Fit and function applications continue to be a popular use of additive systems, as shown in the chart at http://wohlersassociates.com/2006applic.html. This category—derived by combining the “functional models” and “fit and assembly” segments of the chart—represents 27.3%. Meanwhile, visual applications account for 26.3%.
More than 29% of customers use the parts for tooling components, such as mold inserts, and patterns for urethane and metal castings. Meanwhile, rapid manufacturing—the direct production of finished goods from additive fabrication—continues to grow impressively, rising to 9.6% in 2006. This is up from 3.9% in 2003, 6.6% in 2004, and 8.2% in 2005.
Twenty-seven system manufacturers and 53 service providers worldwide provided the data used to produce the chart. These 80 companies provided estimates based on knowledge of their customers.
Note: The previous information was excerpted from Wohlers Report 2006. A detailed overview of the report, as well as additional information on the market and industry, are available at http://wohlersassociates.com.
One of the most asked questions related to additive fabrication technology revolves around its future. People across many industries frequently ask about the potential of additive machines and materials and their expanding breadth of applications. A growing number of users of the technology for rapid prototyping anticipate the day when they and others will use additive processes for custom parts and short run production. Already, dozens of organizations have tried it and many have experienced success, even though rapid manufacturing is in its very early phase of development. RM presents a wide range of opportunities and challenges.
The future of additive fabrication will be the topic of discussion at an upcoming international conference at EuroMold 2006 in Frankfurt, Germany. Carefully selected speakers from several industries, including aerospace, automotive, and medical, will present their views and opinions in the one-day event titled Future Industrial Applications of Additive Fabrication. Through examples of what’s been tried, coupled with years of experience and insight, the speakers will explain how and why the future of product design and manufacturing will be impacted by this very powerful technology.
If you are planning to attend EuroMold, plan to attend this Friday, December 1 conference. You can register on-site, but it’s better to do it in advance. Go to http://www.euromold.com to see the conference program and pre-register. Also, plan to stay for the annual party and reception that follows directly after the conference. Everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to win valuable gifts and prizes.
I hope to see you in Frankfurt.
Note: Wohlers Talk is a blog that offers views, perspective, and commentary related to rapid product development and a wide range of other topics. More than 100 commentaries have been published since February 2003. To view them, visit http://wohlersassociates.com/blog.
Email briefings are distributed 3-4 times annually. Request to receive the briefings for free.