Recent trips to China have taught me a lot about the country’s plans for 3D printing. The central government, as well as provinces and cities, are planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into 3D printing over the next several years. One 500-employee Chinese company, with assistance from a city and provincial government, is expected to invest about $120 million over the next three years.
Another company, Haier, is going to enter the 3D printing area, according to a May 31, 2013 article published by China Daily Europe. With 80,000 employees, Haier is the world’s largest supplier of white goods. The company also manufactures computers, televisions, air conditioners, and many other household products. Xinqi Zhang, mayor of Qingdao (Haier’s headquarters location), said that the 3D printing industry needs the support of government due to the cost of implementing the technology. Zhang did not disclose the amount that Haier is planning to invest.
The Asian Manufacturing Association (AMA), a Beijing organization, launched the World 3D Printing Technology Alliance last week. Its primary purpose is to promote industrial cooperation within the 3D printing industry. Jun Luo, AMA’s CEO, believes revenues from 3D printing products and services in China will reach $1.6 billion in three years, making it the world’s largest market for 3D printing. According to Wohlers Report 2013, the worldwide 3D printing market in 2012 was $2.2 billion, so it would be difficult for China to grow so large in such a short time. AMA plans to establish 10 innovation institutes on 3D printing in China, with initial funding of $3.3 million per institute.
AMA was the organizer of last week’s 2013 World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference in Beijing. More than 600 very enthusiastic people attended the two-day event, including 100 members of the media. China Daily and CCTV, China’s predominant state television broadcaster, were present. Associate consultant Tim Caffrey and I attended, and we have rarely seen the level of interest in 3D printing that we saw last week. Major organizations were in attendance and television cameras and reporters were nearly everywhere. China as a country wants to see 3D printing progress to a new level and it is determined to be very central to it all.