Fort Collins, Colo. – A 250-page analysis of the newest developments and trends in additive manufacturing (AM) worldwide is available from Wohlers Associates Inc. AM is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies.
Additive manufacturing is used to build physical models, prototypes, patterns, tooling components, and production parts in plastic, metal, ceramic, or composite materials. AM systems use thin, horizontal cross sections from computer-aided design (CAD) models, 3D-scanning systems, medical scanners, and video games to produce parts that may be difficult or impossible to produce any other way.
According to the new report, demand for products and services from additive-manufacturing technology has been strong over its 22-year history. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of revenues produced by all products and services over this period is 26.4%. The CAGR slowed to 3.3% over the past three years, with 2009 being the slowest in many years, by far. Despite a weak 2009 overall, unit sales were strong due to the impact of very low-cost machines based on open-source developments. Annual unit sales of AM systems worldwide grew by an estimated 13.9%, according to the new report.
Meanwhile, the year saw many interesting developments in the use of additive manufacturing for the production of end-use products. “Using AM for part production is considered the next frontier, with opportunities beyond measure," said Terry Wohlers, principal author of Wohlers Report 2010 and president of Wohlers Associates. "Corporations, entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers are considering ways in which they can use AM to manufacture an exciting array of products in quantities of one to several thousands,” he stated.
Two relatively distinct markets are developing for products made by additive manufacturing. One consists of professionals and includes the medical, dental, aerospace, automotive, and motorsports industries. The other is the broad and interesting consumer market. Examples are furniture and home accessories, toys, game avatars, and fashion products.
The report includes new sections on open-source 3D printers, and the state of business among service providers. It also includes industry growth estimates and forecasts, new developments and business opportunities, emerging applications, research and development, and where the industry is headed in the future. The study was created with support from 54 co-authors, 64 service providers, 27 system manufacturers, and many others worldwide. To support the review and analysis, the report includes 28 charts and graphs, 55 tables, and 181 photographs and illustrations.