SME RAPID 2012 Conference Reveals the Future of Manufacturing: Learn How Additive Manufacturing Will Change in the Next 5-10 Years

In his RAPID 2012 keynote presentation, Terry Wohlers will forecast industry growth, emerging applications and new business opportunities.

DEARBORN, Mich., March 22, 2012 - The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) RAPID 2012 Conference & Exposition will feature a potent lineup of presentations aimed at revealing how businesses can improve their competitive edge in a challenging, global economy. Industry consultant Terry Wohlers will provide the State of the Industry keynote presentation on Thursday, May 24. Wohlers will discuss how additive manufacturing technologies are helping to develop new markets and exciting business opportunities.

"Additive manufacturing technologies create a world of possibilities that can take an organization in an entirely new direction and help launch new businesses and business models," said Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates. "3D printing and 3D imaging are causing design and manufacturing professional to rethink their approach to new product development."

Despite a decade of financial hardships for many American-based manufacturers, the additive manufacturing industry has achieved impressive growth. Over the past seven years, compound annual growth has been about 21%, according to Wohlers Associates. The company expects the industry to continue its strong double-digit growth over the next several years, conservatively forecasting industry-wide growth to reach $3.1 billion by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020.

Terry Wohlers was voted the number one most influential person in rapid product development and additive manufacturing as part of TCT Magazine's Top 25 Influential People survey. His presentations attract large audiences of professionals ranging in experience from high-school students exploring careers in science and technology to top manufacturing professionals with billion dollar business operations.

"This is the 20th consecutive year of RAPID, and Terry Wohlers has presented at all of them," said SME business development manager," Gary Mikola. "In addition to being informative, his presentations are energetic, electrifying and inspiring."

RAPID 2012 will be in Atlanta, an area that is seeing a strong reshoring effort to return the manufacturing sector to the South and Southeast regions of the United States. Manufacturers looking to shorten supply chains, eliminate shipping costs and reduce lead times can benefit from additive technologies, in addition to promoting innovation among R&D teams, industrial designers and manufacturing engineers.

"SME has shown that it's important to take an event such as RAPID to locations that can benefit from it the most," Wohlers added. "I'm certain Atlanta's manufacturing community will gain from the wealth of information this conference and exposition is expected to provide."

In the past, Wohlers' presentation has focused mostly on additive manufacturing developments, trends, and the future. This year, he will include both qualitative and quantitative data that will present the current state of the industry and where it might be in five or ten years. This insight is a result of his organization's research and the information it has been collecting, analyzing and publishing for nearly two decades. His keynote presentation will reveal industry growth estimates and forecasts, emerging applications and new developments and business opportunities.

Several emerging trends, according to Wohlers, suggest where additive manufacturing is headed. Low-cost 3D printers have helped create visibility for the industry, making the technology more accessible to students, researchers, do-it-yourself enthusiasts, hobbyists, inventors and entrepreneurs. Designers and manufacturing engineers are extending their capabilities as additive manufacturing offers highly complex, geometric shapes and features. The development of high-performance polymers and metal-based systems offer unlimited possibilities for the production of end-use parts.

"Low-cost 3D printers are affecting both the professional and consumer markets. The increased sale of these machines over the past few years has taken additive manufacturing mainstream more than any other single development," said Terry Wohlers. "As new additive manufacturing systems and materials become more widely adopted, I expect to see new designs that previously would have been very difficult or too expensive to manufacture."

Also speaking at RAPID 2012 on behalf of Wohlers Associates is Tim Caffrey who will present, "Trends Driving Additive Manufacturing for Final Part Production." Caffrey has a strong technical background with experience at Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Plynetics Express. His digital manufacturing experience has proven valuable to his work on the annual Wohlers Report, now in its 17th year, and other high-profile projects.

In addition to giving almost 100 keynote presentations on five continents, Terry Wohlers has authored nearly 400 books, articles and technical papers. The Wohlers Report 2012 Executive Summary will be made available at RAPID 2012. The 250-page version includes new content, process categories and terminology standards established by ASTM International Committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies.

"The additive manufacturing and 3D printing industry has never been so exciting, so Tim Caffrey and I are eager to share the substantial amount of information and data that we have collected," Wohlers added.

For more information, please visit:

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About RAPID:
RAPID is North America's definitive additive manufacturing conference and exposition. The event brings buyers, sellers and end-users of design, prototyping, tooling and direct manufacturing technologies together in an environment that facilitates networking and business interaction. Attendees can evaluate the latest materials and machinery, compare processes, talk to industry experts and make valuable contacts. Exhibitors can meet new customers, discuss projects face-to-face and generate sales. For more information, please visit

About SME:
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers ( SME) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its many programs, events, activities and online training division, Tooling U, SME connects manufacturing practitioners to each other, to the latest technologies and to the most up-to-date manufacturing processes. SME has members around the world and is supported by a network of chapters and technical communities. A 501(c) 3 organization, SME is a leader in manufacturing workforce development issues, working with industry, academic and government partners to support the current and future skilled workforce.

About Wohlers Associates:
Wohlers Associates is an independent consulting firm that provides technical, marketing, and strategic advice on the new developments and trends in rapid product development and additive manufacturing. For more information, visit:


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