China: 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions. Home to 1,350,000,000 (give or take) people and covering 9,600,000 square kilometres. China began investing in 3D printing in the early 1990s and is something of a relative early adopter. TheGovernment-funded trade group,the Asian Manufacturing Association (AMA), aims to promote the integration of additive manufacturing technology across wider industry via ten innovation institutes, each starting with a $3.3 million injection of investment.
On the other hand, Luo Jun, secretary of the China-based World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance, said on May 6th that currently, the industry in China is at a “small and scattered” stage, with no leading businesses: Due to a current lack of mature business models, additive manufacturing businesses are unable to effectively tap into the market. Jun believes that the reason for this is that 3D printing technology is yet to find its niche in the market. He also believes that public awareness is still lacking in China.Jun believes that, to date, China has not been innovative enough, andthat its investment in research and development has been too limited.
Wu Chengxuan, general manager for Greater China for German-based EOS, said that the company is busy promoting 3D printing technology.EOSentered the Chinese market back in 2006, yet only witnessed marked growth in the market in 2011. Growth over the past two years has been around 100% and this rapid growth has given him hope.Chengxuan recently stated that a lot of people as yet have no idea about what industrial additive manufacturing machines can do and the ways in which they can aid businesses to solve problems.He also said thatthe equipment provided by EOS is currently the most expensive, so customers might feel the cost is too high, thus the key lies in the equipment’s applications, suggesting that effective use should mean that cost will not be a major concern.
Xiao Guodong, president of Tianjin-based VisenTOP is hoping that the company’s goal of commercialising 3D printing products can be brought to realisation soon, stating that a local enterprise recently ordered 100 of its biomaterial 3D printing units. The company had been busy producing, testing and delivering the equipment recently.Guodong said: “This has been the first time our 3D printing products have been produced commercially, which is no small breakthrough.” Previously his company has sold products to universities.
Xiao believes that if the domestic market cannot be developed further,foreign enterprises will come to dominate it: “At present, people [in China] are both passionate about, as well as perplexed by, 3D printing technology, and market promotion of the technology is quite difficult.”