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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has over 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

Wohlers Report 2017 Shows Vibrant New Business Activity In 3D Printing With Slower Worldwide Growth

May 25th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe

Last week at the RAPID + TCT conference in Pittsburgh, I made a point of catching up with my friend (and fellow Coloradan), Terry Wohlers, President of Wohlers Associates. I caught him after his excellent keynote presentation where we discussed several aspects of the 3D printing industry in a video interview that will be posted on the MCADCafe site very soon.

Among the things we discussed was the recently released the Wohlers Report 2017, his company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. According to the Report, the AM industry grew by 17.4% in worldwide revenues in 2016, down from 25.9% the year before, according to the new report. Much of the downturn came from declines by the two largest system manufacturers in the business — 3D Systems and Stratasys. Together, they represented $1.31 billion (21.7%) of the $6.063 billion AM industry. If these two companies were excluded from the analysis, the industry would have grown by 24.9%.

Wohlers Associates is widely recognized as the leading consulting firm and foremost authority on additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This annual publication has served as the undisputed industry-leading report on the subject for more than two decades. Over its 22 years of publication, many (including me) have referred to the report as the “bible” of AM and 3D printing—terms that are used interchangeably by the company and industry. I think it easily remains the most comprehensive resource on the topic and market.

Wohlers Report 2017

Wohlers Report 2017
As it has from the beginning, Wohlers Report 2017 covers virtually every aspect of additive manufacturing, including its history, applications, underlying technologies, processes, manufacturers, and materials. It documents significant developments that have occurred in the past year, R&D and collaboration activities in government, academia, industry, and summarizes the worldwide state of the industry.

According to Wohlers Report 2017, 97 manufacturers produced and sold industrial additive manufacturing (AM) systems in 2016. This is up from 62 companies in 2015 and 49 in 2014. These manufacturers are providing interesting products and unprecedented competition in the AM industry. This wave of development and commercialization is putting pressure on the established producers of industrial AM systems.

For Wohlers Report 2017, input was collected from 100 service providers, 61 industrial system manufacturers, and 19 producers of third-party materials and low-cost desktop 3D printers.

The Report also includes contributions from 76 experts in 31 countries. No other published analysis of the AM industry is supported by more than two decades of hard data (and the knowledge gained from it) as the basis for computing growth, analyzing trends, and forecasting the future.

Wohlers Report 2017 serves as both an excellent educational and reference tool. It provides an in-depth review and analysis of the industry worldwide. It includes growth, competitive products and services, and the future outlook for the industry. The report covers the technology’s history, applications, processes, materials, and equipment manufacturers. It also thoroughly documents developments in R&D, investment and collaborative activities in government, academia, and industry. The report brings to light the rich range of technologies, markets, and business models that continue to emerge within the industry.

Associate consultants and principal authors Ian Campbell, Olaf Diegel, and Joseph Kowen were a big part of the core team that shouldered large and important parts of this report. “It would not have been possible to produce it without them,” said Terry Wohlers, principal author and president of Wohlers Associates. “They are central to our network of colleagues and contacts—the largest and most developed, we believe, in the AM industry.” I wholeheartedly agree that this network has resulted in a publication that offers an unparalleled window into AM and 3D printing.

Hanging Out With Terry Wohlers at RAPID +TCT 2017 Before Our Video Interview

The 344-page Wohlers Report 2017 includes 28 charts and graphs, 26 tables, and 232 photographs and illustrations. It also includes more than 160 pages of supplemental online information that is available only to buyers of the Report.

Wohlers Report 2017 is not just another narrow, over-priced, “so what” marketing report. This is (as it always has been) the best resource for anyone who wants to know what’s really going on in the AM industry regardless of experience — novice or veteran. I highly recommend it.

For more information on Wohlers Report 2017.

Editor’s Note: I spent this week at PTC’s LiveWorx 2017 in Boston where I conducted several video interviews and learned a lot about the future direction of PTC, especially with regard to the Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR). Next week I’ll hit the highlights of the conference, as well as a couple surprising things that I learned.

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