The RP industry continues to expand. Last year, more systems were installed, more material was consumed, and more applications for the technology were uncovered. Yet, the rate of growth proved to be a disappointment.
Accustomed to the stellar growth of years past, it is sobering to learn that 2001 was yet another year in which growth stagnated. Most sectors of the RP industry had either minor growth or some degree of decline. Revenues from products and services were down significantly. Machine unit sales were flat. Unexpectedly, even the low-cost 3D printer segment experienced a decline in unit sales.
The events and economic conditions of 2001 had an effect on the RP industry. Budgets were slashed, projects were put on hold, and layoffs were common. Each of these factors decreased the demand for prototypes and tooling and reduced capital equipment expenditures.
another measure of industry growth, Wohlers Associates has begun to report
revenues from RP materials sales. Last year, an estimated $71 million was
spent on RP materials worldwide. This estimate includes resins,
powders, filaments, sheet materials, and other material types used in RP
machines. In the future, Wohlers Associates intends to track and report
the growth of this important market segment.
The U.S. continues to dominate the production and sales of RP systems. Nearly 81% of the systems sold in 2001 came from U.S. machine manufacturers, essentially unchanged from the three prior years. Japanís segment (10.9%) declined for the second consecutive year, dropping by two full percentage points. Europe represents 4.6% of the total.
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