3D Printing

Wohlers Conference In Germany & More Bullish Predictions for Production Applications of 3D Printing

Ahead of the Wohlers Conference, which takes place annually at the Euromold exhibition in Frankfurt in December, Wohlers Associates has put out a more detailed analysis of ‘the use of 3D printing for final part production,’ which, according to the consultancy firm, ‘continues [an] impressive 10-year growth trend.’ A brief snapshot of this trend was presented earlier this year when the Wohlers Report 2013 was first published, however prior to the conference in December, which has a focus on ‘The Business & Investment Opportunities in AM and 3DP’, Wohlers is giving further insights.

Taken from the Wohlers Report 2013, analysis shows “that final part production rose to 28.3% of the $2.2 billion spent last year on 3D printing products and services worldwide.” Just a decade ago, in 2003, it represented only 3.9% of revenues, as highlighted here.

Additive Manufacturing Wohler Graph 2013

The Wohlers Report indicates that applications of 3D printing for final part production (or additive manufacturing), is growing in several diverse market segments, namely metal copings for dental crowns and bridges, orthopaedic implants and jewellery. Furthermore: “the aerospace industry is also an important market for the production of 3D printed parts. Boeing uses additive manufacturing extensively to produce environmental control system ducting for directing the flow of air on military and commercial aircraft. GE Aviation announced that it will use 3D printed fuel nozzles on its next-generation LEAP engine. The company plans to 3D print about 40,000 nozzles annually for its aircraft engines in the coming years.”

According to Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at Wohlers Associates, the production of parts for final products is expected to far surpass prototyping applications for 3D printed parts. This is because the ratio of prototypes to production parts is often 1:1,000 or greater. “The money is in manufacturing, not prototyping,” said Caffrey. “The opportunity for more commercial production activity from additive manufacturing is immense.”

Caffrey is a principal author of Wohlers Report 2013. And while the number of “reports” circulating the 3D printing industry continues to proliferate, Wohlers Associates, with a wealth of experience, a global perspective and an impressive contact network across the industry, continues to be the de facto source for companies looking for a holistic overview. The 2013 edition marks the report’s 18th consecutive year of publication.

The 3D printing industry is expected to continue strong double-digit growth over the next several years. In four years, Wohlers Associates believes that the sale of 3D printing products and services will approach $6 billion worldwide. By 2021, Wohlers Associates forecasts the industry to reach $10.8 billion.

In the shorter term, however, the Wohlers Conference, chaired by Terry will take place on 5th December at the Portalhaus within Hall 11, at the Frankfurt/Main Exhibition Centre. Organised in partnership with Demat which runs the Euromold show, the 15th edition of the conference will focus on opportunities that exist now even while looking ahead. Investment in 3D printing / Additive Manufacturing is at an all‐time high, and the conference will consider how this is leading to new businesses, business models, organizations, products and services. With a carefully selected panel of speakers — based on their knowledge, experience and insight — the focus of this event continues to be on quality of information, for anyone exploring opportunities in AM/3DP and about to make important business decisions.

The speaker line-up includes Terry and Tim, who will be joined by Dr. Olaf Diegel, CEO, ODD Guitars (New Zealand); James Yu, CEO and Chairman WestingCut Group (China); Prof. Deon de Beer, Executive Director, Technology Transfer and Innovation Vaal University of Technology (South Africa); Wilfried Vancraen, CEO Materialise (Belgium); Andy Christensen, President Medical Modeling Inc. (USA); William J. Cass, Partner Cantor Colburn LLP (USA); and Sylvia Monsheimer, Director of Additive Manufacturing Evonik Industries AG (Germany).