP machines at these companies. 3D's share grew from 57.3% in 2001 to 61.4% in 2002. 3D Systems' technologies used by service providers include stereolithography (44.7%), laser sintering (13.7%), and Multi-Jet Modeling (3%). Stratasys is the number two supplier of RP machines to service providers with 10.7%. EOS is third with 9.6%.
Note: The previous information was taken from the recently published Wohlers Report 2003.
The RP&M 2003 conference and exposition, held May 12-15 in Chicago, Illinois, was excellent. Organized each year by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, this annual event became the most important gathering of RP enthusiasts in the mid-1990s. In recent years, however, attendance has fallen, though the event is mounting a comeback. About 325 individuals attended this year's conference, compared to 269 last year. Exposition visitors declined by about 200 from last year's 1,570 visitors. Even so, this year's exposition offered the most interesting set of products and companies to date.
Objet Geometries (Israel) introduced its Eden 330 machine and a new photopolymer, while Envisiontec (Germany) showed its incredibly simple Perfactory product, a system based on Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology from Texas Instruments. Sony, also new to the U.S. market, introduced its Solid Creation System. The company showed its SCS-8000 stereolithography system and had an army of employees on hand. EOS (Germany) displayed its EOSINT M 250 Xtended metal laser sintering machine, while Arcam (Sweden) showed parts from its Electron Beam Melting (EBM) process. Praxair, who teamed with Ford to develop Sprayform spray metal tooling, showed parts from its version of the process. DSM Somos displayed complex parts from its new ceramic-filled ProtoTool material, while Z Corp. introduced its new zp250 material that works for snap-fit applications. The list goes on and on, but I hope this summary gives you a feel for what the event had to offer. If you add it all up, RP&M 2003 provided an exceptional display of products and services from around the world.
Note: This is a Wohlers Talk commentary that was added to our website on May 26. Wohlers Talk offers thoughts, ideas, news, and summaries related to rapid product development and other topics. Fifteen commentaries have been published since February of this year. To view them, visit the following page: http://wohlersassociates.com/Wohlers-Talk.html.
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