3D printing industry begins to boom in China

3D printing industry begins to boom in China


With products ranging from stem cells, shoes and mini-statues, 3D printing has started to boom in China amid the industry’s rapid development worldwide.

Qingdao Unique Products Develop Company announced that adipose-derived stem cells and corneal stromal cells exported via a biological 3D printer had survived for nine days.

Cell-printed tissues can be used for organ transplants or restoration, said Wang Hong, the chairperson of the company’s board at the 2014 World 3D Printing Technology Industry Exhibition, which opened on Thursday in eastern China’s coastal city of Qingdao.

The four-day event has attracted 110 3D printing companies, both from China and overseas and will showcase the latest 3D printing equipment, technology and products.

“Except for the laces, the sports shoe was directly printed out,” said Zhang Xuan, general manager of Qingdao AOD 3D Printing Company, a high-tech manufacturer of 3D printers.

The cost of materials for the shoe is only 40 yuan (US$6.50), Zhang told Xinhua at the exhibition hall, where products such as printed sports shoes, razors and bicycles are on display.

“3D printing will be a new growth area for our company. Many products can be realized through 3D printing and it will bring considerable profits,” said Peng Jun, manager of the printing department of Golden Laser Company in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province.

The global 3D printing industry’s output was about 12 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) in 2012 and 20 billion yuan (US$3.2 billion) last year, according to China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance data.

China’s 3D printing output was 1 billion yuan (US$161 million) in 2012 and more than 2 billion yuan (US$321 million) last year. The sector’s output is expected to reach 4-5 billion yuan (US$643-803 million) this year.

The industry still has a long way to go, however, say industry insiders.

“Some people have a misunderstanding about 3D printing technology,” said Luo Jun, executive chairperson of the Chinese 3D Industry Association. “The technology is not omnipotent. Not all products can be printed out with a 3D printer, and not all things printed can be put into practical use.”

3D cannot replace traditional manufacturing, but can supplement it, he added. The technology can save costs and shorten time in the industrial design field.

Last August, researchers at an eastern China university printed out a kidney the size of a knuckle. The tiny kidney consisted of living cells and hydrogel. Hydrogel contains agar and sodium alginate, providing cells with a stable growing environment.

China lags behind other countries in the research and development of 3D printers for industrial or biological use.

“Our advantage is that 3D printing has attracted attention and participation of domestic enterprises,” said Luo. China is at an important period of upgrading traditional industries, which provides opportunities for 3D printing technology, he added.

3D printing is limited in its application market and materials, said Luo. “It still has a long way to go.”



About bambooinnovator
KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (, a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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