Wohlers Report 2002 Uncovers Exciting Developments, Disappointing Growth

Despite a decline in overall industry growth, RP users worldwide produced an estimated 3.55 million models and prototype parts in 2001

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.

Last year, more systems were installed, more material was consumed, and more applications for the technology were uncovered. “An almost unbelievable number of new technologies, materials, and enhancements are under development in corporate, university, and government laboratories around the world,” Wohlers said. “All of this activity is exciting and shows tremendous promise, but the rate of growth in 2001 was a disappointment,” he continued. Revenues from products and services were down significantly and machine unit sales were flat. Unexpectedly, even the low-cost 3D printer segment experienced a decline in unit sales.

Installations by Country

The following chart breaks down last year’s system purchases and installations by country. The U.S. has the highest percentage, by far, of system installations. The U.S. is followed by Japan, Germany, and China.

Source: Wohlers Report 2002

In contrast to the steadfast hold the U.S. has on system sales, its lead in installations continues to decrease. Since 1998, the U.S. has fallen from 48.9% of the world market to 42.8% in 2001.

Number of Models Being Produced

Despite a decline in overall industry growth, RP users worldwide produced an estimated 3.55 million models and prototype parts in 2001, as shown in the following chart. This is up 18.3% from the 3 million models produced in 2000. An estimated 2.34 million and 1.86 million parts were produced in 1999 and 1998, respectively.

Source: Wohlers Report 2002

Wohlers Associates believes that the contrast of growth in part production to the stagnation of system sales is in part due to equipment and material enhancements. These improvements offer higher throughput from the same number of systems. Other factors include improved capacity utilization and the growth in the concept modeling segment of the industry.

The new report sells for $395 in the U.S. and $425 in all other countries. The report’s table of contents, as well as additional information on the RP market and industry, are available at wohlersassociates.com.

Wohlers Associates, Inc. is a 16-year old independent consulting firm that works closely with manufacturing organizations to identify the best approaches to rapid product development. As the company’s principal consultant, Terry Wohlers tracks new methods and technologies and determines a strategic direction that gives companies an edge. His highly sought after views and opinions come from years of collecting and analyzing market data, coupled with work as an advisor to major organizations in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Report Development Team

The following 49 individuals and organizations contributed to Wohlers Report 2002 and served as important sources for information.

Shreyas Bakshi Protosys Technologies Private Ltd. (India)
Umberto Baraldi CRIF (Belgium)
Alain Bernard University of Nancy I (France)
Nico Blessing FhG Institute for Mfg. Eng. & Automation (Germany)
Mike Braig A.G. Edwards & Sons
Tim Caffrey Caffrey Consulting
Ian Campbell Loughborough University (England)
Andy Christensen Medical Modeling LLC
Chua Chee Kai Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
Stuart Clyens Danish Technological Institute (Denmark)
Amba Datt Bhatt Motilal Nehru Regional Engineering College Allahabad (India)
Deon de Beer Technikon Free State (South Africa)
Jonas de Carvalho University of São Paulo – São Carlos (Brazil)
Philip Dickens Loughborough University (England)
Dimitri Dimitrov University of Stellenbosch (South Africa)
Thierry Dormal CRIF (Belgium)
Mike Durham Accelerated Technologies, Inc.
Willie du Preez CSIR (South Africa)
Frits Feenstra TNO Institute of Industrial Technology (The Netherlands)
Boris Fritz Northrop Grumman Corp.
Vito Gervasi Milwaukee School of Engineering
Ian Gibson University of Hong Kong (China)
Tim Gornet University of Louisville
Tom Greaves New Directions Consulting
Joe Greco Greco Consulting
Ed Grenda Castle Island Company
Todd Grimm Accelerated Technologies, Inc.
Russ Harris Loughborough University (England)
Berndt Holmer IVF Industrial Research and Development Corp. (Sweden)
Masato Imamura Tokyo Research Center (Japan)
Luca Iuliano Politecnico di Torino (Italy)
Tahar Laoui University of Leuven (Belgium)
Debbie Leeson Vantico (South Africa)
Weiyin Ma City University of Hong Kong (China)
Bent Mieritz Danish Technological Institute (Denmark)
Bill Mutch Belcan Corp.
Mike Naylon Queensland Manufacturing Institute (Australia)
Andy Norwood Loughborough University (England)
Anshuman Razdan Arizona State University
Shi Yusheng Huazhong University of Science and Technology (China)
Michael Siemer Walt Disney World Company
Geoff Smith-Moritz CAD/CAM Publishing
Rupert Soar Loughborough University (England)
Brent Stucker University of Rhode Island
Dave Tait LFX Technologies
Jukka Tuomi Helsinki University of Technology (Finland)
David Wimpenny University of Warwick (England)
Millan Yeung National Research Council of Canada (Canada)
Jenny Yu Hoi Jin University of Hong Kong (China)
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