China Expected to Surpass United States in 3D Printer Sales in 2016

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We’ve been following the rise of 3D printing in China for a while now. The growth of the industry has been nothing short of meteoric. 3D printing began to gain popularity in 2014, with the shipment of 3D printers in China reaching 34,000 that year. A mere two years later, the country is expected to surpass the United States in printer shipments by the end of 2016.idc

“China’s local 3D printer market will surpass the US market in 2016 with an annual growth rate over 100%. However, the US is expected to retain its position as the market leader in terms of market revenues, due to the greater proportion of high-end printers adopted by the manufacturing sector,” said Wendy Mok, research manager for IDPS at International Data Corporation China (IDC). “To capitalize on this growth, 3D printer vendors will have to discover and meet the demands of corporate users and the trend of industrial transformation in China. Vendors should aim to provide comprehensive solutions in different market segments in order to increase their competitiveness.”

Although the official numbers haven’t been released yet, it is estimated that China shipped about 77,000 3D printers in 2015, a growth rate of 120% in one year. We tend to associate China with low-cost products, and indeed the Chinese printer market is mostly composed of the less expensive desktop printers, which make up 90% of the market. A large proportion of those are FDM printers as inexpensive as $500. It’s not all cost-related, however; the large market for desktop printers may be partially due to the major push that China has been making for 3D printing education in schools.

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Image: MINGDA Technology

In terms of revenue, professional 3D printers generate 78% of the printer market; while fewer of them are being shipped than desktop printers, their higher cost has vaulted them to the top as revenue generators. Experts are not expecting the growth of the overall 3D printer market to slow anytime soon; IDC projects that 3D printer shipments will reach 440,000 by 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 43%.

madeinchinaThe Chinese government recently introduced an initiative titled “Made in China 2025,” which aims to overhaul China’s industry over the next decade. The goals of the initiative include a focus on technology-based innovations, green development, and quality over quantity, which marks a major shift from the country’s previous attitude of “heavy production at all costs.” 3D printing has been identified as a large part of the transformation plan, especially as the government pushes for growth in high tech industries such as aviation and aerospace, in which 3D printing has begun to play a large role. Companies have taken note; currently there are 15 3D printing-related companies in Fanchang County alone. Another goal of the initiative is to to create 15 new manufacturing innovation centers by 2020, and 40 by 2025. If the plan achieves its goals, soon products labeled “Made in China” will no longer carry such negative associations.  Let’s hear your thoughts on these trends in the China 3D Printing 2016 forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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