Wohlers Associates Inc. has published its 25th annual edition of what is widely considered the bible of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing. Terry Wohlers, founder and CEO of Wohlers Associates, an independent consulting firm that has been in business for 33 years, noted the new report “provides a unique window into the constantly advancing global industry.”
The publication provides numerous details on AM applications, software, workflows, materials systems, and post-processing. It gives specifics on patents, startups, investment, and research and development, and the future of AM. The 380-page report also includes extensive information on AM industry growth, including more than 250 examples of AM applications in production or development.
One such example is Jabil’s redesign of an impeller for fabrication through AM. Instead of 73 metal parts assembled by hand, the impeller is made from a fiber-reinforced polymer composite in a single part. Fifty impellers can be produced in the time it previously took to make one.
This week, it was announced that Italian firm Issinova 3D printed urgently needed respirator valves in less than two days. The effort was in response to a call for help from a hospital in northern Italy that was overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Ten patients were able to breathe with the aid of a machine that included the 3D-printed valves.
“The era has begun where the users of AM are in the driver’s seat,” said Wohlers, “pushing the boundaries of what AM can achieve in production applications. System manufacturers, service providers, and producers of materials are responding with offerings to match.”
Wohlers Report 2020 builds on input from a record 129 service providers, 114 manufacturers of industrial AM systems, and 40 producers of third-party materials and desktop 3D printers. The report documents government-sponsored research and development, collaborations and consortia, and the activities of 139 academic and research institutes around the world. Seventy-nine co-authors and contributors in 33 countries provided expert views and opinions for the report.
New and expanded features of the 2020 edition include a look at both maturing and emerging applications for AM for series production; review of AM in the dental industry; commentary on 77 early-stage investments valued at $1.1 billion; a compilation of 72 industry partnerships from the past 12 months; and expert reports from 35 countries.