The additive manufacturing industry is on quite a roll.
The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of revenues produced
by all additive manufacturing products and services in 2010 was 24.1 percent,
according to the Wohlers Report 2011.
In 2009, the industry declined by 9.7 percent. The compound
annual growth rate for the industry's 23-year history is an impressive 26.2
Additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials
to make objects from 3-D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to
subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Additive manufacturing is used to
build physical models, prototypes, patterns, tooling components and production
parts in plastic.
"We expect the
industry to continue its strong double-digit growth over the next several
years," says Tim Caffrey, associate consultant at Wohlers Associates, which forecasts
industry-wide growth to be $3.1 billion by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020.
Highlights of the report were released on the eve of Rapid
, the annual conference of the additive manufacturing industry held by
the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
This year's conference will be held May 23 to May 26 in
Minneapolis and will be headlined by a keynote presentation on "Application of
Scanning and Additive Technologies to Skeletal Research on 17th Century
Colonists and Ancient Americans," by Douglas W. Owsley, division head of
physical anthropology, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
Digital extraction and prototype production of replicas have
been used by Smithsonian researchers to study early American settlers in
Jamestown, VA and the remains of the "Kennewick Man", the name given to the
skeletal remains of a prehistoric man found in Kennewick, WA in1996. The
reproduction of a replica of a stone projectile point embedded in the hipbone
of the Kennewick Man helped determine its physical attributes.
Bone tests have shown one of the most complete ancient skeletons
ever found is somewhere between 5,650 and 9,510 years old.