RP unit sales growth

From: Terry T. Wohlers (twohlers@compuserve.com)
Date: Thu Mar 27 1997 - 01:05:27 EET


Rapid Prototyping Industry Grows by 46% to 2,243 Installations
Worldwide, With 763 Systems Sold in 1996

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, March 7, 1997 – Last year, 763 rapid prototyping
(RP) systems were sold worldwide, compared to 522 in 1995, according to new
market data released today by Wohlers Associates, Inc. "This is solid
growth of 46% for the year," said Terry Wohlers, president of the company.
"At the end of last year, an estimated 2,243 RP systems were in operation
at industrial, academic, and government locations around the world," he

The top 3 performers in 1996 were RP system manufacturers Stratasys, 3D
Systems, and Sanders Prototype, with unit sales of 257, 175, and 65
systems, respectively. For the first time in the history of RP, a
competitor has jumped in front of 3D Systems. 3D, with its
stereolithography technology, remains as the worldwide industry leader in
annual revenues – by a large margin. Also, 3D Systems has sold more total
RP systems in the past 9 years than any other company in the world.

Wohlers reports the progress of this fast-growing industry in a new
publication titled Rapid Prototyping State of the Industry: 1997 Worldwide
Progress Report. The report focuses on new applications, developments, and
trends in RP, rapid tooling, CAD solid modeling, and 3D printing. "As
companies establish themselves in the marketplace, 3D printers for concept
modeling will play an increasingly important role," Wohlers expects. "In
the future, possibly as soon as 1998, companies such as 3D Systems and
Stratasys will sell twice as many of these lower-priced, office-friendly
systems as their more capable and higher-priced siblings."

This new class of RP, referred to as 3D printers and concept modelers,
promises to significantly expand the market. The systems are being
designed to sit close to the users of CAD solid modeling systems. Already,
there are machines on the market from these companies that are about as
easy, safe, and quiet to operate as copiers, printers, and fax machines.
Also, they don’t take up more space than most other office equipment and
they carry a price tag that engineering groups are willing to pay.

Today, more than one-third of all RP models are being used by engineers,
toolmakers, and marketing personnel as important visual aids. The new wave
of low-priced, office machines were designed to meet this need. The
machines are enabling designers to quickly produce physical models – early
and often – when engineering changes are least expensive. This approach to
modeling minimizes the need for higher-priced prototypes and reduces costly
mistakes at the tooling phase of product development. This speeds products
to market.

Rapid Prototyping State of the Industry: 1997 Worldwide Progress Report
will be available from the Rapid Prototyping Association of the Society of
Manufacturing Engineers (RPA/SME) for $255 ($235 SME members) in late April
1997. Contact SME’s Customer Service Department at (800) 733-4763, fax
(313) 271-2861. Additional information on the RP market and industry is
available free of charge from Wohlers Web World at

Wohlers Associates, Inc. is a 10-year old independent consulting firm
focusing on RP, CAD/CAM/CAE, reverse engineering, and rapid product

For more information:

Wohlers Associates, Inc.
(970) 225-0086
Fax (970) 225-2027

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