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China on Track to Become the World’s Largest 3D Printing Economy by 2016

(The Week) One of the most talked-about possibilities of 3D printing is that it may eventually allow American and European corporations to bring manufacturing back onshore from China. However, don’t expect China to let manufacturing go back to the West so easily. Betting on automation, China is leveraging its pre-existing industrial strength into becoming the world’s leading innovator in 3D printing and is on track to become the largest 3D printing economy by 2016. It has already built the world’s largest 3D printer, a six-meter diameter beast big enough to print a car, as well as several other large scale industrial 3D printers capable of printing titanium alloy structures, including parts used in satellites, rockets, and nuclear power plants. So even if home-based 3D printing takes off in Western countries, China will fight to remain a world leader in manufacturing at the large-scale industrial level, whether that manufacturing is being done by humans or by robots.