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February 23, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,future,money — Terry Wohlers @ 10:03

In the recent past, we have tracked investments totaling nearly $1.5 billion in additive manufacturing (AM) products and services worldwide. These dollars are critical to the future of AM and its developing ecosystem. Without it, countess companies offering machines, materials, software, and services would not survive. Investment dollars do not ensure success, but it gives companies, especially startups, a fighting chance.

We believe it is important, even critical, for AM-related companies to have a strong understanding of the latest developments and trends in this industry. Likewise, it is vital for investors to have accurate information on AM at their fingertips. Without it, they cannot make the best possible decisions. That’s why we are conducting the Wohlers Associates Investor’s Dinner Sponsored by RAPID + TCT.

The April 20 event coincides with RAPID + TCT 2020, the largest and most successful gathering on AM in North America. The evening program is designed for institutional, private equity, venture capital, angel, and individual investors. If you or your company is investing in AM, consider this special opportunity. It promises to set you in the right direction. Space is limited, so register now.

AM Investors

October 19, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future,money — Terry Wohlers @ 10:32

Investors of additive manufacturing (AM) come in many forms. Among them are institutional, private equity, venture capital, angel, and individuals. Increasingly, investors are in pursuit of AM-related companies with a promising future. The challenge is to know, with reasonable certainty, what that future looks like and how AM developments will unfold in the coming years.

To date, few events on AM have been designed specifically for the investment community. This is why we are conducting the Wohlers Associates Investor Dinner Sponsored by Formnext. This exclusive evening event is November 20, 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany. It is being held at Grandhotel Hessischer Hof, an elegant five-star hotel with gourmet cuisine located within walking distance of the exhibition center (Messe Frankfurt) where Formnext is being held.

The program will concentrate on the future of AM and what investors need to know to make the best possible decisions. The Wohlers Associates’ core team of consultants will be present to express their thoughts and opinions. The following will be among the questions answered:

  • What has changed over the past 30 years?
  • Why has the investment focus shifted from AM systems to applications?
  • What are the “killer apps” of AM? Will it really take a human generation for some of them to develop?
  • Which AM processes show the most promise?
  • Why are we seeing countless partnerships and what do they mean?
  • AM growth has averaged 26.6% over the past five years. Will it continue at this rate over the next five years?

If you are an investor and attending Formnext, register now for this inaugural event. Seating is limited. Our hope is that it helps you identify timely opportunities for AM-related investments.

Venture Funding for 3D Printing

January 14, 2018

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,money — Terry Wohlers @ 10:40

As a company, we pay attention to venture capital funding for 3D printing and additive manufacturing companies. We do not measure and compare the value of venture funding from one period to the next, although we have sensed an upswing in recent months. For example, Carbon announced a $200 million round of funding in December, and this is on top of the $220 million the company had previously secured.

In July, Desktop Metal said that it had raised an additional $115 million in venture funding. Since its founding in 2015, the company has attracted a total of $212 million. In November, Markforged stated that it had raised $30 million. A month earlier, it was published that Dutch 3D-printed optics company Luxexcel received EUR 4 million in venture capital, which came after an investment of EUR 8.5 million in Q2 2017.

Other types of investments are also underway. In September, it was announced that S$60 million (US$44.5 million) is going into an aerospace facility in Singapore for the development of new technologies, including AM. In December, GE Additive said it had invested $15 million into the company’s first European Customer Experience Center in Munich, Germany. In Q3 2017, Merck of Germany opened a EUR 20 million incubator in Israel that focuses on disruptive materials and innovative technologies that include AM.

Voestalpine is investing EUR 20 million to expand its AM metal powder production facilities in Austria and Sweden. This brings the Austrian company’s total investment in AM to EUR 50 million. Meanwhile, HeyGears, a Chinese manufacturer of wearable technology products, such as custom earphones, will invest $149 million in a 3D printing facility in Guangdong, China.

The 3D printing industry is being propelled to the next level, largely by the investment community. A strong flow of venture capital and other types of investment are finding their way into start-up companies, new products and services, and centers of excellence. With the stock market booming, coupled with corporate wealth generation, I do not see it slowing down any time soon.

Big AM Investments Continue

August 27, 2016

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future,money — Terry Wohlers @ 06:44

The additive manufacturing and 3D printing industry is not short on money. Since early June, we’ve stumbled across five new investments that total more than $260 million. For example, French investment bank Bpifrance announced that it is investing €45+ million over the next five years in an initiative to develop advanced processes in the country’s AM industry. The government of the Netherlands said that it will invest €134 million into research projects focused on AM.


