The rendezvous of the Replicators: 3D Printing Industry in China

3D Printing is a concept that is very popular and is expected to become the backbone of the manufacturing industry of major countries around the world. The 3D Printing has influenced various sectors from healthcare to jewelry industry. This 3D Printing bug bit the Chinese manufacturing market in the 2000s and the effect of this bite can be seen in China now. With the claims that are being made by many business magazines such as Economist that China is all set to become the next consumption superpower, the 3D Printing industry, which is seeing rapid strides in china, is going to play a key role.

Looking at the other world giant economies like the U.S and Europe investing huge amounts in this sector and bringing their weak and feeble manufacturing industry to a new jump start has compelled China to furiously develop its own 3D printing industry. But it will take China quite some time to pace up with the technology that already exists in U.S and other European countries; but very soon as per the claims that are being made by one of the 3D printing company in China that they have been able to make a new breed of gigantic 3D Printing that is expected to have a diameter of 1.8 meters. Another company of similar traits is betting on making a printer that is larger than the previous one.

The other significant news we heard from 3D Printing industry in China is the production of giant 3D printer by rapidly constructing 10 houses in less than 24 hours! These houses were primarily built by recycled materials and the cost was less than US$5,000. This was done so as to ease the housing crises in developing markets. With the increase in the population in China there is a need for fast and cheap housing. This dream was turned into reality by a construction firm named Winsun, which stepped forward with a very impressive demonstration of rapid construction with the help of 3D printing techniques to build 10 small houses in 24 hours. This was done in batches by Winsun’s 3D printer that created building blocks by layering up cement or glass mix in structural patterns. The diagonally reinforced print leaves plenty of air gaps to act as insulation.

The expansion of 3D printing can have a two-fold benefit for any country. The primary benefit would be at the manufacturing level, it could give Chinese companies a renewed competitive edge for domestic production. The other benefit would be at the consumption level, the boost that 3D printing gives to researching and developing new proto-types could help companies foreign as well as national to design products that are better tailored for local preferences, a boon for anyone trying to set up shop in such a large and diverse market.

The 3D printing industry is still in the growth phase in China but the government is making all the possible measures to bring the Chinese market in power with the other leading 3D printing giants. The biggest step towards this is the collaboration between China 3D printing technology industry alliance and Materialise. This is one of the most important events in the history of Chinese 3D printing industry as it marked the structural collaboration between Materialise and all the 3D printing companies in China. Materialise is one of the pioneers in the 3D printing industry and this collaboration will empower all the 3D printing industries in China with all the software and training that is necessary to raise its level in this industry.

The other important step taken in this direction is the hosting of the World 3D printing technology industry conference and exhibition. This exhibition started in 2013 and attracted 600 guests from the world of 3D printing. It was a three days event comprising of information sharing and events. But the 2014 edition of this event will feature a 3D creative competition, a 3D printing makers’ competition, a 3D printing fashion show and an elaborate exhibition of the latest 3D printing technologies, equipments and products.

Beijing Tiertime Technology, a leader in rapid prototyping and the 3D printing industry in China has made a new consumer grade 3D printer. The printer has been made for the family use, so it is a family version printer which is of the size of a coffee maker. It is available for the people at a very affordable price of 6,000 yuan which is about US$968.

As of now the commercialization of 3D printed products is taken up by select few companies in China. But this is on the verge of becoming a major segment, as some of the local enterprises are showing keen interest in the purchase of biomaterial 3D printing units. For example, a company called VisenTOP which was only supplying products to laboratories and universities, has bagged an order to produce 3D printed models commercially for the first time. EOS, a German 3D company based in China is actively promoting their technology in the Chinese market. EOS came into the Chinese market way back in 2006, but it saw marked growth over 100% only after 2011. If these are taken as indicators, we can safely predict that 3D printing industry in China is expected to flourish very soon.

The Chinese 3D market is scattered and relatively small as compared to other 3D markets all over the world. There is a shortage of a mature business models as a result businesses are unable to effectively tap into the market and also the awareness among the people about this technology is missing. As a result the 3D printing technology has not found its rightful place in the market. But with the visible changes that are there in the 3D Printing industry in China, the Chinese market too will be among the top tier nations in 3D Printing.

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