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The United States’ dominance of 3D printing may be on the wane, according to one reading of the recent Wohlers Report on the market for the technology.
Modern Machine Shop points out that the Wohlers study, released on May 23 and published annually, found that there are currently five companies in the US making professional-quality additive manufacturing machines. This number for Europe is 16, China seven, and Japan two. However, ten years ago, the number of companies in the US was 10, seven in Japan and Europe, and three in China.
The article does not take into account factors like consolidation, most recently seen in Stratasys’s acquisition of MakerBot this month, for $US 403 million in Stratasys shares, but merely the pure number of companies operating.
The total global revenue for 3D printing for 2012 was $US 2.204 bn. The US’s dominance is still obvious, for example the Wohlers Report 2013 found that 38 per cent of all 3D printing installations worldwide were in that country, followed by Japan (9.7 per cent), Germany (9.4 per cent) and China (8.7 per cent).
Of note is China’s aggressive pursuit to catch up, with the head of the Asian Manufacturing Association (a Chinese group), Luo Jun, announcing in June plans for a network of 10 3D printing innovation centres across the country, budgeted at a little over $US 3 million each.
Luo estimated that in 2016, China would be worth $US 1.6 billion, nearly half of what Wohlers estimates the global market to be.