Legal and Regulatory

ASTM International buys Wohlers Associates to “enable the wider adoption” of 3D printing

Global standards developer ASTM International has announced the acquisition of 3D printing consultancy firm Wohlers Associates at the Formnext 2021 trade show. 

The deal sees ASTM inherit custody of the Wohlers Report, a revered state-of-the-industry analysis that effectively captures the sector’s biggest challenges and opportunities every year. Once integrated into its portfolio, ASTM says that it aims to use this brand value to not only build on its own market influence, but introduce 3D printing to new industries, “enabling the wider adoption of additive manufacturing.” 

“We are thrilled to welcome Wohlers Associates to the ASTM family,” said Katharine Morgan, President of ASTM International. “Wohlers has been a trusted source of intelligence and analysis for the AM community for more than 30 years, and I am excited to see what our two trusted and credible brands can accomplish together for this industry.”

The Wohlers Report 2021.
Wohlers Associates is the organization behind the industry-leading Wohlers Report. Image via Wohlers Associates.

An annual 3D printing deep dive 

First introduced in 1995, the Wohlers Report aims to highlight 3D printing’s preeminent trends and perspectives, while providing a degree of foresight into the industry’s future. Authored principally by Wohlers Associates’ Terry Wohlers, these ultra-detailed reports are built on vast amounts of data, surrounding the pricing, applications and production of 3D printers, gathered from industry stalwarts. 

The latest edition of this analysis, Wohlers Report 2021, is based around the feedback of 124 service providers and 133 machine manufacturers, and features the input of 88 different contributors. Interestingly, the report found that many well-known manufacturers saw their equipment sales fall during 2020, but this was widely accompanied by a growth in demand for the offerings of service bureaus.

Thanks to insights such as these, Wohlers’ work has managed to achieve a higher level of standing in the industry than many similar reports. By buying Wohlers Associates, ASTM therefore aims to put the insights of its new subsidiary into action at its AM Center of Excellence, where it’s working with those in industry, government and academia to advance the introduction of standards across 3D printing. 

Additive Manufacturing at AMCOE. Photo via ASTM International.
An engineer 3D printing a test part at ASTM’s Center of Excellence. Photo via ASTM.

ASTM’s analytical expansion 

Revealed at the organization’s Formnext Standards Forum, ASTM’s acquisition of Wohlers Associates allows it to take full control of the firm’s intelligence briefs and reports, as well as its training and consulting services. Following the deal’s completion, ASTM’s new subsidiary will trade under the name ‘Wohlers Associates, powered by ASTM International’ too, with many of the firm’s leadership transferring.

Company President Wohlers, for instance, is set to join ASTM as its Head of Additive Manufacturing Market Intelligence, while Market Intelligence and Analytics manager Noah Mostow will take up the same role at ASTM’s AM Center of Excellence. 

Moving forwards, ASTM says that it intends to combine Wohlers Associates’ offering with that of its members and CoE, to unlock “new possibilities for business intelligence, advice and resources in the global AM community.” In practise, this means the Wohlers Report is likely to be integrated into ASTM’s flagship Compass platform, where it can be used to help  manufacturers keep their parts compliant. 

In broader terms, ASTM also expects the acquisition to support its plans to “expand its footprint in the AM industry,” while Wohlers himself is said to be confident that the new owners of his report will “maintain its quality, neutrality and value.”

“I could not be more excited about joining the world-class team at ASTM International,” said Wohlers. “Through ASTM, we can now accept more projects than in the past and our advisory services team is now larger than ever. We are glad ASTM has made a commitment to publishing the report for years to come.”

Headquarter of TÜV SÜD in Munich, Germany. Image via TÜV SÜD.
Much like ASTM, TÜV SÜD is a leader in the certification of advanced technologies such as 3D printing. Photo via TÜV SÜD.

The importance of certification in AM

Standardizing the processes behind 3D printing are seen by many within the industry as being key to the technology’s wider adoption. Luckily for 3D printing’s advocates, the likes of ASTM continue to work with manufacturing partners to develop new standards, against which the quality of additive manufactured parts can increasingly be measured. 

Earlier this year, ASTM signed an MoU with the Canada-based NSERC Network for Hollistic Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (HI-AM), to accelerate the R&D of AM standards. As part of their collaboration, the organizations have agreed to develop best practices for in-situ defect detection, and explore the benchmarking of powder bed density measurement.

Elsewhere, dedicated certification firm TÜV SÜD has released an industry-first guide for 3D printing medical parts that are consistently accurate and fit for end-use application. By providing manufacturers with a simplified breakdown of relevant healthcare regulation, the company aims to make the technology’s adoption in the sector as easy as possible. 

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Featured image shows the Wohlers Report 2021. Image via Wohlers Associates.