Stratasys, who achieved a global revenue of US$359 million last year, is to meet demand in China and support Beijing’s efforts to further develop it’s additive manufacturing capabilities and capacity by opening a new office in the city. Stratasys is also considering setting up a research and development center in the mainland.

Founder Scott Crump told the South China Morning Post: “From an industry standpoint, the odds are pretty good that China will become the second-largest market for 3D printers after the US within five years.”

Scott Crump Stratasys

Photo: Paul Yeung

The Chinese market currently makes up 5-10% of Stratasys’ business each quarter. Stratasys is present in China’s automotive, aerospace, medical, dental, jewellery, consumer electronics packaging and education sectors.

In meetings last month with officials of the Chinese government in Beijing, Crump said Stratasys discussed potential collaboration with China to initiate and accelerate research, development and adoption of 3D printing.

“We want not only to expand our business, but to do some development or co-development in China. We’re also interested in teaching industrial and business applications,” Crump said.

Central government reports last month stated that central authorities have developed and confirmed a plan to invest some 1.5 billion yuan across a 7 year programme, with an aim to become a global leader in 3D printing. The Beijing-based Asian Manufacturing Association anticipates that the 3D printing market in China would reach 10 billion yuan by 2016.

Such figures and facts provide a narrative that is somewhat the antithesis of the widely quoted statements made by Terry Gou Tai-ming, the founder and Chairman of the Foxconn Technology Group, who said: “3D printing is a gimmick. If it is really that good, then I’ll write my surname ‘Gou’ backwards [from now on].”

Crump has responding by stating that 3D printing is “neither a gimmick nor a fad,” pointing to the exponential growth of sales and interest over the past 24 months, a context supported by the massive investments made by the USA in manufacturing institutes, some USD$200 million, and US President Obama’s supportive enthusiasm of 3DP in his last State Of The Union speech.

The most widely quoted projection has forecast the global 3D printer market to be worth US$6 billion by 2017 further to 29% growth to US$2.2 billion last year.

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