3D printing in China has advanced impressively as of late, considering that the country was not among the earliest adopters of the technology. Advancements have been seen using 3D printing in medicine, in aerospace, in construction and more verticals as the country acknowledges its role in the future. The Chinese government is making the development of additive manufacturing technology in the country a priority. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance released the National Plan for the Development of Additive Manufacturing Industries Industries (2015-2016) back in 2014, and it has been reflected in the many breakthroughs that have been made in the country – but China still lags behind in key areas.
Therefore, MIIT, along with 12 other departments, has created a new additive manufacturing Action Plan (2017-2020) for the further development of the technology in the country. The Plan focuses on strengthening research and development, as well as accelerating applications of 3D printing and its adoption in industry. MIIT will be increasing fiscal support for 3D printing companies, as well as encouraging diverse financing models, including stock market listings, and issuing bonds.
Foreign companies will be encouraged to set up research and development centers in China, and a few domestic companies, which have already had their products recognized internationally and will be able to compete in the international market, will be fostered. Innovation and business strategies will be key to advancing the country’s adoption of 3D printing.
By 2020, more than 100 pilot demonstration projects will be carried out to promote additive manufacturing in 10 key manufacturing industries such as automotive, aviation and shipbuilding, and to accelerate applications in health care, education and culture. The Chinese government expects the country’s additive manufacturing industry to have an annual sales revenue of more than ¥20 million by 2020, with an average annual growth rate of 30% or higher.
As additive manufacturing technology grows and expands within China, so too do the risks associated with the technology, but the new plan includes preparations for those risks. It proposes that a real-name registration system for the purchase of additive manufacturing equipment should be established, as well as a system for filing basic information on the equipment and a system for registration and filing of users’ certification. It also proposes that criminal activities, such as the illegal production of goods using 3D printing, should be punished in accordance with the law.
China has certainly been making progress in 3D printing, but the new Action Plan will further boost its capabilities and resources. Chinese manufacturing overall is on the upswing. In 2015 the government launched the Made in China 2025 initiative, also drafted by MIIT, which aims to upgrade Chinese industry through the use of more innovative and green technology. 3D printing has already emerged as a large part of the implementation of the plan, which intends to have China be a leading industrial country by 2049.
The additive manufacturing Action Plan is another step toward that goal. It’s impossible to advance far in manufacturing these days without 3D printing, so the new plan is a critical part of meeting the objectives of Made in China 2025. If China continues to pursue additive manufacturing with the kind of intensity with which it has been lately, it may indeed become an advanced industrial powerhouse.
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