In late June, it was announced that Norway’s Norsk Titanium secured $25 million in a round of funding to help expand operations. The investment follows the inclusion of $125 million in the 2016 New York State budget to support the development of Norsk Titanium’s Plattsburgh, New York factory. In early July, Desktop Metal stated that it had received commitments for investments from GE Ventures and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures. Little is known publicly about the company’s technology, but the company has secured a total of $52 million from investors thus far. About a month later, Formlabs said that it had raised $35 million, with Autodesk being one of the investors.

Much of the $260+ million spans multiple years and represents a significant amount of money in just two months of announcements from five organizations. It is possible, even likely, that many additional large investments have occurred recently, but have been kept private. This activity is stimulating, especially given that we did not see anything like it many years ago. What’s more, I have every reason to believe that it will continue, especially given the insight we are receiving from our client companies, many representing some of the largest brands in the world. It is an exciting time to be a part of this industry.

Engineering Salaries

December 24, 2011

Filed under: CAD/CAM/CAE,money — Terry Wohlers @ 10:33

Most design engineers in the U.S. are happy with their profession and what they are being paid. According to the August 2011 issue of Design News, salaries are $93,465, on average, and are up 4.3% from last year. Also, if you’re seen as a generalist, you may be rewarded more handsomely than if you’re a niche engineer. In recent years, companies have been seeking people who can work with hardware, software, and embedded systems, and can manage projects.

Salaries vary across regions. Engineers in the Mountain States are receiving $109,853, the Design News survey indicates. Those in California, Arizona, and Nevada are a close second, with annual pay of $107,407. Those at the other end of the salary range are in the Southeast region and are receiving $86,076. Engineers working in industrial controls and the defense industry are among those receiving the most pay.

As for satisfaction, more than half (52%) of survey respondents said they were very or extremely satisfied with design engineering. As many as 78% said they would recommend engineering to children. Solving problems, technical challenges, and the opportunity for creativity were the most cited reasons for satisfaction. About 25% said they were concerned about job security.

The picture presented by the Design News survey is quite favorable for the engineering profession. Nearly two-thirds (65%) said that their salary increased over the past year. Only 4% saw a decrease. Now is not a bad time to enter the engineering field, especially as we see product development and manufacturing activity increase. More information on the survey is at here.

Happy Holidays!

Universities Create Wealth

April 30, 2011

Filed under: education,money — Terry Wohlers @ 06:23

Someone once said that our university system is the envy of the world. I don’t know whether this is true, but I do know that we have many special institutions of higher education within our borders. One is Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an organization that has produced more than I would have ever thought.

MIT graduates have founded 25,800 companies, according to the January 22, 2011 issue of The Economist. These companies employ 3.3 million people and generate annual sales of $3 trillion, according to the article. This is more than three times the gross domestic product (GDP) of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and many other countries.

Another article in the same issue of The Economist stated that 41% of millionaires worldwide live in the U.S. This is an extraordinary percentage when considering the world population. The article went on to say that the world’s most wealthy are entrepreneurs that started a business.

Our university system has undoubtedly contributed greatly to entrepreneurism, which has led to personal and national wealth. If one university can do what it has done—albeit MIT—imagine what the more than 4,800 colleges and universities spread across the U.S. are achieving. Regardless of what you might hear from others, supporting higher education is a wise investment.

How Much Do Engineers Make?

September 13, 2008

Filed under: money — Terry Wohlers @ 16:19

Earlier this year, Machine Design magazine revealed the results from its annual salary survey. According to the April 24 issue, engineers make from about $68,000 to $148,000 annually. Vice presidents of engineering earn nearly $129,000, while consulting engineers get $148,000. Design, project, and R&D engineers are at the other end of the pay scale, although it’s not dramatically lower than other engineering types who earn in the range of about $70,000 to $91,000.

College degrees play a role as one might expect. Yet, even those without a degree are paid nearly $68,000, on average. With a bachelor’s degree, the pay increases to more than $79,000 for those with a non-engineering degree and to more than $83,000 for those with an engineering degree. The salary jumps to about $99,000 for individuals with a master’s degree in engineering.

If you’re considering a doctorate in engineering to earn more, you may want to spend your time and money elsewhere. Those individuals earn less, at about $95,000. However, people with a non-engineering doctorate receive $135,000, according to the survey.

All in all, engineers do pretty well, but of course they should. If you consider the pressures and responsibilities they face, engineers should be rewarded handsomely. Let’s hope that many of our best and brightest young people pursue engineering or a related field as a career and earn what they deserve.

Are Cars in the U.S. Less Efficient?

