Re: Number of organizations using RP

From: Marshall Burns (
Date: Thu May 07 1998 - 05:56:36 EEST

Terry Wohlers wrote:

> sent numbers, but it's true. It's only fair that I also take a shot at it,
> so here goes. I estimate that about 3,000 organizations use RP "regularly"
> in the US, and twice that many use it worldwide.


    When I first saw your estimate, I was surprized that it was so low. So I
did my own estimate, as follows:

    Your 1998 industry report indicates total worldwide unit sales of 3289
additive fabricators from 1988 to 1997. Let's play with some assumptions. Say
that half of those units have been mothballed by now (which is probably high),
that would leave an active installed base of 1644 machines. Next, let's say
half of those are at fabricator shops like Plynetics, Compression, etc. (which
is probably low), so 822 are being used by one company that bought the machine,
while the other 822 are being used by multiple customers of the shops. Next,
let's say that for every working machine at a fabricator shop, there are ten
regular customers that submit files to the shop with some frequency. (So, for
example, Plynetics would have about 250 regular customers, which seems to
likely be low if they're making any money.) This would make for 9,042 regular
fabricator users (822 single users plus 10 x 822 at fab shops).

    9,000 is not that different from your global number of 6,000; they are both
in the same order of magnitude. So I guess your estimate isn't that
unreasonable after all. What is amazing about this is that after ten years of
over 40% annual growth, there could still be less than 10,000 regular users in
the whole world.

    Okay, so let's try another calculation. If we assume that the number of
regular users increases at 40% annually, how will that number grow in time:

            1993 1681
            1998 9042
            2003 48,630
            2008 261,544
            2013 1,406,645
            2018 7,565,274

    Does anybody know the number of trained engineers in the world? It would be
interesting to know what portion of the number of professional engineers this
7.5 million figure would represent.

Marshall Burns

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