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China’s 3D printing industry set for rapid expansion

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2013-5-29 23:38:02

China is likely to surpass the US and lead the global 3D printing market within three years, said Luo Jun, CEO of the Asian Manufacturing Association (AMA), on Wednesday.

The country's output value for 3D printing is likely to increase to 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in three years and the annual growth rate will double as long as more and more traditional manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive and biomedical industries move toward such technology, Luo said at a press event held in Beijing Wednesday.

A report by a leading US 3D printing consulting firm, Wohlers Associates Inc, indicated that in 2012, 3D printing machines sold in the US accounted for 40 percent of total sales around the world while 8.5 percent were contributed by the Chinese market.

The gap between the US and China will narrow as Chinese local governments have become aware of the advantages of 3D printing and begun to encourage local firms to upgrade their manufacturing and apply more innovation, noted Luo.

Compared with traditional manufacturing technology, 3D printing can execute complex designs and production more precisely and rapidly, he said, noting that the AMA has united domestic firms from the 3D printing sector, aiming to help them make deals with large-scale manufacturers.

The alliance plans to build 10 innovation centers for 3D printing technology in 10 cities in China in the near future, with a planned investment of 20 million yuan for each center.

Industrial 3D printing is a promising area, but its commercialization will take a long time in China, as most domestic manufacturers still hold wait-and-see attitudes, Hu Bin, president of Shanghai-based 3D printing company Caishi Laser Technology Co, told the Global Times Wednesday.

The 3D printing of turbine blades for jet engines is still not ready for mass production in China due to the lack of experience and high costs, he said.

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