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Rapid prototyping has relied on a variety of technologies over the past few decades, and now inkjet technology is joining the mix. According to Hanover, MA-based I.T. Strategies, vendors’ revenues from inkjet systems, consumables, and services used for rapid prototyping will grow from $78 million in 2007 to $148 million by 2012. 

The firm says that the elimination of the costs of die and tooling creation is an overriding argument for rapid prototyping in a variety of applications, as well as short-run manufacturing. “This is analogous to the elimination of the platemaking process in printing with digital print, except that the economies involved in manufacturing are on a greater scale where, for example, the cost of a relatively small part for an electronics system might cost $80,000, not including the delays involved in waiting for the creation of the die,” says Mark Hanley, president of I.T. Strategies. “Our forecasts in this area are conservative and assume an increasing share of inkjet sales against competing technologies. They also assume no major new market breakthrough, no major new vendors, and an organic slackening of growth over time.”

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