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Industry report on additive manufacturing points to a new breed of manufacturer

The global market for additive-manufactured products and services grew to an estimated $1.183 billion in 2008, according to Wohlers Report 2009, a 250-page analysis from Wohlers Assoc. Inc. (Fort Collins, CO) of the newest developments and trends in additive manufacturing (AM) worldwide. The services segment of the industry was a bright spot, with growth of 7.9%. The AM industry is expected to more than double in size by 2015, according to the report.

AM systems build parts layer by layer and are used for a wide range of applications, including design review and validation, fit and function prototyping, pattern making, and tooling. AM is being used for custom and replacement part manufacturing, limited-edition products, short-run production, and in some instances, full production.

The use of additive manufacturing for direct part production has grown to become the second most popular application of AM technology. Companies representing thousands of users and customers of AM technology worldwide responded to a survey on the subject. Respondents believe that part production from AM will represent 35.9% of their business in five years and more than half (50.5%) in 10 years.

“Methods of additive manufacturing are creating new markets for limited-edition and one-of-a-kind products,” says Terry Wohlers, principal author of Wohlers Report 2009 and president of Wohlers Assoc. “Additive manufacturing is causing some companies and individuals to rethink the way products are developed and brought to market,” he explained. “A new type of manufacturer is emerging that is not operating from a traditional manufacturing facility.”

Wohlers says he believes that in the future, opportunistic individuals will make custom and personalized products on demand from a spare room at home, a garage, or even a college dormitory.

Information in the report includes discussions of part production applications of AM, estimates and forecasts, new developments and business opportunities, emerging applications, research and development, and where the industry is headed. The study was created with support from 54 coauthors, 65 service providers, 29 system manufacturers, and many others.

Wohlers Assoc. is a consulting firm that has provided services to more than 150 organizations in 21 countries over its 22 years of business. For more information on obtaining the Wohlers Report 2009, see Wohlers's website. [email protected]

TAGS: Materials
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