Business / Technology

Catching up fast in 3D printing

By Wang Ying (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-25 07:25

Catching up fast in 3D printing

A visitor takes photo of a 3D printer at an expo in Shanghai, June 2, 2016. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Xu Jun, aerospace engineering and technology leader at Honeywell Technology Solutions China, said, "Through cooperation with our Chinese partners, we've recognized China's efforts in catching up, and to be honest, China is not lagging too much in the practical application of 3D printing."

After nearly two decades of development, China's 3D printing market value has grown to 4.65 billion yuan (around $694 million) in 2014, and may grow by 40 percent annually to reach 20 billion yuan by 2018, a report from Southwest Securities said.

Another report from Wohlers Associates said the global 3D printing industry grew 25.9 percent year-on-year in 2015, with more than 278,000 desktop printers, costing under $5,000 each, sold worldwide last year. The independent consulting firm also estimated the global market size will reach $21.2 billion by 2020.

Experts expect the new technology to potentially find applications even in industries like aerospace, medical, tooling and industrial design in future.

"A distinctive advantage of 3D printing is it can shorten and simplify complicated manufacturing, and this advantage becomes more evident if the product is very complicated," said Zeng from Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

An example is Honeywell's Shanghai facility. It supported numerous prototyping projects for the turbocharger team in 2015, resulting in a 65 percent reduction in schedule on average, which translates into cost savings, said Godfrey of Honeywell Aerospace.

The Honeywell Technology Solutions China's Additive Manufacturing Lab in Shanghai is one of the four 3D printing labs the company operates around the world; the other three are in India, Europe and the US.

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