August 16, 2008

Filed under: money,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 12:57

I was sitting at dinner last week in Austin, Texas when the subject of fuel prices came up. Individuals from the UK were present, so we estimated the cost of gasoline in the UK. Our estimate: $9-10 per gallon. One Brit was quick to point out that cars in Europe are much more efficient than those in the U.S., indicating that they often get 40-60 miles per gallon (mpg). In the past, I had wondered if European cars got better mileage, but dismissed the idea. The conversation, however, motivated me to do a little research.

Wikipedia publishes the 2009 UK fuel economy ratings and the 2009 U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings. The mpg for cars sold in the U.S., both foreign and domestic, ranges from a low of 12 to a high of 41 for highway driving. Most cars fell in the range of the mid-teens to the mid-twenties. (It’s interesting to note that the original Ford Model T got 13-21 mpg, according to Wikipedia.) I did not calculate the average mpg because of the number of cars presented in the list.

The 2009 UK fuel economy ratings divided the cars in two groups: 1) 100 cars with the highest fuel economy ratings, and 2) 99 cars with the lowest fuel economy ratings. All of the cars with the best economy run on diesel fuel. These cars range from a low of 66 mpg to a high of 88 mpg for highway driving. The mpg is based on an Imperial gallon, which is about 20% larger than the U.S. gallon. The cars with the worst economy was from about 19 to 29 mpg (also based on an Imperial gallon).

As you can see, the fuel economy of a car with a diesel engine is vastly different than one with a gasoline engine. It is believed that cars with diesel engines are more established in Europe, so this may be one reason for the belief that European cars get better mpg.

The other big difference between Europe and the U.S. is the fleet on the street. According to a March 2007 article titled U.S. vs. Europe in Cars, Gasoline and Energy published by AOL Journals, the U.S. fleet gets about 25 miles per gallon; China about 35 mpg and Europe about 37 mpg. This year, according to the article, automakers are implementing voluntary standards to improve European fuel economy to 44.2 mpg and China to 36.7 mpg. The U.S. will remain at 24.8 mpg.

Corporate Litigation

April 11, 2008

Filed under: legal,manufacturing,money — Terry Wohlers @ 13:12

Can you believe it? Ninety-one percent of our nation’s manufacturing companies were involved in one or more new lawsuits in 2007, according to Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, a law firm in Houston, Texas. The report, published in the January 2008 issue of Manufacturing Engineering, went on to say that 56% of these companies encountered more than 20 new lawsuits in 2007. A depressing 70% of them spend $1 million or more per year on business disputes.

I am in full support of protecting intellectual property and upholding legal contracts. However, many companies have developed a culture of litigation. Rather than considering every possible alternative, companies are quick to throw a team of lawyers at the problem. Once that happens, costs skyrocket and there’s often no end in sight.

What’s it going to take to ease this problem? The money and other company resources that are spent on litigation could be used to design and manufacture better products and improve customer support. If you have ideas, I’d like to hear from you.

Today’s Kids

June 19, 2006

Filed under: life,money — Terry Wohlers @ 07:32

Are today’s kids different from the way we were decades ago or is it just me? My impression is that they expect so much for doing so little. Also, they have difficulty understanding the concept of saving money. When I was a kid, my parents encouraged me to get a job at a young age, so I delivered the daily newspaper. This required me to open a bank account, collect and deposit money, and learn the basics of accounting. I learned how to count back change, which few young people can do today because a machine does it for them. Before age 15, I had two paper routes, worked at one of three restaurants in town, assisted a bee keeper for a summer, worked for local farmers, and helped remodel and build many new homes and other structures.

If I’m right about today’s kids, why are they the way they are? I posed the question to a friend this past winter and he and I concluded the following: Much of the adult population (i.e., baby boomers) grew up in small towns or in rural areas in less developed agricultural states such as Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio, and Minnesota. They didn’t live in cities such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Their parents were middle class with humble beginnings. Many were farmers or somehow tied to a farming community. Few had a lot of money, so most were frugal. Going out for dinner or visiting a shopping mall was infrequent and plane travel was even more rare. Doing research meant going to a library.

Today, kids are exposed to so much. Shopping sprees, dining, movie theaters, and other forms of entertainment are routine for many. Three-car garages filled with cars and toys and high-speed Internet are commonplace in neighborhoods. Many of our kids have only experienced well developed transportation, communications, and retail infrastructures. They lack an appreciation for saving their nickels and dimes so that they may one day afford a car or pay for college tuition. 

Some of us may be a part of the last generation to live in a time when the art of saving and frugal spending was so deeply integrated into our daily lives. Many of today’s kids are a part of a new generation—the first ever—to not live at a time when lives were basic, people had little money to spend, and there was much less to do and buy. This, in my humble opinion, is why kids are so different from the way we were.

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