Last year, the rapid prototyping (RP) industry reversed its downward trend, according to Wohlers Report 2004, a new worldwide study on the rapid prototyping, tooling, and manufacturing state of the industry. Revenues returned to levels of the past, with product revenues gaining impressively. “Low-end machine sales soared to unprecedented heights, with 3D printers becoming the crown jewel of the RP industry,” stated Terry Wohlers, principal author of the report and president of Wohlers Associates.
“With the increase in the number of machines sold and installed, the total number of models being produced annually also grew,” Wohlers explained. Users of RP systems produced an estimated 4.8 million models and prototype parts in 2003, up from 4.1 million produced in 2002, according to the report. Consequently, material sales were strong.
Stratasys is inching its way toward dominance as it unseats 3D Systems as the king of rapid prototyping. And Z Corporation has moved up to the number two position in annual unit sales. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to maintain its grip on both the production and consumption of RP systems.
The 270-page report revealed that the RP industry, which includes product sales and services worldwide, grew 9.2% to $528.9 million in 2003, up from $484.5 million in 2002. The industry is expected to grow to $586 million in 2004 and $655 million in 2005, according to the report.
Wohlers Associates announced the availability of Wohlers Report 2004 last week in Dearborn, Michigan. The report’s table of contents, as well as additional information on the RP market and industry, are available at http://wohlersassociates.com.
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