Report on additive manufacturing and 3D printing says international competition growing

May 22, 2013
In its annual analysis of additive manufacturing and 3D printing, Wohlers Associates says that the US leads with the largest installed base of additive manufacturing users.

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.

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

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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