The Irish Times in its June 4th edition reports on the rise of 3D printing, citing talk about the technology known as additive manufacturing (AM), laser rapid forming or, most popularly, 3D printers, in China these days as the "world's factory" seeks to dominate this fast-growing trend.
3D printers work by building up objects one layer at a time, with the "ink" put in place using a laser and able to make three-dimensional solid objects from a digital model. While it is a bit ungainly now and mostly used for prototypes or models, the technology will eventually reduce costs and speed up production.
Luo Jun, chief executive of the Asian Manufacturing Association (AMA), believes China will likely surpass the US and lead the global 3D printing market within three years, with output rising to 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) in that time. The annual growth rate will double as long as more and more traditional manufacturers in the aerospace, motor, and biomedical industries move toward such technology, he told The Irish Times newspaper.
The AMA plans to build 10 innovation centers for 3D printing technology in 10 cities in China in the near future, with a planned investment of 20 million yuan (~$3.3 M) each. In aviation, 3D printing was used in the development of China's first home-grown commercial airliner, its first aircraft-based jet fighter, its multirole fighter and bomber, its first home-made stealth jet fighter and its mid-sized, fifth-generation jet fighter, the J-31.
Hu Bin, president of Shanghai-based 3D printing company Caishi Laser Technology, said that the commercialization of 3D printing "will take a long time in China as most domestic manufacturers still hold wait-and-see attitudes".
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