Boston, MA - The allure of flexible local production based on 3D printing has led to claims that 3D printing will undermine the advantages that have made China a manufacturing and exporting powerhouse. However, China is rapidly embracing 3D printing itself and sales of printers there will grow four-fold to 37,800 printers in 2018, as revenues more than triple to $109 million, according to a new report from Lux Research.
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While those sales are still small in absolute terms, the rapid pace of adoption of 3D printing shows that China also aims to be a future leader in this new manufacturing method. Indeed, the education sector, aided notably by government policy, will be the largest market in the near-term, growing at 39 percent annually.
Lux Research analysts evaluated China's 3D printing ecosystem, consisting of scanners, printing materials, printers, and printing services. Among their findings:
- Automotive is a leading industrial application. The auto industry was an early adopter of 3D printing for prototyping globally, and China is no exception. China's automotive 3D printing sector will grow at 31 percent annually, riding on the strengths of the world's largest car market.
- Opportunity exists for high-end materials providers. China's 3D printing ecosystem has a notable gap in providers of quality materials. Domestic companies are unable to supply high-quality photosensitive resin materials or high-quality metal, ceramic, and polymer powder materials.
- Market is driven by exports. Chinese 3D printer makers shipped nearly 60 percent of their production to overseas markets, competing on cost with leading global brands such as MakerBot, 3D Systems, EOS, and Stratasys. Of the 21,550 printers produced by China in 2013, 12,810 units were exported.
The report, titled "China's Growing 3D Printing Ecosystem," is part of the Lux Research China Innovation Intelligence service. For more information, please visit http://portal.luxresearchinc.com/research/report_excerpt/17840.