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Unless otherwise noted, the blog post was written by Terry Wohlers.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA, May 13, 2003—Wohlers Associates, Inc. today announced the availability of Wohlers Report 2003, a worldwide progress report on the rapid prototyping, tooling, and manufacturing state of the industry. In the 270-page market study, the company reveals areas of growth and opportunity, as well as technologies and market segments with disappointing results. Despite some areas of decline in rapid prototyping, Wohlers Associates reports impressive levels of R&D, and an industry that is poised for growth in both technologies and applications.

Wohlers Report 2003 covers all facets of the industry, including business, product, market, technology, and application. Forty-five experts, 40 service providers, 26 system manufacturers, and countless others assisted with its development. To support the review and analysis, the softbound publication includes 27 charts and graphs, 31 tables, 97 photographs and illustrations, and seven appendices.

CINCINNATI, OHIO, USA, April 30, 2002—Wohlers Associates, Inc. today announced the availability of Wohlers Report 2002, a worldwide progress report on the rapid prototyping (RP) and tooling state of the industry. The 250-page annual study covers all facets of rapid prototyping, including business, product, market, technology, and applications. Forty-nine professionals, 47 service providers, 25 system manufacturers, and countless others assisted with its development. The report includes many new sections and a matrix that compares 24 methods of tooling.

The release of the new report coincides with the Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing 2002 Conference and Exposition, beginning today and ending on May 2 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Terry Wohlers, principal author of the report and president of Wohlers Associates, Inc., presented highlights of the report in his annual Rapid Prototyping & Tooling State of the Industry Executive Update. This briefing occurred during the opening plenary session. The RP&M 2002 event marks the 10th year in which Wohlers has been asked to present his views and opinions on this exciting and fast-developing industry. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers and its Rapid Prototyping Association (RPA/SME) are the sponsors of the event.

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, May 8, 2001—Rapid prototyping (RP) system sales grew to a record high, according to a new report made available today by Wohlers Associates, Inc. Twenty-three system manufacturers worldwide sold 1,320 RP systems in 2000, compared to 1,178 in the previous year. “This represents an increase of 12.1% and a cumulative total of 6,755 machine installations in 58 countries,” said industry consultant, analyst, and author Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates, Inc. These systems produced a staggering 3,004,006 models and prototype parts last year, according to Wohlers Report 2001.

Source: Wohlers Report 2001

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, April 19, 1999 – Rapid prototyping (RP) sales have gone from bad to worse, according to a new report announced today by Wohlers Associates, Inc. On the heels of a weak 1997, revenues from RP sales and services fell more sharply than in any previous year. This downturn in sales follows years of impressive growth for most of the 1990s, when annual growth of 35-50% was common. The slump in the industry that began in early 1997 has continued through 1998 and into 1999.

Last year, 22 system manufacturers worldwide sold 990 RP systems, compared to 1,036 in 1997. This marks only the second time in history that unit sales declined to a level below that of the prior year. This disappointing decline compares to growth of 32% for 1997 and 51% for 1996.

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, February 24, 1998 – Last year, 1,057 rapid prototyping (RP) systems were sold worldwide, compared to 787 in 1996, according to a new industry report announced today by Wohlers Associates, Inc.  This represents unit sales growth of 34% for the year, compared to growth of 46% the year before.  Since 1988, a total of 3,289 RP systems have been sold to industrial, academic, and government sites around the world.

The top three unit sales performers last year were RP system manufacturers 3D Systems, Stratasys, and Sanders Prototype, with sales of 278, 260, and 152 systems, respectively. 3D Systems has sold more RP systems in the past 10 years than any other company in the world.  With its Stereolithography and Actua products, 3D Systems was also the industry leader in annual revenues in 1997.  With sales of about $90.3 million, the company outsold its nearest competitor by a margin of three to one.

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, April 17, 1997 -- Last year, the primary rapid prototyping (RP) market grew by 42.6% to an estimated $421 million, up from 1995's $295 million. The primary market consists of all products and services directly associated with rapid prototyping. Products include RP systems, system upgrades, materials, and after-market products such as third-party software and lasers. Services include revenues generated from RP models and patterns produced on RP systems at service bureaus, RP system maintenance contracts, training, seminars, conferences, expositions, advertising, publications, and consulting services.

3D Systems, Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of stereolithography systems, was the single largest contributor to the RP market in 1996, generating almost 19% of the $421 million. Based on recent growth trends, Wohlers Associates expects the RP industry to reach a new milestone in 1999, with sales of products and services to exceed $1 billion.

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, March 7, 1997 -- Last year, 763 rapid prototyping (RP) systems were sold worldwide, compared to 522 in 1995, according to new market data released today by Wohlers Associates, Inc. "This is solid growth of 46% for the year," said Terry Wohlers, president of the company. "At the end of last year, an estimated 2,243 RP systems were in operation at industrial, academic, and government locations around the world," he explained.

The top 3 performers in 1996 were RP system manufacturers Stratasys, 3D Systems, and Sanders Prototype, with unit sales of 257, 175, and 65 systems, respectively. For the first time in the history of RP, a competitor has jumped in front of 3D Systems. 3D, with its stereolithography technology, remains as the worldwide industry leader in annual revenues - by a large margin. Also, 3D Systems has sold more total RP systems in the past 9 years than any other company in the world.

The picture is not entirely rosy. Some system manufacturers fail to offer RP products at price/performance levels that CAD/CAM users have come to expect. Others consume valuable company resources as they fight to protect their intellectual property. Meanwhile, the industry is beginning to consolidate and mature as RP becomes a critical part of everyday business at many companies, particularly in the U.S.

Market Expansion

From January 1988 through December 1993, growth of RP system sales was an estimated 51 percent per year, on average, compounded annually. The past three years, however, growth has averaged 26.5 percent. Last year, it grew 28.1 percent. Still, this is excellent, especially compared to the growth rate of the CNC and machine tool markets in their early years. From 1970 to 1981, for example, the CNC market grew at an annual compounded rate of 22 percent, on average, according to Julius Dorfman of CIMdata, Inc. Between 1963 and 1973, the overall machine tool market grew an average of only 8.5 percent per year. Wohlers Associates expects worldwide RP system sales to exceed 36 percent compound annual growth in 1994. See Appendix B for more information.

According to CAD/CAM Publishing, the number of SBs increased over the past 12-18 months from about 80 worldwide (50 in the U.S.) to about 105 (63 in the U.S.). If you add in the remaining D-MEC and CMET SBs in Japan, the number increases to about 111 total. As RP applications grow and the technology improves, more companies will give it a try. The easiest and most economical way is to use a service bureau. This means that a company's first experience with RP will most likely be with a SB.

Published as part of SME's Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing '93 Conference Proceedings

Rapid prototyping (RP) systems offer a wealth of new possibilities in engineering and manufacturing. Users of RP have saved impressive amounts of money and time, while enhancing the product design and manufacturing process. Organizations use these systems for conceptual modeling, design verification, and fit and function testing. In addition, they show RP parts to customers and potential customers, and send RP parts with requests for bids to their subcontractors. RP users also produce patterns for silicone rubber and epoxy tooling and sand, plaster and investment castings.

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