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Looking Back on 2021

December 12, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 14:10

by Noah Mostow

This past year has been interesting, exciting, and different than I had expected. At the beginning of the year, COVID-19 cases were spiking and now the omicron variant is spreading globally. I feel so fortunate we have been able to gather at industry events, including America Makes TRX, Formnext, ICAM, and RAPID + TCT, to name a few. Thank you to the organizers for creating the space for the AM industry to come together again. By mid-summer, things were improving, but it looks like COVID-19 could affect our lives for years to come.

The pandemic taught many of us how to work remotely. Even so, it cannot entirely replace in-person networking and collaboration. Even so, I believe the pandemic has made us more resilient while working globally nearly daily. The economy has mostly recovered, yet some supply chains continue to struggle.

We cannot look back at this year without noting the influx of acquisitions and initial public offerings. Desktop Metal acquired Envisiontec, Aerosint, and ExOne. 3D Systems acquired Oqton, a producer of a manufacturing execution system, while selling its surgical simulation and service provider businesses. At one point, we began to wonder if multiple AM-related companies would be acquired each month. Wohlers Associates was acquired by ASTM International in Q4 2021.

The year was also active for companies going public, with six having initial public offerings through mergers with special purpose acquisition companies. It is too early to know how this might impact the industry.

Make sure to listen to the latest episode from the Wohlers Audio Series. Melissa Orme, vice president of additive manufacturing at Boeing, provided thought-provoking ideas and insight. You can find it at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and our website.