Decline in Solid Modeling

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The CAD industry has been experiencing a rough period. Installations of CAD solid modeling seats declined by 7.9% in 2008, according to our research. Sales were an estimated 190,000 commercial CAD solid modeling seats in 2007 compared to 175,000 last year. This comes after years of solid growth since 2003 when Wohlers Associates began to track CAD sales worldwide.

Recent figures show that the industry continues to suffer. Seat sales are not yet available for 2009, but revenues from major CAD companies are poor. Autodesk, which is the largest CAD company in the world, reported a 31% drop in its third quarter revenues. Meanwhile, competitors PTC and Dassault reported declines of 18% and 13%, respectively, for Q3. How do these numbers compare to the top providers of additive manufacturing (AM) systems? Stratasys and 3D Systems reported declines of 20.6% and 22.2%, respectively, for Q3.

Last year, the AM industry, as a whole, performed considerably better than the CAD industry, as measured by unit sales. AM machine (unit) sales were up 1% overall, compared to a 7.9% decline in CAD solid modeling seats. This year, however, may be different, with declines in the AM industry that may be on par with the CAD industry. Both will return to healthier levels as the economy improves worldwide and manufacturers see renewed activity from a pent-up demand for new products and services.

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