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Forbes: China's 3D Printing Industry Is One of The Fastest Growing in The World


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In 2023, China's leading metal 3D printer manufacturer Platit (BLT) announced a 34% increase in revenue over the previous year, while the increasing number of configurable lasers for metal 3D printers produced in China should arouse more interest from global manufacturers.

In fact, China is catching up with the United States and Europe in the application and manufacturing of 3D printing, and in many ways surpassing the United States and Europe. From 2015 to 2022, China's additive manufacturing industry is growing at an average annual rate of about 30%, and industry analyst AM Research predicts that China's 3D printer sales revenue alone will reach $8 billion by 2032.

This has important implications for China and the 3D printing industry. Of course, most of the growth has been within China. Additive manufacturing professionals are now well aware that there are several famous companies in China, but there are many more that they have never heard of.

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For example, Platite, Huashu Gao Ke, Easy3D and other brands have launched metal 3D printers equipped with multiple lasers, of which Easy3D has as many as 64 device lasers. However, these three companies are not the only ones producing multi-laser 3D printers in China. Tianjin Leiming, which operates primarily in China, also recently launched a metal 3D printer equipped with up to 20 lasers.


By comparison, metal 3D printers from companies such as Nikon SLM Solutions only have a maximum of 12 lasers. It's not a pure marketing gimmick, the more lasers on a metal 3D printer, the more productive it becomes, and more importantly, the more complex the hardware and software to coordinate all that energy. One large smartphone manufacturer, for example, is using metal 3D printing to produce millions of small parts each year.

As a result, these metal 3D printers can serve as a yardstick for measuring the overall progress of the industry as a whole. Not only are they more complex, they're also more expensive. With metal 3D printing as the reference standard, we can expect other areas of China's 3D printing industry to develop at a similar level. In other parts of the world, such as Europe and North America, simpler technologies are advancing as fast as the most advanced ones. HP's Multi Jet Fusion is one of the most successful polymer printing technologies in additive manufacturing, and its competitors are already appearing in China. In China, the level of automation for sand 3D printing is the same as in Germany, where BMW has developed a fully automated production line for printing and casting aluminum engine cylinders.

These activities will largely benefit China's deployment of advanced domestic manufacturing capabilities, especially as the United States and others use tariffs and other measures to control imports from China. But even if China can't sell electric cars directly to the West, it can sell some of its manufacturing equipment abroad.

Companies such as the three metal 3D printer manufacturers mentioned earlier have opened foreign offices in Germany and the United States to better serve customers in the region. Their increased participation in foreign exhibitions has stimulated the interest of foreign customers. And, because their machines cost significantly less than those made in Western countries, they can improve cost competitiveness without sacrificing quality in most cases.

What this means for 3D printer manufacturers in the US and Europe is that they will increasingly face stiff competition from China. Still, they may not lose the market altogether. One of the main reasons for the rapid development of 3D printing in China is the strong support of the Chinese government for advanced manufacturing. China allows companies to deduct research and development (R&D) expenses from their taxes, while in the United States, the 2017 "Tax cut" bill reduced the deductible portion of US companies' R&D expenses from 100% to just 10%, significantly discouraging R&D investment.

However, through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act, the United States is currently pouring billions of dollars into new programs that support domestic advanced manufacturing. Other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom are following suit, suggesting that the competition with China will be a fierce one that could ultimately benefit domestic, distributed, and renewable manufacturing across all advanced economies. So while the competition for individual 3D printing companies inside and outside China may be fierce, it may be the larger countries and their populations that ultimately win out.

3D SHAPING is one of the leading rapid prototyping experts in China.

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