Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing


Rapid prototyping market worth $808M in 2005 – Report

Product development and rapid prototyping consultancy Wohlers Associates, Inc. recently published its most recent findings in Wohlers Report 2006, an in-depth global study on the rapid prototyping and manufacturing state of the industry. The market for additive fabrication (also known as rapid prototyping) grew 14.6% to an estimated $808.5 million in 2005, up from $705.2 million generated in 2004. Growth was 33.3% and 9.2% in 2004 and 2003, respectively. These totals include all products and services for additive fabrication worldwide.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 15 countries around the world.

“The industry has remained solid after a spectacular 2004.  Systems, materials, and services experienced double-digit growth in 2005, although growth was not as strong as the previous year,” said Terry Wohlers, principal author of Wohlers Report 2006 and president of Wohlers Associates.  Interest in the less expensive 3D printer-class of machine continues to drive demand in the 70 countries in which additive systems were sold last year.  Revenues generated by 3D printer sales were up 35.2% in 2005, making 3D printers the fastest growing segment of the industry.

Rapid manufacturing—the direct production of finished goods from additive fabrication—continues to grow and capture the attention of many.  Increasingly, companies from the aerospace, motor sports, medical, dental, and consumer product industries are using additive processes to manufacture high-value parts in comparatively low volumes. Wohlers Associates believes that rapid manufacturing will eventually grow to become the largest application of additive fabrication.

At The Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing 2006 Conference and Exposition, in St. Charles, IL, USA, Mr. Wohlers served as the keynote speaker and presented highlights of the new report in his 14th annual State of the Industry address.

Wohlers Report 2006 covers all facets of the industry, including business, product, market, technology, research, and application.  Forty-seven co-authors, 53 service providers, 27 system manufacturers, and many others assisted with its development.  To support the review and analysis, the softbound publication includes 26 charts and graphs, 44 tables, 131 photographs and illustrations, and seven appendices.

The new 250-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 http://wohlersassociates.com.

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