Rapid Prototyping Industry Grows by 46% to 2,243 Installations Worldwide, With 763 Systems Sold in 1996

The top 3 performers in 1996 were RP system manufacturers Stratasys, 3D Systems, and Sanders Prototype

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.

Wohlers reports the progress of this fast-growing industry in a new publication titled Rapid Prototyping State of the Industry: 1997 Worldwide Progress Report. The report focuses on new applications, developments, and trends in RP, rapid tooling, CAD solid modeling, and 3D printing. “As companies establish themselves in the marketplace, 3D printers for concept modeling will play an increasingly important role,” Wohlers expects. “In the future, possibly as soon as 1998, companies such as 3D Systems and Stratasys will sell twice as many of these lower-priced, office-friendly systems as their more capable and higher-priced siblings.”

This new class of RP, referred to as 3D printers and concept modelers, promises to significantly expand the market. The systems are being designed to sit close to the users of CAD solid modeling systems. Already, there are machines on the market from these companies that are about as easy, safe, and quiet to operate as copiers, printers, and fax machines. Also, they don’t take up more space than most other office equipment and they carry a price tag that engineering groups are willing to pay.

Today, more than one-third of all RP models are being used by engineers, toolmakers, and marketing personnel as important visual aids. The new wave of low-priced, office machines were designed to meet this need. The machines are enabling designers to quickly produce physical models – early and often – when engineering changes are least expensive. This approach to modeling minimizes the need for higher-priced prototypes and reduces costly mistakes at the tooling phase of product development. This speeds products to market.

Rapid Prototyping State of the Industry: 1997 Worldwide Progress Report, consisting of 96 pages, includes 27 charts and graphs, 12 tables, and 14 photographs. The report is available for $260, which includes priority mail shipping in the US. For orders outside the US, the price is US$280, which includes air mail shipping. To order one or more copies, please send an official company purchase order or check (in US$) for the total amount to Wohlers Associates, Inc., or provide credit card (VISA or MasterCard) details. If you are not fully satisfied with the report, you will be issued a refund.

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