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3D Printing, China, and the Struggle to Produce Exactly Enough

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Global supply chains have demonstrated an almost eerie resilience in the face of one ongoing crisis after another in the last half a decade. Still, one often gets the feeling that chewing gum and paper clips are holding the world economic order together, and that an abrupt stiff wind could at some point knock the entire system to the ground.

But the whole thing won’t come crashing down all at once. It’s too large and complex for that. At the same time, world leaders, more or less by necessity, constantly act as if that could someday happen, because it is the only way they can muster up the right urgency to bring into existence long-term policy agreements. And it is those sorts of agreements that ensure the fragile but entrenched world economic order manages to keep churning.

These are the sorts of issues that came to mind when I read “The State of Chinese Additive Manufacturing: Market Opportunity Brief”, a report that my friend and colleague Michael Molitch-Hou recently published for sibling company, Additive Manufacturing Research. Since the excellent report is a brief, it stuck to China from the perspective of China, thoroughly anatomizing what Molitch-Hou rightly notes is “…one of, if not the, fastest growing [AM markets] globally.”

Here, I’d like to focus on China from the perspective of the rest of the world, because it is vital to point out that China’s rapidly evolving strength in advanced manufacturing isn’t just an opportunity for those wishing to enter the Chinese market. Equally, it presents an opportunity for advanced manufacturing companies in every major market on the planet, and perhaps above all, for companies in the AM space.

Feature image courtesy of Xi’an Bright Laser Technologies. PRO logo

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