Published for the 22nd consecutive year, the Wohlers Report 2017 edition sees overall industry growing at a rate of 17.4% in 2016. This result, while slower than last years’s 26.7%, shows a healthy industry which is evolving beyond its niche of adoption.
Overall global AM industry revenues were $6.063 billion, a value that describes a relatively small industry – within the context of the $12+ trillion global manufacturing industry. For this reason, and for the hype that has surrounded it, some might expect faster growth rates but any industry which has evolved past a billion in value can generally be happy to record double digit growth.
One additional elements showing the industry is in good health is thath according to Wohlers Report 2017, 97 manufacturers produced and sold additive manufacturing (AM) systems in 2016. This is up from 62 companies in 2015 and 49 in 2014. These manufacturers are providing interesting products and unprecedented competition in the AM industry. This wave of development and commercialization is also putting pressure on the established producers of AM systems.
One issue, in fact, is that much of the downturn came from declines by the two largest system manufacturers in the business. Together, they represent $1.31 billion (21.7%) of the $6.063 billion AM industry. If these two companies were excluded from the analysis, the industry would have grown by 24.9% and perhaps even more since many new players are relatively small startups distributed around the world and their sales are difficult to assess with the level of precision which the Wohlers Report requires.
Each year, the Wohlers Report is anticipated by industry insiders and knowledgeable observers because the analysis it provides is based on many years of data. For Wohlers Report 2017, input was collected from 100 service providers, 61 industrial system manufacturers, and 19 producers of third-party materials and low-cost desktop 3D printers.
However the overall industry is composed by thousands of businesses (the 3D Printing Business Directory lists over 3400) and many other institutions which contribute to the overall induct generated by 3D printing. While Wohlers clearly focuses on the most significant ones, the very fragmented nature of the 3D printing industry in this early stage means that it may be significantly larger.
Separately, 76 experts and organizations in 31 countries contributed information and insight to the new publication. No other published analysis of the AM industry is supported by so much hard data, coupled with such a strong group of specialists worldwide. Together, they form the basis for computing growth, analyzing trends, and forecasting the future.
While it does not go into the specific details of each major 3D printing vertical, Wohlers Report 2017 is an excellent learning tool and a powerful reference. It provides an in-depth review and analysis of growth, competitive products and services, and the future outlook for the industry. It covers the technology’s history, applications, materials, processes, and equipment manufacturers. The report documents R&D, investment, and activities in government, academia, and industry. It brings to light the changing range of AM technologies, markets, and business models.
The 344-page Wohlers Report 2017 includes 28 charts and graphs, 26 tables, and 232 photographs and illustrations. It also includes more than 160 pages of supplemental online information that is available to buyers of the report. Wohlers Associates is an independent consulting firm recognized widely as a leading consulting firm and top authority on additive manufacturing and 3D printing worldwide.