The additive fabrication industry, once known as rapid
prototyping, grew in North America at a tepid
3.7 percent pace last year, according to industry consultant Terry Wohlers.
The report was released at Rapid 2009 in Schaumburg, IL,
where a price fight broke out as machine builders tried to boost sales.
One-time industry leader 3D Systems Corp. launched its
V-Flash Desktop Modeler, which it described as the first commercially available
3D modeler priced under $10,000.
The Dimension 3D Printing Group, a business unit of
Stratasys, Inc. showed the uPrint
Personal 3D Printer priced at $14,900. Designed for the desktop, uPrint
requires only a 25 x 26 inch footprint and features an 8 x 6 x 6 inch build
envelope. uPrint builds models with Stratasys ABSplus â a material on average
40 percent stronger than the company's standard ABS material.
Dimension also recently reduced the base price of its Elite and 1200es 3D
printers. The Elite, previously priced at $32,900 is now available for $29,900.
The SST 1200es (with Soluble Support Technology) is now priced at $32,900, down
from $34,900, and the BST 1200es (with Breakaway Support Technology) is now $18,900,
reduced from $26,900.
"With the introduction of the uPrint Personal 3D
Printer this past January and the price reductions on the Elite and 1200es
Series, we now have a complete product offering ranging from $14,900 to
$32,900. We have a variety of price and feature sets to meet the needs of our
design and engineering customers," says Jon Cobb, Stratasys vice president
of sales and marketing for the Americas.
According to the Wohlers report, Stratasys shipped over 43
percent of all systems worldwide in 2008, and it has the highest global
installed base of additive systems: more than double that of its nearest
competitor. The report also indicated that within the 3D printer segment of the
additive fabrication industry, Stratasys shipped over 50 percent of all units
The report indicated that digital manufacturing (DDM) â the
manufacture of end-use parts â was one of the fastest-growing industry
applications in 2008, representing approximately 16 percent of applications last year.
"We're committed to developing the market for direct
digital manufacturing applications," says CEO Scott Crump. "These
applications are providing incremental sales opportunities for our Fortus 3D
Production Systems. We are optimistic about this emerging market's potential."
One surprising result of the Wohlers report was a crash in
the Japanese additive fabrication industry. "Japan declined by a surprising 56.8
percent," Wohlers commented in a keynote address. He offered no explanations.
But one hint came in the 10-K annual financial report field this year by 3D
"On Feb. 25, 2009, we received notice that our largest
customer in Japan
filed for protection under the Civil Rehabilitation Act, which we understand to
be similar to a Chapter 11 filing under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code," the company says in the filing. The total receivable due to was $1.3 million. The name of
the customer was not revealed.