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Terry Wohlers, speaking at the Varel, Germany AEROTEC manufacturing headquarters. [Photo courtesy of AEROTEC]

As the 3D printing industry has heated up to previously unforetold measures, allowing for a continually growing and fiercely competitive marketplace, we are suddenly and nearly as awash in reports as we are inexpensive 3D printers being launched on Kickstarter. I eat up this stuff up—much to the confusion of some, dry as it often is—particularly enjoying learning about 3D printing trends around the world.

There are definitely times, however, that I shake my head while reading data and pause, looking back to introductions to see exactly who wrote what report full of pie charts and numbers and from whence they sprung. I find it interesting to see startups with young people who have dedicated themselves to the churning out of data, often compiled and condensed from information put out by more comprehensive companies who are polling users and sharing their own research or experiences as well. As long as the information is accurate, most reports have some element of interest—whether they be predictably topical—or seriously in-depth.

If you enjoy reading information about the 3D printing industry or are experienced from within it as a maker or developer, you won’t have to ask yourself which category the Wohlers Report fits into. An ‘annual worldwide progress report’ (written by Tim Caffrey, senior consultant, Ian Campbell, associate consultant, and Terry Wohlers, principal consultant and president—all of Wohlers Associates), this is known as one of the pinnacles of the year in terms of data being published.

WohlersHorizontal.inddThe report offers estimates and forecasts that so far have spanned over 20 years by a definite visionary, and a man who started out in 1982, upon receiving his graduate degree from Colorado State University, to pursue a specialty in CAD/CAM and a deepening interest in 3D printing. Yes, you are reading correctly—he was doing all of this in the eighties.

As the founder of Fort Collins, Colorado based Wohlers Associates—spanning three decades—Wohlers is respected, renowned, and sought after as a speaker on the subject of 3D printing and associated topics and technologies. He has just released the Wohlers Report 2016 and upon ordering your copy you will be rewarded with the latest comprehensive analysis in regards to 3D printing around the globe, delving further into this industry that continues to evolve beyond the expectations of many, growing by a stunning $1 billion for two years in a row.

In reading the report, you can both learn about and receive updated information on all of the industries being impacted and transformed, as well as getting schooled on how 3D printing began, and how it relates to other technologies. Delve into all the applications and processes being created today, as well as learning about the wide range of manufacturers using and creating the technology, and what materials are currently in favor.

Indeed, no doubt many do refer to the report as their ‘bible’—with all 355 pages offering up information that was developed with the support of:

  • 98 service providers
  • 51 system manufacturers
  • 15 third-party material producers
  • Contributions from 80 co-authors in 33 countries

“This access and trust has resulted in a report that offers an unparalleled window into additive manufacturing and 3D printing,” states Wohlers Associates regarding their report.

Reading and performing analysis of your own will keep you busy as you enjoy:

  • 35 charts and graphs
  • 68 tables
  • 322 images and illustrations
  • 160 pages of supplemental online information

Desktop-3D-Printers-2016Wohlers Report 2016 includes information all some of the major events over the year, what happened in research labs around the world, and how different entities have partnered and collaborated. The report also tallies growth overall, showing percentages and increases that go back as far as Wohlers has been in the industry.

Wohlers just made a recent trip to the Varel Germany headquarters of Premium AEROTEC to speak to an audience of over 100 industry professionals regarding some of the content of his report, and the future of the industry. I began researching the latest items out there on the industry veteran to see what updates may emerged, and upon glancing at an article about the Wohlers report from last year, I became engrossed—and a bit sidetracked. I enjoyed reading a fairly extensive interview regarding his thoughts on international progress, barriers to 3D printing and lack of them, as well as the topic of education, which is forever a conversation in 3D printing as we hope to offer all the knowledge to the people currently ‘in it,’ as well as to the generations being brought up and encouraged to pursue careers relevant to the ongoing STEM agenda.

My eyes of course fell on comments Wohler had regarding the press, as well as conferences, where he sees too much ‘assuming’ rather than relying on research or fact. Pointing out that is a problem all around, it was a reminder to me as a writer to stay on course and go further in pursuing so many of the vague details which are often supplied regarding new technology, innovations, and features. While we write about often dense topics, sometimes they are also very conceptual and border only on offering an outline of what is to come. A lack of knowledge certainly can cause one to reach or fill in the all-too-many blanks.

I saw Wohlers’ thoughts, information from last year to boot, as a great reminder for all, and this came directly on the heels of a conversation with my oldest son, now 16—with the magic of writing inside him and a thirst for journalism budding. We were discussing a paper he’d written for a college class he is privileged to attend, and I remarked on how well it flowed.

“It’s because I felt comfortable. I was writing about what I know,” he said.

 

“You don’t always write about what you know,” he continued. “Isn’t that hard?”

I explained to him that indeed it is very challenging, but it’s what I love about my job, as literally by the hour I am reading papers by researchers and absorbing a wide range of information from different innovators, and learning about new science and technology and products—many stemming from different corners of the world. And it’s when you are teetering on that precipice of fear and excitement and challenge that you know you are growing, honing your craft further.

We can often though rely on experts such as Wohlers, with decades of experiential knowledge, as well as a world full of manufacturers, inventors, and brilliant minds around the world who help us—and each other—understand the current status of 3D printing. Thanks to a variety of sources who make every attempt to offer authentic information, it’s with a mixed sense of fascination and gratitude that we are able to learn about the innovations that result from individuals and teams working at their desktops, and in workshops and labs, creating the 3D prints that are allowing advances for all of us to enjoy a better quality of life, greater conveniences, and the opportunity to explore farther than we ever could have envisioned.

Data, as well as history and a wide range of information offered up by tomes like Wohlers Report 2016, allows us to keep tabs on the very accelerated progress of 3D printing, as well as having an idea of what to look for in the future. See Wohlers Associates for further information on how to attain the Wohlers Report 2016. Are you interested in finding out more? Discuss in the Wohlers Report 2016 3D Printing Expert Analysis forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: McCADCafe]
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Wohlers speaking to a full room in Germany [Photo: Courtesy of AEROTEC]



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