China Concerned About 3D Printing?

China Concerned About 3D Printing?We know the vision: consumer owns an advanced 3D printer. They buy 3D designs online and print out their desired objects onsite within moments. Ta da!
 
We also know the implications of this vision: Dead factories, fewer trains and trucks hauling finished goods around, perhaps a slightly greener world, more 3D designers and fewer manufacturing workers. This, we think, could be generally positive. 
 
Unless you’re China. 
 
China, that Great Factory For The World, could be severely impacted in the future if the vision came to pass. This is the premise of a long article in Forbes, where they say: 
 
Such manufacturing is being enabled by the long march of technology.  And it surely worries China.  While economic historians remind us of the importance of the twin innovations of free markets and financial structures, both those factors pale against the power of technology to create productivity, and thus the wealth of the world.
 
If the future factory is a machine born of emerging technologies and requires de minimus labor, on average such factories will be located preferentially where the skills and culture exist to invent and implement.  And, on average, you’d put such factories close to demand.  
  
The idea is that over the long term, technology becomes less expensive while the cost of labor continually increases. In order to be productive, you must leverage technology to achieve the best result. 
 
What do we think? We agree, although the time frame for this is questionable. Current inexpensive (and even expensive) 3D printers have huge limitations on what they can produce. Typical printed objects have no where near the variety of materials possible in conventional mass production. 
 
But that will gradually change over time, and we’ll probably see 3DP starting to chip away at mass manufacturing in a few years. 
 
Via Forbes
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4 Responses

  1. We have no doubt that China will produce many innovative 3D printers (actually, they already have in the Up! personal 3D printer). However, we're concerned about the other products made in China normally shipped halfway across the world to other markets. These markets just might be able to produce them onsite instead, if the right 3D printing technology eventually showed up. Shipping is going to get more expensive over time as the price of oil and importance of carbon emissions rise, making shipped products more expensive and undesirable.

  2. We have no doubt that China will produce many innovative 3D printers (actually, they already have in the Up! personal 3D printer). However, we're concerned about the other products made in China normally shipped halfway across the world to other markets. These markets just might be able to produce them onsite instead, if the right 3D printing technology eventually showed up. Shipping is going to get more expensive over time as the price of oil and importance of carbon emissions rise, making shipped products more expensive and undesirable.

  3. I expect that China will soon have way more way-cool 3d printers than the US because they are not nearly so hung up by the patent positions of the major players dominating the US and European markets. Those patents prevent DIY practice and innovation, preclude hybrid approaches that mix modalities, and run up the bill 30x to 50x for materials. China has the money to push development and innovation. It is the multinationals investing short term in cheap labor and cheap factories that are exposed, not China. China will just add producing cheap, innovative 3d printers for the world market to their factory output!

  4. I expect that China will soon have way more way-cool 3d printers than the US because they are not nearly so hung up by the patent positions of the major players dominating the US and European markets. Those patents prevent DIY practice and innovation, preclude hybrid approaches that mix modalities, and run up the bill 30x to 50x for materials. China has the money to push development and innovation. It is the multinationals investing short term in cheap labor and cheap factories that are exposed, not China. China will just add producing cheap, innovative 3d printers for the world market to their factory output!

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