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"Additive manufacturing technologies create a world of possibilities that can take an organization in an entirely new direction and help launch new businesses and business models," Wohlers says. "Three-dimensional printing and 3-D imaging are causing design and manufacturing professional to rethink their approach to new product development."
Despite a decade of financial hardships for many American-based manufacturers, the additive manufacturing industry has achieved impressive growth. Over the past seven years, compound annual growth has been about 21%, according to Wohlers Associates. The company expects the industry to continue its strong double-digit growth over the next several years, conservatively forecasting industry-wide growth to reach $3.1 billion by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020.
Wohlers was voted the No. 1 most influential person in rapid product development and additive manufacturing as part of TCT Magazine's Top 25 Influential People survey. His presentations attract large audiences of professionals ranging in experience from high-school students exploring careers in science and technology to top manufacturing professionals with billion dollar business operations.
RAPID 2012 will be held in Atlanta, GA, an area that is seeing a strong reshoring effort to return the manufacturing sector to the South and Southeast regions of the United States. Manufacturers looking to shorten supply chains, eliminate shipping costs and reduce lead times can benefit from additive technologies, in addition to promoting innovation among R&D teams, industrial designers and manufacturing engineers.
"SME has shown that it's important to take an event such as RAPID to locations that can benefit from it the most," Wohlers adds. "I'm certain Atlanta's manufacturing community will gain from the wealth of information this conference and exposition is expected to provide."