Wohlers Report 2007 Finds Extraordinary Growth in Additive Fabrication

“The popularity of 3D printers is driving the growth of the industry,” said Terry Wohlers

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN, USA, May 1, 2007—Wohlers Associates, Inc. today released its most recent findings in Wohlers Report 2007, an in-depth global study on the state of the 3D printing, additive fabrication, and rapid manufacturing industry. Wohlers Associates has been tracking the developments and trends in additive fabrication, also known as rapid prototyping, since 1988. According to the report, average unit (machine) sales growth, compounded annually, was 37.4 percent over the past 18 years. Annual unit sales have grown by more than 26 times—157 units to 4,165—from 1993 to 2006.

“The popularity of 3D printers is driving the growth of the industry,” said Terry Wohlers, principal author of Wohlers Report 2007 and president of Wohlers Associates. 3D printers are low-cost variations of additive systems that are office friendly, easier to use, and less expensive to operate. “3D printing grew from nothing to nearly 15 percent of the installed base in its first four years,” Wohlers added. 3D printers sold over the past four years (2003–2006) represent 68 percent of the total number of additive systems installed during this period, according to the new report.

The report reveals that an estimated 77.4 percent of the 3D printers sold in 2006 came from Stratasys and Z Corp. Additive systems from these two companies have been the most popular in recent years and have led much of the industry’s growth. Well over half (57 percent) of the Stratasys installed base was shipped in the past three years, even though the company has been shipping systems for 16 years. Nearly half (48.8 percent) of the Z Corp. installed base was shipped in the past two years. Z Corp. has been shipping systems for 11 years.

Rapid manufacturing—the direct production of finished goods from additive fabrication—is the next frontier. Many companies in the aerospace, motor sports, medical, dental, and consumer product industries are now using additive processes for custom and short-run production. Wohlers Associates believes that rapid manufacturing will eventually grow to become the largest application of additive fabrication. Wohlers Report 2007 cites a wide range of industrial examples of rapid manufacturing.

The release of the new report coincides with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ RAPID 2007 Conference and Exposition, which began today and ends May 3 here in Detroit. Mr. Wohlers anchored this morning’s plenary session with highlights from the new report in his 15th annual State of the Industry address.

Wohlers Report 2007 covers all facets of the industry, including business, product, market, technology, research, and application. Fifty co-authors, 56 service providers, and 29 system manufacturers assisted with its development. To support the review and analysis, the softbound publication includes 32 charts and graphs, 47 tables, 97 photographs and illustrations, and eight appendices.

The new 220-page report sells for $475 in the U.S. and $495 in all other countries. The report’s table of contents, as well as additional information on the market and industry, are available at https://wohlersassociates.com.

Wohlers Associates, Inc. is a 20-year-old independent consulting firm that works closely with manufacturing organizations to identify the best approaches to rapid product development. The company has provided consulting assistance to 140 organizations in 19 countries around the world.

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