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Rapid Prototyping Developments on the Increase

Desktop Manufacturing Will Become a Reality in the 90s

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, April 11, 2000—Rapid prototyping (RP) machine sales surged to a record high, according to a new report made available today by Wohlers Associates, Inc.The growth in unit sales for 1999 was significant in light of the poor results and overall decline experienced in 1998.

Twenty-three system manufacturers worldwide sold 1,195 RP systems in 1999, compared to 981 in the previous year.  "This represents an increase of 22% and a cumulative total of nearly 5,500 machine installations in 53 countries," said industry consultant Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates, Inc.  "These machines produced a staggering 2.34 million models and prototype parts last year," Wohlers estimates.

The news was shared at the Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing 2000 Conference & Exposition held here this week.  Wohlers presented the growth figures and other developments and trends to an international audience of an

estimated 500 users, producers, and researchers of RP technology.   The event marked the eighth year that Wohlers delivered the rapid prototyping State of the Industry address at the popular event.   RP&M 2000, sponsored by the Rapid Prototyping Association of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (RPA/SME), is the world's largest and most established conference dedicated to rapid prototyping.   In 1993, Wohlers led a group of 14 individuals from industry and academia to form RPA/SME.

The top three RP system manufacturers, as measured by unit sales, were 3D Systems, Stratasys, and Sanders Prototype, with sales of 303, 293, and 129 systems, respectively.  3D Systems regained its leadership position after losing the top spot to Stratasys in 1998.   3D Systems has been the unit sales leader for 10 of the past 12 years, and it continues to lead in revenues by a margin of about 2.5 to 1.   However, Stratasys' growth produced profit last year, while 3D Systems showed a loss.

3D printers played an important role in last year's expanded growth.   Wohlers Report 2000 shows that a substantial portion of unit sales were 3D printers, a class of RP technology that is less expensive to purchase and maintain.

Thirty-six industry experts, 23 RP systems manufacturers, 44 service providers, and countless others assisted with the development of Wohlers Report 2000.   The annual study has established a tradition of providing high-quality analyses that cover all facets of RP, including business, product, market, technology, and applications.   The 227-page softbound publication includes 28 charts and graphs, 26 tables, and 82 photographs and illustrations.   The report sells for $345 in the U.S. and $395 in all other countries.   The report’s table of contents, as well as additional information on the RP market and industry, are available at

Wohlers Associates, Inc. is a 14-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 U.S., South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.


The following individuals and organizations contributed to Wohlers Report 2000 and served as important sources for information.

Alain Bernard University of Nancy I (France)
Amba Datt Bhatt Motilal Nehru Regional Engineering College (India)
William Broun A.G. Edwards & Sons
Tim Caffrey Pratt & Whitney
Andy Christensen Medical Modeling Corp.
Deon de Beer Technikon Free State (South Africa)
Philip Dickens De Montfort University (England)
Frits Feenstra TNO Institute of Industrial Technology (The Netherlands)
Steve Gaspardo Gaspardo & Associates, Inc.
Andreas Gebhardt Centrum für Prototypenbau GmbH (Germany)
Ian Gibson University of Hong Kong (China)
Todd Grimm Accelerated Technologies, Inc.
Jan Willem Gunnink TNO Institute of Industrial Technology (The Netherlands)
Berndt Holmer Swedish Institute of Production Engineering (Sweden)
Elaine Hunt Clemson University
Masato Imamura Tokyo Research Center (Japan)
Luca Iuliano Politecnico di Torino (Italy)
Chua Chee Kai Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
Flavio Kalnin Sociedade Educacional de Santa Catarina (Brazil)
Kai Uwe Koch FhG Institute for Mfg Eng and Automation (Germany)
Allan Lightman University of Dayton
Scott Loose Queensland Manufacturing Institute (Australia)
Bent Mieritz Danish Technological Institute (Denmark)
Tom Mueller Express Pattern
Bruce Okkema Eagle Design and Technology
David Prawel Spatial Inc.
Fritz Prinz Stanford University
Geoff Smith-Moritz CAD/CAM Publishing
Ben Staub Bastech, Inc.
Dave Tait ARRK Product Development Group
Jukka Tuomi Helsinki University of Technology (Finland)
Pamela Waterman EngineeringInk
David Wimpenny University of Warwick (England)
Dong-Yol Yang KAIST (Korea)
K.T. Yeung Hong Kong Vocational Training Council (Hong Kong)
Millan Yeung National Research Council of Canada (Canada)