What 3D Printing Will Mean for China

(Brisbane Times) The main draw of 3D printing is to build custom or low-volume items that aren’t being mass manufactured, says Scott Crump of Stratasys. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that the mass manufacturing in China or Taiwan or Korea is going to go away,” he said during an interview at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in San Jose. “I think the pie is getting bigger.”

“With 3D printing, we’re expanding in the niches that aren’t covered,” he said. “This concept of bringing the manufacturing back local is a disruptor, but I don’t think it’s a disruptor where it necessarily reduces the total build in places like China.”

Stratasys, which has dual headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Rehovot, Israel, has reasons to be optimistic about the Chinese market. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for about a quarter of the company’s sales, and China has grown quickly to account for a big chunk of that, the company said. Stratasys had revenues of $US359 million ($383 million) in 2012.

However, China “can be a substantial competitor”, said Crump, who recalled a recent visit to Shanghai where he discussed the 3D printing business with a government official.

“You could see in the meeting they really wanted to work with us; they needed our help,” he said. But in the end, they “just want to compete with you”.