Business / Technology

3D printing ready to revolutionize manufacturing

By Kristine Yang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-02 08:23

Paul Shao, CEO of Trustworthy (Beijing) Technology, a 3D printer company that distributes systems developed by brands including 3Shape and Roland, says the region is quickly finding its way with 3D technology.

"In Asia, the markets in Japan, China and South Korea are more mature in terms of 3D printing, but we can see many regions like Southeast Asia and central Asia are joining the game in trading and applications," Shao says.

A country's 3D printing capacity is closely linked with its competitiveness in traditional manufacturing, he adds.

"Compared with the US, Europe and Japan, China is still at an infant stage in terms of innovative design, precision processing and economic power. We have much space to grow in many key technology areas such as laser and materials. But we are getting closer and closer," says Shao.

The evolution of supply chains is also driving the development of 3D printing. More brands are using just-in-time supply chains that make good use of the technology, getting products manufactured more quickly and into the hands of consumers.

In other regional markets, many of which rely on labor-intensive manufacturing for economic growth, the technology is less mature. Examples are Thailand and Malaysia, two middle-income countries moving up the value chain.

Thailand imports all of its 3D printers from the US, Canada or Germany because it lacks the technology to make its own, despite being a prodigious supplier of microchips.

But as Luo points out, the use of 3D technology in the region is likely to gather more pace.

"3D printing technology has been growing fast in China with more than 100 companies involved in industry, biomedicine, creative (industries), architecture, materials and software. China's 3D printing market has seen more than 40 percent growth for two consecutive years," says Luo.

China's Ministry of Science and Technology has included 3D printing technology in the National High-Tech Research and Development Program, which sponsors research in key high-technology fields. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, is accelerating the process to launch support policies.

"The Ministry of Education is planning to bring 3D printers into schools," Luo adds.

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