Fort Collins, CO - In its annual analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide, Wohlers Associates says that the US leads with the largest installed base of additive manufacturing users; however, international competition is rapidly increasing. Revenues from all additive manufacturing products and services worldwide were $2.2 billion in 2012. This is up 28.6% (CAGR) from 2011. An estimated 28.3% of the $2.2 billion is tied to the production of parts for final products, rather than models, prototypes, patterns, and other types of parts.
The report notes that 38% of all industrial AM installations are in the US. Japan is second with 9.7%, followed by Germany with 9.4%, and China with 8.7%. Sixteen companies in Europe, seven in China, five in the U.S., and two in Japan now manufacture and sell professional-grade, industrial additive manufacturing systems. "This is a dramatic change from a decade ago, when the mix was ten in the US, seven in Europe, seven in Japan, and three in China," said Tim Caffrey, a principal author of the report.
Related article in Industrial Laser Solutions:Laser additive manufacturing
The international race
To maintain a competitive advantage, the US White House launched the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII; Youngtown, OH) last year with the support of several agencies, including the Department of Defense. This initiative seeks to accelerate the position of the US in the development and use of AM technology. "It will not be easy, given what organizations in China and other regions of the world have planned," explained Terry Wohlers, a principal author of the report and president of Wohlers Associates. China, Singapore, South Africa, and many countries in Europe have committed hundreds of millions of dollars in AM development and commercialization over the next few years.
The authors of the report say that key leaders in the US should focus on the big picture with big goals, such as the development of metal-based powder bed fusion systems and other advanced AM system technology. Market forces and competitive pressures will take care of the smaller challenges and incremental technology improvements.
For more information on the report, visit: http://wohlersassociates.com
(Image via Shutterstock)