Chinese 3D printer exporters sell one machine every eight seconds as Western demand picks up

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/17 16:38:27

A 3D printer prints the spectacle frame of a pair of goggles at the additive manufacturing research and application center of Hunan Vanguard Group Co., Ltd. in the economic development zone of Changsha City, central China's Hunan Province, Feb. 11, 2020. (Xinhua/Xue Yuge)

Sales of made-in-China 3D printing facilities have surged in the European and US markets as customers rush to print COVID-19 prevention equipment amid the pandemic. 

According to data from AliExpress, the largest B2C cross-border e-commerce platform in China, sales of 3D printers on the platform have doubled from last year and stocks have sold out.

3D printing is popular as it provides new possibilities to solve global supply chain shortages and shortages of COVID-19 prevention materials faced by Europe and the US.

"With a large number of overseas factories closed and offline circulation channels cut off, many people are buying 3D printers to print masks, car parts, and even airplane parts," Wang Mingqiang, general manager of AliExpress, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Consumer-grade 3D printers made in China are cost-effective compared to foreign brands, with the most popular models priced at $200-300, according to the platform. 

Shenzhen-based 3D printing company Creality saw its sales in April increase 150 percent year-on-year.

Over 90 percent of the company's products are shipped overseas to major markets in the US, the UK, Germany, France and Spain. 

Its most popular product is able to 3D print masks in just one hour.

In the first half of the month, orders hit 160,000 units, equal to one unit sold every eight seconds, according to Liu Huilin, founder of Creality.

"In the first five months of this year we shipped 500,000 units, which is equal to our whole-year shipments last year. Shipments this year are expected to reach three to four times their level last year," said Liu.

In order to catch up with the speed of orders, the company has just expanded its plant by 10,000 square meters and hired more than 1,000 people to increase its production capacity by 200-300 percent.

"Our production capacity was under great pressure. We now have 40 percent more employees compared to the beginning of the year," said Liu.

Boosted by increasing overseas orders, China's 3D printing equipment output increased by 87.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. The growth rate further climbed to 344.7 percent in April, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.


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